Even as more people wrap their minds around the idea of using marijuana either for medication or recreation, one of the challenges faced by potential users is the suitable method of consumption. Their dilemma arises from the fact that many of them are familiar with smoking only. Unfortunately, smoking marijuana, commonly known as bhang or cannabis, has been a taboo in many communities. For this reason, not many people are positive about smoking marijuana no matter how bad they may need it, especially, for medication. This brings us to one common question among such potential users; what other consumption methods can one use?
Today, there are numerous methods of administering marijuana. All these come with some strengths and weaknesses. Also, the mental and physical effects of cannabis will depend on the method of administration. Depending on the kind of problem you are medicating, it could help to experiment with a few to experience the different effects before choosing one that suits you best.
Marijuana consumption methods are divided into three broad categories, namely; inhalation, oral techniques, and topical. Under the category of inhalation consumption, there is smoking, vaporization (vaping), and dabbing. Oral consumption techniques include all methods that administer marijuana through the mouth. Some examples are edibles, beverages, tinctures and ingestible oils. The third category involves the external application of cannabis extracts to be absorbed through the skin.
Smoking is a popular method of marijuana consumption. It is probably the first idea that will come into the mind of a person if you mention marijuana. In this method, the consumer puts a reasonable amount of cured cannabis flowers into a rolling paper, hookahs, water pipe, hand pipe or some homemade device (usually for a one-time use) and lights it. The pipes have a mouthpiece where the consumer inhales the smoke obtained when the dry substance burns. One can inhale the smoke in short puffs so they don’t hold it in the lungs for long.
Even non-marijuana smokers are probably familiar with the terms joint and blunt. A common misconception in the nonsmoking community is that those two terms describe the same thing. There is a difference, though. Joint refers to a cannabis rolled in a paper which might consist of plants like hemp and bamboo while blunt is a cannabis rolled in a paper made from tobacco plant and contains nicotine.
From all the listed smoking devices, the most common ones are probably the hand and water pipes. They come in a vast variety of shapes and sizes which is one of the reasons why they are so popular.
If there is one thing on this list you didn’t hear of before, it’s probably hookahs. Hookahs are mostly used for smoking wet tobacco, but can be used for smoking cannabis too. Due to the way hookahs work, to increase its effectiveness, the smoking material often consists of the mixture of cannabis and tobacco.
Benefits of smoking as a method of marijuana consumption
There are numerous advantages of consuming marijuana this way. Most of them relate to efficacy. Here are some of them;
- It is cheap since doesn’t require any sophisticated gadgets
- One can effortlessly regulate the dosage
- Smoking provides immediate relief
- One enjoys the real power of marijuana since the substance is less processed
Limitations of smoking marijuana.
Since one is inhaling smoke which goes into the lungs, there are several issues that could be related to smoking marijuana;
- The constant smell of cannabis smoke can be disturbing
- Complete combustion of cannabis produces other by-products such as tar, toluene, and others. These go into the lungs as smoke. Such can irritate the throat, hurt the lungs and so forth.
- Smoking is also associated with difficulty in breathing
- Not suitable for anyone with known pulmonary complications such as asthma, lung cancer, or so.
Commonly known as vaping, this is another method of inhaling cannabis smoke which involves burning the dry flowers of cannabis at a temperature lower than its combustion point. The heat supplied is just enough to break down the medicinal compounds such as THC and CBD without leading to full combustion. This way, the modern method eliminates the harmful effects of marijuana smoking and significantly reduces the odor. Because of this, it is no surprise that vaporizers are gladly accepted and used among more health-conscious cannabis users.
The process begins by heating the vaporizer first to a predefined temperature. Then, the user inserts the desired amount of cured cannabis flower. Once it breaks into vapor, one will press a button and inhale the fumes from the other end of a vaporizer.
Vaporizers aren’t that new to the market anymore so they can be found in many different designs. They can be divided into two broad categories – portable and fixed models. Hash, kief and butane hash oil are just some of the cannabis concentrate used in vaporizers.
Benefits of inhaling marijuana through vaporization
- It provides immediate relief
- The resultant fumes are mild to the lungs
- You won’t worry about smelling cannabis smoke
- A variety of stylish vaping devices exist in the market, most of them being portable
Limitations of vaping
- Requires more time to prepare than smoking
- You’ll keep replacing batteries for battery-powered devices which can be expensive in the long run
- Vaping devices are expensive
This is the latest method of vaporization and involves heating a dab on a hot surface mostly a heated nail. The dab vaporizes and the fumes are trapped in a glass spherical vessel and inhaled from there. So, what is a dab? A dab is a cannabis concentrate prepared from THC, an extract of cannabis, and other cannabinoids. Dabs exist in the form of sticky oils, butane hash oil (BHO), wax and shatter.
The main challenge with dabbing is that these substances contain high doses of THC, a psychoactive component of cannabis, and thus not suitable for new consumers of marijuana or those with low tolerance to THC. In fact, it is likely that a patient can get a suitable dose of THC through other methods of consumption. This makes it necessary to consult with your physician before dabbing.
Benefits of dabbing
- Provides quick effects and thus the best for emergency medications or acute sicknesses
- The best choice for consumers who require high doses of THC
Limitations of dabbing
- It involves the use of solvents to extract THC. Such chemicals could remain in the concentrate thus creating a harmful dose
- Presents high chances of overdose
- The extraction process is challenging
- The device used are not easy to handle and present high chances of accidental burns
Drinking something made with marijuana could be a good way to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of this drug. Some common beverages that could be mixed with marijuana include juices, teas, smoothies, and sodas, among others. In fact, one can make their own cannabis beverage by dropping a tincture, a bit of wax or a bud into their hot drink or so.
Drinkable cannabinoids can be just as effective as their counterparts in solid food products. For example, pulp in lemonades and milk fat in infused milk and creamer products help cannabinoids bind more effectively.
There are many different recipes for marijuana-infused drinks out there, but what is even more interesting is the fact that they can be found on the shelves in many stores where they are legal. As one can expect, they aren’t lacking in the number of available flavors and tastes like sparkling pomegranate or cold brew with milk and sugar.
Benefits of marijuana beverages
- Delivers long-term relief
- A good alternative for those hesitant about inhaling marijuana
- It results in a distinguishable feeling, like energy boost or pain relief
- Doesn’t have similar cerebral effects to smoking or vaping
- Requires at least 30 minutes to take effect
- Can be challenging to regulate dosage
Just like beverages, marijuana edibles provide a different kind of effect from smoking or vaping. In the recent past, the culinary science involving marijuana eatables has evolved making it possible to find a variety of delicious edibles in the market. In fact, it is hard to out rightly tell that some of these edibles have cannabis. The common edibles that can have marijuana as an ingredient include lollipops, gummy bears, cookies, crackers, ice cream, chocolate bars, chewing gums, popcorns and nut mixes, among others.
A major benefit of using edibles is that children and the elderly can easily medicate without exposure to possible toxic fumes or the stigma associated with smoking or vaping. The doctor will recommend a suitable dosage for each patient depending on their prior interaction with marijuana, weight, metabolism and other considerations.
Benefits of using marijuana edibles
- They deliver lasting relief
- One can easily get precise dosage
- They are a medicine wrapped in a delicious treat
- The best choice for those hesitant about inhaling marijuana
- Takes at least 30 minutes for the consumer to experience the effects
- Should be kept away from children and pets
- Won’t give the same feeling of “high” as inhaling
6. Transdermal patches
For the users who do not want to inhale marijuana or have had no success with other options, applying a patch could be your best bet. All you need is to identify a clean, hairless and dry skin area, preferably around the inner wrist, the top of your ankle or foot and apply the patch. The transdermal patches are packed with 10mg dose, but can be sliced into half to suit small dosage needs.
They work like nitroglycerin and nicotine patches. The medicine goes through all seven layers of skin and enters directly into the bloodstream (while, for example, most topical creams get absorbed by the top 3 layers of skin). The transdermal patches itself aren’t something new but using them as a method for delivering cannabis is relatively new.
Benefits of patching
- You don’t need to smoke
- They allow for a steady rate absorption over a longer period of time
- You don’t have to remember to dose at regular intervals
- Available in mild doses
- Can be used with an upset stomach
- Can come in a variety of formulations
- Some people can be allergic to the patches
- The surface of application must be clean, dry and hairless
Though a controversial method of marijuana consumption, suppositories deliver immediate results that last long. The controversy lies in the fact that one has to insert a mass of cannabis into their rectum, a process that doesn’t feel honorable. Once in the rectum, marijuana will diffuse through the colon to the rest of the body.
To insert the cone-shaped cannabis extract mass, wear some protective gloves and slouch on your side. Next, push the suppository 1.5 inches into your rectum. Tighten your sphincter muscles and hold for several minutes. You can wake up, dispose of the gloves, wash your hands and continue with your daily duties. There are suppository sizes for adults and children containing 2mg and 1mg of marijuana extracts respectively. These can also be cut to suit smaller dosages.
Benefits of marijuana suppositories
- They are a sure substitute to edibles or smoking
- Cause immediate and long-lasting effects
- A very efficient method of digestion
- It is embarrassing to administer
- The suppositories must stay refrigerated
8. Sublingual sprays
Also known as tinctures, they are good delivery methods of marijuana for people who want to experience fast effects and exercise precise control of the dosage. Also, tinctures eliminate the health threats and discomfort associated with smoking. Tinctures are usually extracts of cannabis mixed with either alcohol, Medium-Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil or glycerin solution and packed in small bottles. One will administer by squirting a few drops under their tongue which absorb within 10 minutes.
- Socially acceptable
- Does not affect the lungs
- Very easy to manage the dosage to get even small amounts.
- The method of choice for kids
- Has a mild taste
- Faster effects than eating
- Free of unpleasant smells common with smoking
- Usually expensive for those who must take higher doses
- Takes longer than inhalation
This method of delivery uses cannabis extracts packed with all components of cannabis. They come in the form of a dense decarboxylated oil that has active cannabinoids. Such are applied on the body and will absorb through the skin. It is a great method of application that saves users from the cerebral effects of cannabis(they don’t give a feeling of “being high”). Common products in the market include ointments, s[rays, lotions, salves and so forth. They can be used on chapped skin, tendonitis, swellings, minor burns, sunburns, arthritis, joint pain, eczema and muscle soreness, among others.
- Very helpful for different skin problems
- Does not affect the brain’s function
- Provides pain relief for a specified area
- Some users have reported that certain products do not work
- Not helpful for cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma or PTSD patients
Since the topicals are for external use, it is unlikely that you will suffer any harm using such. In case you are using for medication, make sure you find prescriptions that match the ailment you want to treat. It is alright to apply as many times as you want so long as you are comfortable. In the case of a skin irritation, discontinue use or seek the help of your doctor.
10. Consuming Fresh marijuana/plant parts
There are many people who hold on to the idea that some medicinal properties of the cannabis plant are mutilated when it is heated, carboxylated, or dried. This makes them consider ingesting the raw leaves or buds from the plant. The common method is to prepare a smoothie or juice and add the raw cannabis plant parts.
- Can be a good alternative for those patients who did not respond positively to other methods of delivery
- Raw cannabis has high contents of TCH-A, an acid variety of THC that doesn’t have any psychoactive effects. Doctors are yet to determine its unique medicinal qualities though it is believed to have some
- One will have to harvest and use plenty of raw cannabis plant parts
- No studies to support its efficacy claims
- Bears an unpleasant vegetable taste
Thanks to the growing technology and creativity of mankind, one does not have to shy away from marijuana due to the constraints of the consumption method. Marijuana has proved effective in relieving pain and other symptoms of deadly diseases. A wide selection of delivery methods avails numerous options for even the conservative and health conscious possible beneficiaries.