So yeah, we all know that cannabis has a lot of different names— THC, weed, marijuana, Mary Jane, the Devil’s Lettuce; we could probably go on and on. Not only does the happy substance have a lot of different names, but it’s also consumed in various different ways. 

THC can be smoked, vaped, eaten, and drank (are we missing any other ones here???)— whether you’re smoking it via a blunt the OG way, or sipping on one of those fancy, new-agey cannabis cocktails (or you know, chewing on a— cough— delicious Space God gummy or two or whatever!).

But does the way we consume our cannabis equal a different effect? 

The Difference Between Smoking/ Vaping THC & Ingesting THC Edibles 

Theoretically, you’d think that putting something in your body will affect you the same way— regardless of how you take it. (Kinda like a toe-may-toe/toe-mah-toe situation over here, right? Kind of? Pft, you get what we mean.)

Buuuut… There are some key differences in the metabolization of cannabis when inhaled vs. ingested— mainly the strength and duration of its effects. 

Smoking/Vaping Cannabis 

Like with smoking any substance, when you smoke cannabis, the THC is directly delivered to your lungs— and from there, directly into your bloodstream and brain. In other words, the stuff hits fast and with no surprises. 

In fact, you’ll feel the immediate effect of THC from a few seconds to a few minutes of inhaling the stuff, with the full effects peaking anywhere within the next 30 minutes. 

From there, the high can last anywhere from 4 to 6 hours after use, with residual effects potentially lasting up to 24 hours after. 

Cannabis Edibles 

For anyone who’s both inhaled and ingested cannabis, it’s well-known that edibles are pretty slow to hit us with that THC, but when they do, they hit hard. 

But why is that? Shouldn’t the cannabis that’s being inhaled straight into the lungs and bloodstream be the form to levitate us straight into space? Sorry— but science says no, bestie. 

So, why do ingested edibles get you higher than inhaled THC?

Well, there are two main reasons for this phenomenon that go beyond our favorite answer (science, duh). 

1. It’s a liver thing

What? Yep, we said it. When THC is ingested via food or drink, it goes straight to your stomach, and then to your liver— the guy who metabolizes the stuff into a stronger form (about five times stronger!), which makes it five times stronger than its inhaled (and therefore weaker!) step-sibling. 

So when it finally reaches your bloodstream, you’re guaranteed it’s gonna hit hit you. 

2. It’s also an absorption thing

You know how when you smoke you do the whole holding-your-breath thing for a few seconds before letting out the vapor? Yeah, well even though you do that, you’re still losing most of that THC in all that exhaled smoke. So yeah, even though smoking THC is a super-efficient way to consume it, it’s also super wasteful.

The THC in edibles, however, enters a closed system (ahem *the human body*), which means that it’s all getting absorbed— albeit taking a bit longer to do so. 

At the end of the day, when you inhale 5 mg of THC, you’re only getting about 1-2 mg out of it. But when you ingest 5 mg via some amazing edible such as hmmm… let’s say Space Gods Legal Cannabis Edibles or whatever… you’re absorbing closer to 4 mg of the stuff. 

So yeah, we guess you can say that slow and steady wins the race (the Space Race, of course).