ways to consume cannabis

10 Ways to Consume (and not overconsume)

Many people think that smoking is one of the only methods to consume cannabis. This is far from true. There are several different ways to consume, and depending on your illness or condition and desired effect, different methods yield different results. Of the 10 ways to consume, though, please start low and go slow until you learn what your tolerance is. Note: Not all products are available in all states.

cannabis oil dropper bottle

Oils/Tinctures

Description: Liquid cannabis extract usually made with alcohol, glycerin, or MCT oil. They are taken sublingually, under the tongue, which allows for faster absorption by the body.

Onset: 30 minutes to 1.5 hours 

Duration: 2-4 hours

Pros
Good for children
Dosage control
Faster than edibles

Cons
May contain alcohol
Oil can upset stomach
May taste bad

cannabis topical salve

Topicals

Description: Cannabis topicals are a great way to medicate without getting “high.” Topicals such as lotions, balms, salves, and sprays are applied liberally on the skin and may contain CBD, THC, or both.

Onset: Within minutes to an hour or more

Duration: 4-8 hours

Pros
Targets localized areas
Doesn’t make you “high”

Cons
Some people don’t respond to them as well as other methods

cannabis gummie bears

Edibles/Drinks

Description: Edibles are any food or drinks infused with cannabis. When trying edibles start low and go slow – they can be very strong and because it can take a while until onset, people will take more thinking that it is not working.

Onset: 30 minutes to 1.5 hours 

Duration: 4-6 hours

Pros
Long Lasting
Great for gastrointestinal issues

Cons
Long onset
May be easy to overconsume

Vaping

Description: Vaporizers heat cannabis flower or concentrates to a temperature that is high enough to extract THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, but too low for the harmful toxins released during combustion.

Onset: Immediate, within minutes

Duration: 1-3 hours

Pros
Fewer health risks than traditional smoking
No smell
Many vape options

Cons
Some people don’t respond to them as well as other methods

cannabis flower buds and cannabis joints

Smoking

Description: Ground up cannabis “flower” is used in bongs (water pipes), joints, blunts, pipes, and bowls. The cannabis is ignited and smoked. Smoking is one of the oldest and most widely used methods of consuming cannabis.

Onset: Immediate, within minutes

Duration: 1-3 hours

Pros
Fast onset
Many strain options
Many smoking options

Cons
All smoke is harmful
Potent smell

Juicing

Description: Juicing cannabis involves ingesting the raw leaves and buds straight from the plant. Most people juice it and/or make it into a smoothie.

Onset: 30 minutes to 1.5 hours

Duration: Several hours

Pros
Doesn’t make you “high”
Rich in THC-A

Cons
Large amounts are needed to juice
Bad taste

cannabis oil capsule RSO

Capsules/Pills

Description: Pills or capsules are filled with cannabis oil for easy ingestion. This is a great way to administer RSO (Rick Simpson oil) or other concentrated cannabis.

Onset: 30 minutes to 1.5 hours

Duration: 4-6 hours

Pros
Discreet
Easy dosing
No taste
Good for children and elderly

Cons
Some people may need to take it with (fatty) foods to feel effect. This usually occurs with people that do not have their gall bladder.

woman applying cannabis patch

Patches

Description: Patches are similar to lotions and creams but do not need to be applied as often. In fact, some patches may last up to 72 hours. These are similar to analgesic patches used for muscle spasms, sprains, or general pain.

Onset: Within minutes to an hour or more

Duration: 4-6 hours

Pros
Targets localized area
Doesn’t make you “high”
Can provide full body pain relief

Cons
The adhesive may cause skin irritation

Suppositories

Description: Although not as common as other methods, suppositories offer fast absorption into the body via the anal or vaginal cavities. This method works particularly well for patients with cancer or compromised organs. 

Onset: 15-30 minutes

Duration: 4-6 hours

Pros
Good absorption 

Cons
Delivery method
Refrigeration required

Cannabis concentrate dab

Dabbing

Description: Dabbing is form of vaporization where cannabis concentrates (wax, shatter, etc.) are put on a heated element (nail). This creates vapor that is inhaled. Note: Dabbing is for experienced patients/consumers

Onset: Immediate, within minutes

Duration: 2-4 hours

Pros
Good for acute pain
Instant relief

Cons
Coughing (lots of coughing)
Solvents may be used in the extraction of the cannabis

CBD to the Rescue

If you accidentally consume too much THC and feel anxious or paranoid, you can counteract the effects by taking some CBD.

“CBD interacts with THC in complex ways, diminishing certain effects (the munchies, sleepiness, the ‘high’) while augmenting others,” writes Martin A. Lee in his book, Smoke Signals. “Cannabidiol balances the buzz and softens the euphoria – or, in some cases, the dysphoria – induced by THC, which in concentrated form, can make people feel very loopy and weird. CBD is the yin of the THC’s yang.

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