The Difference Between Smoking, Vaping, And Edible Highs

by | Jun 28, 2023 | Guides

Cannabis can be a multifaceted experience, shaped significantly by the method of consumption. For newcomers and seasoned consumers alike, the differences between smoking, vaping, and edible highs can be both fascinating and a little confusing. However, understanding these differences can help individuals better navigate their personal cannabis journeys.


The Art and Science of Smoking Cannabis


First, let’s explore the traditional method of consuming cannabis: smoking. Whether through a joint, a pipe, or a bong, smoking has been the go-to method for cannabis consumption for centuries. When cannabis is smoked, its compounds are heated to the point of combustion, releasing active compounds, such as THC and CBD, in the form of smoke.

Inhaled through the lungs, these compounds are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and transported to the brain, resulting in a rapid onset of effects, usually within minutes. The high from smoking is generally intense and immediate but also relatively short-lived, typically peaking within 30 minutes and subsiding over the next one to three hours.

However, smoking is not without its downsides. The combustion of plant material produces tar and other potentially harmful byproducts. Plus, the smell and taste of smoke can be off-putting for some.


Vaping: A Modern Take on Cannabis Consumption


Vaping, on the other hand, provides a modern alternative to smoking. Using a vaporizer, cannabis is heated to a lower temperature than combustion, causing the active compounds to evaporate into a vapor. This method allows for a cleaner experience, avoiding many byproducts produced by smoking.

Like smoking, vaping delivers a rapid onset of effects. However, users often report the experience as being different. The high is often described as more clear-headed and less heavy than smoking, potentially allowing for greater functionality.

Vaping’s ability to offer a precise temperature control also enhances the ability to taste the distinct flavors of different cannabis strains, creating an appealing experience for connoisseurs.


Edibles: A Journey of Its Own


Edibles represent a wholly different kind of cannabis experience. Unlike smoking or vaping, ingesting cannabis-infused foods or drinks means the active compounds must go through the digestive system. This process results in a longer onset time — usually one to three hours — but also a longer-lasting effect, potentially up to six to eight hours or longer.

Moreover, when ingested, THC undergoes conversion to 11-hydroxy-THC, a metabolite that can cross the blood-brain barrier more easily, potentially leading to a more intense and longer-lasting high. Many users describe edible highs as being more of a full-body experience and more psychologically profound.

It’s important to note that because of this delayed onset, it’s easy for beginners to overconsume edibles. It’s recommended to start low and go slow, giving the body ample time to process the edible before considering more.


Choosing the Right Consumption Method for You


When it comes to choosing the right consumption method, it boils down to personal preferences and desired effects. If you’re after a quick, intense high and don’t mind smoke, traditional smoking may be for you. If you’re seeking a cleaner, more flavor-focused experience, consider vaping. Finally, if you’re after a long-lasting, more intense high or want to avoid inhalation altogether, edibles could be your best bet.

Remember, everyone’s experience with cannabis is unique, and what works best for one person might not be the same for another. Always start with a low dose, particularly when trying a new consumption method or product, and adjust gradually based on your experience.

Whether it’s the immediacy of smoking, the clean precision of vaping, or the long-lasting effects of edibles, each method of cannabis consumption offers its unique experience. The different highs result from the varied ways in which our bodies process THC, CBD, and other cannabis compounds.


The Role of Terpenes and Cannabinoids


Cannabis is a complex plant, consisting of hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenes, each potentially contributing to the overall experience. THC and CBD are the most well-known cannabinoids, but there are many others, like CBN and CBG, that play a role. Similarly, terpenes, aromatic compounds found in cannabis and many other plants, can influence the high and offer a range of flavors and aromas.

Photo credit: Berkeley Patients Group

When considering your desired high, don’t forget to account for these factors. A high-THC strain may offer a potent experience, but the presence of other cannabinoids and terpenes can significantly shape that experience. Research is ongoing, but many believe that these compounds work synergistically, creating what’s known as the entourage effect.


Other Considerations


It’s crucial to note that while this guide provides a general understanding, individual responses to cannabis can vary greatly due to factors such as tolerance, body chemistry, and the strain or product consumed. Hence, personal experimentation, within safe and legal bounds, is often necessary to find what works best for you.

Moreover, consider the health implications of your chosen method. Smoking, while traditional, may not be the best choice for those with respiratory issues. Vaping, though perceived as a cleaner option, has been linked to health concerns, particularly when it comes to cheaply-made vape pens or low-quality vape oils. Edibles, while often seen as the most health-conscious option, can lead to unintentional overconsumption due to their delayed onset of effects.


In Closing


In the world of cannabis, there’s a mode of consumption for every type of user and every situation. Whether you’re a seasoned user seeking to mix things up, or a newbie starting your green journey, understanding the differences between smoking, vaping, and eating cannabis can help you have the most enjoyable and beneficial experience.

Exploring the various highs of cannabis is an exciting journey, one marked by personal growth, self-discovery, and a deeper understanding of this versatile plant. So, keep an open mind, stay safe, and savor the experiences along the way. Because when it comes to cannabis, it’s not just about the destination – it’s about the journey, too.

As we continue to explore and understand cannabis better, we encourage you to do the same. Take your time, do your research, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Whether you’re smoking, vaping, or nibbling on an edible, the world of cannabis is a world of potential just waiting to be tapped.

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