Ways to Consume Cannabis

There are so many different ways to consume cannabis, there really is something to suit everyone. Even if you aren’t wanting the high & only wanting to use cannabis to promote your health & well-being. Most people’s minds will go straight to smoking cannabis flower. But there is so many different ways that don’t cross our minds at all. We thought we would take the opportunity with the launch of Instant Janes to go over the different ways to consume cannabis.

Inhalation

Onset: Immediate.
Duration of Effects: 2-4 hours.

Inhalation is the most common and popular way to consume cannabis. Typically within immediately or within a few miniutes you will feel the effects. Due to the quick onset time, inhalation can be very effective for acute situations. It is one of the fastest delivery method, as the medicine passes through your lungs & into the bloodstream straight away. The effects generally last about 2-4 hours (give or take), depending on the person. While inhalation is the quickest-acting, it’s also the quickest to fade. So if you’re looking for a prolonged relief for something a tincture or a capsules.

Dried CBD flowers from hemp (containing less than 0.2/0.3% THC) can be purchased in some locations. But currently in the UK it is technically not legal to sell even hemp CBD flowers. In Canada and some US states, cannabis flowers that contain THC are available by prescription. As well as without from special stores that sell cannabis for legal recreational use. When it comes to joints that are traditionally the form of cannabis, many people think of these dried flowers, or buds.

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Smoking

The most widely known delivery method for consuming cannabis. You’ve likely seen it in form of joints, blunts, pipes or bowls. Because smoking causes the combustion of the plant material, you may be inhaling chemicals from smoke, tar, and even butane fumes from your lighter. Therefore, doctors do not recommend consuming cannabis in this way. Even if it is the most popular way. Cannabinoids and terpenes can also be destroyed smoking at high temperatures. If inhalation is your preferred way to consume cannabis, doctors often recommend dry herb vaporisers, which we’ll touch on next.

Methods
  • Joints – The joint is likely the most popular method of smoking cannabis. Papers are relatively inexpensive, easy to carry, and escape ‘drug paraphernalia’ laws. Tobacco is legal for anyone over the age of 18 and rolling papers can be used for that. The hypocrisy.
  • Blunts – The first cousin of the joint. Typcally made from cigar leaves or blunt wraps containing pure cannabis with no herbal mix or tobacco.
  • Pipes – Even among subgroups such as a pipe smokers there are sub-subgroups. Such as glass devotees vs wooden pipe smokers vs metal pipe smokers vs ceramic pipe smokers. Some insist glass delivers the best taste and that metal inevitably adds it’s own ‘off’ taste during the combination process.
  • Bongs – Bongs are cylindrical tubes usually made of glass (ideally) or acrylic, typically with a bowl and stem at the bottom which is pulled out to carburete a hit. A small amount of water is normally used in a bong to cool the smoke; this produces the gurgling sound typically associated with bong smoking.
Vaping

Vaporising (or vaping) is an inhalation method that heats the plant material or an oil to vapor, instead of burning it. It’s often considered a healthier way to inhale, as you’re avoiding the chemicals in smoke (and preserving more of the terpenes and cannabinoids that could be destroyed in the burning process).

While vaping can be discreet and easy, especially with small vape pens, a word of caution – there are a lot of low-quality vape products on the market, and recently reports of vaping -related deaths, illnesses and respiratory issues from vaping with tainted oil cartridges have been escalting. These issues with vaping oils are coming from poor-quality black market vape products. Some of these vaporisers contain propylene glycol that have not been shown to be safe for inhalation. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified vitamin E acetate as a potential ingredient in vape pens causing harm to the lungs in patients diagnosed with vaping illness.

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Cannabis Concentrates

Separating the medicinal compounds of cannabis from the plant matter creates concentrates. Several grams of cannabis flowers are used to produce concentrates. Creating a powerful medical substance that takes the form of a sticky goo called wax, a fragile solid called shatter, or oil.

Concentrates are anywhere from 50 to 99% percent medicinal compounds. A tiny dose contains enough to give you your desired results. Vaping concentrates have the same effect as smoking or vaping flower; we feel high almost immediately and it last for an hour or two. Concentrates require trial and error. Cannabis flower smokers have learned the hard way that concentrates are much stronger than anything they have ever tried before. If you decide to try concentrate.

Sublingual

Onset: About 15 minutes.
Duration of effects: 4-6 hours.

CBD oil is most commonly consumed in tincture, spray or lozenges. While the word ‘tincture’ historically refers to an alcohol solution, most CBD & cannabis tinctures today are oil-based. You can take them sublingually onset time, the second-quickest after inhalation – typically about 15 minutes. With tinctures, it’s very easy to measure out a calculated dose as the oil under your tongue the digestive tract first (as it would with capsules or edibles).

Tinctures are easy to carry around with you, a discreet way to adminster your cannabis medicine and the effecets typically last longer than inhalation. When you take a tincture and hold it under your tongue for at least 60 seconds before swallowing. If you add your CBD tincture into food or drink, it is delivered into your system the same way an edible would be rather than sublingually. Although a water soluble tincture would have a much faster onset time than an consumable when added to food.

Lozenges are solid, like boiled sweets, and are meant to be dissolved slowly under the tongue for sublinginual absorption. Just like a spray or tincture but on a slower release. The absorbiliity will probably vary between lozenges.

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Edibles

Onset: 60-90 minutes.
Duration of effects: 6-8 hours.

