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  • Writer's pictureAshley Slimak

To Inhale or Ingest? What You Need to Know to Make the Right Decision

Smoking vs Edibles Marijuana
Inhaling vs digesting cannabis can have different effects on each user. [Source: Speed Greens]

How you consume cannabis impacts your experience. 10 mg of THC from a vape pen or dried flower is going to feel vastly different from a 10 mg edible. How soon you feel the effects, what those effects feel like, and when they wear off all vary based on consumption method.

This concept—that identical marijuana dosages can result in vastly different effects—is

counterintuitive. As a result, new users can accidentally get too “high” or end up feeling

marijuana’s effects sooner or later than anticipated.

If you’re new to the world of cannabis, it’s critical that you understand the differences between edible cannabis and inhaled cannabis. This knowledge will help you choose the right products at the right time.

What’s the Difference Between Inhaled and Ingested Cannabis?

There are two primary ways to get THC, the active compound in marijuana, into your


The first pathway is via inhalation, during which THC and other active compounds enter your bloodstream through the lungs. Dried flower, vape pens, and dabs are the common forms of inhaled cannabis.

The second way to consume cannabis is ingestion, where you swallow a cannabis-derived

product. During digestion, THC is metabolized by the liver before it is released into the

bloodstream. Edibles and tinctures are two common forms of edible cannabis (although

tinctures are a bit different thanks to partial absorption under-the-tongue).

So, what can you expect when you use medical marijuana? It all depends on if you eat it or

smoke it.

1. Inhaled Cannabis Works Faster

Inhalation is the method that’s best for immediate relief. Once inhaled, THC’s effects kick in

within just a few short minutes, with peak effects at around 30 to 60 minutes. This rapid effect has two benefits. First, patients can attain nearly instantaneous relief. Second, it makes it much easier to experiment to find the right dosage.

When you ingest THC, the first effects tend to trickle in after 30 to 60 minutes. Peak effects,

however, can easily take up to two to four hours. As a result, be very careful when dosing

edibles as it is easy to accidentally think that it’s not working, take more, and end up taking too much.

2. Edibles Last Longer

When you take an edible, you can expect effects to last around four to eight hours. And if you accidentally take a large dose, you might feel a bit groggy for even longer.

The longevity of edibles makes them a reliable option for overnight use. But there are times

when patients need marijuana’s effects to wear off sooner. For these times, inhaled cannabis is a better choice. Depending on the dose and your biology, inhaled cannabis lasts around one to three hours.

3. Ingested THC Is More Intense

When you ingest THC, it is metabolized by the liver. The end result is a different form of THC, one that more easily crosses over the blood-brain barrier. Because ingested THC has greater access to the brain, cognitive effects are often more intense than those from inhaled THC.

Final Thoughts

Inhaled and ingested cannabis products vary in how quickly they kick in, how long they last, and how intense the “high” feels. Keep this in mind when trying new products. For immediate relief, inhaled marijuana is the go-to. But for prolonged relief, edibles are the way to go.

With any new product, remember the motto: start low and go slow. A little precaution will help you find the best products and dosages for you—without experiencing an uncomfortable high.

Arkansas Marijuana Card Doctor
Arkansas Marijuana Card Doctor

If you are an Arkansan suffering from one of these 18 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products.

Click here to learn more about what Arkansas Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at (844-249-8714) and our friendly support team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment.

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