Learn all the different ways to use cannabis.



As one of the most popular plants on the planet, millions of users smoke, eat, and vape cannabis on a frequent basis. Thousands of different strains offer innumerable cannabinoid and terpene profiles that provide distinct experiences—from deep body highs to lucid CBD-fuelled effects.

Although users experience different effects from cannabis, they all agree on something: It never gets boring. The sheer diversity of cultivars, ingestion methods, and accessories allows herb lovers to get creative.

Each method of consuming cannabis offers slightly different effects and particular advantages. Recreational users can take cannabis in ways to extend their high or enhance the effects, whereas holistic users typically opt for the fastest-acting effects with less of a stoning high.

Discover all of the ways to consume cannabis below. You’ll learn about the pros, cons, duration, and effects of each to enhance your recreational and holistic experiences.

INHALING

Inhaling smoke from cannabis flowers or extracts delivers cannabinoids into the bloodstream via the alveoli in the lungs. The effects are swift and easy to control.

Smoking Cannabis: Popular Methods

Smoking weed gives users quite a lot of control over their high. Take things one toke at a time until you hit your sweet spot. The high from smoked cannabis arrives within minutes, peaking at around 10–30 minutes and lasting up to three hours.

  • Joint

The quintessential way to smoke cannabis. Joints are typically rolled with dried and cured cannabis flowers, although other preparations can be used. The effects of a joint completely depend on the strength of the cannabis used. Low-THC cannabis will exert a subtle effect, whereas stronger weed will send the mind flying high.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Blunt

Blunts are similar to joints in design, yet they don’t feature classic paper. Instead, smokers use specialised blunt wraps or conventional cigar wraps. These products often contain tobacco, yet tobacco-free alternatives are available too.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Pipe

Pipes are available in materials such as acrylic, wood, ceramic, glass, and even silicone. Many of them feature shotgun holes (aka carb holes) to allow users to completely clear each hit. Visit any head shop, and you’ll find pipes of every shape, size, colour, and design that you could possibly desire.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Bong

Bongs are less portable than pipes, but smaller models do exist. These genius contraptions range in size from handheld devices to massive glass rigs taller than some people. Bongs offer refreshing and clean hits that pass through water before entering the lungs.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis

  • Fruit Bong

Although fruit bongs aren’t often the first port of call, they are still entertaining and novel. Smokers usually craft these makeshift pieces when they’ve run out of papers or don’t have a rig nearby.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Gravity Bong

Approach with caution. Gravity bongs are best reserved for smokers that have “broken in” their lungs for some time. If toking a joint still makes you cough, your lungs won’t be happy with you after you hit a gravity bong. The key ingredients are a large plastic bottle (cut at the base) and a bucket full of water. As you hit a gravity bong, push the bottle down into the water. This motion works alongside your lungs to force huge quantities of cannabinoid-rich smoke into the lungs.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Bubbler

Effectively a hybrid between pipes and bongs, bubblers bring the benefits of both. These portable, single-piece handheld devices are effectively pipes with an additional water chamber. Bubblers offer smooth hits of cooled smoke while out on the go.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Sploof

This isn’t actually a cannabis consumption method, but a way to reduce the smoke emitted by other smoking methods! Simply take a couple pieces of kitchen towel and attach it to one end of a toilet roll tube. The concept is simple. Take a hit and exhale through the tube. The sploof will catch some of the aromatic terpenes, but not all of them.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis

Smoking Cannabis: Flower and Other Preparations

Smoking cannabis involves more than applying fire to flower. Smokers have access to an assortment of preparations that offer varying levels of potency. Your journey might have started with buds, but it won’t be long until you get a taste for the exotic.

