There are dozens of ways to consume cannabis. As more consumers begin to see the benefits of marijuana, people are also looking to find easier ways to make edibles, topical solutions, THC oils, and much more. Each method of consumption has its own benefits – depending on your reason for usage. It is important to understand your options as the stigma surrounding the use of marijuana has started to change around the world.
Whether for medical use or recreational purposes, consumers are constantly searching for new ways to use cannabis. Before you enjoy the massive list of ways that you can consume marijuana, let us explain the basics of marijuana and how THC works.
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What is Marijuana?
There are two subsets of the cannabis plant. The first is what we all know as marijuana which has the psychoactive effect commonly referred to as a “high”. Though marijuana it is not yet fully approved as medicine. Scientific studies on its benefits have led the FDA to approval of some chemical pills and sprays containing THC and CBD.
What is Hemp?
The second subset of the cannabis plant is called hemp, which has lower doses of THC, therefore does not have the same intoxicating effects of marijuana. Both marijuana and hemp contain cannabinoids and terpenes. The two dominant cannabinoids in both plants are: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). Between the two plant types, marijuana is the one that is most sought after for its abundant THC content.
What is THC?
THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid found in both marijuana and hemp plant. In marijuana, however, it’s more abundant. THC, unlike CBD, can cause a person to get “high” when consumed. The science behind this psychoactive effect is that THC activates the body’s endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid is a system of CB1 and CB2 receptors in the central nervous system and throughout the body These receptors alter the brain signaling process which influences concentration, appetite, and many more of the body’s operating systems.
THC, for example, binds onto CB1 receptors, which are consequential in that it has an effect on cognitive functioning such as attention span, the formation of memories and the coordination of movements. It also activates the reward system in the brain which in some cases can cause a surge in dopamine levels which induce an intense biological response that leads to a decrease in pain, nausea and more.
Now that you have a better understanding of marijuana and how THC works, here’s a look at some of the ways to consume cannabis.
1. 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. The pros of this application make it suitable for people with respiratory issues. It also delivers a accurate dose and can be used to treat multiple illnesses. The con is that the body’s digestive mechanism may interfere with its absorption into the bloodstream.
You can also make instant cannacaps by placing decarbed cannabis or concentrates right into capsules. Include a drop of coconut oil or MCT and lecithin with decarbed cannabis to help with absorption, Marijuana pills provide a safe way to consume cannabinoids.
There’s a number of benefits to using cannacaps:
- Because they deliver a steady, predictable dose of THC, they’re considered safer than smoking (remember though, that the timing of the onset of effects can vary, since the cannabinoids have to make their way through the digestive system before they are absorbed into the bloodstream).
- There’s no smell, no smoke and they are discreet.
- They can be used to treat a variety of ailments when combined with other ingredients (i.e. melatonin for sleep or B12 vitamins).
- The THC has a long duration of effect.
Additionally, for those who use other medicine in capsule/pill form, such as prescription medication, capsules are easy to include in their existing process.
Dabs are concentrated forms of cannabis made by extracting THC and other cannabinoids from the plant, often using a solvent like butane, ethanol, or carbon dioxide. The end result is a sticky oil sometimes called wax, shatter, budder, butane hash oil (BHO), or RSO. There are also more healthy, solventless concentrates that are made without using any chemicals or solvents. Rosin, ice water hash, and kief are all solventless concentrates.
Dabbing can be a tricky process requiring specific equipment such as a dab rig, torch or e-nail. In dabbing, take a rice grain size of wax concentrate and place it on a rig or vaporizer, then heat it to release the ingredients while the end user inhales the smoke. Dabs have also become very popular with new cannabis users through the introduction of an almost endless variety of concentrate pens and cannabis extract cartridges.
When done correctly, dabbing can deliver a clean, high dose and pure product that is easier on your lungs than other methods of consumption. You can decarboxylate concentrates and then use the decarbed concentrate to dab on super low temperatures for even more yield with a smooth inhale.
You can also use activated concentrates to make any cannabis product, like lotions, capsules, edibles, and sublinguals.
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.
Decarbing before smoking in the bong or other smoking methods mentioned below will lead to a heavier and more sedated high, due in part to increased production of CBN during the process. Consider trying smoking decarbed flower to de-stress or improve sleep.
One of the most convenient ways to smoke marijuana is via bowl. Bowls are small hand pipes, very similar to tobacco pipes.
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 like apples and even bananas!
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 bongs 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 of the ways to smoke weed is the joint. They’re easy to make and only require two things: bud and rolling papers (filters are essential also. If you aren’t using filters yet you are missing out). 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 seems never-ending, from trends such as transparent rolling papers made from plant cellulose to terpene-enhanced papers. All rolling papers are designed to give you a smooth, even burn, and most regular consumers tend to have their favorite. Just roll marijuana buds in your paper of choice, then light it up and smoke as usual.
