24 Ways to Consume Marijuana – Smoking, Edibles, Lotions, & More
There’s dozens of ways to consume cannabis. Each method of consumption has its own benefits – depending on your reason for usage, it’s important to understand your options.
We put together a massive list of all the ways you can consume marijuana along with their associated benefits and differences.
- Pills or Capsules
Also known as Cannacaps, THC capsules have become a popular method of ingesting marijuana. THC pills contain marijuana, typically suspended in an oil. They provide a safe way to consume cannabinoids, especially for those with respiratory issues.
There’s a number of benefits to using Cannacaps:
Because they deliver a steady, predictable dose of THC, they’re considered safer than smoking
There’s no smell, no smoke and are discreet
They can be used to treat a variety of ailments when combined with other ingredients (i.e. melatonin for sleep)
The THC has a longer duration of effect
Additionally, for those who use other medicine in capsule form, such as prescription medication, capsules are
easy to include in their existing process.
Dabs are concentrated doses of cannabis made by extracting THC and other cannabinoids, often using a solvent like butane or carbon dioxide. The end result is a sticky oil sometimes called wax, rosin, shatter, budder, butane hash oil (BHO), and kief to list a few.
Dabbing can be a tricky process requiring specific equipment such as a dab rig, torch, e-nail, concentrate pen
or an assortment of other products. But when done correctly, it delivers a clean, high dose and pure product
that is much easier on your lungs than other methods of consumption.
Bongs are a type of water pipe used with cannabis flower favored by more experienced smokers. They can range vastly in size and design and use the water to cool the smoke before it hits your lungs, making it smoother to inhale.
The water also acts as a filter, removing some of the carcinogens found in smoke. This, along with the fact
that they provide a fast, intense high as well as the ease of high dose inhalations, make bongs a popular way
to consume marijuana.
One of the most convenient ways to smoke marijuana is via bowl. Bowls are small hand pipes, very similar to tobacco pipes. They provide a really clean hit, meaning the pot may taste better than many other methods of smoking.
For many, bowls also provide a way to consume smaller doses without the addition of smoking paper as with a
joint. Bowls are usually made of glass, but can also be metal, ceramic, wood, or silicone. The more creatively
inclined have been known to make homemade DIY bowls out of generally available products such as apples!
A bubbler is a cross between a water pipe and traditional glass pipe. They’re smaller than a bong, and usually a little bigger than your average sized bowl but use water in the same way, providing a clean, smooth hit. Because of their size, they’re great for those who like water pipes but prefer smaller doses and are a good travel option. The ease of use makes them a great choice for beginners and medium dosers.
Probably the most common and widely used way to ingest weed is the joint. They’re easy to make and only require two things: bud and rolling papers. There is an ever evolving variety of papers available – different sizes, hemp, wood pulp, rice, even flavored – and the type of paper you choose will impact your experience. The innovation in papers such as transparent rolling papers that are 100% plant cellulose are maintaining their popularity from generation to generation. All rolling papers are designed to give you a smooth, even burn, and most regular consumers tend to have their favorite.
Blunts are to joints what cigars are to cigarettes. In fact, blunts are typically cigars that have had the tobacco removed and have been refilled with cannabis. The tobacco wrap adds a little extra buzz and many smokers like using the many options of flavored cigarillos (smaller cigars) to further enhance their smoking experience.
Cannabis tinctures are alcohol or oil-based extracts and can be taken sublingually or incorporated into a variety of recipes. Sublingual administration of tinctures has a slower uptake than smoking but significantly quicker than edibles, and a longer duration of effect than smoking, but shorter than edibles. Because they’re quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, they’re popular for those seeking a fast but long lasting dose of cannabinoids. Since the dosage is easy to measure and regulate, tinctures are suitable for both recreational and medicinal users, and they’re great for people looking to experiment with smokeless marijuana consumption. They are an especially useful option for low dosers, non-smokers, and those who are not yet ready for the duration of edibles.
‘Edibles’ refers to any food item that contains cannabis. Pot brownies are a classic example but you can find a variety of infused candies, snacks, and ingredients for cooking your own treats. The high from an edible can take up to two hours to hit, but it’s more intense than other ingestion methods and may last longer. Edibles don’t require high THC, meaning that you don’t have to get stoned when you indulge. Because of this, many medicinal users rely on edibles for pain relief, especially when they contain CBD. Any kind of edible will require the cannabis to be decarboxylated at some point in the process.
