As cannabis becomes legal in more states, many people may be trying it for the first time. Whether you live in a state that only allows medical use or you’re in a state that allows recreational use, you’ll find many methods for consuming cannabis. We discuss some of the most common consumption methods and tips on using marijuana safely in this guide.
Is There a Best Way to Consume Cannabis?
There are several cannabis consumption methods, but the best way to consume marijuana often depends on personal preferences and whether you’re using it to help relieve a specific condition. Below we look at several ingestion methods and give you some of the drawbacks and benefits of cannabis consumption using each.
Smoking is probably the oldest method of marijuana ingestion. Smoking cannabis includes rolling a joint in papers, like a hand-rolled cigarette, or smoking it in a pipe, bong or chillum. Although it’s still a common way to consume cannabis, smoking weed has lost popularity primarily due to health concerns.
Dosing isn’t precise when smoking, and the effects usually only last two or three hours, making it less ideal for those seeking long-term relief from chronic pain, anxiety and other lasting ailments. However, smoking is one of the quickest ways to get cannabis into your body, and you’ll likely start feeling the effects almost immediately. Smoking may be a suitable consumption method for you if you’re looking for quick relief and you don’t have any breathing issues.
Some cannabis users consider vaping a healthier alternative to smoking marijuana using traditional devices. Vaping eliminates the smoke that can irritate the throat and lungs because it heats the cannabinoids and turns them into a breathable vapor. Dosage still isn’t as precise as other methods, but it’s generally easier to control dosage while vaping than smoking cannabis the old-fashioned way. One major drawback of vaping is the cost of a high-quality vaporizer. Poorly made vaping devices are cheaper but can be dangerous mechanically and may be hazardous to your health because of potential harm to the lungs.
Consumption through edible cannabis products has been popular among cannabis users for several years because they feel it’s a safer and healthier alternative method of ingestion. Edibles tend to be more potent than smoking or vaping, with more psychoactive effects because your liver digests and converts the THC in marijuana to a more potent form. It’s relatively easy to make cannabis oil or butter for use in various edible dishes, and the effects on your body usually last much longer than other consumption methods.
Edibles are much more discreet than smoking and don’t damage your lungs. However, it takes a while for your liver to break down the THC, so it can be an hour or two before you feel the effects. This delay isn’t ideal for those needing immediate relief. Because it takes time for the THC to kick in, it’s easy to accidentally take too much, potentially causing unpleasant results like a THC-induced psychotic event.
Another way for cannabis users to consume marijuana is through tinctures, which have many of the same benefits as edibles. Tinctures are long-lasting, discreet and versatile like edibles, but it’s easier to control the dosage. Like edibles, the time it takes for tinctures to kick in may cause you to overdo your dosage, and not all labels include accurate information about the cannabinoids contained in the tincture.
Topicals like balms and salves may be less popular methods of consumption, but they’re convenient for direct application to relieve inflamed skin, muscles or joints. Topicals work well for cannabis users who dislike the psychoactive effects of THC, but the effectiveness remains unknown. Absorption can be extremely slow, so topicals aren’t ideal for quick relief and may cause contact dermatitis, an allergic reaction that causes an itchy rash.
Differences Between Cannabis Flower and Concentrate
When choosing a method of cannabis consumption, it’s important to understand the difference between cannabis flower and concentrate. Cannabis flower, also called buds or nugs, is the traditional method of consumption. Cannabis concentrates are created by extracting the oil from the cannabis plant and making a more concentrated form.
The biggest difference is that concentrates are much more potent than cannabis flowers. This higher potency and the many different forms of concentrates can be intimidating to new cannabis users. In a dispensary, some common concentrates include dabs, wax, tinctures, rosin, shatter, crumble and cannabis oil. The higher potency of concentrates benefits users because they can use less of it, which is good since it’s more expensive than cannabis flower.
Another important difference between cannabis flower and cannabis concentrate is that concentrates can be high in CBD and low in THC, which results in a non-intoxicating effect on your body. If you’re new to cannabis consumption, a low-THC concentrate can be a good introduction. Then, you can move up to cannabis oils, which can be high in CBD, THC or both.
How to Use Marijuana Safely
No matter which consumption method you choose, always ensure you’re using marijuana safely. Research has shown the benefits of cannabis consumption, but cannabis use also carries risks when not used responsibly. Marijuana consumption can impair your coordination and reaction time and cause memory and thinking problems, especially when consuming large doses of THC. As the THC dose increases, you can also experience dizziness, nausea, paranoia and mental fog.
To use marijuana safely, always purchase your products from a reputable, licensed cannabis dispensary or use a delivery service operated by one of these dispensaries. Always read the label on your cannabis product to ensure you understand what you’re getting. Although the cannabis salesperson, typically called a budtender, can offer advice, the effects of various marijuana products differ from person to person. Your own experience should outweigh what a budtender tells you.
Safely using marijuana greatly depends on the amount you consume. A good rule of thumb is to start low, with a small amount containing lower levels of THC, until you understand your tolerance. Slowly increase your dosage over several days or even weeks until you find the right amount to meet your personal needs without any negative effects.