As medical and recreational marijuana laws continue to change in the United States, you might be interested in trying the substance. And you’re not alone. According to a 2017 poll completed by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, more than 50% of Americans 18 years or older have tried marijuana, and more than 40% of those who have tried it continue to use it. There are many ways to use marijuana — joints, ingestible oils and brownies are just a few options. But if you’re new to the world of cannabis, plentiful choices can easily become overwhelming. If you want to try marijuana, and you’re debating whether to inhale or ingest the product, the way it affects your body may be the deciding factor.
Let’s start with the basics: Marijuana contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a mind-altering chemical compound that gives users their “high” and a feeling of bliss. When marijuana is smoked, THC travels from the lungs to the bloodstream to the brain. The effects are felt more immediately because the absorption of the chemical in the bloodstream happens at a quicker rate. To put it simply, smoking marijuana causes a faster high, a faster peak and, therefore, lasts for a shorter amount of time.
Eating marijuana is a different story. To create products that contain marijuana, a canna-oil or canna-butter might be used as a substitute for the regular ingredients in baked or fried goods. Based on the amount of cannabis-infused ingredient used in the edible, it will range in potency. After an edible is ingested, it is broken down in the stomach by acids and enzymes. The THC enters the bloodstream through the digestive tract and passes through the liver before circulating through the body and reaching the brain.
While smoking marijuana causes an instantaneous high that fades quickly because of the rate at which THC enters the bloodstream and reaches the brain, eating marijuana is a more gradual high that can last hours as the high ebbs and flows.
The rate at which you’re hoping to get high and the amount of time you’re willing to spend getting there is one key to deciding how you should consume marijuana. Understanding the difference between inhaling and ingesting marijuana is one of the essential details you should know before shopping for marijuana.