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The Pros and Cons of Edible Marijuana vs Smoking

May 13, 2021 10:02 am ET
The Pros and Cons of Edible Marijuana vs Smoking

This blog was originally written by Anthony Dutcher.


Since the increase in acceptance of cannabis consumption and legalization in more states, the edibles market has seen a boom and is expected to continue growing. A market report found that the cannabis edibles market was valued at approximately $2.9 Billion in 2020, with a projected value of $11.8 Billion by 2027. In light of this boom, it is important that consumers understand the pros and cons of edibles in comparison to smoking or vaping, especially since edibles are becoming a popular means of consumption among both medical marijuana and recreational cannabis users. 

  1. What are Edibles?
  2. Different Ways to Consume Edibles
    1. Properly Calculating Dosages 
    2. Here Are Some Recipes Guaranteed To Tickle Your Taste Buds
  3. Effects of Edibles vs Smoking 
  4. Tips to Consume Edibles Safely
  5. Final Word

What are Edibles?

Edibles can easily be defined as food products, including beverages, that contain cannabis. Edibles can come in many forms including, but not limited to, baked goods, gummies, tea, chocolate, oils, and candies. Individuals can purchase ready-made edibles or make them by adding oil, butter or tinctures that contain cannabis into foods. Edibles are also considered to be a safer consumption method (compared to inhalation for example) and a means of more discreet consumption. 

It is also important to note that eating raw cannabis and consuming edibles are not the same thing. While edibles refer to food or beverages which contain cannabis, eating raw cannabis will not have the same effect as consuming edibles. This is due to the fact that cannabis needs to be decarboxylated (exposed to heat) in order for the cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) to become active. (Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds in the cannabis plant). Healthline explains that one will not get high from eating raw cannabis but it is thought to offer health benefits. However, edibles do have a psychoactive effect as they are exposed to heat which activates the compounds. 

When eating raw cannabis, or the plant itself, it contains compounds such as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), which turn into THC and  CBD respectively when activated. However, it should be noted that the research on eating the raw flower is still scarce, leaving much unclear. Edibles are increasingly becoming the topic of interest in research and studies. 

If you prefer not to make your own edibles, it is highly recommended that the purchase of edibles happen with credible sources, such as certified dispensaries. Otherwise, there are some recipes below for delicious and easy to make edibles.

Different Ways to Consume Edibles

There is a wide and increasing variety of alternative ways to consume edibles, including (1) baked treats such as cookies and brownies, (2) candies such as gummies and lollipops, (3) chocolates, (4) savory dishes such as pizzas and pastas and in (5) beverages such as milk and energy drinks. 

Properly Calculating Dosages 

Making edibles can be a fun and creative experience, but one should take measures to properly calculate the dosages of cannabis in order to ensure safe delivery of the compounds as well as to avoid any unwanted effects. Especially since the digestive system transforms THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is what makes edibles more potent and longer-lasting than other forms of consumption. While calculating the dosages of homemade edibles is not an exact science, it is good to have an estimation of the compound quantity for your own safety and enjoyment. 

The first thing you need to know when calculating edible dosage is the approximate percentage of THC in the flower you are using in your recipe. If you purchased the flower at a dispensary, the percentage is usually on the packaging. Otherwise, you can use the rule of thumb of an average of 15%. Remember that one gram of flower weights 1000 milligrams, so each gram has a maximum of 150 mg of THC (if the flower is 15%). To determine the total amount of THC you’ll need, multiple the individual dose desired by the number of finished treats. For example, if you want to bake a pan of 10 brownies with 10 mg in each, then you’ll need a total of 100 mg of THC. Try using Veriheal’s Edible Dosage Calculator to calculate the potency of your edibles. 

Here Are Some Recipes Guaranteed To Tickle Your Taste Buds:

More recipes and information on cooking with medical cannabis can be accessed hereFor more information on the importance of decarboxylation and how to do it, be sure to check out this article.  

Effects of Edibles vs Smoking

When one smokes, whether with pipes, bongs or smoking a joint, the cannabis enters the body through the means of inhalation. It makes its way to the lungs first and then enters the bloodstream, making its way to the brain and then to the rest of the body. Through this method of consumption, individuals are able to feel the effects faster since absorption into the bloodstream happens faster with smoking than with edibles. It is also thanks to the fast absorption rates that the effects of smoking cannabis does not last as long as the effects of edibles. When smoking, you can expect it to kick in about two to 10 minutes after consumption, while the effects of smoking can last between 1 to 3 hours; however, some strains can linger in the body for up to 8 hours. 

How long are the effects of edibles felt in your body? The cannabis travels as part of the food or beverage and goes through the digestive tract. From there, through ingestion, the compounds are metabolized in the liver and are then transformed. This metabolism process is why edibles take so long to kick-in, but once they have gone through the liver, they enter the general circulation throughout your body. Edibles can begin to peak around 2 hours after consumption, while the effects can linger in the body for up to 24 hours. 

