There is more than one way to consume marijuana, and each method has pros and cons. Most of the time, the way that you use cannabis is going to be dependent on the reason that you are using it. You can smoke, you can vape, you can use a topical application and you can rub on an oil. You can also eat it.
The nice thing about edibles, is that by enhancing cannabis with brownies or another type of treat, a sugar-laced, weed-induced euphoria can be achieved that is often quite different from the type of high felt when pot is consumed via other means. They are also an easier option for some people in terms of not having to inhale smoke and run the risk of coughing and spluttering like a Jerry.
The biggest downside—or upside if you are waiting at the DMV—of edibles is that they take a long time to take effect. Hours. This turns into a problem for a couple of reasons. The first and most obvious is the first time user, who eats a pot brownie or a jelly sweet, feels nothing happen, and then assumes that he needs to have another. The advice here is wait. Wait and the effect will come, and when it does you will be really relieved that you did not eat more, because once it kicks in eating marijuana provides a longer and stronger effect than smoking it does.
Why does it take so long? Because you have to digest it in order for it to get to the bloodstream. If you think about how long it takes for your dinner to go down, its hardly surprising that the edible-induced high takes its time to hit.
The other reason that edibles can be over-consumed is because they taste nice. A brownie is a brownie is a brownie, and who only wants to eat one brownie? Sometimes the sweet temptation is too great, and that in itself can lead to problems of overconsumption. The solution is either to make really nasty tasting edibles, or get some willpower.
Why is the edible high stronger than smoking?
First the cannabis is absorbed differently by the body depending on if it is smoked or eaten. According to Mitch Earlywine from the State University of New York at Albany, when eaten, cannabis is metabolized by the liver, and the conversion that takes place here in terms of THC (conversion into the form 11-hydroxy-THC) means that it passes through the blood-brain barrier faster. When smoked, the liver is bypassed and THC is not converted, so the effect is different.
Second is to do with the external environment. We refer to this as the “set and setting,” and when related to marijuana consumption, this comes down to the ease of being able to control the amount that you consume.
When choosing between smoking or eating pot, the main difference is a faster yet shorter high, or the long-lasting slow burner—this is great news if you are consuming for medical reasons, as the pain-relieving effects last longer. If you chose to smoke, you can expect to feel a peak effect between five and ten minutes later. If you are eating it, expect to wait a lot longer.
Consuming responsibly is crucial when cannabis legalization is in such an early stage, and horror stories about bad highs due to overconsumption are not healthy for the industry. Avoid jeopardizing pot’s newly legal status in states such as Washington and Colorado by being patient and working out what is right for you on an individual level.
Want to try baking? We love this recipe for “Special Brownies” from our friends over at The Stoners Cookbook. Maybe you could share them when you visit a cannabis friendly accommodation.