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 either alcohol or oil-based extracts and can be taken sublingually or incorporated into a variety of recipes. Sublingual (under the tongue) 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. In many ways, sublingual administration delivers the best of both worlds. It’s an underutilized method of consumption, and you should try sublingual administration – especially if you have been unsatisfied with smoking and edibles.
Because they’re quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, sublingual marijuana therapies are 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 wellness 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. Weed cookies and cannabis ice cream are a classic examples 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 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 THC and CBD. Any kind of edible will require the cannabis to be decarboxylated at some point in the process. Thankfully, it is incredibly simple to make THC or CBD edibles and it doesn’t require you to make a butter or oil. A tiny bit of activated marijuana can be directly mixed into food for an instant edible experience. Of course, cannabis infused oil, butter, and other fats are a great way to add cannabis to dishes as an alternative to using the decarbed material directly. After decarb, just place the activated cannabis, kief or concentrate back into the Nova with the butter or oil for a second cycle to get the most effective extraction, without any mess or effort.
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 the cannabis plant, THC is locked in tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), which is an acidic form that renders THC unavailable to your body’s receptors until the cannabis is activated with heat.
THCA 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. If you are looking to decarb cannabis to make edibles, lotions, drinks, or weed oils the easiest way to get it done is with the Ardent Nova Decarboxylator.
Why Decarb Cannabis?
Again, decarboxylation is the first step to making any type of weed edible or infused oils.
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 a central aspect of smoking, vaping, suppositories and any other method used to consume cannabis.
How To Decarb Marijuana?
We are always decarbing whether we intend to or not. For example, when smoking a joint, the hot smoke being pulled through is partially 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 more THC to enter into the vapor and smoke. In addition to creating more CBN, which leads to a heavier sedating effect.
After you decarb the marijuana it can be used to make any product you’ve seen on a dispensary shelf or imagined making on your own. Whether you want to make edibles, or improve the strength and efficiency of your smoking and vaping experience. Including drinks, snacks, transdermal patches, capsules, lotions and much more.
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.” WARNING: make sure your products actually have CBD in them. Often companies include hemp seed oil (which does not have any CBD) and bank on confused consumers to believe that it is hemp-derived CBD.
Because it often only contains trace amounts of THC, CBD 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. You can easily make CBD oil by decarbing CBD flower or concentrates in the Ardent Decarboxylator and then adding oil and running a second cycle to infuse.
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. Distillate, the most processed form of almost pure THC or CBD, often had terpenes added in order to mimic the taste of specific strains. Be very careful, however, as there is a growing problem with heavy metals in vape cartridges from the use of leads and other metals in the batteries and cartridges, and a proliferation of low quality and even counterfeit vape pens, so only buy pens and cartridges from trusted and verified sources.
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 in vape pens or pods (such as with an oil cartridge) and sometimes due to the difference of the chemical and cannabinoid composition of vapor v. smoke. Vaporizers can also help get more out of your cannabis. Since the temperature is more controlled and 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 a stronger and more sedated vaping expereince, decarb the cannabis or concentrate first. You can use very low temps to vaporize this activated cannabinoids and create more yield at the low temps. Vaping at the normal temps will also increase the amount of CBN produced, which is desirable for those suffering from PTSD or insomnia.
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 wellness 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 sprays are easy to administer and dose.
Drinks infused with weed are nothing new, but they’re probably not the most common way to consume cannabis. 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 through a blending of THC and CBD strains, 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, CBD coffee is an option 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!
16. Topical Creams
Marijuana has been used in pain management for centuries, 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.
People may have been shy about away from making topicals because the old methods were complex and labor-intensive. But with Ardent’s easy decarboxylation and infusion its very simple to make potent, very affordable topicals. Decarbed concentrates can be mixed right into lotions. For decarbed flower, either a second cycle to infuse into oil that is then mixed with the lotion, or a cold infusion into alcohol or a solvent like propylene glycol, and then mixing with your lotion or salve is a fast way to a non-greasy topical product.
17. Transdermal Patches
Worn on the skin and functioning similar to a nicotine patch, transdermal patches are relatively new in mainstream cannabis circles. 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 by placing it in with the decarboxylated bud, and running it for one more cycle to infuse. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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, however these super concentrated forms of THCA lack the full spectrum of cannabis’ beneficial compounds.
21. Canna Oil
Different than CBD oil, canna oil is used for cooking. If you are looking into how to make edibles without butter then infusing cooking oil, such as olive or coconut, with cannabis simply requires mixing decarbed cannabis with your oil and placing it back in the decarboxylator for a second cycle, 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.
22. 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 if you’re buying from a reputable vendor. As they will both be metabolized through the liver, the effect of THC soda will be much like any other cannabis edible.
23. 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.
24. 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. Many users have reported finding them extremely therapeutic.
Any Ways to Consume Cannabis We Missed?
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 or CBD. Whether you’re a wellness user seeking the perfect balance or you rely on cannabis to manage an illness, there’s a method (or two!) for you.
Did we miss one? Leave it in the comments to be featured.