Edibles‘ or ‘Consumables‘ refers to anything you can eat or drink that contains cannabis (such as pot brownies or coffee or tea with CBD added). Consumables typically take the longest to produce noticeable effects, tricky, because they potentially last the longest too. But probably one of the funnest ways to consume cannabis with all the different things you can do. Dosing with edibles can be tricky because they have to pass through your digestive system before taking effect. It is hard to know how much medicine your body is absorbing. The effect of consumables can last 6-8 hours. When you eat a cannabis edible, whether it is CBD, THC or both, make sure you wait at least an hour, ideally 90 minutes to feel the effects before deciding if you need more.

Raw juicing of cannabis leaves and flowers has become very popular. Because raw, undried marijuana is loaded with non-psychoactive properties. Including THCa and CBDa, as well as loads of other cannabinoids and terpenes in there pre-decarboxylated form. Cannabis is a superfood and the cannabinoids can bring balance to people’s health and well-being. Raw juicing will not get you high. THC must be decarboxylated by heat to do that. But all the cannabinoids can be used by your body in their natural, raw form. Cannabis smoothies often including other fruits and greens such as kale, bananas, blueberries, and oranges, are an excellent way to supplement your cannabinoids without altering your consciousness.

Capsules

Onset: 60 – 90 minutes.
Duration of effects: 6-8 hours.

Capsules are in the same boat as edibles. They take a little bit longer to kick in than inhalation or tinctures. But just like edibles, they tend to last longer than other delivery methods. I find capsules to be great for sleep, as they last a couple of extra hours longer than the tincture. Like edibles, it can be difficult to dose when using capsules since the CBD has to pass through the digestive tract first – this means that the amount of cannabis medicine that’s actually absorbed in the body varies. If you typically experience digestive issues, a tincture may be a better choice for you as absorption & bioavailability will be more streamlined. On the plus side, capsules are easy to add to your daily routines if you already take other pills or supplements.

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Topicals

Onset: 10-20 minutes
Duration of effects: 2-4 hours

Administered directly on the skin topicals (creams, lotions, oils, salves, balms, cosmetics or even bath products) can be fantastic way to consume cannabis for certain conditions. Many people find great relief from topicals as our skin is covered in cannabinoid receptors (both CB1 & CB2). Topicals don’t typically cause any intoxicating effects, even if they contain high amounts of THC. So this is a perfect way to experience the healing benefits of THC without getting high. That being said, it is advisable that if you have used a product that contains ingredients to help penetrate the deeper layer sof skin and possibly reach the blood stream, you may not pass a drugs test. Since this may be banned substance in some workplaces and sports federations.

The way topical products are made varies widely, as does the absorption and efficacy; high tech formulas with lipsomes, nanoparticles or encapsualted ingredients may help penetrate the skin to a greater extent. One ingredient type to look out for is terpenes such as linaloo and limonene, as these may enhance penetration. Linalool and Limonene are natually found in cannabis, as well as lavender and citrus fruits. Menthol is another helpful terpene found in cannabis as well as in many varities of mint.

Transdermals

Onset: 10-20 minutes.
Duration of effects: 2-4 hours.

Transdermal products are similar to topicals – they typically come as a balm that rub into your skin, or as a patch that you apply to the skin. But medicine can enter the bloodstream rather than providing local relief only as a topical would. These are another great way to consume cannabis. Transdermal compounds or patches may procvide deeper pain relief than a topical. With transdermal products there is a bit more of a chance that you’ll feel some of the intoxicating effects of THC, since it may enter the blood stream, but this is usually very slight. If you’re using a transdermal patch, the recommendation is to place it on a veiny area of the skin, such as the wrist or the inside of the elbow.

This method also avoids having to go through the digestive system first, leading to more active cannabinoids and terpenes being delivered directly inot the bloodstream. Terpenes are also easily broken down in the gut, so this may offer the best way to get a wider spectrum of plant chemicals into the blood apart from vaporising and inhaling multiple times a day.

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Suppositories

Onset: 10-30 minutes.
Duration of effects: 4-6 hours.

Vaginal or rectal suppositories are quickly becoming a popular option for administering CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids as close to the area of need as possible. To adminster higher amounts of cannabinoids, use suppositories. They can be made with cannabis oil & cocoa butter. The cannabinoids are absorbed directly into the surrounding tissues, rarely with any psychoactive effects. Have you ever considered this as one of the ways to consume cannabis?

Vaginal

This method was used traditionally for thousands of years according to some ancient texts. Including in ancient Egypt for pain in child birth and helping with labour. More recently, some companies have started making ‘CBD tampons’ and users claim that they have found them helpful for period pain.

Rectal

For hundreds and possibly thousands of years, rectal suppositories containing cannabis may be been used to treat conditions of the bowel and anal issues. But it is hard to say exactly how they were used and at what doses. One study in rats reported that rectal CBD decreased colon inflammation. But so far that’s all the published research we have.

THC on it’s own is not absorbed rectally, so most patients report they do not get high or intoxicated by using THC capsules in this way. However, there has been cases where very large amounts of THC rectally did cause feelings of slight intoxication. So it remains an unknown exactly how much can be taken and how individual differences may factor in. A pre ‘pre-form’ of THC is being tested for rectal administration in small preliminary human studies. It has been successful in getting THC into the bloodstream but it’s not yet available outside of a research lab at the time of writing.

Share your ways to consume cannabis in the comments.

Resources

Please Note
  • Keep CBD out of reach of children.
  • The MHRA have not evaluated any of these statements.
  • We do not intend to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
  • Do not use this information to replace the advice of your doctor.
  • If any products cause any reaction, please seek medical advice.
  • The Conscious Cannabis Club approve all recommended products.

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