Is Edible Marijuana 'Healthier' Than Smoking Weed?

A variety of edibles is pictured at Los Angeles Patients & Caregivers Group medicinal marijuana dispensary in West Hollywood, California, October 18, 2016. Reuters

This article originally appeared on Medical Daily.

Names like "Raspberry Macaroons," "Mellow Handcrafted Marshmellows" and "Pineapple Delight Bites" may sound tasty to those with a sweet tooth. But these names belong to some of the most popular marijuana edibles across the U.S. As more states prepare to legalize the recreational use of the drug, many are trying edibles as a "healthier" option, but is eating weed better for you than smoking it?

In AsapScience's video, "Your Brain On Edible Marijuana," host Mitchell Moffitt explains that how much heat is applied will determine how the drug will affect the brain. Heating marijuana changes the chemical makeup of the compounds within it, also known as cannabinoids.

Smoking weed heats it to around 1,472 degrees Fahrenheit and converts THCA to Delta-9THC, which binds to receptors in the brain, making them continually fire, distorting our imagination, thoughts and perceptions. Weed edibles are heated to about 302 degrees Fahrenheit, which burns less of the actual plant and minimizes carcinogens. Since THC is lipophilic and not a water soluble, activated THC must be dissolved into something fatty (i.e., oil or butter). The onset of the high is delayed after eating because the drug moves slowly through the gut; the high lasts between four to eight hours, leading to more of a high than smoking.

Eating weed produces more of a high because of the way THC enters the body. First, it's metabolized by the liver before it enters the bloodstream—this is where Delta-9THC also becomes 11-OH-THC, which passes the brain barrier more quickly, and is a more potent chemical. Cooking the drug ends up creating both Delta9-THC and 11-OH-THC, which is a stronger compound, and because there's more of the psychotropic types of cannabinoids acting on our neurons, you'll be high for longer.

Getting high without smoking will be healthier on your lungs and body. It eliminates the toxic chemicals that smoking creates, like carbon monoxide, bronchial irritants and tumor initiators. There is a downside: it's much harder to control the high, because it takes up to one to two hours to feel its full effects, and the dosage can vary significantly, which can change its effects and make you higher than you planned. However, there is no serious long-term harm, toxicity, or lethal overdose if you consume more than you intended.

Ingesting rather than smoking weed is healthier, but it's also difficult to self-monitor, since it can take hours before you experience the high. Moreover, meds in the body can also affect how THC is metabolized, since it will compete with other drugs in the liver. Lastly, states like Washington and Colorado regulate edibles and concentrates, but it's unknown if the rest of the country will do the same.

So, in theory, yes eating weed is healthier, but there is still much more to be known about its effects in the body.