Smoking Weed vs Edibles | Effects Guide for Beginners

Weed and Edibles Top-down Shot

Both smoking weed and edibles will provide you with a high. The nature of an edible high can vary due to the way THC is processed in your body.

There is a difference in the overall quality and nature of the edible experience. Your body absorbs the cannabinoids differently when you smoke cannabis versus when you eat it. This can lead to a more potent high.

There is an obvious difference in the method of THC delivery, but this is not where the differences end. Edibles may be a good alternative if you are using cannabis for something like pain relief. That way you won’t have to worry about inhaling carcinogens from the burning of plant material.

Smoking Weed in Hammock

The Difference in Experience

It might not seem like there would be very many differences. They both contain THC-A, (the cannabinoid that gives you a high) so how would it be any different? Well now, there are multiple ways that cannabis can be consumed and processed by the body. They involve different organs metabolizing the cannabinoid, so you can expect different results.


Fresh cannabis contains the cannabinoid called THC-A (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid). It then converts into THC when heated and burned. Smoking cannabis produces almost instant effects because the THC goes directly from the lungs, to the brain, by traveling through your bloodstream. But because of this, smoking is usually not as potent and your high doesn’t last as long.


Edibles are usually prepped by an expert so that the THC-A from the fresh cannabis is converted into THC before infusing it with the desired edible. Why does it take so long for the edible kick in? Your liver is mainly responsible for this. You consume the edible, your digestion breaks down the nutrients, and your liver converts the THC into 11-OH-THC (11-Hydroxy-THC). This will produce more psychoactive effects than if you were to simply smoke cannabis. Some cannabinoid research suggest that 11-Hydroxy-THC has an easier time crossing the blood-brain barrier, making it significantly more potent.


Whether you are smoking or using edibles, it is recommended that you start off slow. Work your way up to ensure that you don’t take too much. It should also be noted that it is much harder to go overboard when smoking. Edibles can be deceptive because they take a lot longer to kick in. So, start off with a 10mg dose if it’s your first time.

Overlooking Valley

The Pros and Cons

Like with pretty much anything, both of these ways of ingesting THC come with their set of advantages or disadvantages. So, it is really pretty much impossible to definitively say which way is “better.” What is better is an incredibly subjective thing. It depends on each person, what they want out of their experience, their level of tolerance, and what they are using it for. Both will provide a high and many of the benefits associated with the use of cannabis. But, they do feel very different.

If you are looking for something that is fast-acting, smoking cannabis is probably your best bet. With edibles, it does take some time for them to kick in and some people take this time delay to mean that they didn’t take enough, which can often lead people to taking too much. Be sure to give it a full 60-90 minutes for the edible to kick in before you determine that you didn’t have enough.

It is also less hassle to smoke cannabis than it is to source or make your own edibles. Some people like the ease of smoking and others like the convenience of having a portable edible solution. However, there are known carcinogens that are the result of smoking cannabis and it can be harsh on the lungs, potentially damaging them in the process. If you happen to have allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues, smoking cannabis is not the recommended way to get the best benefits of THC.

One problem with both smoking and edibles is that cannabis does vary in strength and potency, even from the same plant and batch. This means that it is really hard to get a consistent level of potency.

What do you enjoy?

Whether you prefer to smoke or use edibles will depend on what type of experience you are looking for. There are good reasons that you might choose either, smoking will allow you to feel the effects a lot faster, but it doesn’t last as long as the high on edibles will. It should also be reiterated that edibles almost always provide a stronger high than smoking marijuana does and it is very difficult to get a consistent level of THC in edibles. Just like different strains and even batches of smoked marijuana will vary, so too will the potency of the THC in edibles.