Edibles vs. Smoking – Pros & Cons

by Haley Mills · November 28, 2022

Smoking vs. Edibles: Which is better? A look at the pros and cons of each method of consuming cannabis.

edible vs smoking

As marijuana legalization happens in more states from the West to the East coast, many people are concerned about the best consumption method for your health. Is it better to smoke or eat weed products? Let’s find out!

Many factors can help you decide on using edibles vs. smoking weed, including what effects you want to experience with your cannabis. Various cannabinoids, terpenes, and strains can affect your experience, including how high you feel and how long-lasting those effects are. The way you consume cannabis, either by ingesting edibles or smoking marijuana, can produce completely different interactions with the body.

If you enjoy using cannabis but seek other ways to consume it, edibles may provide that path. Let’s go over the basics of medical marijuana edibles together and weigh the pros and cons of edibles vs. inhaled cannabis,

The Cannabis Plant: Explained

The cannabis plant has two significant strains: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis Indica. These names, of course, give rise to the strains of Sativa and Indica that many people enjoy and can find at any cannabis dispensary. While these two kinds of plants are both members of the cannabis family, they have some differences in appearance and chemical composition.

On the other hand, the Indica and Sativa plants tend to produce very high amounts of THC, which is one of the reasons they are so widely cultivated. It is crucial to remember that both types of cannabis plants have countless more hybrid strains that all have unique properties.

Often referred to as pot or weed, medical marijuana is explicitly referring to the products made from dried flowers or buds of the plant. It can include flowers, stems, and leaves. The main psychoactive compound is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. It can also contain CBD, while hemp contains only CBD. There are many other potentially beneficial cannabinoids being discovered and studied such as CBN and CBG.

Is consuming cannabis edibles illegal?

Federally, yes. If they contain a certain amount of THC. Statewide, there are many options to purchase, possess, and consume CBD and THC edibles. The 2018 United States Farm Bill describes hemp as a cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THC. Hemp oil or CBD oil are products manufactured from extracts of industrial hemp. According to medical marijuana laws, hemp products containing less than 0.3% of delta-9-THC are not scheduled or considered an illegal drug and can be considered Farm Bill compliant.

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis consumption. In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize weed for recreational cannabis users. In 2017, California became the most significant state to legalize recreational marijuana. Currently, twenty-one states where recreational marijuana is legal at a state level, and 37 states (as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) have approved comprehensive medical marijuana programs. Several other states are expected to consider legalizing marijuana in the upcoming years. There has been significant support for legalizing marijuana in recent years.

Medicinal Marijuana: Therapeutic Benefits

Marijuana is a drug that has been used for centuries. The first recorded use of marijuana as a medication was in 2737 BC by Chinese Emperor Shen Nung. Marijuana was also used as an anesthetic during surgery in Europe and the United States during the 1800s and early 1900s.

Today marijuana is sold as a pain reliever and an alternative to dangerous prescription medications like opioids. Marijuana has been used in various medical conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, high blood pressure, and muscle spasms. Edible marijuana is also effective in treating symptoms caused by chemotherapy and radiation therapy within the cannabis industry.

Marijuana has many potential medical uses, including:

  • It effectively reduces pain, nausea, and vomiting associated with cancer and other illnesses. 
  • It may also be used to manage mental illnesses such as PTSD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. 
  • Marijuana has also been shown to reduce intraocular pressure in the eyes of people with glaucoma. It may cause the pupil to constrict, reducing the pressure inside the eye.
  • Seizure management, particularly from epilepsy. 

Marijuana is most commonly used for recreational purposes. People enjoy smoking or ingesting marijuana for its psychoactive effects, including euphoria and a sense of relaxation. However, the use of marijuana as a medicine is still hotly debated, with some states legalizing it for medical purposes. In contrast, others restrict all use as a comprehensive drug abuse prevention method.

Possible Risks of Medical Cannabis

Edibles and smoking weed carries similar risks as other THC cannabis products. It’s important to remember that edibles can onset slower but the effects can be much more intense and it can be easier to take a higher dose if using homemade edible recipes so proceed with caution always.

