Ways to Consume Cannabis
The most important decision when consuming cannabis is the cannabis itself followed closely by the method you are going to use to consume it. Many consumers limit themselves to only 1 or 2 methods of consumption which maybe limiting given that maximizing the benefits of cannabis are largely dependent upon how it is consumed. In this article we will explore the different ways cannabis can be consumed so you can make an informed decision about which method is best for your situation. Always remember, cannabis is a journey of exploration and this applies to how you consume it as well. Who knows — you could find a new favourite!!
There are three basic delivery methods: inhalation, oral, and topical. Each of these methods have a variety of techniques that serve unique functions, each appropriate for different occasions.
Inhalation Delivery Methods
When cannabis is inhaled, the gases enter the lungs before absorbing into the bloodstream. There are currently two prevalent types of inhalation methods: smoking and vaporization.
Different Ways of Smoking Cannabis
This ancient custom is the method most commonly associated with cannabis, and there are many different ways for consumers to smoke. Advances in vaporization technology, however, have offered smokers an alternative method with fewer health concerns. The effects associated with smoking are widely debated, but health professionals are in agreement that smoke-free methods pose less risk and are medically preferred.
Cannabis smokers have a wide array of devices at their disposal, including hand pipes, water pipes, rolling papers, hookahs. Each of these provides different experiences and influence the grade of smoke inhaled.
These are probably the most common smoking device in circulation today and generally favored for their convenience: they are small, portable, and simple to use. Hand pipes have grown into an artistic expression and are available in countless creative forms and styles, both for decoration and functionality
Water Pipes (or Bong) Water pipes come in slightly different variations, including but not limited to bongs and bubblers. Like hand pipes, these come in a variety of styles and designs but increase in sophistication by incorporating water. The health benefits associated with the addition of water are up for debate: water cools the smoke, but it’s uncertain whether it acts as an effective filter for harmful constituents.
Generally, these are used to smoke joints or blunts. Joints are cannabis rolled in a paper, the composition of which varies across an assortment of plants including but not limited to hemp, bamboo, and rice. Blunts are cannabis rolled in cigar paper made from the tobacco plant and contain nicotine. Blunt consumers often prefer the flavor and combined effects of the nicotine and cannabis; however, the medical risks linked to nicotine deter most health-conscious cannabis consumers.
This is one of the less common methods of smoking cannabis and is generally associated with smoking shisha, the American term for wet tobacco. Cannabis is rarely smoked alone in a hookah because its low water content causes the plant to burn faster than it can be inhaled, producing an acrid taste and wasting the herb. For economically conscious smokers, this is likely the prominent concern as large quantities of cannabis are needed to yield the same results as other smoking methods.
To resolve this, cannabis is sandwiched between tobacco, introducing the same health concerns associated with blunts. However, the hookah does allow multiple people to smoke at the same time, significantly changing the smoking experience.
Vaporizers/Vapes are the logical choice for moderate to experienced and/or health-conscious cannabis consumers. A vaporizer steadily heats herbs to a temperature that is high enough to extract THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, but the temperatures are too low for the potentially harmful toxins that are released during combustion. Essentially, vaporization minimizes the health risks associated with smoking. This improvement comes with an equally significant reduction in odor, which is generally the first acknowledgement of first-time vaporizer users. There is a diverse landscape of vaporizer models and the market is only expanding as the technology improves.
Dabbing is a newer form of vaporization in which potent cannabis concentrates are dropped on a heated nail, creating vapor that is trapped in a glass globe and inhaled. Although there are obvious health benefits associated with clean concentrates over combustible flower, concerns arise from dabbing’s image and the intense effects of high-THC extracts.
Oral Delivery Methods
Oral delivery includes all techniques that are administered through the mouth, including tinctures, ingestible oils, and infused food/drinks. We most often assume that oral delivery denotes ingestion through the digestive tract before entering the bloodstream, but this is not always the case. Tinctures are essentially a topical application that is administered through the mouth, and they are immediately absorbed into the bloodstream unlike edibles or drinks.
Tinctures are a liquid cannabis extract used by consumers looking for dosage control and fast-acting effects without the health risks associated with smoking. Most commonly, alcohol is used as the solvent (any proof greater than 80 can be used effectively), but other fat-soluble liquids can be used as well, such as vinegar or glycerol. Generally, three or four drops of the tincture are placed under the tongue, where it’s absorbed into the body versus swallowed and digested. When ingested, tinctures are immediately absorbed in an empty stomach but require time to process through the liver, reducing dosage control.
Ingestible oils are a happy medium between edibles and concentrates they are swallowed and digested like an infused product, but often have the consistency of oil. These oils can either be eaten or put in easily ingested capsules. One popular oil is Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), which originated in 2003 when Simpson used concentrated cannabis to treat his skin cancer. RSO is made by extracting the therapeutic compounds of cannabis with alcohol and then evaporating the solvent, leaving behind a tar-like substance resembling oil.
Eating or drinking cannabis provides significantly different effects from delivery methods that immediately enter the bloodstream, such as smoking or vaping. Edibles can be defined as any food that contains cannabis; gummies, chocolate and dissolvables are very common but the types of food that can be infused with cannabis is endless. What is important to note when consuming cannabis this way is it will take longer to feel the effects (30-60 minutes) so be careful not to over do it and give yourself enough time to feel the full effects before taking another dose.
Topical Delivery Methods
Cannabis-infused topicals are an example of how new modes of consumption are revolutionizing perceptions of cannabis as their accessibility, safety, and efficacy invite even the most unlikely patrons into the world of medical cannabis. Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions, balms, and oils that are absorbed through the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation. Because they’re non-intoxicating, topicals are often chosen by patients who want the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the cerebral euphoria associated with other delivery methods. Other transdermal innovations are fast arriving in the cannabis market, including long-lasting patches and tingly lubricants for patients and recreational consumers alike.
We hope you enjoyed the article and would summarize it as follows:
- · There are three common consumption methods: smoking, edibles and topicals.
- · Vaping is considered to be a healthier alternative to smoking as it avoids the toxins associated with combustion.
- · Edibles are the healthiest consumption choice but remember it will take a longer period of time to feel the effects.
- · Topicals will not make you feel intoxicated and are great for localized relief of pain, soreness and inflammation.
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