  • Flower

The phytochemical makeup of cannabis flowers varies greatly depending on the strain. Some feature high levels of THC, some large quantities of CBD, others both. Breeders have even developed cultivars to produce elevated levels of lesser-known cannabinoids such as CBG.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Hash

After harvesting and drying buds, hash-makers use sieves to separate the trichomes from the flowers. Using a hash press, they generate force to mould the sift into a homogenous mass of trichomes. Hash offers a potent experience, being much more concentrated in cannabinoid-containing resin.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis

  • Kief

You’ve seen kief before. Trust us. Ever noticed that glistening powder that collects along the bottom and sides of your grinder? That mass of trichomes is kief. Smokers gather large amounts of this substance by sieving their buds. After obtaining a substantial pile, you can sprinkle these pure trichomes into joints and bowls alongside flower to add an extra psychoactive punch.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Charas

Another ancient cannabis concentrate, charas stems from cannabis operations on the Indian subcontinent. As opposed to hash—made post-harvest—charas is crafted while plants are still alive and in the soil.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Twaxing

This prominent term in the cannabis lover’s lexicon simply refers to adding concentrates to blunts, joints, and bowls. Adding these products to the inside of joints is easy enough, but lathering them on the outside requires some artistic finesse.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis

Effects of Smoking Cannabis

Smoking cannabis sends cannabinoids into the alveoli of the lungs, where they quickly diffuse into the bloodstream.

Duration

The effects of smoked cannabis usually reach their peak at the 30-minute mark. The overall effects linger for three or more hours, decreasing in intensity over this period.

Discretion

Smoking cannabis involves the combustion of flowers. This violent chemical reaction releases terpenes—aromatic molecules—into the air. These smelly chemicals underpin the signature scent of cannabis. Smoking in public will always turn a few heads and raise some eyebrows.

PROS
  • Satisfying route of administration
  • Community aspect of smoking weed with friends
  • Rolling becomes an enjoyable art form
  • Easier to control how high you get
CONS
  • Combustion releases carcinogens into the lungs
  • Not very discreet
  • Difficult to determine exact doses
HOLISTIC
  • Fast onset offers instant relief to some users
  • Ability to control the high prevents overwhelming experiences

VAPING

Vaping has dominated the modern era of cannabis consumption. This alternative to smoking bridges the gap between gadgetry and weed. Although some models are intentionally streamlined, others feature specific temperature ranges and smartphone-controlled parameters.

Vaporizers come in all shapes and sizes. Basic models are forged with metal and require a flame to operate. High-tech devices work via an in-built heating element and boast specific temperature settings and other parameters you can control from your smartphone. However, the key concept remains the same: less heat than smoking. Vaporizers generate enough heat to liberate cannabinoids and volatile terpenes, while leaving almost everything else behind.

Vaping Cannabis: Popular Methods

Many vaporizes offer increased control over the cannabis experience. Different cannabinoids and terpenes evaporate at different temperatures, allowing users to select specific temperature ranges to target specific phytochemicals. Add in a basic knowledge of the synergistic entourage effect[1], and users can customise their high to generate very specific effects.

  • Desktop Vaporizer

Large and bulky, these vapes are capable of altering the consciousness of everyone in the room. Desktop vapes are sometimes compatible with both flower and concentrates, though it depends on the model. Due to their size, desktop vaporizers are not portable.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Jamaican Steam Chalice

Steam chalices are made from natural materials. The bong-like structure features a bamboo stem, clay bowl, and coconut water chamber. The act of steam vaporization offers a healthier alternative to smoking.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Vape Pens

These pocket-sized pens neatly pack all of the technology of bulky desktop vaporizers into the size of an everyday discreet item. These futuristic cannabis accessories fit into purses, bags, and even the palm of a hand without drawing any unwanted attention. Upmarket models offer the benefit of adjustable parameters, and some work with both dried flower and a range of concentrates. Vape pens are for cannabis lovers who like to travel and/or keep their botanical fascination on the down-low.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis

  • Cartridges

No grinding. No processing. No stopping. Prefilled cartridges are good to go. Simply load one into a compatible device to enjoy a formula containing a tailored array of cannabinoids and terpenes. Cartridges save time, make vaping much less obvious when out in public, and offer a sophisticated way to partake in the herb. Think espresso pods, but for weed.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Inhalers

These incredibly discreet devices offer accurate and tailored dosing.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis

Effects of Vaping Cannabis

Vaping produces similar effects to smoking, as cannabinoids enter the body in the same fashion. The vapor carries the molecules into the lungs, and then the bloodstream, resulting in an almost immediate high.

