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Why Are Edibles Stronger than Smoking?

By Sirius J · Tue Jan 06, 2015
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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.

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Thought I read something one time about certain receptors in the brain that are only turned on by cannabis that goes through the stomach, not the lungs.  Could this have something to do with the 11-hydroxy-THC?  The article implied that eating even a small amount of (decarbed) marijuana activates these receptors, which in turn allow the brain to process the delta-9-THC more effectively.  I don't know if it's a placebo effect or not, but we have tried this several times and it seems to work.  I'll eat a small amount of medible (1/4 dose) and wait an hour before vaping.  The medible alone has no effect on me, but the vape seems to hit way harder and faster than normal.

Edited by MrShpongle
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Yet I can get pretty buzzed off of one toke of good stuff. If I were to eat the equivalent amount of a single hit, nothing would happen. You need to ingest so much more.

I started off with 10 mg caps, 1 a night.  That means it took me 20 nites to get thru a gram of 21% THC Space Dawg, and I came here a heavy smoker.  Yet I could smoke 1/2 gram in a setting.  I moved up to 20 quickly and then leveled off at about 25-50mg.  All my patients thought 25-50mg(1/10th to 1/5th of a gram) is more than enough for an evening and wouldn't go out and about on a cap.  My friend took the equivalent of a full gram of flower in one dose and he felt it for well over 24 hours.

Edited by Norby
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Any plant producing 11-hydroxy-THC would need a liver. Additionally, it is with ingestion that the THC-mitigating effects of CBD are seen, because of competition for receptor sites, so expect radically different effects with different CBD levels.

"Needs a liver", exactly! No expert here, but I've been reading a lot of Bad Katt over at http://www.badkatscannapharm.com and she addresses the issue of "bioavailability", making the good stuff in the edibles more available. Something about getting the body to use the liver rather than the gut to process what's ingested. She recommends adding Lethicin to oils, butter, etc. I've been doing this lately and at least for me I get relief with a much smaller dose. Just my 2¢ worth.

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I started off with 10 mg caps, 1 a night.  That means it took me 20 nites to get thru a gram of 21% THC Space Dawg, and I came here a heavy smoker.  Yet I could smoke 1/2 gram in a setting.  I moved up to 20 quickly and then leveled off at about 25-50mg.  All my patients thought 25-50mg(1/10th to 1/5th of a gram) is more than enough for an evening and wouldn't go out and about on a cap.  My friend took the equivalent of a full gram of flower in one dose and he felt it for well over 24 hours.

 

Norby - that's very Interesting. But please clarify; since it took you 20 nights to get through a gram I am assuming that the caps consisted of 50 mg of decarboxed cannabis and thus about 10 mg of THC per cap?

Edited by zachw
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I took a gram of 21% THC Space Dawg and kiefed it and decarbed it and made 20 caps from it.  There wasn't much plant material as it upsets my stomach. I took one a night for a couple days and then up to 2 a night.  I still smoked but noticed the cap at nite cut that down tremendously and I was higher than I had been all day smoking. It also alleviated the inflammation in my gut.  So it didn't take 20 days but it would've if I hadn't upped the dose.  In one gram of Space Dawg there is 210 mg THC.  So making 20 caps equaled about 10gr per dose.

  I wondered how they could sell the starblast chews at 3 for $15 when each one had 33mg. THC and I couldn't eat more than 1/3rd of a chew to start out.  I just got to the point where I can take a whole chew and not get dizzy after a year of taking medibles.  Then I realized that 3 chews were only equal to 1/2 gr of 20% THC flowers.  So tehy were getting $30 a gram if the chews were made out of 20% THC flowers.

Edited by Norby
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