Here is a quick rundown of the most popular ways to consume cannabis, along with the benefits and drawbacks associated with each.
As the legal marijuana industry grows, so to do the choices for ways to consume cannabis. Which method — or methods, plural — you choose should depend on your lifestyle, any conditions you might be seeking relief from, and which physical and mental benefits you’re looking for.
Despite the development of other popular ways to consume cannabis, smoking remains the most well known and most common. Smokers place cured cannabis flower into rolling papers, bongs, pipes — aka bowls — hookahs, or other homemade devices (the list of homemade smoking devices is seemingly endless, since you can smoke out of nearly anything if you harness your creative spirit). They then put a flame to the flower and inhale the smoke of the burning marijuana, often in short puffs in order to minimize harm to the lungs.
Pros: Smoking allows users to easily regulate their dosage of marijuana, as well as experience the immediate impact of the substance, as flower marijuana is typically less processed than other forms. Smoking cannabis is also typically very cost effective.
Cons: Not only is the smell a turn-off for many, but the burning of cannabis produces several byproducts which can irritate — and, over time, damage — the lungs and throat. Smoking can also lead to inflammation, coughing, mucus production, bronchitis-like symptoms, and difficulty breathing. Anyone dealing with lung cancer, asthma, and other pulmonary conditions should avoid smoking cannabis.
Also known as vaping, this method provides similar effects to smoking without many of the potentially harmful side effects. Cured cannabis flower or extract can be vaped depending on the specific mechanism used. Once the heat breaks down the compounds of the cannabis, the user inhales the fumes. There are all kinds of different vaporizers (or “vapes”) out there from inexpensive throw-away pens to extravagant high-dollar pieces.
Pros: More popular than smoking among some of the more health-conscious cannabis users — yet providing the same immediate impact — vaping eliminates the harmful effects of marijuana smoking and greatly reduces the odor. There are countless stylish and portable vaporizers available on the market.
Cons: Though it's quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to consume cannabis, vaping devices can be costly, as can replacing batteries over time.
Perhaps the fastest-growing method of consuming cannabis next to vaping, dabbing involves the use of a bong-esque dab rig and the extreme heating of a small amount of cannabis extract — typically via a small blowtorch or electronic nail (enail). Instead of a bowl, the rig has a nail which is heated up. Once the nail reaches the desired heat, the user places a small piece of concentration on it, and inhales it as it burns. Dabbing allows users to feel smooth and strong effects of THC very quickly — often as soon as the vapor leaves their lungs. (Some compare the effect to smoking several joints at once.) This especially helpful for people seeking quick relief from significant pain or extreme nausea.
Pros: Not only does dabbing provide users with a quick and powerful high, it is also typically far easier on the lungs than regular smoking. Dabs can be affordable, are easy to store, and emit very little odor.
Cons: It is probably the most complicated consumption method for a first time user. Due to intense heat involved, dabbing is (potentially) the most dangerous method, as well. (Some users have caused fires or explosions while attempting this method.) It is also possible to ingest harmful contaminants while making your own dabs. Ask an experienced user or budtender for tips. Newbies should dab conservatively at first with experienced dabbers, as they might not be prepared for the intense high.
Edibles produce noticeably different effects — and are typically more potent and longer lasting — than inhaled cannabis. Edibles come in various forms, including candies, cookies, crackers, chocolate bars, ice creams, and trail mixes. They can also also be infused in countless home food recipes, typically with a high-fat ingredient like olive oil or butter that best extracts the flower’s therapeutic properties. (Note: Cannabis in beverage form provides similar benefits to edible cannabis, though regulating the dosage amount can be more tricky.)
Pros: Edibles essentially serve as a delicious delivery device for medicine. They make it easy to ingest a precise dosage, and they serve as a great alternative for those opposed to inhaling marijuana, as well as younger folks and elderly people needing to medicate without the possible exposure to toxic fumes.
Cons: Edibles do not provide the same high as inhaled cannabis, and it can take 30 minutes for the drug to take effect. They should also be kept away from children and pets, who may think they are harmless treats.
Many medical patients suffering from cancer and other conditions elect to consume cannabis sublingually — or under the tongue. There are a large number of blood vessels under the tongue which can absorb cannabinoids, and users can ingest cannabis in this manner via dissolvable strips, sublingual sprays, medicated lozenges, or tinctures. (Note: Sublingual delivery is becoming increasingly popular for recreational users, as well.)
Pros: Not only is sublingual delivery easy and closer to being stigma-free, but it provides rapid absorption almost directly into your bloodstream. Patients can feel the effects of the dosage in as little as 30 seconds.
Cons: Users may also need to consume other forms of cannabis in order to receive comprehensive treatment for specific conditions.
A full cannabis extract — or thick oil — of activated cannabinoids, topical marijuana is absorbed by your skin to provide localized relief for myriad conditions, including muscle soreness, joint pain, tendonitis, arthritis, eczema, minor burns, swelling, and chapped skin. Topicals are commonly available as lotions, ointments, sprays, and salves, among other forms, and can typically be applied multiple times since they are for external use.
Pros: Topicals allow you to maintain a clear head and full brain functions while providing specific, localized relief for a wide variety of conditions.
Cons: Not all products work for everyone. Topicals are not effective for people suffering from cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, or PTSD.
So there you go, a quick rundown of the most popular ways to consume cannabis. And, of course, we know a good place you can find these (wink).