When it comes to cannabis consumption, smoking has long been the ultimate ritual. Indeed, for many of us in the cannabis community, the good ol’ toke was the first way we ever consumed the plant.

Of course, smoking isn’t the only way to consume cannabis. There are actually many benefits to eating marijuana rather than smoking up. Plus, there are so many new and exciting edible products hitting the market every day — from baked goods and flavorful candies, to savory goods, carbonated drinkables and cannabis-infused brews — that you’re potentially missing out on innovations by steadfastly choosing toking over tasting.

However, be warned: Eating cannabis, depending on how many milligrams you consume, can have a much more intense and long-lasting effect compared to smoking bud. According to multiple sources, there are two main reasons why this is the case: One, because edibles break down and absorb more directly in the body, and two, it’s much easier to control your dose when smoking. So, let’s further break down the reasons why you might want to switch from smoking your stash to snacking it.

A Stronger High

When consumed, edibles must first pass through the liver before producing the psychoactive effects of the cannabinoid THC. It’s in the liver that the THC in edibles are metabolized into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is the stronger, more potent form of THC. Only after 11-hydroxy-THC is metabolized by the liver is it released into the bloodstream, easily passing through the blood-brain barrier, which is a membrane filter that prevents certain substances in the blood from entering the brain and spinal cord tissue.

When you smoke cannabis, the chemical compound THC doesn’t digest through your liver to transform into the smaller, more bioavailable 11-hydroxy-THC. Instead, THC goes straight to your brain, with the resulting head high much weaker than if the cannabinoid had converted to its more potent form.

More Accurate Dosing

When it comes to cannabis dosing, if you’re a long-term or regular consumer looking to get mega ripped, it’s quicker to consume a high-dose pot brownie than it is to smoke a fat blunt. Conversely, despite the delayed onset time of consuming edibles, if you’re looking to microdose, with practice that dosage is easier to measure in an edible form (whether it’s prepackaged or homemade) compared to smoking.

Think about it: When’s the last time you had an exact measurement of how much cannabinoids you consumed? When I last visited Colorado, I ate half a cookie containing 5mg of THC, but out of the several joints I rolled, I couldn’t even give you an estimation of how much THC or CBD I smoked.

However, finding the right edible dosage for you may take a little experimentation, plus trial and error. (We all have our bad trips. Who hasn’t accidentally eaten a strong pot brownie or two and woken up still as high as a kite the next morning?)

New Options In The Kitchen Or Dispensary

Another benefit to edibles is the creative component. If you’re already a whiz in the kitchen who enjoys the science and artistry of cooking and baking, then why not introduce cannabis as a new ingredient and learn how to integrate it into your favorite recipes? Not only will this give you a new level of psychoactive indulgence in the foods you already love, but it will also provide you medicinal benefits in the dishes you savor and favor, should you be consuming cannabis as a medical marijuana patient. There are many cookbooks, such as The Vegan Stoner Cookbook by Sarah Conrique and Graham I. Haynes, and The Ganja Kitchen Revolution: The Bible of Cannabis Cuisine by Jessica Catalano, that offer delicious snacks and meals to recreate in your kitchen.

If making your own edibles isn’t your thing, dispensaries and retailers offer a growing list of different types of edible cannabis products for you to relish.

Longer Activation Period

One major disadvantage of edibles that it’s worth mentioning is the activation time. On average, edibles take from 30 minutes up to two hours to take effect. Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on your pot preference — an edible high can last for much longer than smoking. Meanwhile, the effects of smoking activate almost immediately after exhaling and of course do not last as long.

Some innovative edible companies are now working toward reducing the time it takes to activate an edible.

The bottom line is this: If you’re a habitual cannabis toker, it’s a great time to give your lungs a break and try out edibles.