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different ways to use marijuana

How Is Marijuana Used?

Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism.

Lisa Sullivan, MS, is a nutritionist and a corporate health and wellness educator with nearly 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry.

February 2020 UPDATE: Recent illnesses have been associated with the use of e-cigarettes (vaping).   Since the specific causes of these sometimes fatal lung injury cases are not yet known, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends refraining from all vaping products.  

Marijuana can be used in more ways than simply smoking it as a cigarette. The delivery methods are important considerations for medical marijuana users as well as those who are using it recreationally, whether legally or not. Learn about the variety of methods available.

Smoking

A common method of using marijuana is to roll it into a cigarette (or joint) using tobacco rolling papers and then smoking it. It can also be smoked in a pipe or a bong (which is a filtration device that uses water).

Marijuana can also be smoked in a blunt, which is a cigar that has been hollowed out to replace the tobacco with marijuana or a mixture of tobacco and marijuana.

As of December 20, 2019, the new legal age limit is 21 years old for purchasing cigarettes, cigars, or any other tobacco products in the U.S.  

Some smoke marijuana in bubblers, which are mini-bongs about the size of a pipe. And, of course, one of the oldest methods of smoking marijuana—as well as hash, tobacco, and other substances—is with a hookah.  

However, marijuana users are known for their creativity and ingenuity, especially when they run out of rolling papers. They can fashion bongs and pipes out of soda bottles or cans, corn cobs, and even pieces of fruit.

Marijuana smoke is carcinogenic; therefore, the American Lung Association recommends continued research to study the effects of marijuana use on lung health.  

Gravity Bongs

Another way to smoke marijuana using common household items is a gravity bong, sometimes called a bucket bong or waterfall bong. These can be made from plastic bottles, milk jugs, buckets, and two-liter soda bottles. The homemade gravity bongs use gravity to pull the smoke into the chamber using water, or sometimes beer or wine.

Vaping

A relatively new method of consuming marijuana is by vaporization. Vaporizers heat the marijuana to a point just below the point of combustion. The active ingredients can be inhaled as a vapor, rather than as more harmful smoke.

Vaporizers are used for several reasons:

  • Some claim they get a better high when they “vape.”
  • Vaporizers produce less marijuana smell than smoking.
  • Vaporizers are usually small and easy to conceal.

In order to deter minors, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration enacted a rule to require e-cigarette companies to cease manufacturing and selling fruit-flavored vaping products by the end of January 2020.  

Dabbing

This method of using marijuana is somewhat similar to vaping, but it uses tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) resins extracted from the marijuana plant.   (THC is the ingredient in marijuana that produces a high.) It may be in oil form (hash oil or honey oil), a soft solid form (wax or budder), or a hard solid (shatter).

A glass pipe or bong is heated with a blowtorch. When the resin extract is placed into the pipe, it creates vapor almost immediately. Dabbing is thought to produce a greater high than smoking marijuana.

Because a butane lighter is needed to bring the resins to the right smoking temperature, users are regularly exposed to high levels of methacrolein, benzene, and other toxic substances, according to research from Portland State University.  

Oral Ingestion

Home-baked marijuana brownies have been around for decades, but now marijuana is being baked or added to many types of food. Marijuana edibles are being produced and marketed now that medical marijuana is legal in many states and recreational marijuana use is legal in some.

Oils extracted from marijuana plants can be used in cooking, baking, or simply mixing with food to create a variety of products that can be ingested orally or taken in capsule form.

Vendors in states where recreational marijuana is legal are selling cakes, cookies, gummy bears, cereal, granola bars, and even chewing gum containing marijuana.

Marijuana oil can also be added to common beverages. It is sold in teas, sodas, and even beer. Using marijuana leaves to make tea has been done for many years. Today, however, the tea is much more potent.

While many people perceive marijuana ingestion to be less harmful than smoking, the delayed onset of marijuana effects associated with edibles, such as baked treats, is often the cause of frequent overdose.  

Sprays

Another relatively new method of using marijuana involves infusing liquids with THC or cannabinol (CBD) to make sprays that users can spray under the tongue. This method is typically used by medical marijuana users who want to avoid the harmful effects of smoke.

Sprays are also used in areas where marijuana is still illegal because they are difficult to detect. Some use sprays in conjunction with smoking marijuana, by spraying the differently flavored spray on joints and blunts.

Marijuana Tinctures

Tinctures are liquids extracted from marijuana plants that are infused with a solution of alcohol or alcohol and water. The user places a few drops of the solution under the tongue and it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.

Because this form of marijuana is highly concentrated, highly potent, and fast-acting, it is generally used for medical purposes, but because it produces an intense high, it is often abused.

Topical Methods

Topical oils are extracts from the marijuana plant that is thicker than the oils used in edible products. The oils are placed on the skin and are absorbed to relieve muscle pain and soreness. Because marijuana topicals do not produce a high, they are usually used for medicinal purposes only.

Marijuana is usually smoked as a cigarette called a joint or a spliff, or in a pipe or a bong, but many other methods of ingestion are used today.