Duration

Hitting a vape pen or large desktop device will change your neurochemistry for several hours. The effects peak at 30 minutes then begin to taper off.

Discretion

Vaping releases the same aromatic terpenes as smoking. However, lower temperatures and the absence of burning paper causes less of a pong. Some portable vape pens look just like regular e-cigs, allowing users to take swift and hidden hits in public.

PROS
  • Less harsh on the lungs; no combustion
  • More discreet than smoking
  • High-tech devices target cannabinoids and terpenes with programmable temperature settings
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Potent hits save you weed over time

CONS
  • Some users claim the light and airy hits lack the satisfaction of smoking
  • Cartridges provide a locked-in dose and lack flexibility
  • Extracts must be purchased from a reputable source to avoid contaminated products
  • Expense of the vaporizer itself
HOLISTIC
  • Easier on the lungs
  • Much more control over the effects
  • Target specific terpenes for particular conditions

DABBING

Dabbing involves placing concentrates onto a red-hot nail. These preparations contain much higher levels of cannabinoids than those found in flower, and thus the effects are much more pronounced—far smaller doses are required to achieve comparable effects.

Extracts

Cannabis extracts are a form of concentrate that involves displacing cannabis constituents and absorbing them into a solvent. They pack a heavy punch. Be prepared for a high that will last much longer and hit with more ferocity than one derived from flower alone. Popular extracts for dabbing include:

  • Shatter
  • Wax
  • Budder
  • Crumble
All of the Ways to Use Cannabis

Concentrates

All extracts are concentrates, but not all concentrates are extracts. Solventless concentrates use mechanical means to separate the desired constituents from the buds. The lack of solvents in the preparation, however, means slightly more plant matter—unwanted material in the eyes of purists—winds up in the end product. Think dry-sift hash, rosin, bubble hash...

  • Butane Hash Oil

This concentrate is created by extracting cannabinoids and terpenes using butane as a solvent. BHO features many variations that offer their own characteristics: “Shatter” has a glass-like consistency with an amber and transparent appearance. “Wax” has a soft consistency, like taffy, that becomes opaque and coagulated after extraction. “Budder” is a gooey form of wax with higher levels of moisture and a more "runny" consistency. “Crumble” is wax with a lower moisture content: soft, easy to break, and almost fluffy.

  • Crystals

With a potency of over 99%, crystals are the most concentrated form of cannabinoids available. Created using high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), manufacturers separate pure cannabinoids away from plant matter and other phytochemicals.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis

Effects of Dabbing Cannabis

Dabs are incredibly dense with cannabinoids. Even a small drop of BHO or crystals will contain more cannabinoids than multiple flowers. Novice users should build up their tolerance before delving into the world of dabbing.

Duration

Dabbing takes effect almost immediately, as cannabinoids enter the bloodstream via the alveoli in the lungs.

Discretion

Dabbing requires large—often elegant, sometimes inelegant—glass rigs. Far from covert, these impressive devices belong on coffee tables and desks at home. That said, portable "e-rigs" that don't require a flame are now appearing on the market.

PROS
  • Extremely potent
  • Less material needed to produce a strong effect
  • A wide array of concentrates and consistencies to choose from
CONS
  • Not portable
  • Care needs to be taken to find good-quality concentrates
  • High temperatures may release carcinogens
  • Potency may overpower novices and those sensitive to THC
HOLISTIC
  • Fast-acting effects
  • A higher concentration of phytochemicals means inhaling less plant material overall

EDIBLES

Edible cannabis offers an entirely different experience compared to smoked, vaped, or dabbed cannabis. The active phytochemicals take a different pathway to reach the bloodstream and brain—the digestive tract. After eating a brownie, THC has to pass through the digestive tract and liver. During this process, THC converts to 11-hydroxy-THC before crossing the blood-brain barrier. This THC metabolite exerts a much more intense high; one that lasts hours longer to boot. The effects of edible cannabis peak at around two hours, yet you’ll feel them for up to a maximum of 12 hours (with up to another 12 hours of after-effects).

