Edibles have an unfortunately bad reputation. It seems like everyone has had a bad experience with eating edibles, but fewer people have the same experience when it comes to smoking. So why is that, besides the obvious reason that homemade edibles can be the world’s wildest crap-shoot? Is there really evidence to back up that edibles give you a stronger high than smoking?
As it turns out, there might be.
Before we move any further, it’s important to understand how cannabis is absorbed in your body. That’s the basis of the edibles vs. smoking debate. When you inhale cannabis (either through vaping or smoking), the active compounds are absorbed by your lungs and enter your bloodstream immediately. That’s why you feel the high within seconds to minutes.
On the flip side, cannabis that you ingest, like a softgel or edible, travels through your digestive system and is absorbed by your gut and liver. While it takes a little longer for you to feel the effects (30 minutes to 2 hours), this absorption method actually plays a big role in why edibles can give you a stronger high.
The active compounds in cannabis are THC and CBD, this isn’t really news. However, when you ingest cannabis, your liver converts the THC into a compound known as 11-Hydroxy THC. When the original THC and 11-Hydroxy-THC are combined, they produce a much stronger high than just THC alone. 11-Hydroxy-THC is more effective at crossing the blood-brain barrier, which means it can affect your brain more than THC might.
Conversely, when you smoke cannabis, the THC hits your bloodstream immediately which means little, if any, 11-Hydroxy-THC is present. You’re relying solely on the THC for your high, which may not hit you as hard as THC combined with 11-Hydroxy-THC.
It’s easy to look at this information and say there’s a definitive answer to “do edibles produce a stronger high than smoking?” But it’s always important to note that cannabis, and especially the effect it can have on a person, is still being researched. Nothing is conclusive, although anecdotal and preliminary research can certainly help us understand different products.
Everyone reacts differently
Just because some people get a stronger high from edibles doesn’t mean everyone will. Things like your metabolism, what you ate that day, your age, and your experience level with cannabis can all affect your high. This is why it’s always important to start low and go slow when it comes to consuming cannabis. If you’re trying out a new product, start with a lower dose and see how you feel. The likelihood of you having a bad experience with cannabis skyrockets when you don’t consume responsibly.
*NOTE: This information is based off preliminary research and anecdotal evidence. Do not use this information as scientific fact or medical guidance. While we will try to keep the information in this section up to date, we cannot guarantee that the information will be current at all times.