Cannabis Cheat Sheet: Different Ways to Consume Cannabis

The days of sucking in hot, burning smoke to experience the effects of cannabis are over.

Sure, you can still take a hit off a joint, pipe or bong (water pipe) but those often come with a pungent odor and they are harder to be exact about dosing.

Cannabis can be consumed in a variety of other ways. Each alternative mode of consumption has its benefits along with some drawbacks,  and each can influence the effects you feel including intensity and duration. Some forms of cannabis and types of consumption may not produce a high but instead provide other health and healing benefits.

Here is a basic guide to the different ways you can consume cannabis.

Forms of Cannabis

Flower – Cannabis flowers are the hairy, sticky parts of the plant that are harvested and dried for consumption. Also known as dried herb, bud, leaf (it isn’t really the leaf you smoke but the flower). Flower can be smoked or vaped. Effects can occur relatively quickly and last a couple of hours. Intensity depends on the compound makeup of the flower, particularly the low or high level of THC.

Edibles – Foods infused with cannabis extracts are called edibles or “medibles.” Can be sweets like gummies, lollipops and chocolates; baked goods such as cookies, brownies and granola; beverages like coffee or tea; and cooking oils and butters. Eating cannabis infused foods delays the time you’ll feel the effects because it has to move through your digestive system. Often, the effects of edibles can last longer than other forms of consumption.

Topicals – Substances such as oils, creams and salves crafted for use on the skin and infused with extractions from cannabis with specific properties such as CBD, the non-intoxicating compound found in the cannabis plant. Used commonly for inflammation reduction, pain relief, and relief from skin irritations.

Tinctures – A liquid form of concentrated cannabis extractions, usually in an alcohol or glycerol base and dosed using a dropper. Cannabis tinctures are similar to other plant- and herb-based tinctures such as echinacea, astragalus and goldenseal. Drops placed under the tongue can result in strong effects within minutes. Drops placed in beverages can slow the absorption process.

Concentrates – The marijuana flower is dissolved under pressure and heat to produce a solvent. Usually formed using plants with high levels of THC, the intoxicating compound of cannabis. Commonly comes in three different forms: oil (BHO), wax, and shatter. Concentrates are burned at high temperatures and consumed through smoking or vaping. Effects come on strong and inhaling can be harsh depending on what tool you use to consume.

Main Forms of Consumption

Smoking – The inhaling of the smoke through your mouth and into your lungs by burning dry cannabis flower or other combustible forms using a pipe, joint (cannabis cigarette), or bong (water pipe).

Vaping – Inhaling the vapor of cannabis flower or oil heated at a low, more controlled temperature to avoid combustion (burning) using special vape pens. This is different from e-cigarettes where you vaporize synthetic oils instead of the more natural, pure cannabis plant matter or extract.

Eating – Consuming cannabis through the mouth in the form of an edible product infused with cannabis extract. Eating the plant or flower itself does not cause intoxication. Eating or juicing cannabis leaves is said to have health benefits without intoxication.

Dabbing – Inhaling a dose of combusted BHO/oil concentrate through a high-temperature, butane combustion process. Requires special equipment such as a butane torch. This is an extremely potent way of consuming cannabis with fast, intense effects.


[PHOTO FROM Stock Pot Images]