There is a fundamental difference between the high you get from smoking weed and eating cannabis edibles. Compared to smoking a joint, edibles can give you a much stronger body high that lasts much longer. Interestingly, this high may take a lot longer to kick in than when you inhale cannabis.
In contrast, you may feel the effects of smoking within minutes. These effects tend to peak within 30 to 60 minutes and taper off between two to four hours. Furthermore, when you smoke weed, you actually absorb more cannabinoids than in weed edibles. Notably, one such cannabinoid is THC, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis.
Interestingly, when an edible is consumed, an ingredient called Delta-9-THC rapidly makes its way to the liver. Here this cannabinoid gets converted to what is called, 11-hydroxy-THC.
What is 11-hydroxy-THC, and how does it affect me?
11-hydroxy-THC is a cannabinoid from the cannabis plant. It is believed that this cannabinoid is more potent than THC and may be responsible for the long lasting and stronger effects of weed edibles.
When you smoke weed, the ratio of 11-hydroxy-THC to Delta-9-THC is much lower than when you consume an edible. As it is often said that edibles feel stronger in psychoactive effects, we may at some point be able to pin this on high levels of these two cannabinoids. However, this is understudied at this point in time.
The short answer is yes. Weed edibles may be much stronger due to their transit path.
When you smoke marijuana, THC gets sucked into your bloodstream via alveoli in the lungs. As THC is an oil-soluble compound, it seeks to break down in a like substance. Since THC heads straight to the bloodstream when smoking, its compounds do not dissolve well in blood that is mostly water. The breakdown process takes a lot longer, therefore your endocannabinoid system is receiving more in tact cannabinoids.
In contrast, when you eat cannabis, your saliva immediately starts to break down THC. It continues to it break down in stomach acid and makes its way to the liver. Here it becomes 11-hydroxy-THC. Once this cannabinoid metabolizes, it may reach your brain faster and disperse throughout the entire body. This may be why the high lasts longer and feels a lot stronger.
Of course, anyone consuming cannabis should firstly consult their physician. It is very important to consume carefully dosed cannabis edibles. It is also safer to start with lower doses.
If you consume too much of an edible, it is possible to have an uncomfortable feeling. This could present in nausea, vomiting, paranoia, and breathlessness. It is suggested that all cannabis is consumed under close supervision.
References According to Appearance:
1 Weeks, M. (2019, January 21st) THC Metabolites And Why That Edible Knocked You On Your Ass
2 Invest, J.C. (1973, October) Comparative pharmacology of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and its metabolite, 11-OH-Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol.