All The Ways You Can Consume Cannabis

Thanks to the legality of the marijuana plant, there are dozens of inventive methods.

What Are The Best Cannabis Consumption Methods?
Photo by Flickr user Martin Alonso

With so many new ways to consume cannabis evolving around every corner, we decided to break down the most tried and truly reliable methods.

Smoking And Vaping

Smoking, vaping, or otherwise inhaling marijuana is the quickest way to feel its effects. Users feel euphoria envelop them within minutes of consumption. However, regardless of what is said to the contrary, smoking or vaping anything is not healthy for the lungs. Smoking cannabis in its pure flower form is healthier than smoking a cigarette that contains tar, nicotine, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, lead, arsenic, ammonia and hundreds of other cancer-causing chemicals — but that does not mean smoking cannabis is healthy.

While there are few long-term studies, which determine how unhealthy it can be, it has not been proven safe.

Some patients feel the benefits outweigh the risks, or the ends justify the means. The same way many pills produced by Big Pharma have unpleasant side effects, which nefariously lead to taking more pills (For example, a person covered in hives may be willing to accept heartburn as a side effect of antihistamines), having a coughing fit after a bong or bowl hit has become an acceptable, cultural norm. Inhaling is definitely not recommended for anyone with asthma. Enter sublingual tinctures and edibles.

Edibles

Edibles take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes before a patient begins to feel the effects of consuming cannabis orally. Taking a second helping has led to incalculable, epic edible fails. Tales of a friend who was cautioned to eat only one cookie, brownie (“space cake”), or gummy, but ate more because he did not feel the effects yet, are the stuff of suburban legend.

While the effects of consuming edible cannabis take much longer to kick in, the feeling also lasts hours longer than smoking cannabis. Additionally, there is the discretion factor. No one’s clothes, hair, and skin will stink (from several feet away) like Cheech and Chong, from eating a pot brownie.

Fledgling edible consumers should proceed cautiously. When eating a pre-packaged pot-infused product, adhere to the recommended serving suggestion.

The “high” that users experience by eating marijuana is more of a “body” buzz, rather than a cerebral one. Too much consumption will turn even an experienced consumer into a couch or bed potato.

Another difference, besides how long the effects take to kick in, and how long those effects will last, is that the energizing and sedative differences between Sativa and Indica strains are usually not present in edibles. Unless a manufactured edible specifies which strain(s) of cannabis it contains, chances are most edibles are made from “shake.” Think of shake as the ground beef of cannabis. Who knows what is really in it? It is the leftover scraps, trimmings and weed dust, not the best commercially-viable, juicy bud.

Candies

Another category of cannabis consumption is candies and lozenges. Neither work as fast as smoking or vaping cannabis, but usually work slightly quicker than eating other edibles; although, it is somewhat counter-intuitive to consume medicine in a sugary piece of candy, especially at night.

Sensi Chew has a whole line of CBD “candy,” from chocolate chews to gummy bears. However, as Dr. Anna Folckomer, a licensed acupuncturist and board-certified herbalist, points out, “Regarding eating sugar at night, your insulin cycle follows circadian rhythms and light exposure. We are less sensitive to insulin at night, and it is hypothesized that timing meals with insulin sensitivity would be a game changer in the onset of diabetes. Your body knows how to use glucose for fuel during daylight hours, but due to decreased sensitivity at night, it tends to store it for later.”

One tiny THC-infused bon-bon at night might not be critical; but why not avoid the sugar before bedtime altogether, and take pure sublingual drops?

Sublingual Drops

Some restricted medical marijuana dispensaries only carry sublingual drops, which make them a patient’s go-to, by default. Drops are pretty powerful, but are not as fast-acting as inhaling, but faster than other edibles. Drops are best consumed about an hour before bedtime. A dropper full of liquid held under the tongue for 90 seconds is the best method of consumption. Merely swallowing it, without waiting for at least a minute, will dilute its effectiveness, because stomach acid will destroy the effectiveness of the dose. Allowing the infused liquid to assimilate into the body via the mucosa under the tongue’s frenulum will provide delivery more rapidly and effectively.

Drinking

With all the beer and liquor companies rushing to cash in on cannabis (to neutralize their biggest recreational competitors), pretty soon a whole slew of cannabis beverages will be on the market. For now, pioneering companies like Keef make THC-soda and sparkling water.  Keef Life contains 100mg of THC, with a built-in dosing cap. It can be added to any (non-alcoholic) beverage, or consumed by itself.

Finding a preferable method to consume cannabis is always a personal choice.

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