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Edibles vs. Smoking: Which Is Better for First-Time Cannabis Users?

Most people who see cannabis depicted in American culture assume that people first experience it by smoking a joint. But in the new age of the cannabis connoisseur, it’s just as easy to be introduced to the herb in edible form as it is to try it in smoked form. It’s come to the point where some cannabis newbies are suffering from choice fatigue. Is it better to try cannabis the “traditional” way, i.e. wrapped in a layer of rolling paper, or should one go for delectable edibles like cannabis cookies, gummies, brownies, and canna-butter popcorn? 

If you’re a first-time cannabis user—or if you want to be helpful to someone who is—here’s a quick comparison of edibles and smoked cannabis that can guide you towards an informed decision. This should narrow down your choices for what to order for your next cannabis delivery as well as prepare you for the aftereffects associated with these particular products.  

Should You Smoke a Joint or Take an Edible? Here’s the Score

Between smoking cannabis and eating it, there’s actually no hard and fast answer for which method is best for one’s first time. As you’ll find with a substance like cannabis, your enjoyment of your first experience largely depends on your preferences. It also depends on what you personally think you’d be able to handle.  

To make it easier to compare the two and to choose your initial method of taking cannabis, here are four things that you should consider: 

The Onset of Cannabis’s Effects

First, think about how long you want to wait before you feel the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or cannabis’ psychoactive ingredient. One of the most noteworthy differences between smoking cannabis and eating it is how long it will take for the “high” to kick in. 

On average, it takes 5 to 10 minutes to feel the effect of one hit from a joint, and the high typically lasts between 2 and 4 hours. An edible, on the other hand, may take as long as 45 minutes to 1 hour to metabolize in your system, and its effects can last between 3 and 10 hours depending on the dosage. 

How much time do you have to spare for your first cannabis experience, and how long do you want to feel it in your system? These are important questions to ask when deciding between joints and edibles. 

The Potency of Cannabis’s Effects

A second factor that relates to the form and dosage of your cannabis product is how potent you want it to be. When it comes to both joints and edibles, each user’s mileage may vary. Many, however, attribute the stronger high to edible products compared to smokable products. That’s because the levels of 11-hydroxy-THC, an active form of THC that’s metabolized within the body, are typically higher when someone eats cannabis as opposed to smoking it. 

If you’d like to take it easy on yourself and experience a milder high for your first time, smoking a joint is likely the way to go. You’ll likely get a more potent high out of an edible, but if you’re not ready for it, you may feel discomfort or disorientation when the effects actually set in. You can also risk “greening out,” or overconsuming cannabis and feeling sick or nauseated as a result.      

The Beginner-Friendliness of the Method

Third, think about how beginner-friendly either method is to you. Smoking a joint may not be an intimidating prospect to someone who’s already tried smoking cigarettes. But for someone who doesn’t smoke and who would prefer to take cannabis in small, measurable doses, perhaps edibles are the better choice. 

The Health Risks Associated with the Method

Lastly, it’s worth considering what the health risks may be for each method. It may be easy to deem smoked cannabis as the less healthy choice because it comes with the same risks of smoking tobacco. But edibles—especially those that contain a lot of fat and sugar—may not necessarily be very healthy either for someone who has to keep an eye on their blood sugar and cholesterol. In addition, both smoked cannabis and edible cannabis come with risks that pertain to overconsumption, such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and anxiety.

With either option, it’s important to be aware of the risks and to exercise moderation. That will ensure that one’s preferred method of consumption meets their expectations and doesn’t cause them undue harm. 

Some All-Around Tips for Trying Cannabis for the First Time

Regardless of whether you choose to try cannabis in smoked form or in edible form, here are a few tips for getting the most enjoyment out of your experience: 

  • If you’re taking medication for a particular health condition, get cleared by your doctor before you try products containing THC or cannabidiol (CBD), cannabis’s other well-known active ingredient. 
  • Always start small. See what happens when you take one hit or consume a low dose of edible cannabis before you increase your dosage. 
  • Have a buddy with you so that they can watch over you and help you in case of an emergency. 

Refer to the information above to choose the right method of cannabis consumption and to have a blazing good first time.

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