Method of Consumption
There are a number of ways to consume cannabis. Typically different methods have varying effects, so the right consumption method for you is going to depend on the type of experience you're looking for (your purpose for consuming the cannabis), and the cannabis product you're consuming. For the most part, consumption methods fall into four categories: inhalation, oral, sublingual, and topical.
The inhalation of Cannabis allows for the active compounds in the Cannabis to be absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs. The activation of the Cannabis compounds, like THC, in your brain are expedited when consuming cannabis through the act of inhalation. This is why it is the most popular form of consuming cannabis as it ensures the quickest results.
There are two main ways to inhale cannabis: smoking and vaping.
Smoking is one of the most popular forms of consuming Cannabis. The act of smoking cannabis is the lighting of dried cannabis flower and inhaling the smoke. There are a variety of ways to smoke cannabis flower.
- Pipes: Pipes can be small, and compact, and are relatively easy-to-use, making them one of the most popular devices for smoking cannabis. To use a pipe, add the cannabis to the bowl (also known as "packing a bowl”) and light. Smoke travels through the pipe's chamber and exits through the mouthpiece, where you inhale.
- Water pipes: Water pipes, include bongs and bubblers, and work in the same manner as pipes except the smoke is filtered through water held in a chamber. The water cools the smoke, creating a smoother inhalation experience.
- Joints: The ever popular joint. Joints are broken down dried cannabis flower wrapped and sealed in rolling papers. One end is lit and the other end (which can contain a filter) is used as a mouthpiece to inhale the smoke.
- Blunts: Blunts are similar to joints, but they utilize some form of cigar paper instead of rolling papers. Usually, a cigar is hollowed and the tobacco replaced with Cannabis but there is a large market of standalone blunt wraps.
Vaping is another inhalation method that's has become very popular with the advent of convenient and inconspicuous technology that is optimized for Cannabis use. Vaping involves using a device to heat either cannabis flower or concentrate to right below the point of combustion, which ranges between 356 and 374 degrees Fahrenheit. This transforms the active compounds, like cannabinoids and terpenes, into vapor, which are then inhaled.
Vapor doesn't release the same tar or carcinogens that are created when you burn flower, which many believe makes vaping a healthier alternative to smoking although the pros and cons are still being studied.
There are a few different ways to vape cannabis.
- Vaporizers: Vaporizers can be used with both concentrate and flower. Add the cannabis to a heating chamber, adjust the temperature, and inhale the vapor through the mouthpiece. Vaporizers come in both tabletop versions, which need a solid surface to stand on, and portable versions.
- Vape pens: Vape pens are specifically designed for oils or distillates. As the name implies, they typically look like pens. These devices are made up of a cartridge, which contains the cannabis oil or distillate, and a battery, which provides the heat. Make sure you buy vape pens from a legal, reputable dispensary, as illegal, off-label vapes have been linked to lung disease.
- Dabbing: Dabbing is a method of vaporizing cannabis concentrate using a dab rig, which entails heating a glass, ceramic, or titanium “nail” and applying the concentrate directly to the hot surface, which turns it into vapor for consumption.
There are two main ways to consume cannabis orally.
- Edibles: When you ingest a cannabis-infused beverage, baked good, or gummy the cannabinoids get absorbed through the digestive tract. This results in the effects of edibles having a delayed onset compared to inhalation, ranging from between 20 minutes and three hours. Edibles are one of the most straightforward consumption methods out there. Just eat or drink, swallow, and wait for the effects to kick in.
- Tinctures: Created by steeping cannabis in alcohol, tinctures are absorbed through the blood vessels under the tongue (sublingually). To get the full effect, put a few drops of the tincture under your tongue and hold it there, allowing the cannabis to absorb. Then swallow the remaining liquid. Any cannabinoids not absorbed sublingually will be absorbed through the digestive tract. The dual absorption locations mean tinctures taken sublingually can have rapid onset of effects as well as another onset later, like an edible.
Topicals are more a delivery method than a consumption method. Topical products allow you to absorb cannabinoids through the skin, where they may provide localized effects for things like pain or muscle soreness. Unlike other consumption methods, you won't experience any psychoactive effects when using topicals.
Choose the right method for you
Now that you understand the different consumption methods available, you're armed with the information to choose the right consumption method for you.