Smoking vs. Edibles for Medical Marijuana Consumption

Marijuana brownies

Smoking vs. Edibles for Medical Marijuana Consumption


One of the most important decisions seniors have to make after they have chosen to use medical marijuana is How you take the marijuana into your body. Most seniors experience with marijuana  comes from the 1960’s, when smoking a joint was predominant. Smoking is still the most common method of consumption, and there are a variety of ways to do that. Though pot brownies were around, the number and types of edibles available today is incredible. For example, take a look at the list available at


It’s worth mentioning that as medical marijuana spreads, the companies that grow and dispense marijuana are coming up with new methods for dispersal virtually every day. There are creams, oils, vaporizers, and other methods in their infancy. However, the choice for most seniors will be between some type of smoking, or an edible if they are available in your area.


There are several things to consider when choosing the method of consumption; speed, control, and your relative lung and digestive health.


1) Speed – Smoking marijuana is unquestionably the fastest way to get the medicine into your system. Lung tissue is very absorbent and most people can get relief in between one and five minutes. Many seniors express concerns about inhaling smoke, but there are a variety of ways to smoke that can minimize the harshness of smoke. On the other hand, the average person will begin to get the relief from marijuana edibles in 30-90 minutes. Rich foods like brownies and chocolate bars will be toward the upper end of that estimate because they takelonger to work their way into the digestive system.


2) Control – It may be counter intuitive, but most experts agree that smoking marijuana offers more control for new users. Because it takes effect so quickly, novice medical marijuana users can take a small dose, wait 5-15 minutes to see if it provides relief, and then take another inhale as necessary. Conversely, once you eat a marijuana chocolate bar, for example, you have usually ingested a large dose, and it’s difficult to determine its effectiveness until it gets into the digestive system.


While many seniors and medical marijuana users eventually move to edibles, new patients are encouraged to start with smoking whenever possible in order to determine how well their bodies react. After a period of time, migrating to edibles is a natural progression. It is strongly suggested that if you choose edibles, that you start with only fractions of the marijuana infused food until you gain personal experience. It should also be noted that when you smoke medical pot, the effects begin to dissipate after a very short time. Ingesting edible marijuana can last up to 10-15 hours depending on the dosage and each individuals digestive system.


3) Relative lung and digestive health – There are a variety of illnesses that would prevent people from either smoking or eating medical marijuana. Emphysema and lung cancer patients obviously can’t smoke, and chemo patients and people with serious digestive issues sometimes can’t hold food down or absorb  the medicine well enough for it to be effective. In fact, many need to inhale medical marijuana in order to eat.


 For those concerned about inhaling smoke, there are many ways to make the experience easier. Rolling a marijuana cigarette is still a common method of ingestion, but is frankly the most difficult on your lungs. Metal and glass pipes are also commonplace, but not recommended for those afraid of inhaling smoke as there is no filter. There are cigarette tubes and a machine that can stuff what looks a great deal like a normal cigarette, and the filter between the marijuana and your mouth can take some of tar out of the plant. Perhaps most common are water bongs or bubblers. Passing the smoke through water both filters it and cools it off, making it much easier to inhale. Some seniors have even found that water with ice cubes makes it the easiest to limit the stereotypical marijuana cough.

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Whatever method you choose, you will need to start slowly until you can determine how your body reacts. Unfortunately, the lack of large federally funded research means that seniors will need to do a little experimentation to start. There are no documented cases of anyone dying from overdosing on marijuana, however, overdosing can be an uncomfortable experience.


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