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 longer. But it also takes longer to kick in. Yes, you’ll feel the effects of smoking within minutes, but they’ll peak within 30 to 60 minutes and taper off between two to four hours. But when you smoke you actually absorb more cannabinoids, such as THC than you do from edibles. So why would an edible high be more potent and linger on?
The real difference between edibles and smoking is that with edibles, a much larger fraction of Delta-9-THC makes it to the liver first. There it gets converted to 11-hydroxy-THC.
So in other words, if you smoke, the ratio of 11-hydroxy-THC to Delta-9-THC is quite low, and if you take an edible it’s much higher.
Most people have heard of THC, but 11-hydroxy-THC is a distinctly different cannabinoid and it’s not as well studied.
Much of the research on 11-hydroxy-THC is old and does not focus on its potency.
But 11-hydroxy-THC is indeed potent, perhaps even more so than its cousin. In a study, nine men were injected with 1mg of 11-hydroxy-THC, and later THC, then asked to rate their high on a scale of zero to ten.
“After the intravenous administration of 11-OH-Δ⁹-THC, there were pronounced psychologic and pharmacologic effects marked tachycardia, an intense psychologic high, and considerable symptoms were produced,” researchers from the Lilly Laboratory for Clinical Research wrote. “All subjects reported a maximum psychologic high within 2-3 min after the intravenous administration of 11-OH-Δ⁹-THC that was more intense than that previously experienced after smoking marihuana.”
It’s really not much—and almost entirely subjective—but it’s some of the only research we’ve got.
Another reason why edibles are so much stronger is that when you smoke marijuana, THC gets sucked into your bloodstream via the alveoli in the lungs. But THC is an oil-soluble compound, meaning it doesn’t break down well in blood, which is mostly water. So within seconds, it looks to bind with the endocannabinoid receptors in the body, never really having a chance to be metabolized by the gastrointestinal tract.
But when you ingest cannabis, your saliva immediately starts to break down that THC. Once it hits the stomach and then the liver, it becomes 11-hydroxy-THC. And becoming more water soluble. Once it’s metabolized it can actually go faster into your brain and faster all the way throughout your body.
Which is why the high will last longer and feel stronger.
Learn how to dose cannabis edibles before starting on a cannabis recipe, making the intense body high an enjoyable experience.