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Cannabis Inhalation vs. Ingestion: Which is Better?

Aug, 2022
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With an endless supply of cannabis products and ways to consume them, now is the perfect time to experiment with how you absorb your weed. Cannabis inhalation vs ingestion – which is better? Both consumption methods have their perks; it all comes down to preference. 

How quickly do you want to feel the effects? Are you looking for a smokeless and odorless option? Are you seeking a high or just the therapeutic benefits? We’ll discuss cannabis inhalation and ingestion, the latest weed products like a cannabis inhaler, and the difference between ingesting CBD vs inhaling it

Elevate Holistics is here to explore cannabis inhalation and ingestion and overview the benefits of both. Let’s discover the method of consumption that’s right for you!

cannabis inhalation

Marijuana Inhalation vs Ingestion

When it comes to cannabis inhalation vs ingestion, it’s all about consumer preference. Let’s go over some of the differences between the two methods of cannabis consumption.

  • Cannabis inhalation can produce effects seconds to minutes after inhaling and typically last 2 to 4 hours. The effects of ingesting cannabis via an edible or drinkable usually take 30 to 90 minutes to onset and last 6 to 8 hours.
  • The high produced from inhaling THC and ingesting it through an edible or drinkable are actually very different. More on this below under “What is Cannabis Ingestion?”
  • Cannabis inhalation typically produces an odor, while cannabis ingestion is smokeless and odorless.

What is Cannabis Inhalation?

So what exactly is inhaling cannabis? Cannabis inhalation means smoking or vaping marijuana products. When inhaling THC, it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and then into the brain through the lungs.

Learning how to inhale cannabis might not come naturally, so let’s go over how it’s done properly. When it comes to smoking weed using something like a glass piece or joint, a short, 2-second pull of smoke will do the trick. 

A common misconception is the belief that holding in a hit of weed smoke will get you higher. In reality, holding in a hit for longer than you should allows for more compounds like resin to enter the lungs.

If you feel a little higher after holding in your weed hit, that’s from oxygen deprivation, not extra THC absorption.

If you tend to cough when inhaling cannabis, try putting ice in your bong, using a piece with a percolator, testing certain filters, or switching to vaping.

Vaping weed is an ideal option for patients who want a quick and easy cannabis dose without the smoke. When vaping, the device heats cannabis flower or concentrates to a temperature that turns the cannabis compounds into vapor.

cannabis inhalation

Patients typically vape using a vape pen, dab rig, or other forms of vaporizers. Patients can create their own vape set-up with flower or concentrates, or purchase a disposable option at their local dispensary.

Why does inhaling cannabis dilate airways? Cannabis is a bronchodilator, meaning it can open up our airways. Specifically, inhaling THC may dilate the airways from several minutes to hours and might be dose related.

Types of Inhalable Weed

So, what types of cannabis products are best for inhaling THC?

  • Cannabis flower
    • Cannabis flower is weed in its natural state of plant material. Flower can be smoked in various ways, like using a glass piece or joint, or vaped using certain vaporizers. 
    • Patients can find a large variety of flower strains at any dispensary. When looking for a strain that’s right for you, consider the THC (psychoactive) and CBD (non-psychoactive) levels, as well as the terpenes it contains. 
    • Conduct research and search the dispensary’s website beforehand, or chat with a budtender.
  • Cannabis concentrates
    • Cannabis concentrates are concentrated cannabis compounds like THC, CBD, and terpenes. Concentrates get rid of the plant material and tend to contain a higher potency of THC (and other cannabinoids) than flower. 
    • Concentrates are used for vaping cannabis and come in distillate oil, wax, live resin, budder, shatter, and more. 
    • At dispensaries, patients can find concentrates as a typically gooey substance in small containers, cartridges, or pre-loaded vape pens.
  • Cannabis inhaler
    • A cannabis inhaler is a smokeless, odorless option for those who want to inhale their weed without smoking or vaping it. A weed inhaler looks just like an asthma inhaler and is used to deliver a perfectly dosed vapor of cannabis compounds. 
    • Some dispensaries offer cannabis inhalers, but it is not a super common product.