Edible Cannabis: Popular Methods

There are a few different ways you can go about eating, drinking, or otherwise orally ingesting cannabis.

  • Cannabutter

This concentrate binds cannabinoids to butter, coconut oil, or another suitable cooking oil. Replace calls for butter or oil in any recipe you can think of to add a psychoactive punch.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Crystals

Cannabinoid crystals can be added to all sorts of different food and drink recipes, including coffee, tea, juices, and smoothies.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Dissolvable Strips

Typically used to freshen the breath, dissolvable cannabis strips serve to freshen the mind. Stick these on your tongue and enjoy the ride.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Bhang

This ancient Indian drink is a combination of milk, spices, and cannabis that is still used in religious ceremonies today.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis

  • Kombucha

Loaded with beneficial bacteria, kombucha boosts probiotic balance in the gut. Adding cannabinoids to this tasty drink means you'll be feeding your endocannabinoid system, too.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Pills and Softgels

Easy to incorporate into daily life, all it takes is a swig of water to enjoy a high that will last many hours.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Chewing Gum

Not technically food, cannabis-infused chewing gum will infuse your saliva with THC. Just swallow occasionally, and you'll become insanely stoned without any added calories.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Raw Cannabis

Cannabis flowers and leaves contain high levels of cannabinoid acids. They won't get you high when raw, but they're packed full of beneficial nutrients. Add them to salads and fruit smoothies.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis

  • Coffee and Other Drinks

Drinking cannabis offers an almost identical effect to eating it—only the constitution differs. Drinks send THC and other cannabinoids down the same route and generate an equally powerful and long-lasting experience.

Cannabis coffee might seem like an oxymoron to some, as though the rope were being pulled from both ends. However, these two psychoactive substances—two of the world’s most adored—work surprisingly well together. The relaxing effects of cannabis pair well with the stimulation of coffee, balancing each other out and producing a focused yet serene mindset.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Ingestible Oils

Maybe you’re not a fan of cooking, or simply can’t be bothered with the washing up. Either way, ingestible oils offer a convenient way to avoid firing up the oven. Extracts such as Rick Simpson oil and CO₂ oils are popular high-potency products that can be ingested orally. You can swallow as is, or slather them on top of crackers, bread, cakes, or whatever your appetite fancies. Add oils and extracts to the following drinks to ensure a tasty high:

  • Smoothies
  • Juices
  • Teas
  • Hot chocolate
All of the Ways to Use Cannabis

Effects of Edible Cannabis

After passing through the stomach and into the liver, THC converts into a compound called 11-hydroxy-THC. Once it passes through the blood-brain barrier, this molecule produces much more powerful and psychedelic-like effects than regular THC.

Duration

The high from edibles takes longer to set in than with any other method. You'll be waiting for up to two hours to feel anything. However, effects can linger for 12–24 hours once they take hold. Make sure you have nothing serious planned for at least the rest of your day.

Discretion

Edible cannabis is one of the most subtle ways to consume the herb. Although swallowing pills can look suspect at times, infused coffee and chewing gum offer some of the most clandestine ways to enjoy the plant.

PROS
  • Intense, unique high
  • Long-lasting
  • Easy to take without being noticed—no pungent smell
  • Opportunity to get creative in the kitchen

CONS
  • The high can be overwhelming at times
  • Long-lasting effects might not be beneficial for everyone
  • Hard to determine accurate doses unless made professionally

HOLISTIC
  • Longer duration may keep symptoms under control for longer periods
  • A more stoning and intense high helps the body to relax
  • Avoids inhalation and associated toll on the lungs

TOPICALS

Cannabinoids also work wonders when applied to the outside of the body. The skin—our largest organ—possesses an endocannabinoid system. Apply topical cannabis to exert soothing and softening effects on this regulatory system.

