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Blog by Dr. Jagmeet Sethi MD

  • Writer's pictureSethi Cannabis Clinic

Compare Cannabis Oils vs Capsules vs Edibles vs Smoking by Dr. Sethi

Updated: Apr 20

Compare Cannabis oil vs capsules vs edibles vs smoking. Marijuana smoking vs oils. How you consume cannabis determines how effective it will be for chronic pain, sleep and anxiety. Side effects of cannabis/medical marijuana will also be determined by the method of consumption. How long does cannabis last, and how long does it take to relieve pain, anxiety and sleep symptoms? Dr. Jagmeet Sethi, MD, from Sethi Cannabis Clinic, discusses these differences in various ways to consume media and cannabis. Risks and Benefits explained.

Click below to watch the YouTube video, a more detailed explanation of this topic.

Ingest canabis vs inhaling:

Most people who take cannabis in medical space ingest cannabis; they don't smoke/vape cannabis. Recreational user inhale/smoke cannabis and they smoke THC.

Cannabis Oils

Oils are the best method of consumption. They are less likely to have dyes, sugar, preservatives and other chemicals. Medical cannabis oils are cannabis extracts placed in a carrier oil like a medium-chain triglyceride oil. Oils are considered the best for symptom relief. Patients report relief of pain, sleep and anxiety more with cannabis oils than with other forms of ingestion or smoking.

Risks of Smoking/Vaping Cannabis

Although inhaling cannabis acts faster and provides immediate relief in a few minutes, it also carries more risks to the lungs and is short-acting. Smoking/vaping may be needed to provide symptom relief in some conditions or circumstances. Further risks of overuse mostly occur with smoking and less with ingestion of cannabis. The instant feeling of "high" does not occur with ingestion; the onset of action is delayed.

Furthermore, patients need CBD (not intoxicating) in medical cannabis to reduce inflammation, pain and anxiety. Smoking cannabis is mainly with THC (psychoactive). The intoxicating effects of THC make it a poor choice for function during the daytime for most people. CBD products are ingested during the day.

Patients with Digestion Conditions:

Some may prefer gummies or capsules that have digestion conditions like reflux, nausea, irritable bowel, colitis etc. Oral sprays/strips in the mouth are better for patients with digestion problems since very little goes through digestion. Most of the absorption of cannabis for oral strips/sprays is in the mouth (sublingual). Further, oral sprays/strips bypass the liver metabolism. However, sprays/strips have more chemicals and preservatives and are not as natural as taking the oils.

Absorption of cannabis: sublingual vs ingesting

Oils have both sublingual absorption (via mouth) and ingestion. Oral sprays and strips have mainly sublingual absorption. Capsules and edibles are absorbed by ingestion and are dependent on how the patient metabolizes cannabis.

Comparison Table: Cannabis Oils vs Capsules vs Edibles vs Smoking vs Oral Strips/Sprays vs Cannabis Beverages vs Topicals vs Suppositories. Onset of action, how long it lasts, effectiveness and risks

Method of consumption

It takes effect in?

It lasts how long?

How Effective?



30 min to 1 hour

6 hours

Most effective for symptom relief

Minimal if dosed correctly


1 hour

6 hours

2nd best



1 hour

6 hours

Better for taste and for patients with digestion conditions

Sugar, dyes, chemicals, preservatives

Smoking, Vaping, inhaling

2-5 min

4 hours

works fast but is used mainly for THC, not CBD

risks to lungs, risk of overuse in some

Oral strips/Oral sprays


4 hours

works better for patients with digestion conditions. Not as effective for symptom relief

chemicals, preservatives, not a natural option


5 to 10 min

4 hours

works better for patients with digestion conditions, but is not that effective for symptoms

chemicals, preservatives, sugar


2 to 5 min

2 to 3 hours

mainly used in elderly or adjunct. Not as effective as ingestion or inhaling

chemicals, preservatives but no side effects



4 to 6 hours

not that effective


I hope this helps clarify how the method of consumption is important to decrease risks and maximize the benefits of medical cannabis.

Dr. Jagmeet Sethi, MD

Sethi Cannabis Clinic

Ph: (905) 681-7676

Medical Cannabis Videos by Dr. Jagmeet Sethi videos/podcast is a series of educational videos/podcasts. These videos/podcasts are for general information purposes only. They are not meant to diagnose and treat medical conditions and do not substitute care provided by your doctor or other health care professionals. These videos/podcasts by Dr. Jagmeet Sethi are not meant for a doctor-patient relationship. No doctor-patient relationship is formed. Please see your doctor for any medical conditions. Using this information and links from these videos is at the user's own risk. Cannabis does not help everyone, there is individual variability in risks and benefits. Cannabis use is recommended in people aged 25 years or older. If this is a medical emergency, please seek your doctor or nearest emergency room or call emergency services at 911.

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