Different Ways to Consume Cannabis

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There are many different ways to consume cannabis apart from just smoking it; this herb can be used for many different things other than relaxing or enjoying the flavor, it can also be used to sooth pain and treat illnesses such as epilepsy.

There are a myriad of different ways to consume cannabis; you can consume it straight from the plant after it’s been dried and cured, or you can put it through various extraction processes and mixes to give it other uses. In this article we’re going to talk about some of the most common ways to consume cannabis, including but not restricted to smoking. Why don’t you try one of these if smoking is usually your thing?

Consuming dried, cured cannabis flowers:

Smoking:
We all know and love this particular way of consuming cannabis; roll yourself a joint and light it up! When you smoke you absorb about 20% of the total THC and other cannabinoids in the cannabis; if you use a bong you can get up to 25%.

Vaporizing:
When you vape cannabis the effect is much stronger as you’re absorbing up to 90% of the cannabinoids in the plant. You’re also not burning anything, which is much healthier for your lungs as well as the fact that you won’t be inhaling tobacco if you tend to mix it with your joints. No tobacco is used in vaporizers and there’s various different types; portable ones, ones for home, vaporizers for extracts as well as weed etc.

Ingesting:
You can consume cannabis in many different dishes, drinks, desserts, cakes; there are a lot of different ways to get cannabis into your blood stream through ingestion. With ingestion you’ll manage to absorb most of the THC just like with vaping, although the effect will take about an hour to kick in. It has quite a strong high, and when it kicks in it happens fast so you need to be careful with the dosage of weed you use and how big of a proportion you have. Dehydrated cannabis pills are more direct than food as you don’t need to heat it up and run the risk of deterioration, but they still take as much time to kick in. The dosage should be around 0.5g per person, and when you ingest it you’re consuming 100% of the cannabinoids in what you ingested. On our blog you can find many delicious cannabis recipes.

Cannabis Infusions:
Infusions are one of the most well-known ways to extract the beneficial properties of medicinal plants using water to absorb the cannabinoids and then drinking it; this can also be done with cannabis. All you have to do is submerge cannabis in hot water for a few minutes just like any other infusion so that the hot water can collect all of the active principles in the herb. A dosage of 0.2g per 200ml is enough to get a decent effect from it. On our blog you can read all about how to make hemp infusions with a high CBD content.

Cannabis Liquors:
If you’re a fan of any drink in particular you can dissolve the cannabinoids from your plants in it and have a nice relaxing glass of whisky or other preferred drinks. 26g per liter of liquor is a good amount. The best method is using a glass jar and leaving it in the darkness. The alcohol in the drink will dissolve the resin in your plants, and in about 6 weeks you’ll be able to filter it and store it in a bottle. If it’s extremely potent, use a bit less cannabis the next time and vice versa.

Consuming cannabis extracts by processing flowers and leaves:

Hash:
This is the most used cannabis extract by far and has been made for centuries on all corners of the planet. It’s made of the resin from cannabis plants that are generally extracted simply by hitting the plant off of a mesh, dragging your hands across the plants or more complicated techniques like using meshes, water and dry ice. When pressed, the resin or kief turns into hash. People generally smoke hash in joints but you can also get pipes and vaporizers for hash. It’s stronger than dry cannabis, and it has a more relaxing, stoned effect. They tend to have a higher CBD content than dry cannabis flowers.

BHO Extract:
Butane Hash Oil is some of the most concentrated extracts, reaching up to 99.7% THC in certain cases. It’s usually consumed smoked in joints or BHO pipes and vaporizers or electronic vaporizers. It gives quite a direct effect without needing to smoke a joint; just one drag from a pipe and you’ll be good for a while, making it perfect for medicinal uses. If you prefer smoking then you can add it to a joint, both spread on the paper or mixed with the tobacco or weed. You’ll get the most out of it when you use a vaporizer as you’ll get a lot of drags out of a little bit of BHO. Remember that when you smoke it you absorb 20%, and when you vaporize it you’ll get 90%.

Cannabis Tinctures:
Tinctures are one of the most direct ways to consume cannabis as it can be measured perfectly. Tinctures are extremely concentrated and with just a few drops you’ll get a full effect. Tinctures are an extraction of the cannabinoids in cannabis plants dissolved in something edible, generally olive oil. The best thing about this concentrate is that you don’t need to smoke it and with just a couple of drops you can get the full medicinal benefits. It’s basically a BHO extract dissolved in olive oil, around 1g/30ml of oil. It’s much easier to calculate the dosages.

Skin care:
You can get many different products that are infused with CBD legally, and they’re perfect for calming aches and muscle pains. You can also make your own similar to tinctures, except it’s made with coconut oil and turned into a sort of cannabis coco butter. It can be used for pain relief, a scarring scream and as a muscle relaxant.

These are some of the many, many ways to consume cannabis. You can have it on toast with some cheese and butter, smoke a joint, or rub some cream on your sore muscles. Whichever method is better for you, we’re sure you’ll find the right one!

Author: Javier Chinesta
Translation: Ciara Murphy

Different ways to consume cannabis – there's more to marijuana than just smoking joints! There are so many different ways to consume cannabis.