Cannabasics: Methods of Consumption

While sparking a joint might be most common consumption method associated with cannabis, there are a variety of other methods emerging, each yielding their own benefits. The traditional and highly stigmatized “stoner” persona is rapidly changing, with people indulging in cannabis from all walks of life and looking for more discrete methods of consumption. With an overwhelming amount of options, we wanted to go over some of the top methods, so you can customize your experience to your exact needs and preferences.


  • Smoking: A method of inhalation where the cannabis is combusted into a consumable product. While smoking is the most commonly assumed consumption method of cannabis, there is a shift away from it as consumers are looking for more discrete options. The benefits of smoking include a faster onset, effects can be felt in as little as 5-10 minutes. However, inhalation will also result in a shorter impairment period. This can be highly circumstantial, depending on the strain and consumer, but the effects can be felt 2-4 hours after consumption. While smoking can have some health effects, it shouldn’t be considered on par with cigarette inhalation. A study led by the University of California San Francisco found that smoking cannabis was far less harmful than cigarettes. This is also backed up by research conducted by the UCLA, where it was determined smoking cannabis, even heavy use, was far less harmful to your lungs than cigarettes.
  • Vaping: The parameters of vaping are similar to smoking – faster onset, shorter impairment period, but benzopyrene is absent. Benzopyrene is a by-product of combustion. Because of the controlled temperature, vaporizing doesn’t combust your product, rather heats it to the point where the chemical conversion happens that is needed to induce a “high”. This means there is no risk of bronchospasm.


  • Edibles: Ingesting cannabis products increase the potency, as your liver converts Delta-9 THC to 11-Hydroxy-THC, making it several times more potent. That’s a huge variance – which is why it’s important to start low and go slow with edibles. Edibles are getting a lot of attention because they are an extremely easy, delicious and discrete way to consume cannabis with prolonged effects. Edibles can take about 30-60 minutes to take effect but can last anywhere from 6-8 hours.
  • Sublingual: Sublingual consumption is another method of ingesting. Unlike edibles, sublingual consumption bypasses the liver and enters the bloodstream through the oral mucous, which produces a faster onset than edibles.  Sublingual consumption consists of dropping or placing the cannabis product, typically an oil or tincture under the tongue with a syringe or dropper, allowing the cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream through the vessel-rich tissues within the sublingual cavity. The sublingual application can be a very cost-efficient and effective consumption method, as nothing is lost in extraction or administration and can be a more accurate consumption method than tinctures, smoking or eating.


Topicals are gaining rapid popularity, as cannabis can be added to a multitude of products and not illicit an extreme high. However, it will produce a high at certain strengths, so be aware of the THC levels if you’re looking for a mild experience. Topicals can be primarily CBD based, though some will contain active THC. Cannabis-infused lotions, salves, oils, sprays, and other topical methods of relief work by binding to the bodies CB1 and CB2 receptors, which have an effect on the bodies endocannabinoid system.  The endocannabinoid system is made up of both the peripheral and nervous system, which directly affect many of the bodies regulating functions. CBD interacts directly with the bodies CB2 receptors when used topically, which is why CBD topicals are exponentially increasing in popularity.

*Please note that edibles and topicals are not currently part of the legal cannabis landscape in Canada, nor will they be, come October 17, 2018. Currently, to enjoy cannabis in one of these fashions, you would need to create your own topical or edible at home. 

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