There are four main methods of consuming cannabis: Smoking, Vaporization, Ingestion and the use of Topicals. Each method has unique characteristics that make it more or less appropriate for some consumers. Below is an overview of the various methods of consumption and their risks and benefits.
Smoking is the historically the most common way of consuming cannabis. Its effects are felt almost immediately and typically last 2-4 hours. There are a variety of ways to smoke cannabis, including using a pipe, water pipe (bong), or rolling a joint. When smoking, it’s quite easy to regulate (titrate) your dose, making it easy to reach your desired level of medication. While very effective, smoking isn’t the healthiest method of consumption. We recommend vaporization, ingesting edibles, or using topicals as a healthier alternative.
Vaporization is similar to smoking, but rather than burning the cannabis, it is heated to a temperature at which the active ingredients in the plant are released as vapor. Vaporization is typically a healthier aternative to smoking. However, there are some health concerns present with this method of consumption. Vaporizers are relatively new and they haven’t been tested for safety over long periods of time. Also, the majority of vaporizers use concentrates, which are made using a variety of methods. Extraction methods are quickly becoming safer and more effective, enabling us to offer a wide variety of safe concentrates.
Cannabis can also be ingested orally in the form of edibles, tinctures, capsules or oils. The onset for oral ingestion is slower and lasts longer than with inhalation. The effect typically takes 30-60 minutes for onset and can last 6 hours or more. This is due to the fact that when ingested, Δ9-THC undergoes a chemical transformation into 11-hydroxy-THC by your liver. This new compound is substantially more psychoactive than the former. Consumption of edibles is particularly effective for patients suffering from chronic pain or those who can’t inhale their cannabis due to health concerns. However, dose titration is made more difficult with ingestion, largely due to the historical lack of standardized testing and labeling practices. For this reason, always start small dose and wait an hour before consuming more. As the industry evolves and we can depend on manufacturer’s to accurately label their products, this process will become much easier.
Cannabis infused lotions, balms, oils, patches, and bath salts can be used to topically to absorb medicine through your skin. This method is recommended for localized pain like arthritis. Many athletes benefit from the use of cannabis topicals, as cannabinoid infused lotions, oils, or even hydrotherapuetic products can decrease inflammation and help with relaxation or rest. There is evidence that shows effect onset within 15 minutes, and relief lasting for up to a day. Another benefit of topical medicines is that they are generally non-psychoactive (they won’t get you ‘high’).