Why Weed Feels So Much Stronger When You Eat It

Photographed by Rachel Cabitt.
Of all the ways to consume cannabis, pot brownies are probably the most misunderstood (and, yes, delicious). As a new video from AsapSCIENCE explains, that's because a brownie's effects take a while to come on and can be pretty darn overwhelming — especially if you're a first-timer.
First off, you're not imagining it: Edibles do affect you in a completely different way than smoking does. When you take a bong hit, for example, y0u're heating up cannabis to about 800 degrees Fahrenheit, the video explains. That's enough to convert a compound in the plant into a psychoactive form (delta-9-THC) that binds with endocannabinoid receptors in your brain. This, essentially, is what produces a high.
However, heating cannabis up like that also causes the plant material to combust. And any time combustion happens, you're inhaling carcinogenic compounds. (Granted, in much smaller amounts than you would with cigarettes.)
That's one reason why some marijuana consumers opt for edibles instead: avoiding potentially harmful compounds. To make those weed brownies, cookies, or candies, cannabis is heated up to around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. It's also mixed with something fatty, such as oil or butter, which allows it to cross the blood-brain barrier and get to those inviting endocannabinoid receptors.
But when you're eating your weed, it gets processed by your digestive system and liver before it gets to your bloodstream. That takes a bit longer, which means you won't feel any effects for at least 45 minutes (and it may take up to two hours). It also means that THC is converted to both delta-9-THC and an even more potent form (11-OH-THC), which produces stronger effects.
"So, using the same amount of marijuana, you actually get more high with edibles," the video says. That accounts for the stronger and, sometimes, weirder effects of edibles. That's also why it's a good idea to "start low and go slow" as they say when it comes to brownies. Otherwise you might find yourself in an unexpectedly uncomfortable situation. But remember, a pot brownie isn't going to kill you — even if it feels very much like that.

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