Cannabis Edibles: Do They Really Hit Harder Than Smoking?

Cannabis in 2022 is the story of a gem in the dust; overlooked and scorned for many years, but once its true value was revealed it was embraced. In 2021, the U.S.A. saw an estimated $25 billion in cannabis sales, which should give you an idea of how big this space has become. 

With the world’s view on this plant changing, cannabis witnessed a growth spurt in its number of users also. If you’re fortunate to live in any of the locations which have legalized it, you may have considered taking this herb. 

One debate you might have heard when it comes to consuming this plant is; smoking vs edibles, which hits harder? In this article, we will consider how the two methods work and reach a verdict. 

What Happens When You Smoke or Take an Edible?

Answering this question is the beginning of our journey. Edibles are basically food infused with THC, and the body processes them as such. When you chomp on your favorite edible brownie, it gets processed by your stomach like any other food. The magic begins when it gets to your liver. At this point, it is converted to a compound called 11 hydroxy metabolites—look at it as a more potent form of THC. The next stop is your bloodstream where it gets to the brain and activates your endocannabinoid receptors which are responsible for the high feeling. 

If you choose to smoke, it is a shorter story. Once the inhaled smoke reaches the lungs, it is absorbed by blood vessels in the form of THC. The blood carries it to the brain where it activates the endocannabinoid receptors. 

How does the mode of ingestion affect the feeling of getting high, you might ask? It has to do with the activation time and the dosage that can be consumed. When you smoke, you feel the effect in five minutes or less. This allows you to gauge how high you are; at a certain point, you simply stop smoking because you’re too stoned. 

Edibles not only stay in the body longer, but they’re also tricky to dose accurately. For instance, if you eat a cannabis-infused cake, it can take up to four hours to digest. THC in the form of 11 hydroxy metabolites will be released throughout this period. 

You can call it a mini bank of cannabis in your stomach that dispenses cash for four hours. Are you starting to see how this affects the intensity of your high? Let’s not forget another important thing: the dosage.

With smoking, it is easy to know when you’ve hit your limit. With edibles, when you take more than you can handle, you’re left to manage the situation until the high passes. By comparing the way they’re ingested, we can see why edibles got its reputation for hitting harder. 


The end product of edibles is a more potent form of THC so it wins on that angle. Edibles also stay longer in the stomach which leads to a much longer high than smoking. Does this make it the winner though? 

It’s hard to come to a conclusion, because there are very strong strains of cannabis that will knock you off your feet. Also, a cannabis user who is used to smoking for long periods could also witness more extended highs. 

In a controlled environment where the same amount of cannabis is used for an edible and a blunt, edibles are going to give you a longer and stronger high.

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