Breaking down different highs: flower, concentrate & edibles.
POV: it's 2021, and you're sitting on your friend's couch, shopping for cannabis products online. You're not sure what you're looking for, but you're only on page 2 of 81 results. Your eyes light up at all the beautifully packaged vapes, tinctures, joints, and edibles. Twenty minutes pass, and you still haven't selected your pick-me-up. Finally, the scroll fatigue settles in. Reading about cannabis products online can suck you into a maze of confusion. Each product differs in taste, effect, and benefit. This wide range of experiences is why it's wise to go shopping with some general knowledge to help you determine which direction you want to go. If you're just getting started, it's essential to understand the difference between consuming flower, concentrates, and edibles, before you begin selecting cannabis products.
Tree, bud, green, herb, grass, and nug are all common names that refer to the smokable part of the cannabis plant after it's been dried and cured. Smoking flower is the most common way to consume cannabis. Effects hit almost immediately and can last anywhere from one to three hours, depending on the dose, potency, and person. Flower can be consumed using a few different methods: a bong, joint, blunt, pipe, or vaporizer. Flower (pre-smoked) is abundant in THCA, the precursor to THC (the psychoactive compound that makes you high). So, how does THCA turn into the good stuff? Through heat! The high temperature of your lighter or heating element converts the THCA to THC, which then quickly enters your bloodstream via the lungs to get you high. Depending on your delivery method, how much smoke you inhale, and how long you hold it in, the bioavailability of THC (how much THC you’re consuming) as a smokeable is 2 to 56%. So that means, for example, a big bong hit will most likely get you more stoned than a drag from a joint. Still, it's different for everyone (check out the entourage effect to learn more about why).
What is the high like when smoking flower?
When smoking flower, you'll most likely feel the effects within a few minutes. However, the complete high should come on within ~10-30 minutes and may evolve as time goes on. Depending on the strain, effects can vary from bursting with creativity and energy to feeling relaxed and sleepy. Usually, effects wear off gradually after about 1 to 3 hours.
Cannabis concentrates are the product of extracting THC or CBD from the cannabis plant into a concentrated form. THC, terpenes, and other cannabinoids are extracted from plant material using solvents or physical methods, and made into concentrate. There are various methods for creating concentrates which usually include heat, pressure, or both. Rosin, wax, live resin, shatter, crumble, and RSO are all different classifications of concentrates that differ from each other in appearance, effect, and flavor. Just as with flower, the high from smoking concentrate varies significantly based on many other factors:
- Quality of flower and its potency
- Process of extraction
- Method of consumption (dab rig, vape pen, infused in a joint, etc.)
- Solvents added
What is the high like when smoking concentrates?
In general, we've found that the high from concentrates usually hits harder and faster than the buzz from flower, and lasts about as long if not longer. Since the effects can be felt more powerfully and intensely, concentrate typically goes a lot further than flower, making it great for smokers with a high tolerance.
Edibles are a completely different game than inhalable cannabis products. When you smoke flower, THC enters your bloodstream instantly, which is why you feel effects within minutes. However, when you eat edibles, the THC is processed through your liver first, a far lengthier process. It takes time for an edible to make it through your digestive system. First, the edible has to make it to your intestines, where THCA is converted to THC by the liver. Then, you'll start to feel the effects and high. Depending on your digestive system, you might start to feel something ~30 to 60 minutes after eating an edible. But, it could also take much longer. This is where tons of people mess up and eat more before the initial dose kicks in - DON'T BE THAT PERSON (everyone has an edible story horror, learn from us).
What is the high like when eating edibles?
Although the high tends to peak within the first hour, an edible buzz fluctuates in waves as your digestive system continues breaking down the edible. Therefore, you may be high for 4 to 6 hours, depending on how much you ate, your digestive system, etc. Once you've committed to an edible, it's best to sit back and enjoy the ride (but make sure you have no other plans first!) Pro tip: CBD can help counteract the high and bring you back down slightly if you get too high. At equivalent doses, the high from edibles is often more powerful than the high from smoking flower or concentrate. These powerful effects are especially great if you need help staying asleep through the night or if you’re looking for long-lasting pain relief. The most critical factor with edibles (we cannot stress this enough) is to be patient while you wait for the high to come on. It might take longer than an hour, depending on your digestive system, how much you ate that day, etc. If you double your dose and eat more while you're waiting for effects to kick in, you may be signing up for a more psychoactive experience than you expected. It's always best to start small and eat more later.
Cannabis affects us all differently, so of course, the best way to learn about products is to experiment with them for yourself. Our advice to you as you explore online pages and dispensary shelves of cannabis products is: go slow, take notes, try new products in the comfort of your home, and keep an open mind. Finally, we wish you a happy high!