Choosing how to consume cannabis can be overwhelming for new users. The variety of product on the shelves at your local dispensary can be vast.
People have been coming up with ways to ingest cannabis for thousands of years, and as technology advances those options are growing tenfold.
For a cannabis beginner, entering your local dispensary can be a bit overwhelming. To help mitigate some of that confusion, we’re breaking down some of the most popular ways to consume cannabinoids as well as their benefits and limitations.
Smoking: The Classic Way to Consume Cannabis
By far, the oldest method of ingesting cannabis is smoking.
You can smoke it with a laundry list of products ranging from rolling it in papers to packing a pipe or bong.
Smoking cannabis comes with numerous pros. It provides quick and almost immediate effects, making it the go-to for people looking for quick results in mitigating symptoms such as chronic pain. According to this study published by the National Library of Medicine, cannabis and cannabinoids are effective in reducing pain symptoms.
There isn’t a lot of “tech” that goes into it. Sure, bongs can get complicated for a brand new user, but when it comes to packing a bowl or rolling papers – there isn’t much of a learning curve.
The act of smoking can be a bit of a ritual or meditation for some, and is touted as one of the better ways to enjoy the flavonoids and terpenoids of the product.
Perhaps the most important “pro” for beginners, it’s pretty easy to dose when you are smoking the product and the effects are not as long-lasting. If you accidentally smoke a bit too much, you won’t be in for a long high. The effects when you smoke last about 2-3 hours, on the average.
That being said, there are some cons when it comes to lighting up your product that could deter certain individuals.
Not only could the effects be too short-term for some individuals, the process of burning the cannabis can result in the loss of some of the products beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids.
While it has classically been the most popular method of consumption, smoking is decreasing in popularity due to potential health risks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking marijuana can cause scarring and damage to small blood vessels in lung tissues. In addition, products used to smoke – like rolling papers – can contain harmful carcinogens and other cancer-causing chemicals.
In addition, people who suffer from any breathing issues – shout out to asthma – or are immunocompromised, should steer clear of this method which can further irritate the lungs.
Vaporizing – Quick Results Without the Smoke
Vaping cannabis is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to the classic method of smoking.
For one, vaping is more discreet. You won’t produce an intense smell or a lot of smoke. The vaporizer heats a cartridge filled with product into a breathable vapor as opposed to burning the product into a smoke.
While you negate all of those negatives from smoking, you get that same immediate effect that smoking provides.
It is important to invest in high quality and trustworthy products. One of the main findings in this study investigating the negative effects of cannabis vaping, found that while vaporizers can be used with relatively unprocessed bud or flower – the vaping product itself can cause the user to inhale harmful carcinogenic aerosols, heavy metals and more.
Vaporizing hasn’t been around for the centuries that smoking has, so there are more unknowns. There have been a few studies looking into the long term issues associated with vaping.
The Art of Dabbing Your Cannabis
The term “dabbing” might throw you if you’re brand new to the world of cannabinoids.
To put it in the most basic terms, you use dab rigs to consume cannabis in the form of concentrates (shatter, wax, rosin, etc.) kind of like you would use a bong to smoke flower. There are many differences though, as dab rigs are mechanically far more complex than bongs. For a deeper dive, check out this comprehensive article from Leafly.
While it’s definitely not for beginners, dab rigs are celebrated for the intense effects. If you are looking to consume a highly potent dose in a short amount of time – perhaps to mitigate extreme pain or nausea – this would be the best bet. It also presents a powerful taste without presenting as prominent a smell as burning flower.
This is one of the more overwhelming ways to consume cannabis, so it is important that the concentrate being used is clean and trustworthy. It is also important to know that this level of high can cause more harm than good for some users – you can get too high.
Consuming Your Cannabis as Edibles
If you aren’t into smoking or vaping, edibles are a great way for new users to consume cannabis. This will be any food or drink infused with cannabis – for example, gummies, chocolates, lollipops or even shots.
The world of edible cannabinoid products is vast and incredibly versatile, and pretty much anything food-wise can be infused with a cannabis butter or oil.
Digesting cannabis is known for its alternate results as well, producing longer-lasting effects that are typically stronger and more psychoactive.
In addition to the versatility of products on the market, you can find a variety of dosing options from short micro-doses to high volumes that can generate effects that last 12 hours or longer.
This isn’t going to be a method favored by those looking to obtain immediate relief, as the product has to be digested before it begins to take effect. You may have to wait one or two hours before lift off.
There are also cons when it comes to dosing – as with any cannabinoid – but dosing edibles is more difficult due to the delayed effect and limitations when it comes to creating an even spread throughout the food product.
Beginners should also beware when they dig into edibles. The high lasts hours longer than inhaling, so those who bite off more than they can handle will be dealing with the negative effects for a long while. It is important for users to wait a few hours to see how a new product affects them before digging into a second serving.
The Versatility of Oils and Tinctures
High-quality and lab tested is the name of the game when it comes to consuming cannabis through oils and tinctures.
There is a science to much of cannabis consumption, but this is identified as one of the best ways for the majority of users to consume product.
Tinctures give you a duration of effects comparable to edibles – approximately 6-8 hours – but those effects present themselves much faster than digesting. You can feel the effect of the dose in around 15-30 minutes.
It is also much easier to control the dose you are taking in and the products available are insanely versatile. There are many different cannabinoids available that provide different benefits and a variety of terpenes and flavonoids. You can also change up the way you use a tincture – topically, in a food or even in a beverage.
The downside to tinctures is also similar to edibles – it can be overwhelming for some due to the high amounts of THC. It’s important to be sure you are buying product from a brand you can trust, as some poorly made products do not contain the amount of THC they are marketing.
Topicals: Feed Your Skin
Did you know you can consume cannabis through your skin? Topicals are perfect for new users who are looking to manage physical pain and other external conditions.
Sure, cannabis is widely known for its anti-anxiety uses, but it has also shown potential to help mitigate the symptoms of certain skin conditions.
There have been a few medical studies that showcase the potential application of cannabinoid topicals in treating skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis and other inflammatory conditions – take a look at this medical study for reference.
If you are looking to apply product directly to the skin, there are a variety of lotions, balms, salves and other topicals that could do the trick. These are crafted to produce a soothing effect on skin and muscles as opposed to psychoactive.
While these cannabinoid compounds are still in the early days of study in terms of efficacy, products like CBG show great potential in treating bacterial skin infections.
That being said, new users should be aware that everybody is different and some users could be sensitive to certain products – resulting in contact dermatitis or slower absorption among other differing results.
There are many methods to explore within each of these categories and beyond. Whether you are new to the cannabinoid game or are a long-time user looking to switch it up, the staff at ATL Dispensary is ready to pair you with some great products.