Science explains why smoking and eating cannabis produce different results

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Cannabis offers a lot of health benefits, but the method of consumption plays a role

Today’s edible cannabis landscape has evolved from the stereotypical homemade “pot brownies” to a groundbreaking industry, tingling the taste buds of both smokers and first-time marijuana users. If you usually smoke marijuana or haven’t tried edibles, you should understand that the effects are different and some experts want to make it clear why that is.

While it is true that consuming cannabis and smoking it can have certain similar effects, there are some key differences between the two. Cannabis edibles should be eaten with caution. A high intake of them can make for a very uncomfortable night, as happened to Mary, a retired nurse from Oregon, who consumed a lot of marijuana brownies during a party and woke up under the coffee table hours later.

Smoking a joint or taking a puff from a THC vaporizer doesn’t tend to send people spiraling in the same way. Experts say edibles are quite unpredictable because their consumption produces metabolites that are technically a completely different drug than THC. Unlike smoked or vaporized marijuana, which enters the lungs and is absorbed into the bloodstream, edibles are processed in the stomach and liver.

This means a couple of things: the edibles will feel stronger and the effects will last much longer. Cannabis edibles have to be digested and metabolized, so the effect can take up to two hours to peak. This compares to the effects of inhaled cannabis, which usually peaks within ten minutes and lasts about an hour. Eating cannabis changes the way the body breaks it down, which can result in an entirely different intoxicating effect.