Edible vs. Inhaled Cannabis

By Mitchell Colbert


Volcano Public Domain

Once you have grown your plants, dried them out, and processed your bud, it's up to you to decide how to use it. Two of the most common methods to use cannabis are inhaling it and eating it. Inhaled cannabis can be smoking or vaporizing, in a pipe, joint, water-pipe, vaporizer, dab rig, or in more exotic ways such as using a glass pipe and hot coal to vaporize a concentrate. Inhaled cannabis has an almost immediate effect and can last for up to three hours, with a peak after about thirty minutes. Vaporization is an ideal method of inhalation because it removes nearly all the negative health effects associated with smoking. Edibles take longer to set in, taking up to ninety minutes for an effect and lasting for several hours. Different edible vendors include different information about edible use, some have no guidelines on use others, like KIVA, include a lot of information about how to safely consume edibles.


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Many users note that edibles affect them much stronger than inhaled cannabis. That is because eating cannabis is estimated to be 9-10 times as potent as inhaling the exact same cannabis. The reason edibles are more potent is because the liver converts the psychoactive Delta-9-THC into the even more powerfully psychoactive and sedating 11-Hydroxy-THC. No research has been done on the effects of ingested CBD to see if it becomes more potent, like THC does.


Currently, there is no way to inhale THCa-rich medicine, because all methods of inhaled cannabis involve heating the medicine which converts (decarboxylates) the THCa into THC. In order to ingest THCa-rich medicine you will need to use a tincture, juice raw cannabis, or eat raw bud. Fresh bud and leaves will have the highest amount of THCa, if you cure and dry the buds this will convert some of the THCa into THC, leaving you a product that should be both THCa and THC rich. It would take accurate lab testing to know your potency for sure. 


Some edibles, like those made by the company Auntie Dolores, are THCv-rich. Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCv) is a relative of THC, that is still psychoactive but instead of giving you the munchies it will make you want to stop eating. The anorectic effects of THCv are so powerful that the research company GW Pharmaceuticals is looking at it as a potential diet drug. While many patients use cannabis for its appetite stimulating effects, not all patient need to eat more, for those patients who don’t want the munchies eating THCv-rich or CBD-rich edibles is a way you can medicate without raiding the fridge. Steephill Labs says that the high from THCv is dfferent than the high from THC, THCv effects you much stronger than THC but the effects last for a shorter duration. If you do choose to medicate with THCv you should step back from your usual dosage to avoid over-medicating. If you ever feel too high from THC, you can take CBD to calm down the psychoactive effects.