The Pros and Cons of Consuming Edibles and Smoking Marijuana 

Whether you prefer ingesting edibles or smoking cannabis, there are pros and cons to each method of consumption. Eating edibles is safer for patients with lung conditions, there are plenty of options (chocolate, candy, or savory dishes made with cannabutter or cannabis coconut oil), and the effects stay in your body for a lot longer than when you smoke or vape. However, the effects of edibles can take a long time to kick in and there is the risk of eating too many edibles. Check out the following chart for more in-depth information on the pros and cons of edibles and the pros and cons of smoking marijuana. 

Edibles

Smoking

Pros Cons Pros Cons
1. This method of consumption is better for patients with respiratory conditions, or for individuals who want to avoid smoking. 1. The effects and benefits take longer to kick-in, since it depends on your metabolism rates. It can take between 1-3 hours to kick-in.  1. This method of consumption has a rapid onset rate, which means that consumers will feel effects and benefit from cannabis almost immediately.  1. May compromise respiratory function since some of the same chemicals found in cigarettes can be found in cannabis smoke.
2. Comes in an infinite array of options, so consumers can take edibles that appeal to their taste buds.  2. Easy to consume too much, whether a result of consuming more from the delayed kick-in, or from miscalculating dosages.  2. Easier to manage how much is being consumed.  2. Has a shorter duration in terms of experiencing effects and benefiting from compounds. 
3. Can be bought or made.  3. Though rare, there is risk of inducing psychosis when consuming too much.  3. Delivers higher bioavailability rates in comparison to other methods. 3. Compounds can be lost in side-stream smoke
4. The ability for it to last longer than other methods can offer prolonged relief from symptoms of medical conditions such as chronic pain 4. Potential side effects associated with overconsumption such as confusion, anxiety, panic, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, increased blood pressure, faster heart rates and nausea. 4. More cost effective.  4. Similarly to edibles, and other means of consumption, smoking cannabis with a potency that is too high can lead to adverse effects such as anxiety
5. Is a more discrete means of consumption.  5. According to the same 2016 study, overconsumption of edibles has been linked to: cognitive and motor impairment, extreme sedation, agitation, anxiety, cardiac stress and vomiting. 5. Has a reduced risk of being eaten by pets and children, since it does not look like a delicious treat. 
6. According to a 2016 study, edibles have been anecdotally reported to assist with symptoms of conditions like muscle spasms, pain, nausea and vomiting, cancer, appetite stimulation, epilepsy as well as several psychiatric disorders such as depression and PTSD. 6. Quick and convenient means of consumption.

Tips to Consume Edibles Safely

As seen in the table above, safe edible consumption is of the utmost importance since consuming edibles can be risky if one over eats them. That’s why it’s important to start with a low dosage and wait for it to kick in before consuming more. The following tips will guide you with consuming cannabis safely and with consuming edibles safely and preventing overconsumption of edibles. These tips include the following:

Tips for Safe Cannabis Consumption:

  1. Stay hydrated.
  2. Start with a low quantity and potency like 5 mg of THC or less per dose.
  3. Wait patiently before consuming more, around 1-2 hours.
  4. Know your limits. This may take some experimentation, but find the optimal effects using the least amount of cannabis. 
  5. Do not drive under the influence.
  6. Practice caution and consider avoiding cannabis consumption by means of combustion. 

Tips for Safe Edible Consumption:

  1. Read the label of your product carefully. The label should inform you on the quantity, potency and serving suggestions of the edible. 
  2. If you plan to make your own, follow a recipe so that you may have a better idea of how much cannabis is in the product. Try a small piece in order to assess its potency and effects on yourself before consuming more or larger pieces.  
  3. Plan ahead so that you consume in a safe space with no plans to drive anywhere or operate heavy machinery. 
  4. Store your edibles safely where children and pets cannot get to them. 
  5. Try to remain as calm as possible if you have consumed too much. No one has nor will die from consuming cannabis. 
  6. Do not mix edibles with other substances such as alcohol or prescription medication.
  7. Do not consume edibles if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Final Word

Edibles serve as a great option for medicinal and recreational use of cannabis, especially when taken with care and control. However, if one does end up over-consuming and experiencing adverse side effects try to take a nap, eat some pine nuts, take isolated CBD or have some lemon peel. Remember that cannabis can affect everyone differently, so begin slowly. 

Post Your Comments

Joyce Olivero says:

October 10, 2020 at 8:07 pm

Can I renew my card here if I have a card but it expires in november

Reply
Chane Leigh says:

May 17, 2021 at 11:30 am

Hi Joyce,
Please call or e-mail Veriheal as the blog section and team does not deal with card-related buisness. Kind regards, Chane Leigh.

Reply
Brenda K Saunders says:

July 3, 2021 at 11:18 pm

I hope it will be this easy to contact a Dr to receive a med cannabis license. I’ve had very bad lack I’d of appetite. Spent two different stays @ 8 days each time and all the many tests were negative. So I hear just eat which I cannot do lot of the time. My weight is dropping again it was suggested to me to try cannabis to stimulate my appetite.

Reply
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