What the Actual Difference Is Between Smoking & Eating Marijuana

What the Actual Difference Is Between Smoking & Eating Marijuana

For the consumption of cannabis there are a variety of methods of how to appreciate it. The two most popular methods are smoking and eating.

Depending if you are a amateur smoker or consumer, it’s great to know the difference between the two. Once equipped with the knowledge you will be able to choose your preferred method, or even both depending on how you’re feeling on the day of.

Body absorption

The biggest difference between smoking and eating marijuana is how your body reacts to the absorption of cannabis. When the body absorbs it, it responds by distinctions, such as the onset time of the effects and time duration. It also accounts for the variance of the intensity within the high.

Vaping or smoking cannabis, the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) will enter your body very fast and take a direct path to your brain, resulting in feeling the effects quickly. But by the same token the duration of the high will leave just as quick.

Effects & potency

There’s definitely a difference in the consumption methods described above. When eating cannabis, you will notice that the intensity is more powerful and the high lasts longer, but will also vary in the strains used in the creation of said edibles.

When consumed, it goes towards the liver, which breaks down the consumed cannabis into 11-hydroxy-THC. Once this is broken down it goes through the blood brain barrier. Therefore, the boost in efficiency leads to more of THC making it towards the brain leading to an incredibly lengthened high.


Smoking cannabis allows it to enter the system and the brain quickly. That’s why you’ll feel the effects typically within 5-15 minutes. Compared to ingestion of edibles, the liver has to process the THC before it travels to the brain. That’s why it can take 30 minutes or even up to three hours to notice the effects when consuming edibles.

Nevertheless, the effects of smoking cannabis begin quickly, but they also finish quickly compared to edibles. Correlatedly, the slower processing of edibles means that your body will experience the effects for longer. Smoking cannabis, the high typically wears off within 1-2 hours. Eating cannabis can maintain its effects for hours, and can lead up to a day depending on a person’s tolerance.

Dosing control

Knowing the potency of the cannabis you smoke, the amount, and even trying to measure the inhales you take from smoking can be really difficult. With edibles, some elements are hard to measure out by single servings. When it comes to homemade edibles, it can get really tricky to get the exact dosing you want.

For assurance, smoking cannabis allows you to easily control how much THC you intake compared to edibles. Since smoking cannabis takes about 5-15 minutes to feel the effects, by taking another hit in succession it can quickly help you achieve your desired high and helps you not feel as worried about the concentrated build up.

In most cases, people (not just inexperienced users) will accidentally consume more than needed. It is very common for first-time consumers to not notice any effects after thirty minutes, and think they can handle more. This could end up in a very strong dose which can last a really long time – even up to two days if not planned correctly.

This is why it can be problematic because over-consumption can lead to negative effects such as paranoia and being overwhelmed.

Edible dosing

Regardless of the differences, you can’t be too eager or impatient when it comes to consumption of marijuana – both smoking and eating it. For edibles patience is key so wait for the effects to begin before taking any more. The rule of thumb is to try a dose for a day and again the next day, or next time.

Health concerns

What’s healthier: smoking or eating marijuana? When it’s broken down to a science there is no scientific conclusion to prove which method is healthier.

When smoking, it can lead to unwanted absorption of carcinogenic and toxic components that come from the combustion process. Interestingly however, some have come to conclusion that cannabis plants’ anti-carcinogenic effects can counter this.

Edibles have the benefit of avoiding combustion completely. There’s no worrying about inhaling these said carcinogens. The key is still “healthier” but not perfect as the fact is most edibles come in the form of classic unhealthy foods like sour candies, brownies, and cookies. Don’t despair however, as more concentrated forms of THC such as resin and wax crumble are available alternatives.


In conclusion you can’t go wrong with either method. It just depends on the type of day or the mood that you’ve prepared for yourself. Since the body takes longer to digest marijuana when eaten it means you can have a longer and stronger high on occasions where you’re able to relax for the day. When smoking marijuana, you can get a quick fix, still finish small tasks/errands, and get on the rest of your day. Nevertheless, when it comes to health concerns there is not enough strong evidence to prove which method is healthier.

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Juanita Green
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