There are a few key differences between medical cannabis edibles and inhaled products. Edibles take longer to take effect since they must be digested before the active ingredients can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
On the other hand, inhaled products are absorbed more quickly since they go directly from the lungs into the bloodstream. Edibles also tend to have a much longer-lasting effect than inhaled products since they remain in the system for longer. Inhaled products are metabolized more quickly, and thus their results don’t last as long. Finally, edibles allow for a more precise dose since each edible typically contains a set amount of THC or CBD. But let’s elaborate!
What is the difference between a Medical Cannabis Edible and an Inhaled Product?
This is a question that we often ask here at The Stone Dispensary. We see this question come up more and more as patients become educated about the different products available. Because there is no federal oversight of medical cannabis, there are many ways that companies can market their product. But, with “big tobacco” type money pouring into the industry, there is a lot of hype associated with specific claims. This blog post explores the differences between cannabis absorbed by ingestion (edibles) and delivered through inhalation (smoking or vaporizing).
The main factor in both edible products and inhaled products are THC and CBD.
These two constituents interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system. In particular, these two molecules influence the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, which are found in most tissues of the body, including nerves, brain, spinal cord, liver, kidneys, and more.
The main difference is how quickly an individual will feel the effects of each product. Both a smoker and an edible consumer feel the effects of marijuana or cannabis within 10-20 minutes. Once THC is absorbed through inhalation, it enters the bloodstream. This means that mental and physical responses to medication begin almost immediately because they are experienced by our central nervous system (CNS).
However, when you eat an edible,
the THC has to travel from the stomach through the digestive system and be broken down in the liver. This process takes longer for THC to enter into our bloodstream. Instead of a quick rush like inhaling flower, edibles give you a more ‘stoned’ feeling. It usually takes 45 minutes to an hour before someone feels the effects of eating marijuana.
The main difference between smoking or vaporizing and edibles is the amount of time it takes to feel the effects of each delivery method. Like you would get with a pipe or joint, inhaled products can take several puffs before someone begins to feel the ‘high’ that cannabis provides. For example, if someone is smoking or vaporizing a flower, it may take several hits (puffs) before they start feeling the effects of the product.
This means for patients that you can control your high better by taking small doses at a time
and waiting to see how strong the effects are so you can decide when to take more. With inhaled products, it is possible to get too high. You do not have that same control with edibles, so it is essential to consume less or eat smaller portions at a time when consuming marijuana in edible form.
When ingesting marijuana, the effects can be felt from 25-35 minutes after ingestion. This is because it takes the liver and digestive system time to process marijuana. This means that patients will need to wait longer before they feel the effects from an edible compared to inhaling a product like flower. Once patients take a dose of medical cannabis edibles, they can expect results up to four hours after ingestion.
Another critical factor to consider when comparing inhaled products and edibles is the amount of THC absorbed into our bloodstream.
When you smoke or vaporize marijuana, approximately 25% of the THC you take in enters your bloodstream. When you eat edibles where THC has been infused with oil or butter, 20-50% of the THC is absorbed into our bloodstream. This means that medical cannabis edibles are much stronger than inhaled products.
When it comes to safety, there is a lot of controversy around eating cannabis, and there may be better ways to get patients the medicine they need to improve their health. Some people feel like they should be illegal because they are so strong and can be easily overdosed. In contrast, others feel that allowing patients to take it in these forms is a better alternative since there is less smoke involved, which gets the medicine into their bodies quicker.
There are some risks associated with ingesting cannabis as opposed to inhaling it.
The risk of pulmonary irritation, especially for patients with pre-existing respiratory conditions, is very high (R). Infused products can also cause gastrointestinal discomfort and other effects of eating cannabis.
An edible high can be uncomfortable for those unfamiliar with the experience in the short term. You can feel tired and slow in your body movements or reactions. This means that those who consume medical marijuana edibles may not be able to drive or operate heavy machinery. Even if you feel awake and alert, a patient will need to wait at least four hours before driving or operating machinery because of the psychoactive effects of cannabis.