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Smoking vs. Edibles: What’s Best For My Condition?

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We all have our favorite ways of consuming cannabis, whether it be smoking, vaping or ingesting. Of course, with each method comes a different set of equipment and accessories. But did you know the way you consume cannabis also changes the effect is has? Though this may not be super important to the casual cannabis consumer, it can have major implications for patients seeking relief and treatment.

The Effects

When cannabis is eaten, the THC is metabolized by the liver and converted to 11-hydroxy-THC; this chemical then reaches your brain and results in a much more intense high. From ingestion to sensation, the elapsed time is about 40 minutes to an hour, but the effects can last 4-6 hours for those who need long-term relief.

Smoking cannabis, on the other hand, is more detrimental to your respiratory health than eating a cookie or a brownie, but the effects are usually felt immediately. This is great for quick pain relief and doesn’t knock you out if you get the wrong dosing.

Besides the effects, here is some advice around choosing whether to smoke or ingest your cannabis based on a few of the common ailments marijuana is used to treat.


Epilepsy affects around 1% of the population and can be detrimental to living a normal life. Cannabinols have been proven as anticonvulsants, which mean they are effective in combatting seizures. Animal-based studies show that cannabis can help epilepsy patients depending on the dosage; however, overdosing has been shown to cause seizures rather than help combat them. The same study outlines that the best way to consume cannabis for epilepsy patients is to smoke it so the dosage can be better controlled.

Best method of consumption: Smoking


Arthritis is not a debilitating disease that takes over one’s life, but rather a major inconvenience to living a normal healthy life. Consuming cannabis has been proven as an alternative method of relief for arthritis patients, but still the overarching principle for pain treatment is to maintain function without sacrificing cognitive function. For this reason, we recommend that individuals suffering from arthritis smoke cannabis rather than ingest it, simply because the relief will come faster and will not take away from the rest of your day.

Best method of consumption: Smoking

Sleep Disorders

Cannabis has been commonly prescribed drug to treat sleep disorders like insomnia. Since medical science has now begun to study the effects of cannabis on our sleep, we are learning more about its possible benefits. In a study conducted on insomnia patients, 79% saw improvements in both “time to fall asleep” and their “quality of sleep” when using cannabis. All of those who ingested cannabis orally found that their quality of sleep increased. This may be because the effects of edible cannabis last longer than smoking; thus the user can experience relief without dosing every few hours.

Best method of consumption: Ingestion

General Pain

Much like arthritis, the main principles of pain relief remain the same: lessen pain without sacrificing cognitive function. The same principle applies when using marijuana to treat any general aches or pains. Whether it’s a headache or back pain, the ideal method of cannabis intake is smoking due to its flexibility in dosing. Smoke until you feel the pain alleviate so you don’t end up dosing more than necessary.

Best method of consumption: Smoking


There is nothing worse than feeling like your head is being tossed around sledgehammer. Migraines affect almost everyone at some point and cannabis has been shown to help with the unbearable pain. Studies show that both smoking and eating cannabis is effective against migraines but eating cannabis has a longer-lasting effect against the pain. Smoking cannabis may lead to quick relief, but ingesting will allow for the pain to dissipate and not come back.

Best method of consumption: Both

Stimulating Appetite

Cannabis has long been known for giving users “the munchies,” but there hasn’t been much research into how or why this effect happens in the body. Some say that cannabis speeds up metabolism and thus makes you hungry, but the science is still unsubstantial to draw definite conclusions. If you want to try stimulating your appetite, smoke your cannabis instead of eating it; smoking won’t overwhelm your brain while you’re enjoying your favorite snacks or meal.

Best method of consumption: Smoking


Glaucoma is a condition that can cause blindness if not caught in its early stages. Once eyesight is lost due to glaucoma, it cannot be regained and currently there is no cure. Cannabis has been known to suppress pressure within the eyes (which causes glaucoma), as well as excite other cells and improve inner-eye circulation. Seeing as how smoking takes the THC straight to the brain, it is the ideal method of intake for glaucoma patients.

Best method of consumption: Smoking


Surprisingly, cannabis exerts a defined bronchodilator effect on the small airways on the lungs; this means it decreases resistance in the respiratory airway and increases airflow to the lungs. Fourteen asthmatic patients took part in a study and found that THC produced significant bronchodilation for at least two hours. Seeing as how asthma is mainly a respiratory deficiency, smoking combusted plant matter is less than ideal. As such, people with asthma should consider ingesting edibles as a solution to their problems.

Best method of consumption: Ingestion

These are just some of the hundreds of conditions that can be treated with cannabis. It is, of course, recommended that you speak with a health professional about your condition and what method of cannabis consumption is right for you. As more research is undertaken, we will begin to understand more thoroughly the usefulness of this plant and have the studies to back it up.

Until then, find the best products, like rolling papers and grinders, to help you dose according to your condition and feel better.

Feature Image: Don Goofy, Allan Ajifo, Mislav Marohnić, Matthew Cachia, Hannah