Inhalation vs Ingestion: A Basic Guide

Welcome back to another installment of Farma Science 101. This time, we’d like to talk about the differences and similarities between the two primary forms of cannabis consumption: inhalation and ingestion.

You’re probably familiar with one, if not both, of these methods. Inhalation refers absorption through the lungs: smoking cannabis flower, or vaporizing cannabis oils, for example. Ingestion refers to the oral consumption of cannabis products, such as edible chocolates or beverages.

While either method will provide both psychoactive and medicinal benefits, there are some key differences between inhaling and orally ingesting cannabis. One such difference is the onset of effect. Since the surface area of our lungs is very porous and large, cannabinoids are absorbed quickly when inhaled, resulting in an almost immediate effect with the “peak” of the effect generally arriving about 10-15 minutes after inhalation.

When you eat cannabis, however, it can take a few hours to feel the full effect. This is why titrating one’s dose is so important, particularly with edibles. Always make sure you start small and work your way up when dosing yourself; generally, beginning with 5mg of THC and waiting at least an hour before taking more is a safe bet.

Another primary difference between inhalation and ingestion is the duration of effect. While smoking or vaporizing cannabis produces an almost instantaneous effect, it does not last very long. One can expect the effects of inhaled cannabis to largely leave the body after 2-3 hours. Conversely, edibles can last for 6-8 hours! Depending on one’s needs, either method could be the most viable option for consumption. In the world of cannabis, there is something for everyone.