Why Do Edibles Feel Different Than Smoking Cannabis?

Over the past couple of years, there has been an explosion in cannabis products–and many of them don’t involve smoking anymore. You can eat, drink, and even put cannabis on your skin! Our bodies are capable of metabolizing this plant in many ways, resulting in uniquely specific experiences depending on your method of choice. Have you ever wondered why the sensation you feel when you consume edibles feels different than when you smoke a blunt or bowl? Let’s uncover the science behind this age-old question.

When you inhale cannabis, the molecules enter and dissipate into your lungs. From here, they absorb into the blood vessels that are scattered throughout this thin membrane. This entire process of cannabis traveling to your bloodstream happens pretty quickly, resulting in almost immediate effects felt after smoking. Depending on your needs or preferences, this may be your preferred experience. Edibles, however, work a little bit differently.

When you ingest cannabis, the molecules make a longer journey before eventually ending up in your bloodstream. The edible must first be digested in your stomach before the molecules travel through the small intestine and then into your liver for further metabolism. During this metabolization process, the THC molecules actually may become stronger. The metabolic byproduct, 11-hydroxy-THC, which is produced when THC moves through the intestines and liver, is more concentrated than the predigested THC molecule.¹ The 11-hydroxy-THC then gets shuttled into the circulatory system that runs throughout your body and delivers nutrients and molecules to your brain and other body tissue.

This is why when you eat an edible, the effects usually take longer to settle in, but they often feel more intense and last longer than when you smoke cannabis. So, the next time you’re waiting for the effects of an edible to take hold, take a step back and remember that your liver is hard at work making those THC molecules stronger, and within an hour or so, you will feel the unique high that only edibles can deliver. Be forewarned, however, if you are new to the edibles experience: A little goes a long way, so it’s best to start out with a tiny portion and give it a few hours to kick in. Otherwise, you may have a more intense experience that you are comfortable with. 

For high-quality cannabis products in the Denver area, stop by Mile High Dispensary or visit our website to preorder recreational or medical cannabis products online.

¹ “11-Hydroxy-THC: Why Edibles Can Feel More Potent,” Encore Labs, May 1, 2020.

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