Smoking Hemp vs Oils and Edibles – Ending the Debate

There are many ways to skin a cat, and many ways to consume hemp. Find out more in this article.

Since the Farm Bill was passed, the hemp industry has grown exponentially. And with such promise contained in the hemp herb, it's really no surprise how manufacturers have gotten creative with presentation. These days, raw hemp flower isn't all there is. Take a peak into the market, and you'll find hundreds upon hundreds of hemp-derived formulations at every turn. The most popular? Oils and edibles.

Claiming to condense the power of hemp into easy, measurable doses and fun, flavorful forms, oils and edibles have almost taken over raw flower in terms of patronage. But are they really better than old school smoking? Here's what you need to know.

How Smoking Hemp Works

According to studies, smoking hemp like the ones from Industrial Hemp Farms pre-rolls is actually one of the fastest ways to enjoy the benefits of the compounds within the plant. The process of burning the plant and inhaling the resulting smoke diffuses the chemical composition into your bloodstream through the alveoli of the lungs. This is a rapid pathway that takes no more than five to ten minutes to take effect.

That's what makes smoking such a popular choice for users who need instant, reliable effects in a short period of time. For cases when pain or discomfort might be through the roof, smoking hemp provides timely albeit temporary relief. It's also worth mentioning that very little of the plant's chemistry is lost during smoking. That means you get the most CBD when you smoke, thus reducing the dose to achieve therapeutic effects. But it's not all rainbows and butterflies.

The thing about smoking is that it's also one of the shortest lived in terms of effects. Because the smoke doesn't stay in the body for long, and because there's just a limited amount of plant chemistry that your body can take from this method, the effects are known to last for a maximum of about three to four hours.

Nonetheless, smoking remains the choice method for enjoying hemp not only because it's fast, but also because it provides a genuine, authentic experience. The taste of the terpenes and the texture of the smoke create a completely different mouth experience that you can't achieve with any other kind of product.


  • Rapid acting
  • Highest bioavailability
  • Authentic hemp user experience


  • Short lived effects last for only up to four hours

How Oils and Edibles Work

Letting you take your dose of CBD through a more pleasant, much less taxing method, oils and edibles have become exceedingly popular on the hemp market. And because manufacturers can calibrate strengths and change up flavors with familiar tastes that many buyers know and love, it's no question how these products nearly overshadowed raw flower.

But then again, these products are diffused into the bloodstream through the digestive tract – and that's a lot to go through. Requiring the breakdown of the edibles or the oil before the active chemicals are passed into the blood, lots of the CBD contained in these products are lost in digestion before they even make it to your vessels.

But on the upside, eating CBD products provides the longest lasting effects compared to any other option. Letting you experience the benefits of the plant's chemistry for up to seven or eight hours, oral consumption of CBD lets you spread out the time between doses so you can narrow down the number of times you take your product in a day.

Then of course, there's the option of choosing the formulation that best suits your needs and preferences. Today, those who manufacture oils and edibles can isolate certain compounds in the oil to give you just plain CBD or broad spectrum extract that does away with THC all together. This gives an option for every kind of user, letting you select a product that works for your palate and your standards.


  • Easy, effortless administration
  • Lots of flavors and strengths
  • Long lasting benefits


  • Much of the plant's chemistry is lost during digestion


Do Oils Absorb Sublingually?

Many of those who advertise CBD oil claim that it's faster acting than smoking hemp flower because it absorbs directly into the capillaries under the tongue. However there are very few studies that support this claim. In fact, there's very little science that even proves that sublingual absorption occurs with hemp oil.

That's because oil isn't formulated to be absorbed under the tongue. Hemp oil is a thick, viscous substance that's designed as an oral formulation, which means it needs to be taken through the digestive tract. No amount of time spent soaking the underside of the tongue with oil will cause the substance to pass through.

The same goes for capsules and edibles, and even smoke. There's a very specific formulation and chemistry that's required to enable medications to absorb sublingually, and the present selection of CBD products doesn't offer that.

What's Right For You?

When it comes to deciding on the right method of use, it's important to consider your specific, unique situation. While it is true that both smoke and oral products have their own benefits, there are specific situations when these upsides should be most important.

For users looking to experience the immediate effects of hemp, smoking the raw flower provides the most rapid absorption compared to any other method. And although the benefits might be short lived, smoking also provides the most potent effects thanks to its high bioavailability.

On the other hand, people who are looking for longer lasting benefits can turn to oils and edibles. These products let plant chemistry stay in your system for a much longer period of time, allowing you to experience the advantages for hours without having to take too many doses. Of course, digestion may reduce bioavailability thus requiring higher strengths to reach your therapeutic threshold.

So Who Wins?

With all of this considered, no one really wins between smoking and orally consuming CBD – it all depends on who's taking it. At the end of the day, both of these methods provide the same benefits only with slightly varying experiences. So consider your situation and your preferences to ensure you're buying a product that's set to satisfy what you're looking for.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.

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