Decarboxylation is a crucial and necessary step in any cannabis product’s potency, efficacy, edible recipe, the creation of capsules, tinctures, or any other medicinal or recreational cannabis products. In plant form, cannabinoids including THC, are locked in an acidic form, not bioavailable to your cannabinoid receptors. The acidic form of THC is THCA, which is molecularly identical to THC – except for an additional carboxyl group. This carboxyl group prevents THCA from binding to your cannabinoid receptors. Much like keys and locks, cannabinoids need to be the correct shape to fit in our receptors, and therefore have an effect. Decarboxylation makes the THCA available to the cannabinoid receptors throughout your endocannabinoid system including in your brain and nervous system. The process of decarboxylation requires heat and is a delicate and nuanced process that even seasoned pros struggle to perfect.
Although it is most often associated with edibles and tinctures, decarboxylation is necessary in smoking,
vaping, suppositories and any other method used to consume cannabis – and we are always decarbing whether we
intend to or not. For example, when smoking a joint, the hot smoke being pulled through is decarbing the flower
as you inhale. Most of the cannabinoids will either not be made active (and bio-available) or will burn off due
to the flame’s high heat. Decarbing flower before smoking will allow the usually under-decarbed cannabinoids to
be ready to absorb into our receptors as soon as the hot smoke pulls them into our lungs.
CBD Cannabis oil is low in THC and high in CBD, which is why you may have seen it referred to as “CBD oil” or “Hemp oil.” Because it often only contains trace amounts of THC, these oils won’t provide any psychoactive effects. Instead, they’re used to treat a variety of health concerns from pain, anxiety, nausea, and sleep problems to supporting cancer treatment and its symptoms. It can be consumed as-is or put into capsules and is often available for purchase without a medical card.
If you need to be discreet with your consumption or don’t like direct combustion, a vape pen is a great option. They’re small, about the size of a ballpoint pen, give off virtually no odor, and come in a wide range of disposable varieties for the casual smoker as well as often having different dosage options. Vape pens use marijuana concentrates, often butane hash oil (BHO) or distillate,and can come pre-loaded so they’re ready to use right out of the box, and can have a delicious variety of terpenes to please any pallet.
Vaporizers, particularly concentrate vaporizers, have exploded in popularity over the past few years due to the convenience, lowered health risk, and decreased smell. Unlike other methods of smoking, vaping heats the cannabis without combustion, potentially reducing the risk of ingesting toxins in marijuana smoke. It’s important to note that the vape high is different than a smoking-flower high, sometimes due to added chemicals (such as with an oil cartridge) and sometimes due to the difference between how we absorb vapor v. smoke. Vaporizers can also help get more out of your cannabis. Since the temperature is more controlled and often lower than a flame, it can more efficiently decarb (or activate) your cannabis with less being burned off. The less is being burned off, the more can be made into vapor we can inhale. To get the absolute most out of vaping it is ideal to decarb the cannabis first so that all the vaporizer needs to do is pull the activated cannabinoids to create vapor, which you can easily inhale. This way much more of the cannabinoids will be fully bioavailable in your vapor, giving you a stronger effect.
Cannabis sprays are oil or alcohol-based sprays delivered orally, usually sublingually, to provide a fast-acting dose of cannabinoids, much like traditional tinctures. Sprays are available with different ratios of THC and CBD and a variety of flavors so they can be used for recreational or medical purposes. Because they come in a variety of “strengths”, they’re popular with beginners and more experienced consumers.
Sprays can also be an awesome option for those, like asthmatics, who cannot inhale smoke comfortably as the
cannabis spray will be already decarbed and ready to consume.
Drinks infused with weed are nothing new, but they’re probably not the most common way to consume it. You can brew up a cup of marijuana tea or cannabis coffee right at home. While marijuana tea can be made completely non-psychoactive or with little psychoactive benefits, most store-bought canna coffees contain enough THC to get you high, and contains a combination of caffeine and THC to give you a unique buzz. If you go for more of a chilled out morning, there are also CBD coffees to help you wake up relaxed.
As drinks gain popularity, they are becoming increasingly varied in type. You can find anything from canna soda
to infused lemonades to canna cocktails. Having a way to easily and consistently decarb concentrates, such as
the Ardent Decarboxylator, allows you to make cannabis infused drinks at home by simply mixing in the decarbed
concentrate with whatever drink you prefer!
