What’s Better, Toking, Vaping, or Eating?

There are many ways to consume marijuana – countless, really, if you consider the endless food options; the many oils, lotions, and sprays; and other products you can lace with THC.

But what’s the best way? That particular debate could stretch on forever, just like the list of good ways to ingest pot. But the choices do seem to narrow at some point, bringing it down to the three most popular methods: eating, smoking, and vaping.

So which is best? That’s up to you.

Smoking: The Most Efficient

Marijuana Joint

People have been toking weed for thousands of years. They haven’t been eating or vaping it for nearly as long. There are plenty of reasons for that, but science and history both suggest smoking is the fastest, most efficient way to process marijuana.

That’s because smoked cannabis crosses the blood-brain barrier faster than any other method. The blood-brain barrier is a biological wall that filters out certain substances. The faster a recreational drug crosses the barrier, the faster and harder it hits.

This is why downing a shot of liquor will get you more intoxicated than sipping it. All the brain-bound alcohol molecules cross the barrier at once, and that means a stronger punch.

But there are downsides to smoking. Coughing, for one. The smell, for another. And then there’s lung damage: Some studies suggest toking could cause cancer, though others say it won’t.

Even without cancer, emphysema, or another major respiratory diagnosis, sending smoke in and out of your lungs can cause real wear and tear over the years. You may not die, but you could have a harder time climbing stairs.

Vaporizing: Easier on the Lungs

Launch Box Vaporizer

Those worries disappear when you vape. A properly used vaporizer applies low heat to dried marijuana, and that generates a cloud of water vapor. You inhale the vapor just like smoke, but without all the harsh toxins.

As with smoking, the THC in the vapor crosses the blood-brain barrier rapidly. It hits at almost the same speed as smoked marijuana.

But the high is different, and many users complain it simply isn’t as good as smoked weed. The high tends to be very heady, like an extreme sativa, and it may not be as strong. Plus, you have to inhale a lot more vapor than smoke, and if you’re a heavy user, you could find yourself sucking on a vape all day long.

That said, vaping is clearly the wave of the future. Two states now ban smoking in their medical marijuana laws, and people who toke are most likely to use a vaporizer as an alternative.

Eating: Slow but Potent

ingest marijuana by eating

Eating is probably the easiest way to ingest marijuana, if you don’t count the cooking. (If you cook for yourself, you should know that many recipes get complicated when weed is added.)

Like vaping, eating marijuana isn’t terribly risky. There have been reports of overdoses, including two that contributed to deaths, but most use is safe – especially if you know what you’re doing.

The best part about an edible high is how long it lasts, often several hours. Smoked or vaporized weed will usually get you high for only a couple hours at the most. And edibles can be pretty strong.

The downside is that you have to be patient. The stuff doesn’t kick in fast; it often takes an hour or more to deliver its full effects.

This problem creates a certain risk for users: Since you don’t feel the high right away, you’re apt to eat more of the food, and then more, until you find yourself so stoned and paranoid you can barely move.

About Brian Ellis

With 6 years' experience in business journalism, Brian is the person we turn to for anything related to the business of cannabis. His news coverage spans topics including marijuana business and finance. Brian's work features on marijuanareferral.com, marijuanamerchantaccount.com and marijuanainsuranceagent.com.