Cannabis is a drug with psychoactive effects derived from the cannabis plant. People use it either for pleasure or for medical purposes in treating severe health conditions. As more US states work toward legalizing marijuana, many companies are now offering cannabis products in different forms. With Cannabis 2.0 rolling out, cannabis companies are working on innovative product lines to secure their shares of the new edibles market.
Different methods of consumption
Cannabis can be consumed in many different ways. Every method leads to different psychoactive effects due to chemicals such as THC being activated when consumed in different ways. Some consumption methods might take longer to show their effects than others. Methods may also differ by duration of effect, comfort, and side effects.
Cannabis is consumed by either inhalation or ingestion. Inhalation is the process of absorbing cannabis through the lungs. Inhalation methods include smoking dried cannabis flowers or vaporizing cannabis oils. Ingestion involves administering cannabis through oral consumption. Ingestion methods include consuming cannabis edibles, capsules, or beverages.
How does it work?
When the user ingests cannabis via edibles, the cannabis product travels to the user’s stomach and liver. After this, it gets into the bloodstream and eventually the brain. The liver converts the primary active element of cannabis, THC, into the stronger THC form 11-hydroxy-THC. Getting the effect of a “high” through ingestion takes much longer than via inhalation.
When a user smokes or vapes cannabis products, the chemicals travel through the lungs and pass directly into the bloodstream and brain. A normal vaporizer heats cannabis to 157°C–210°C. This causes chemicals such as THC to evaporate and form a gas, resulting in the feeling of a high.
Delayed reaction of ingestion
When you ingest cannabis, it generally takes around 30 minutes to two hours to feel the effects, and it may take longer for the full effects to kick in. To achieve the desired high, you have to moderate the dose. It’s common advice to start small and work up to determine what’s suitable for you. The general mistake users make is to assume a delay in effects to be an insufficient dose. This may lead to an overdose, which can result in effects that are more than the body can take in. As a general rule of thumb, experts advise users to start with 5 mg of THC and gauge the effects after at least an hour.
In comparison, when you inhale cannabis, it takes only seconds to a few minutes to feel the effects. The user usually feels the full effect of his or her intake within 30 minutes. Even though edibles may be prepared with a high concentration of THC, they deliver a lower concentration to the bloodstream than inhaled cannabis. Ingesting cannabis products transfers only 10%–20% THC to the bloodstream compared to inhaled cannabis at 50%–60%.
Duration of effects
The duration of the effects is one of the primary differences between ingestion and inhalation. Even though inhaling cannabis gives an instant effect, it doesn’t last very long. Generally, the high that comes from inhaled cannabis mostly disappears after two to three hours. Full inhalation effects can last up to six hours. In contrast, the effects from ingesting cannabis products can last for six to eight hours. The full effects can last for up to 12 hours. The residual effects of both methods can last up to 24 hours.
How ingesting cannabis affects users
Users have less control when it comes to ingesting cannabis products. As edibles can be prepared with different concentrations, it’s tough to determine the amount of marijuana intake. Because edibles can come in the form of normal snacks such as brownies, users might also not stop their intake at the right time.
Edibles also might vary from their advertised potency. Because the processes for making edibles differ, product potency may differ from what’s on the label. The concentration of THC might also vary among different batches of production. Regulatory boards are continuously working on stricter rules for edibles testing.
While it’s tough to find the right dosage for edibles, it can be easy to ingest too much due to the delay in the effects. The most common symptoms of an overdose are a rising heart rate, pale skin, confusion or panic attacks, headaches, hallucinations, and paranoid thoughts. As of now, though, there are no records of fatalities related to the overconsumption of cannabis products. Edibles can also cause reactions in the body if consumed with alcohol or other medications such as antidepressants and blood thinners.
Why edibles are better than vapes
As most companies are working on new edible products due to the rollout of Cannabis 2.0, many users are getting more interested in edibles. According to Visual Capitalist, 93% of people that support legalization are interested in trying them, mainly due to the harshness of smoking or vaping in comparison. For ease of use and convenience, companies are working on expanding their product portfolios. Apart from the stereotypical pot brownies, they’re producing chocolates, gummies, space cakes, butter, and drinks.
Edibles are a healthier option than vaping. For the past few months, US states have been struggling with vaping-related illnesses. As of now, 2,290 cases of vaping-related lung injuries have been recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Further, marijuana smoke contains toxins such as ammonia and hydrogen cyanide. These toxins may damage the user’s lungs. It also increases the risk of cancer.
In contrast, edibles products haven’t shown any negative effects on the lungs or increases in the risk of cancer. The long-term implications of edibles use are still unknown, but using edibles is likely safer than inhaling.