- Topical Creams
Marijuana has been used in pain management for a long time but over the past few years, topical ointments and creams infused with THC and CBD have exploded in popularity. They don’t have any psychoactive effects but they do provide serious localized pain relief. Many people, including athletes, have started using these creams instead of reaching for OTC pain relievers because they’re great at relieving muscle aches without any of the potential side effects of medication. Neuropathic pain patients report relief when used regularly, as well as some who report relief from topical rashes and inflammations.
Although somewhat complex to make using traditional methods, once you can decarboxylate at home, particularly
concentrates, making topicals (even strain specific ones!) is as easy as decarbing your cannabis – doing a
quick, low heat infusion if you are starting with flower – and mixing with a bit of coconut oil into your
favorite lotions or topicals you already love.
- Transdermal Patches
Worn on the skin and functioning similar to a nicotine patch, transdermal patches are relatively new. They were not developed to get you high, but to provide pain relief for those suffering with chronic pain caused by conditions like fibromyalgia and diabetic nerve damage. The patch provides a steady stream of medical cannabis into the wearer’s bloodstream, providing discreet, consistent relief. It’s important to note that patches do not work as quickly as inhaling or ingesting, so they’re not recommended for those that need quick pain relief but can provide consistent relief throughout the day or night.
Cannabis-infused butter, AKA cannabutter, is a key ingredient in many edible recipes. It’s easy to make at home and simply involves infusing butter, with the decarboxylated bud, often over low heat or using a double boiler method. Once your cannabutter is ready, store it in the fridge and use it on your morning toast, in your favorite cookie recipe, or on any food you’d like to make into an edible. For an even easier option, decarb your cannabis using the Ardent Decarboxylator and simply mix it into a butter/oil!
- Chewing Gum
CBD-infused chewing gum provides all of the pain relief of marijuana with none of the psychoactive properties. The cannabinoids are absorbed via the mucous membranes in your mouth and the absorption is more effective than via edibles. Because of the effectiveness and discreteness, gum has become a popular option for those suffering from chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and IBS.
- THCA Crystals
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid that becomes bioavailable THC when heated as it is being decarboxylated. THCA crystals are the result of an extraction process that leave you with highly concentrated, nearly pure “diamonds” of THCA that can be ground into a powder and put into capsules or dabbed. Users have reported a more focused, clean high than that from other ingestion methods.
- Canna Oil
Different than CBD oil, canna oil is used for cooking. Infusing cooking oil, such as olive or coconut, with cannabis simply requires mixing decarbed cannabis with your oil and heating it over low heat for 15-20min using the double boiler method, and straining when time’s up. Although the weed gets heated in the oil, it is not enough or consistent enough for a full decarb so it is necessary to decarb it beforehand. Depending on the type of oil you used, you can incorporate it into a variety of recipes. Like all edibles, the high from canna oil is more intense and longer lasting than other ingestion methods, so start small.
- THC Soda
Infused sodas are still pretty new and, of course, have limited distribution by law, but they provide an alternative to smoking as well as alcoholic drinks. In states where it’s legal, users can find sodas with THC contents ranging from 20mg to 200mg. Because the THC is carefully measured into each bottle or can, you can be sure you’ll have a consistent experience each time. As they will both be metabolized through the liver, the effect of THC soda will be much like any other cannabis edible.
- Cannabis Simple Syrup
Simple syrup, a liquid sweetener made with sugar and water, infused with cannabis is super easy to make and can be used in a variety of food & drink recipes. It is made by steeping bud in simple syrup or adding oil to the syrup. You can also add other herbs and flavorings like rosemary or ginger for extra flavor. Try adding it to your coffee, especially iced coffee, for a unique and tasty high.
- THC Bath Soaks
Soaking in a hot bath is a great way to relax and using a THC soak takes the relaxation to a new level. THC soaks look like regular bath salts and provide excellent relief for sore, tired muscles without any psychoactive effects. They’re still pretty new so the data is anecdotal, but many users have reported finding them extremely therapeutic.
There we go! Two dozen ways to use marijuana. New research and development in the weed world means that even if you can’t smoke, there are a lot of ways for you to get a dose of THC. Whether you’re a recreational user seeking the perfect high or you rely on cannabis to manage an illness, there’s a method (or two!) for you.