What is Cannabis Ingestion?

Cannabis ingestion means orally consuming a cannabis product. This can mean:

  • Consuming a food or drink that is marijuana-infused
  • Consuming a sublingual cannabis product like a tincture or spray

When you consume an edible or drinkable, the effects will take much longer to kick in than inhaling cannabis – typically 30 to 90 minutes. Unlike cannabis inhalation, traditional edibles must be digested, absorbed through your intestines, and metabolized by your liver before taking effect.

Interestingly enough, an edibles high is different from a smoking weed high. So why is this? Once the THC in the edible reaches your liver, it turns into 11-Hydroxy-THC before entering your bloodstream. 11-Hydroxy-THC is stronger and more psychoactive than traditional THC.

Learning how to ingest cannabis is much easier than inhaling it since we’re all familiar with foods and drinks. The complexities of cannabis ingestion come from the precautions you must take when consuming marijuana edibles.

When ingesting cannabis, it’s essential to dose your edible or drinkable properly to avoid unwanted effects. After ingesting cannabis, give it plenty of time to kick in before consuming more.

On the other hand, ingesting a sublingual product like a cannabis tincture, cannabis spray, or sublingual edible only takes about 15 minutes or less to produce effects.


Types of Ingestible Weed

  • Cannabis baked goods
    • Traditional edibles typically refer to baked goods like brownies, cookies, cake, and other baked treats. Patients won’t be able to find baked goods at every dispensary, so it can be fun to make your own edibles using your favorite products.
  • Cannabis gummies and chocolates
    • Cannabis gummies and chocolates are some of the most popular products among marijuana consumers. Patients can find cannabis-infused gummies and chocolates at almost any dispensary. 
  • Weed drinkables 
    • A cannabis drink is a beverage infused with cannabis concentrate. Some weed beverages are fast-acting, kicking in as quickly as five minutes after consuming, while others work like an edible and may take up to two hours to reach peak effects.
  • Sublingual cannabis edibles
    • If you desire quicker effects from edibles, sublingual edibles are for you. Sublingual edibles, like mints and hard candies, are absorbed through tissues in the mouth. 
    • While the cannabis in sublingual edibles is delivered into the bloodstream much more quickly than in traditional edibles, the effects don’t last as long.
  • Cannabis tinctures
    • A cannabis tincture is a liquid infused with cannabis. Tinctures absorb under the tongue and work with the body just like sublingual edibles.
  • Cannabis spray
    • A cannabis spray is sprayed directly into the mouth and works the same way as a tincture or sublingual edible.

Ingesting CBD vs Inhaling

What if you only want the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the high? CBD is right for you. Cannabidiol, CBD, is the primary nonpsychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis and is known for its healing properties

This cannabinoid is an effective treatment for pain, inflammation, anxiety, epilepsy, nausea and vomiting, sleep disorders, and neuroinflammation. 

Okay, so what’s the difference between ingesting CBD vs inhaling it?

Cannabis inhalation vs ingestion works the same as any other cannabis product. When a patient inhales CBD, it bypasses the digestive system and enters the bloodstream through the lungs. 

When a patient ingests CBD, it must be digested and metabolized by the liver.

This means that the benefits of CBD will take effect much more quickly when inhaling CBD than when ingesting it. CBD can be smoked or vaped, and patients can even find a cannabis inhaler that contains only CBD. 

Ingesting CBD vs inhaling it through a sublingual product like a tincture or spray will onset the effects in about 15 minutes or less. If you are not concerned with wait times, patients could find great relief from consuming a CBD edible.

Inhale, Ingest, and Feel Better with Elevate Holistics

Inhalation vs ingestion – which is better for you? Whether you’re more into inhaling cannabis or ingesting it, Elevate Holistics can help you access your local dispensaries for the best products.

Elevate Holistics virtually connects patients with a certified MMJ doctor for medical marijuana certification. Our secure and straightforward process helps patients every step of the way and makes getting a medical marijuana card easy.

Are you ready to start inhaling THC or ingesting it?

Book a doctor’s appointment with Elevate Holistics to get medical marijuana card approval today.