Topical Cannabis: Popular Methods

Cannabis topicals can be broken down into two main categories: "true" topicals, and transdermals.

  • Lotions, Creams, and Balms

These are hydrating formulas containing an array of other ingredients, such as vitamins and minerals, that work with cannabinoids to nourish and tone the skin.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Transdermal Patches

Most topicals only affect the skin; transdermal patches actually send cannabinoids through the epidermis and into the bloodstream.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Lube

Spice up your sex life with cannabis-based lubes. These special formulas swiftly pass through membranes and can enhance the sexual experience.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis

Effects of Topical Cannabis

Topical cannabis produces localised effects on the skin, nourishing and soothing our biggest organ. Transdermal cannabis releases a steady amount of cannabinoids through the skin and into the bloodstream over a period of time, meaning it can actually make you high.

Duration

Transdermal cannabis enters the bloodstream quickly, taking effect within minutes and lasting for up to eight hours. The localised effects of topical cannabis are similarly fast-acting, and vary depending on the formula.

Discretion

Topical cannabis products are generally very stealthy and easy to keep private if desired. Use topicals at home as part of your skincare routine, and wear patches under your sleeves while out and about.

PROS
  • Nourishing and softening
  • Easy to apply
  • Contain other beneficial ingredients
  • Localised effect
  • Transdermal patches allow cannabinoids to reach the bloodstream
CONS
  • Localised effect of topicals won’t get you high
  • Low bioavailability
HOLISTIC
  • Acts on the endocannabinoid system present in the skin
  • May help to reduce redness and sensitivity

SUBLINGUAL

Sublingual administration refers to placing appropriate cannabis products under the tongue and holding them in place for around a minute, or until they dissolve. This way, the molecules quickly pass through a thin layer of tissue and diffuse into the capillaries of the cardiovascular system.

Sublingual Cannabis: Popular Methods

Sublingual cannabis administration prioritises speed and discretion, with most of the methods appearing modest and inconspicuous.

  • Cannabis Oil and CBD Oil

These high-potency products contain an array of cannabinoids and terpenes that work in synergy to create pronounced effects.

  • Crystals

Simply hold them under the tongue until they dissolve to benefit from 99% cannabinoid potency (THC, CBD, CBG, etc.).

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Oral Spray

Quick, easy, and subtle. Take the bottle anywhere for an accurate dose on the go.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis
  • Tinctures

These formulas are easy to make at home using high-proof alcohol or glycerine, and are even easier to apply.

All of the Ways to Use Cannabis

Effects of Sublingual Cannabis

Sublingual cannabis offers a similar effect to smoking the herb, without having to inhale smoke or vapor. Hold under your tongue for around one minute until the product absorbs. You'll feel the effects within minutes.

Duration

The effects of sublingual cannabis peak at between 30 minutes and one hour. You'll slowly feel the high fade over the next several hours.

Discretion

With zero smell and easy dosing, sublingual intake offers one of the most stealthy intake options.

PROS
  • Simple to administer
  • High-quality products offer accurate dosing
  • Quick to take effect
CONS
  • Users may accidentally swallow, leading to a longer-lasting effect that takes longer to set in
  • Tinctures may be too fiddly to take on the go
  • Effects of sublingual products don’t last as long
HOLISTIC
  • Instantaneous effects without inhalation
  • Take anywhere, anytime
  • A wide array of formulas to suit varying needs

Experiment With Different Cannabis Consumption Methods

There you have it! There's no shortage of ways to consume our beloved herb. If you've not tried everything on the list, we encourage you to do some experimentation. You never know, you might find your new favourite way to enjoy weed.

External Resources:
  1. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Disclaimer:
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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