There’s so many different ways to enjoy cannabis these days. We’ve got tinctures, vapes, and topicals, but the two kings of the cannabis ring have always been edibles and smoking.
This leaves us with one big question: Is it healthier to consume edibles or smoke cannabis? You might be able to guess which has bigger health consequences, but there is some surprising nuance to this debate.
Let’s take a close look at the health pros and cons of edibles and smokables.
The Health Effects of Edibles
Edibles are a classic way of enjoying THC and CBD. Edibles include everything from old-school weed brownies to newer entries like gummies and even THC soda. We even have mobile games about cooking with cannabis.
Edibles have their own unique set of health benefits and risks. Let’s take a look at each.
Edibles are well known for their health benefits. We often associate edibles with being able to help improve the outcome for mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Edibles are also great for boosting appetite or even managing pain.
However, those benefits are more about THC and cannabis itself, rather than being unique to edibles. Edibles have their own benefits beyond what THC and CBD already bring.
One of the most popular features of edibles is that they are very discreet. It’s well-known that, despite the growing legalization of cannabis, law enforcement officials disproportionately target weed. One report found that 75% of border patrol searches of Americans were for cannabis alone.
Edibles give you a way to enjoy that won’t raise the suspicions of the people around you. This is ideal when you’re using THC and CBD for anxiety or other medical benefits.
Edibles also make it easy to calculate your dosing. It’s much easier to divide 5mg edibles, than it is to calculate doses per joint.
The biggest benefit of edibles is that they do not harm your lungs. Edibles are taken orally and have no increased risk of aggravating your airways or having an increased risk of lung cancer as we get with smoking.
There’s one more benefit of edibles we should look at. It’s often overlooked that edibles are very accessible. Individuals who have trouble smoking, due to asthma or other conditions, can find it much easier to take edibles in pill, food, or even liquid form.
- Easy to calculate your dose
- No harm to your lungs
- Can come in pills, candies, or even beverages for accessible consumption
There are also a few risks that are unique to edibles. These include edibles being made of unhealthy refined sugars, how long it takes for the high to kick in, and questions about quality control.
It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours for edibles to kick in. Even experienced individuals often miscalculate this time frame and accidentally take too much.
It’s easy to think that the edibles weren’t strong enough when, in reality, they are just taking longer than usual to hit. This can lead to a delayed high and potential overdosing.
Some edibles are often made of refined sugars and are basically candy. This might not be the best health decision especially if you’re planning on taking edibles on a regular basis for other medical concerns.
Then we have issues of quality control. Cannabis flower has its risks, but we can be relatively certain what’s inside of the flower itself. You’ll end up paying a bit of a premium to make sure that your edibles have gone through third-party laboratory testing to ensure their quality.
- Delayed effect
- Unhealthy sugars
- Quality control challenges
The Health Effects of Smoking Cannabis
The most iconic way of enjoying THC and CBD is by smoking cannabis flower. You can probably guess the risks that come with smoking cannabis, but there are actually some benefits that you should consider as well.
When Smoking Might be Better
Smoking THC is the fastest way to get it into your bloodstream. This can be incredibly important for individuals who are looking to try cannabis as a form of medicinal relief for pain, nausea, and other conditions. Edibles just might be a little too slow to relieve certain types of discomfort.
Smoking THC also has a cultural enjoyment factor. Humans are social animals and we occasionally take calculated risks together including smoking cannabis. There’s something to be said for occasionally passing the bong with friends.
- Faster absorption into the blood
- Social enjoyment
The Risks of Smoking Weed
The risks of smoking cannabis might actually outweigh the potential benefits. Edibles are notably more healthy than smoking and this is because of the damage that that hot smoke does to your lungs.
The physical act of smoking does damage to the sensitive tissues of the lungs. It also introduces dangerous carcinogens into the mouth, throat, and lungs.
Smoking can also aggravate underline conditions such as asthma in ways that edibles don’t.
Smoking cannabis is also very difficult to dose compared to edibles. This makes it much more difficult to use medicinally as well as to track how different THC doses affect your body and mind.
The last point might be a little obvious, but smoking some dank herb is less than discreet. The scent often sticks to clothing and hair making it easy for people to detect the presence of cannabis.
- Damage to the sensitive tissues inside the lungs
- Aggravates conditions like asthma
- Risk of oral and lung cancer
- Less discrete
- Hard to dose accurately
Wrapping Up: Edibles vs Smoking Cannabis
THC and CBD edibles are by far the healthier choice when it comes to enjoying cannabis and hemp products. However, there are a few benefits that come with smoking cannabis that might help certain individuals especially when it comes to getting medical benefits from these substances.
If you’re looking to have a good time enjoying edibles or smokable flower, remember to keep your dose low and take it slow until you’re comfortable with picking things up.
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