With medical marijuana now legal in 20 states and recreational marijuana use legalized in some, edible marijuana is becoming more and more popular. Users are cooking up everything from pot brownies to cannabis-infused salsa.
Compared to smoking marijuana, eating or digesting it produces a stronger and longer-lasting high. While smoking marijuana gets the THC, the chemical component that creates the high, into the body much faster, eating marijuana keeps the THC in the body much longer.
One main difference between smoking and eating marijuana is how it is absorbed into the body. Eating marijuana goes through the stomach and ends up being metabolized by the liver, creating an altered form of THC that passes through the blood-brain barrier much easier than regular THC absorbed through smoking. Further, smoking marijuana does not pass through the liver and doesn’t create the same effect.
Another difference between smoking and eating marijuana is that it’s much easier to control the dosage when smoking. While smoking marijuana produces intoxicating effects almost immediately, users are able to control and regulate the dosage they take in. When eating marijuana, however, the effects are not felt until much later—sometimes up to an hour—after ingesting. This can cause the users to underestimate the strength of what they ingested, and result in overindulging.
Edible marijuana poses a significant concern, particularly with young children, who may confuse marijuana-infused foods – such as candy, brownies and cookies – with regular foods. In these cases, accidental marijuana poisoning can occur, resulting in symptoms ranging from disorientation, difficulty walking, extreme sleepiness, incoherence, non-responsiveness, and respiratory distress.