All of my friends get high. Heck, most of my family does, too. We’re a tight-knit group of cannabis consumers, but our consumption methods aren’t identical. One friend will only eat her cannabis in the form of potent homemade little cake bites. My mother will partake in whatever form the cannabis is being offered. I prefer smoking flower. One obvious thing that matters to all of us when deciding which option to pick is, “how high will I get?” I prefer more control while my friend always aims for space. Edible makers have taken note, however, and there are more edible products on the market now than ever. While edibles are generally the more powerful delivery option than smoking, they are also growing in popularity. Informed decision making is essential, so let’s compare edibles vs. flower in four key areas.

Potency

Edibles tend to make your body high intense; when you ingest your THC, half of the THC is converted to 11-hydroxy-THC. But it makes a pit stop first; when cannabis is eaten, the liver has to process it first. Once it hits the liver, the delta-9 THC is converted into the new chemical. This THC version has an easy time getting to the brain, making it a powerful delivery system. Some studies have found that this unique chemical (11-hydroxy-THC) produced more psychoactive effects than delta-9 THC. For those looking to pack a high punch, edibles are simple and easy to do.

Timing, Duration and Intensity

This is a key factor in the edibles vs flower comparison. While edibles can generate an intense high, the onset time for the effects to kick in generally takes a while. This means that while smoking can get you nice and baked within 15-20 minutes, the effect delay from edibles may result in dosing issues. When you smoke cannabis, the plant compounds are processed quickly through the lungs, chugging directly into the bloodstream. Edibles may take hours to start working. That wicked combination of wait time, dosing inaccuracies, and psychoactive intensity can make some cannabis users leery of edibles. There are plenty of stories about people eating an entire dosed chocolate bar intended for 10 servings, ending up in the fetal position on the bathroom floor. In other words, someone got too high.

The edible market is working to correct that, however. Some fast-acting edible products are designed to take effect quickly, via a more controlled absorption rate. This leads the user to experience a high more similar to smoking flower. All in all, though, smoking flower tends to give the user more control over the timing, duration, and intensity of the high.

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Health effects

Smoking cannabis is linked to gastrointestinal issues. Edible use is linked with feelings of discomfort (in other words, they got too high) due to dosing issues. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, however, not only are cannabis sales in general increasing, edible sales have jumped, too. Cannabis companies have reported increased sales in edible products, suggesting that cannabis users are trying out new options. Perhaps folks need a little more oomph to their cannabis during these uncertain times.

Another factor to consider is health risks related to the delivery mechanism. Smoking causes a list of health issues, including damage to the heart and lungs. Some states with medical marijuana consider the method of smoking as risking patient health. Although it’s not the cannabis causing the problems per se, it’s the act of smoking that’s the bad guy here.

While edibles won’t give you lung issues, they can pack a punch when it comes to the day after, so watch out for the dreaded edible hangover. Regardless, edibles are considered, in general, to be a safer way to medicate, provided the dosage is controlled.

What’s it gonna cost me?

At first glance, it might seem like flower would be the cheaper alternative, but let’s look at it a little closer. While the price per gram of flower might seem inexpensive, there are implements to consider: papers, vape, bong, pipe, grinder, lighter . . . with edibles, it depends on if you’re purchasing commercial or homemade products. If you’re knocking out your own dosed edibles, you need to consider the cost of flower, ingredients (butter, flour, sugar), and random tools needed (hello, cheesecloth). If you buy edibles from the dispensary, it’s a matter of dosage and serving size.

I also consider effort when looking at cost. If you enjoy the act of making your own edible products like brownies and cookies, from decarboxylating the flower to making butter or cannabis flour, then the process itself will be rather enjoyable and worth the time. Suppose you aren’t down with owning the whole process. In that case, it might be more worthwhile to drive to a dispensary to purchase some high-quality indoor flower or gourmet edible option.

The best part? Options abound for all who partake. Sometimes half the fun is trying out new ways to get high.

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