Words: Shamim de Brún
It’s a tale as old as sliced bread: Friends make special brownies. Friends eat the brownies. Two hours pass and everyone feels as stone-cold as Steve Austin. So Friends eat more brownies. Then, go tobann, everyone is literally so high that they have to remind themselves to breathe.
Smoking and eating weed is very different, and anyone who has tried both knows just how different they can be. But why is that? When you smoke the chemical reaction in your lung is as quick as breathing and gets straight into the bloodstream the same way oxygen does. It then travels to your brain, and boom you’re high.
When you eat weed, it’s processed by your liver instead of your lungs. It produces something called 11-hydroxy metabolite. That’s five times more psychoactive than THC and it lets you talk to Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense. Most people have heard of THC, but 11-hydroxy-THC is a distinctly different cannabinoid and it’s not as well studied.
Edibles take so long to produce effects because the THC has to go through a longer process. It is first processed by your saliva, next the stomach, then it gets metabolized by your liver, before making its way into your bloodstream and finally your brain. that’s why it doesn’t hit initially in the same way a joint does. It’s more similar to the alcohol is absorbed, but slower again. This process is much more thorough and absorbs way more than inhaling. That’s why the same amount in a joint feels manageable but glues you to a couch with an edible.
Because of this, eating the exact same amount of THC as you smoke makes you much, much higher for almost quadruple the amount of time. The effects of eating weed tend to leave you higher for longer – even if there isn’t an obscene amount of THC in the edibles.
The full-body high doesn’t mean edibles are “dangerous,” even if journalists like Maureen Dowd have had dodgy experiences sampling them. Ingesting THC has never killed anyone. According to an article from Business Insider, that’s because it would take “1,500 pounds in 15 minutes” to kill you. Not even the hungriest stoner could attempt such a feat.
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