Originally Published: January 27th, 2016.
There is a difference between smokables and edibles; that’s just the way it is. Some people don’t mind either way, and some will not partake in one or the other, but generally there are many people with a particular preference. So what’s the difference? What are the exact characteristics of smokables and edibles which appeal to a certain type of cannabis user?
According to NarcAnon, cannabis seeds were used for food in China as long ago as 6000 B.C.E. Back in those days, cannabis was a plant used for all kinds of purposes, from food to hemp textiles and medicine to religious rites. The plant was traditionally burned in various forms as part of religious rituals, and boxes of gold and glass have been found dating back as far as 2700 B.C.E. While we’ll never know if the ancient Romans and Scythians preferred to smoke or consume it, it’s clear they partook of both methods.
In today’s rapidly decriminalizing society, cannabis smokables and edibles are available in nearly every dispensary. One of the many reasons edible enjoyers refrain from smokable cannabis forms is possible lung damage and coughing, as well as the unobtrusive aspect. And while it definitely causes coughing without a vaporizer, a dab rig, or a bong, there are differing reports as to whether the coughing is damaging to the lungs. It certainly can be painful to inhale hot smoke, so cooling it down feels better. In the past, medical studies have leaned toward damage to the lungs, but recent studies and the advent of legalization has resulted in reports that the lungs are not damaged by cannabis smoke. The American Lung Association holds that “toxins and carcinogens” are always released during combustion (lighting one fire) of plant materials; and since marijuana smokers hold the smoke in, their lungs are damaged four times more than tobacco smokers. I find it hard to believe that cannabis smoke is more damaging than cigarette smoke; fortunately, the scientific community agrees that the effects of marijuana smoke on the lungs should be studied more. A recent study published in the International Journal of Cancer in June of 2014 took the combined data of six previous studies on the subject; the result was no link between marijuana use and lung cancer risk. Also, cannabis’ anti-carcinogenic properties may counteract negative effects, according to Nature Reviews Cancer. So, while it hasn’t been studied enough (yet) to tell for sure, we do know that smoking marijuana is not as damaging to the lungs as was assumed in the past.
As to the personal opinions, here are the results: if you want a body high, use edibles. If you want a head high, use water to cool the smoke. Edibles are known to last longer, and Shellene Suemori of Dixie Elixirs & Edibles noted that edible processing and extraction techniques can cost the oil strain attributes. Those who like instant gratification naturally gravitate toward smoking, because the effects from smoking are felt almost instantly. Control is also an aspect of which method you choose; with smoking, dabbing, or vaping, it’s easier to get the high you want, and feel the impact for a designated amount of time. The high generally lasts longer with edibles, and the high may feel more intense. No matter which method you prefer, it’s a good idea to speak with your dispensary or caregiver concerning the dosage of the products you intend to use – they have the best and most up-to-date information for you.