Why Are Edibles Stronger than Smoking?

hightimesBY SIRIUS J · TUE JAN 06, 2015

Edibles have a reputation for being the most powerful method of ingesting cannabis, save for maybe dabs (of course). Apart from the simple fact that you can ingest more at one time, something else is going on when you eat activated extracts or cook with cannabis: A different cannabinoid is formed in your body that makes for an extra-potent high.


A lot of people say you can get higher off of one gram if you orally ingest it than if you smoke it; not only is this is up for debate, but it depends on each individual’s preferences. Some people attribute this to the idea that from oral ingestion “your body absorbs all the THC,” whereas when you smoke flowers a lot of THC gets burnt or otherwise wasted. It is true that combustion wastes a significant amount of active cannabinoids, but surely oral ingestion doesn’t lead you to absorb all of the THC. Not even close to what people think is absorbed actually gets into your bloodstream; in fact, according to a National Institutes of Health study, “oral THC bioavailability is only 6% -10%”. Low water-solubility, degradation in the stomach and pre-metabolism are the culprit for much of the THC passing through your body without giving you the high you’re seeking. So what gives? Why do edibles hit you so hard?

It’s well known that THC needs to be decarboxylated in order for it to do anything in an edible, but something happens metabolically when you eat it that doesn’t happen when you smoke it. About half of orally ingested THC gets turned into 11-hydroxy-THC, a more powerful version of it that has an easier time getting into your brain. When you smoke weed or otherwise inhale its vapors, almost none of this potent 11-hydroxy-THC is formed.

So the next time you get laid out by an edible, just remember, it’s not only THC that’s getting you high. That extra potency is from something different going on.

(Photo c/o azmarijuana.com)

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