Psychoactive Properties Of Ingesting Cannabis V.S Smoking. Today’s edible cannabis scene has evolved from your stereotypical homemade “pot brownies” into an innovative industry, pushing the taste buds of both stoners and first-time marijuana users.
There’s THC-infused salad dressing, candies, seltzers, cakes, cookies, chocolate bars, potato chips, beef jerky and even specialized multi-course meals. Many of which mask the smell and taste of weed.
But if you typically smoke marijuana or haven’t tried edibles before, proceed with caution. While consuming weed and smoking it will bring you to a high, there are some key differences between the two.
The primary psychoactive component of marijuana (cannabis)—what deliver the “high” in other words—is the substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC’s powerful, mind-altering effects derive from its interaction with and activation of the cannabinoid receptor system in the brain. In varying concentrations, THC is present in a multitude of marijuana-related products, including raw plant materials, infused edible formulations, and potent cannabis extractions.
Though this coveted cannabinoid may undergo various forms of processing prior to use, many of its underlying psychoactive effects will remain fundamentally similar from product to product.
While different forms of marijuana intake have been around for years, recent legislation allowing for legal marijuana use in some parts of the country has led to explosive growth in the marijuana product industry, particularly in Washington state and Colorado (where both medical and recreational use are legalized).
Different methods of cannabis consumption include:
- Joints or bongs (smoking).
- Dabbing (smoking of concentrated extract).
- Vaping (use of electronic vaporizer).
- Edibles (cooked into food and eaten).
- Topicals (lotions, sprays, oils and creams).
- Tinctures (alcoholic solution).
Whether ingested by smoking, eating an edible, or another method, THC (as well as any other cannabinoid substance present) will make its way into the bloodstream and eventually be delivered to the brain of the user THC may elicit feelings of relaxation and increased sensitivity to light, sound, and touch. However, THC can also adversely affect short-term memory and coordination and can bring on anxiety and paranoia. Whether ingested by smoking, eating an edible, or another method, THC (as well as any other cannabinoid substance present) will make its way into the bloodstream and eventually be delivered to the brain of the user.
Smoking a Joint
Historically, smoking has been one of the most common methods of using marijuana. After inhaling, THC enters the lungs and then passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which quickly carries the chemical to the brain. By smoking a joint, an individual is able to feel the effects of THC much more rapidly than if consumed through an edible.8
As absorption into the bloodstream takes place on a quicker timeframe and, frequently, progresses over a shorter duration than that associated with edibles, the subjective effects of smoking are likely to be felt more immediately, may peak more quickly, and ultimately last for a shorter period of time.
However, smoking marijuana may have certain adverse effects on respiratory health; though the underlying mechanisms and associated risks appear to differ quite significantly from those related to tobacco smoking, various studies have reported associations with airway inflammation, barotrauma, and obstructive pulmonary issues.9 Much more study is needed to better define these risks. Research shows that while cigarette smoking has been declining in recent years, marijuana use is increasing, and those who smoke marijuana have a much higher rate of tobacco use than those who do not use marijuana.
Here are 9 things which smoking a joint will do to your body and your brain
1) When smoked, marijuana induces a feeling of euphoria (a ‘high’) almost instantly. The drug stimulates brain cells to release the reward chemical dopamine – the same pleasure centres targeted by other drugs such as heroin, alcohol and cocaine.
2) The drug also increases heart rate by between 20% and 100%, an effect which lasts up to three hours after a user has smoked a joint. Many users report feeling relaxed, but others can feel panicky or paranoid.
3) THC – the chemical in cannabis which causes the ‘high’ – attaches to cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These are found throughout the brain, including areas which regulate coordination, movement and memory. This leaves users unable to operate machinery, drive safely, and remember what they’re doing.
4) Most people smoke weed without many health problems – but some users go on to become dependent on the drug. Around 1% of users are thought to go on to use the drug in an addictive way. Researchers believe the reason could be partly genetic, in a study by Washington University in St. Louis.
5) The drug also makes users feel lazy. Researchers at the University of Columbia dosed rats with THC, then offered them a choice of two tasks – one hard for more reward, and one easy, for less reward. The stoned rats opted for the easy option, natch. ‘Perhaps unsurprisingly, we found that when we gave THC to these rats, they basically became cognitively lazy,’ said lead author Mason Silveira.
6) The drug gives people a feeling similar to ‘runner’s high’, surprisingly. Research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that exercising increased blood levels of an ‘endocannabinoid’ – similar to the ‘active’ chemicals in marijuana.‘Running exercise increases blood levels of both beta-endorphin (an opioid) and anandamide (an endocannabinoid),’ the researchers write
7) Cannabis also affects a brain receptor responsible for regulating hunger, C1BR – causing sudden hunger known as ‘the munchies’. In effect, the drug ‘reverses’ the signal in the brain which normally tells you that you’re full and you should stop eating – making smokers feel like they’re hungry.
8) After around two hours, levels of THC in the bloodstream start to drop – leaving users feeling tired, and sometimes depressed. While the drug doesn’t cause withdrawal, it can lead to addictive behaviour, with up to 10% of users consuming the drug in a problematic way.
9) Cannabis is ‘lipophilic’, meaning it dissolves in fat in the body. This means traces of the drug can remain in the body for far longer than other drugs such as cocaine – leading to users failing drug tests up to 10 days after smoking a joint. Heavy users can test positive up to three months after stopping smoking. Click Here To Buy Recreational Cannabis
Eating an Edible
Cannabis and its extracted active ingredients are commonly mixed in to various types of food, including brownies, cookies, and candy.6,7 As manufacturing methods vary, edible can vary greatly in their potency (or cannabinoid concentration).
After eating an edible containing marijuana, THC is absorbed into the bloodstream through the digestive tract and undergoes a first metabolic pass in the liver before entering general circulation. Since this absorption process takes place more slowly than it does through the lungs (in some cases, as long as 30 to 60 minutes before reaching the brain), the effects felt after consuming edibles will often be more gradual in onset but my last much longer.7,8
Consuming a drink brewed with marijuana, such as a tea, will result in a gradual onset of effects similar to that of solid edibles. Click here to Buy Cannabis Edibles
Some of the more pronounced differences between smoking a joint and eating an edible are reflected in the speed of onset of effects, the duration until peak effects are experienced, and the longevity of the effects. Smoking is a very rapidly effective route of administration. Joints, bongs, and other methods that involve inhaled smoke or vapor are capable of producing a near-instantaneous “high” that then may last 1 to 3 hours; edibles take longer to kick in, elicit peak effects more slowly, and may be felt for many hours.
The most important factor to remember, however, is that THC is present with both methods of marijuana intake—carrying with it the same psychoactive qualities and potentially adverse consequences no matter how it is used.