The potential dangers of medical marijuana include:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry or Red eyes
  • Slowed cognitive function
  • Extreme fatigue

Marijuana for medical use does not produce any known severe side effects. Some people fear it might cause too intense of a high, and others have reservations about its legality, considering that marijuana is federally illegal in the United States. It’s crucial to brush up on local laws and choose a high-quality product for pain relief.

If you are on coagulants or blood thinners, you may want to remain cautious with edibles because THC can significantly slow down blood clotting. Remember to discuss using medical marijuana for migraine prevention with your primary care physician, especially if you are scheduled for an upcoming surgery or procedure.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — published by the American Psychiatric Association — the following criteria are indicative of potential marijuana abuse:
  • Prolonged marijuana use despite physical or psychological distress
  • Prolonged marijuana use despite social or relationship problems
  • Marijuana cravings
  • Difficulty controlling or reducing cannabis use
  • Prioritizing cannabis use over other activities
  • Causing harm at work, school, and home as a result of marijuana use
  • Marijuana use dominates one’s daily schedule
  • Risky behaviors during/after marijuana use
  • Using more cannabis than is typical
  • Cannabis tolerance
  • Cannabis withdrawal symptoms such as emotional distress or severe agitation (irritability/anger/depression), difficulty sleeping, and decreased appetite

Ways to Consume Medical Cannabis

The market is vast among medical cannabis products, from medical-grade buds and tinctures to vape pens and dabbing. You can consume cannabis flower in many other forms and can also be vaped, eaten, applied orally, and even used topically.

Edibles include: Baked goods, candies, cannabis-infused oils, beverages, savory snacks, candies, and gummies. There are many different choices for cannabinoids, many without having to consume cannabis smoke.

These tiny chemical compounds called THC and CBD have many more benefits than most people know. Purchasing marijuana from a reputable dispensary is always essential, along with deciding on consuming edibles or smoking marijuana as your preferred method.

Edible medical marijuana includes any type of cannabis infused food or drinks that can be ingested. You can make medical cannabis edibles at home and also find gummies, chocolate bars, brownies, and other edible cannabis products at dispensaries in legal states. Ingesting edibles takes longer to kick in than smoking, but they produce lasting effects that are extremely beneficial for many patients.

Pros/cons of using edibles

Positive Effects:

  • Eating edibles is more discreet than smoking weed, which you can use in public
  • It’s easier to travel, especially on a plane, with cannabis in edible form
  • The effects are more intense and last longer
  • Relatively easy to make at home
  • They come in many different forms
  • Healthier on the body than smoking marijuana

Adverse Effects:

  • Takes longer to feel the effects
  • Can be hard to take the correct dosage
  • Edibles can be much different from brand to brand, product to product

Pros/CONS of Smoking Cannabis

Positive Effects:

  • When you smoke cannabis, the THC levels in the body will decline faster than if you ingest it. Edibles take longer to metabolize and leave your digestive system, which means they may show up longer on drug tests
  • You can feel the effects faster when smoking weed than with edibles
  • Vaping cannabis can be an easy way to feel quick effects without too much smell

Adverse effects:

  • Can be worse on the lungs due to smoked cannabis inhalation
  • Pungent, definitely not discreet especially in flower form

The Takeaway: Cannabis Edibles

There are many cannabis products and options to choose from online and in stores, but Leafy DOC is here to help you along the way. Ingesting or taking cannabis sublingually will cause a more prolonged, intense feeling while smoking or vaping will have faster yet shorter effects. Keep this in mind as you learn more about how your body responds to different products and strains of medicinal cannabis.

Edibles are an excellent smoke-free option for the medical use of cannabis. Cannabis edibles typically taste good, they are discreet, effective, and long-lasting. Just make sure to start with a low dose and increase slowly as a rule of thumb, especially for the first time. Medical cannabis edibles interact differently in everyone, so make sure to read product labels and discuss any treatment changes with your healthcare provider.

Last Updated: January 30, 2024

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