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Ingestion versus inhalation: What are the effects of cannabis edibles?

What are cannabis edibles?

Cannabis edibles are food and beverage products that have been infused with cannabis, such as candy, baked goods, or dissolvable strips, to name a few.

Like other cannabis products, edibles contain cannabinoids, which are compounds that are responsible for producing the plant’s effects -- such as THC (an intoxicating cannabinoid) and CBD (a non-intoxicating cannabinoid).

Since everyone’s physiology is different, the way in which you may experience the effects of cannabis, regardless of consumption method, can vary. However, there are a couple of main distinctions between the effects of ingestion and inhalation:

Cannabis inhalation


Smoking cannabis is one of the most popular forms of dried flower and concentrate consumption. Individuals can either roll their own joints, purchase pre-rolled joints, or smoke out of pipes or bongs. Although a common way to consume cannabis, combustion can create compounds that aggravate the throat and lungs. Vaporization, on the other hand, is another form of inhalation that heats cannabis without combusting it. Vaporization helps to preserve your material’s terpenes, and rather than burning the plant matter itself, simply vaporizes the plant’s cannabinoids.

Effects from inhaling cannabis by smoking or vaporizing can start to take place immediately, or up to two minutes after consumption. Effects can last up to six hours

Cannabis ingestion

Another way to consume cannabis is by ingestion. Whether you make your own cannabis edibles using cannabis-infused oil or purchase a pre-made treat, ingesting cannabis causes the body to turn THC into a stronger compound called 11-hydroxy-THC. This can amplify sensations and create a more potent dose.
Effects from ingestion take place 30 minutes to two hours after consumption, with the full effects sometimes taking up to four hours depending on the individual’s metabolism. Edibles can produce effects for up to 12 hours, and in some cases last up to 24 hours. 

Cannabis edibles safe dosing tips

Besides starting low and going slow, here are a few more recommendations to create a safe and positive cannabis edibles experience:
  • Be mindful that effects can last up to 12 - 24 hours. Make sure you don’t drive or operate machinery during this window.  
  • Avoid consuming your edible cannabis with alcohol or other substances. 
  • Store in a child-safe container to keep out of reach from pets and minors. 
  • Consume your edible cannabis in a safe environment and with safe people.
  • Wait until the full effects of your product have taken place before consuming more to avoid adverse reactions. 
Before you purchase cannabis edibles, learn more about how to consume them by reading this blog. To learn more about safe cannabis consumption, visit Health Canada’s consumer information page, and if you have any other questions about our line of cannabis edibles, reach out to our support team via email,

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