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Inhalation vs. ingestion - what's the best way to consume cannabis?

The bioavailability of cannabis refers to the proportion of the active compounds (such as THC and CBD) that enter the bloodstream and are available for the body to utilize. The bioavailability can vary depending on the route of administration. Let's compare the bioavailability of inhalation (vape or smoke) versus consumption via edibles:

1. Inhalation (Vape or Smoke):
When cannabis is inhaled through smoking or vaping, the cannabinoids are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs. This route of administration provides quick onset of effects, typically within minutes, as the compounds directly enter the bloodstream and rapidly reach the brain. The bioavailability of inhaled cannabis is estimated to be around 15-50%.

However, it's important to note that the specific bioavailability can vary depending on factors such as the individual's lung function, the quality of inhalation technique, and the potency of the cannabis product being used. Vaping, in particular, is often considered a more controlled and potentially safer method compared to smoking, as it avoids the combustion process and associated harmful byproducts.

2. Edibles:
Consuming cannabis via edibles involves the oral ingestion of cannabis-infused products such as brownies, gummies, or beverages. When cannabis is ingested orally, it undergoes a more complex metabolic process. The cannabinoids are first absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and then metabolized by the liver before entering the bloodstream. This process can take longer, typically ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours or more for the effects to be felt.

The bioavailability of cannabis through edibles is generally lower compared to inhalation, estimated to be around 4-20%. This lower bioavailability is mainly due to the substantial breakdown and transformation of cannabinoids during digestion and metabolism in the liver. Additionally, individual factors such as metabolism and the presence of food in the stomach can affect the absorption and onset of effects.

It's important to exercise caution with edibles, as their effects may be delayed and longer-lasting compared to inhalation. The slow onset can lead some individuals to consume more, mistakenly thinking the initial dose was insufficient. This can result in consuming excessive amounts, leading to unwanted and potentially overwhelming effects.

In summary, inhalation (vape or smoke) generally provides higher bioavailability and faster onset of effects compared to consumption via edibles. However, each method has its own pros and cons, and individual preferences, desired effects, and circumstances should be considered when choosing the appropriate route of administration for cannabis use.

PICTURED: Hash ball of the strain Jealousy