With so much innovation in the cannabis industry, there are a lot more options available to a sophisticated weed smoker than sparking up a joint or packing a bowl. While smoking has always been one of the most popular ways to consume weed, many medical patients and recreational users are looking for ways to enjoy cleaner, healthier and more efficient ways of consuming marijuana. Below, we’ve broken down some alternative marijuana consumption methods so you can get out there and try something new.
How is cannabis consumed?
Cannabis can be consumed in many different ways, so if you’ve ever wondered how to consume weed, you’ll find everything you need below. However, there are a few things you should know first.
There are a few main delivery methods, and each one comes with multiple different options and methods of use. For example, the inhalation delivery method involves smoking, vaping, or dabbing and can be accomplished with bongs, pipes, dab rigs or joint papers. However, other methods exist, too.
In a sublingual delivery method, an oil or tincture is placed under the tongue and absorbed by the salivary glands. In an ingestion delivery method, you’ll eat a THC-infused food or capsule or drink a THC beverage and metabolize the THC through digestion and your liver. Topical delivery involves using cannabinoid-infused lotions, creams or gels on the skin, and suppository delivery involves inserting a THC-infused product into your body. Below, we’re breaking down the different ways to consume marijuana.
Pros: Easy to do, flavorful, few materials needs, fast delivery
Cons: Creates odor, non-discreet, involves inhaling smoke
Smoking weed involves using a lighter to combust cannabis flowers. This method is largely considered the best way to consume weed, but it comes with some pros and cons. With smoking, you typically have to worry about odor, so it isn’t a super discreet method. However, smoking flower in a joint or a blunt or through a bong or pipe is part of the inhalation method, which is the strongest and fastest consumption method. With that said, smoking flower will hit you hard at first and you’ll peak after about 15 minutes. From there you can enjoy a steady high for 2-4 hours before you need to smoke again. It’s a great option for practically everyone, though it may not be the cleanest experience. Inhaling plant materials may be bad for your long-term health.
Pros: Fast delivery, flavorful, discreet, does not require inhalation of smoke, cost effective
Cons: Requires investment in equipment, too potent for those with low tolerances
Dabbing is another option within the inhalation category, though it utilizes cannabis concentrates instead of flower. Concentrates go through a rigorous purification process and are generally considered to be safer than smoking flower. The process of dabbing involves heating up a quartz nail on a dab rig with a torch and applying the concentrate to the nail until the dab vaporizes, and then inhaling the vapor through the dab rig. Vaporization is cleaner than smoking since it burns hotter and doesn’t produce smoke. That said, it’s a more discreet option and pretty easy to do. However, dabbing is intense compared to smoking. Concentrates range from 75-99% THC on average while flower typically maxes out around 30%. That said, a dab will get you extremely high at first. Like smoking, the high typically peaks after about 15 minutes and you’ll enjoy a steady high for 2-4 hours.
3. Eating edibles
Pros: Discreet, long-lasting effects
Cons: Slow delivery, difficult to dose yourself
Eating edibles is much different from smoking or vaporizing. In fact, edibles are a part of a different delivery method altogether: ingestion. In an ingestion delivery method, the THC is inactive until it’s digested and metabolized by the body through the digestive system and liver. The process of metabolizing the THC transforms it into a different kind of THC that you will feel for up to 8 hours. With ingestibles, like THC-infused brownies, cookies, suckers, gummies, drinks, pills or capsules, you’ll have to wait up to two hours to start feeling the effects. This can be a con for some people who are impatient, but it can be a huge pro for people who need long-term relief from their physical ailments and can’t smoke on the go. Edibles are exceptionally potent, so be sure to start with a lower dose around 10 milligrams and work your way up until you reach your desired effects.
4. Vaporizing concentrates or flower
Pros: Healthier than combustion-based methods, discreet, minimal odor, convenient, easy to dose
Cons: Ongoing maintenance required, high initial investment for a quality vaporizer
The act of vaporizing also falls into the inhalation delivery method category, though it’s considered to be cleaner, easier to dose and use on the go, and more effective than smoking or dabbing. Vaporizing involves the use of portable or desktop vaporizers. There are devices out there that offer both flower and concentrate vaporization, making it easy to dose your preferred product and use it discreetly on the go. Since there is no combustion involved, vaporizing is one of the cleanest and healthiest ways to consume weed. Like smoking or dabbing, you can expect the effects to kick in practically immediately and last up to 4 hours depending on how many times you hit it.
5. Applying topicals
Pros: Provides localized relief, doesn’t produce a high making it suitable for medical use
Cons: Subtle medicinal effects, needs to be reapplied routinely
Topical products are THC-infused salves, lotions, balms, creams, gels, patches, bath bombs or otherwise that are applied to the skin. In a topical delivery, your skin absorbs THC in about 15 minutes, but it doesn’t penetrate deep enough to cause you to feel any type of high. Topicals are mainly used to spot-treat areas of pain in the body within the muscle tissue. They offer relief from mild symptoms and can make moderate-to-severe physical symptoms more bearable. However, they dry pretty quickly and tend to need reapplied once every hour or so. Since topicals don’t penetrate into the bloodstream and don’t cause a high, they’re generally safe to use if you need relief from cannabis but can’t consume weed for drug testing reasons or otherwise. Watch out for transdermal topicals, though. Those do penetrate into the bloodstream and will cause you to feel high or fail a drug test.
6. Taking oil tinctures
Pros: Fast delivery, long-lasting effects, easy to dose
Cons: Takes time to consume properly
Tinctures are a concentrated THC-infused oil that is taken with the sublingual delivery method. Tinctures can be flavored or unflavored, and are made with oil or even alcohol. To take them, you’ll place your desired dose under your tongue for up to 5 minutes and allow the tincture to be absorbed into your bloodstream through your salivary glands. After you hold the tincture under your tongue, you can swallow it and metabolize it similar to an ingestible. Tinctures can be very potent and start taking effect in as little as 10 minutes. The effects can last up to 8 hours, much like edibles. They offer potent, long-lasting relief in a discreet, quick and easy-to-dose manner, making them one of the best ways to consume weed.
7. Swallowing pills, capsules and tablets
Pros: Precise dosing, long-last effects, discreet
Cons: Lack of taste
Much like edibles, swallowing pills, capsules and tablets works in the ingestible delivery method. To use them, you’ll take your desired dose like any other pill and feel relief or your desired effects in about an hour. Pills, capsules and tablets are a great choice if you like the ingestible delivery method but want to avoid unnecessary sugars, fats or calories. Since this method doesn’t contain anything other than THC, it’s a great option for diet-conscious people and those looking for an easy and discreet way to medicate on the go. Best of all, it’s one of the easiest options out there for dosing and getting consistent results every time.
8. Using suppositories
Pros: Useful for localized relief
Suppositories fall under the (you guessed it) suppository delivery method. They come in the form of rectal suppositories, though you can also find them in the form of personal lubricants and tampons. Suppositories are one of the best results for localized relief to the GI tract or the female reproductive system. They will cause a mild high and start to take a soothing, relaxing effect on the physical body after about 10 minutes. The effects are a great option if you have pain during sexual intercourse, menstrual pain, or GI problems like IBS, IBD, or Crohn’s disease. To use them, you just apply them like any other suppository and feel relief for up to 4 hours.