The cannabis plant has been consumed for millenia for its medicinal and psychoactive properties. Yet as science advances and society’s perception of this potent plant evolves, the ways in which we consume cannabis are also changing. From the traditional method of smoking to the emerging practices of vaping and sublingual administration, this article offers an exploration of the myriad of consumption methods currently available.
Smoking remains one of the most popular methods of cannabis consumption. Usually via a joint, pipe or water pipe, the inhaled smoke carries psychoactive compounds into the bloodstream, providing fast effects. However, this method can prove detrimental to lung health, which has led many to seek out alternative methods.
Vaping has emerged as a popular alternative to smoking cannabis due to its perceived health benefits. By heating the cannabis without burning it, vaping produces a vapor that contains cannabinoids and terpenes without the harmful carcinogens found in smoke. There’s a variety of vape pens and vaporizers on the market, designed for use with dried flower or cannabis oil.
Edibles are another popular method of consumption, particularly for those who wish to avoid inhaling smoke or vapor. This can range from the classic cannabis brownie, to gummies, cookies, drinks, and more. However, dosing can be tricky with edibles, and the effects can take much longer to kick in, which can lead to overconsumption.
Tinctures provide a great option for those who want to avoid inhalation, but require faster effects than edibles can provide. They involve using an alcohol base to extract the cannabinoids, which are then administered under the tongue sublingually. This sublingual administration allows the cannabis to be swiftly absorbed into the bloodstream.
Topical application, via lotions, creams, balms or oils, is another method becoming increasingly popular. These topicals are absorbed through the skin and can be used to target localized pain, inflammation, or skin conditions. However, due to the skin’s low permeability, topicals are unlikely to produce the psychoactive effects associated with other consumption methods.
Concentrates, which are highly potent extracts of the cannabis plant, represent the next tier of consumption methods. These can be consumed via a vaporizer or through a method known as dabbing, where the concentrate is flash vaporized on a hot surface and inhaled. Be advised though, due to their high potency, concentrates may not be suitable for beginners or low-tolerance consumers.
Transdermal patches are similar to topicals but with a key difference: they’re designed to penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream, providing systemic effects. This gives users a controlled, sustained release of cannabinoids, making these patches ideal for medicinal use.
Finally, cannabis inhalers represent a new frontier in cannabis consumption. These medical devices, similar to asthma inhalers, deliver a precise dose of cannabinoids directly to the lungs, providing quick effects. Although not yet widely available, cannabis inhalers represent a promising future for medical cannabis users.
The aforementioned methods barely scratch the surface of the diverse world of cannabis consumption. As continued research offers new insights into the therapeutic potential of this complex plant, novel methods of consumption are sure to follow. Whether you’re a recreational consumer, a medicinal user or a cannabis connoisseur, understanding these different methods and their effects can greatly enhance the quality of your cannabis experience.