When people think of cannabis, one of the first things that usually come to mind is someone smoking a joint. From Cheech and Chong to Pineapple Express, cannabis use is often depicted by a couple of half-baked stoners smoking for recreational purposes. Although recreation has its purpose and this depiction is accurate for some cannabis users, the methods of consumption of cannabis are as broad and diverse as the people that use this versatile plant. Cannabis has been used for centuries for purposes ranging from alleviation from physical symptoms such as nausea and pain, to spiritual purposes for religions that view cannabis as a way to commune with God, to a recreational event to unwind after a long day. Smoking is by far the most widely used method of consumption but there are actually four main methods to using cannabis; inhalation, topical application, oral and sublingual.
Most cannabis users prefer inhalation as their primary method of consumption. It’s the quickest way to get cannabinoids into your bloodstream because it enters the bloodstream directly through the lungs. The effects are almost instantaneous, becoming noticeable within minutes and most users feel the full effect about one hour after consumption, with effects lasting for most around two hours.(1) However smoking isn’t just popular for its convenience and quick effects. In many cultures, smoking in a group is a social event and cannabis can even work as a social lubricant. Inhalation comes in two forms; smoking or vaporizing. When you smoke cannabis, you burn the dried herb and inhale the smoke which contains the active ingredients of the plant. In its raw form, whether you have CBD flower or THC flower, there is a carboxyl group attached to the molecules of the active ingredient. Heating using fire or a vaporizer like our Linx Eden will remove the carboxyl group, allowing the THC and CBD to become activated.(2) Vaporization is a process that involves heating the active ingredients of the plant up to a point that they are able to be inhaled because they are released in a vapor. Vaporization is a great option for those who are irritated by smoke or prefer something more discreet and more concentrated. Another method for vaporization is a process that involves a concentrated wax. Dab cartridges have increased in popularity in the last few years because they are discreet, due to the vapor not producing as much odor as smoke and no lingering smell. They are also very portable and effective because of their high concentration. However, flower can be vaporized as well. At Alpine Dispensary, we sell a product that includes the best of bud and dab vaporization options. The Linx Eden can vaporize flower but also includes lava plates if you wanted to vaporize a concentrate. (Due to Pact Act, we can only sell vapor products in store).
Topical application is another form of cannabis consumption that is rapidly gaining popularity as we learn more about how cannabis can help with inflammation without being ingested. Many people break the ice by using cannabis with topicals because it’s a great option for a variety of issues such as joint pain, skin conditions, muscle soreness, swelling and more(3). Because the cannabinoids will not penetrate deeply enough to enter the bloodstream, if used properly, topicals can be a great option for those who get drug tested or do not want to produce any psychotropic effects. One of the topical options we have here at Alpine Dispensary is a topical salve, containing an equal ratio of THC Delta 8 and CBD. As the CBD helps to reduce inflammation, the THC communicates with the nerve endings of the peripheral nervous system to relieve pain almost instantly. CBD has a similar molecular structure to sebum, the oils our skin naturally produces and can help regulate sebum production. In turn this can be specifically helpful for acne, eczema, rashes and more.
Another internal method of consumption that doesn’t require any inhalation is oral. Edibles are the most popular form of oral cannabis consumption. Edibles work from the inside out to saturate your body with the active ingredients of cannabis. A heating process prior to infusion called decarboxylation removes the carboxyl groups of the active ingredients so that you get a higher concentration of activated cannabis that can be readily metabolized(4). The effects take much longer than smoking, typically one to three hours to feel the full effect, however edibles do last longer than smokable options, usually four to six hours. It’s important to keep in mind that when edibles are consumed it first metabolizes through the liver in which the human body will break Delta 8 or Delta 9 THC into another form of THC, Delta 11, which passes the blood brain barrier more readily. This causes the high from edibles to be about 4 times stronger than smoked or sublingual options(5). Gummies and chocolates are a couple of popular edible options because they taste great and can provide hours of relief, relaxation or recreation. Unlike smoking, edibles are a little bit more difficult to dose since you have to wait a while to feel the full effect. We always recommend starting with a low dose and working your way up to a dose that is comfortable for you. Even though it can take some trial and error, once you find your sweet spot edibles can be a great daily or nightly option for cannabis users. Soft-gels are another oral method, that are swallowed whole without chewing. The active ingredients will be encased in a gelatin or plant based capsule and slowly release over time for an extended effect. These can be particularly helpful to those suffering with chronic pain or gut issues such as IBS or Crohn’s because the active ingredients are absorbed mostly in the small intestine.
The final method of consumption for cannabis is sublingual. Most sublingual cannabis products will have an oil base, usually coconut oil or olive oil. This is because THC and CBD are both fat soluble. Sublingual ingestion will be the second fastest method of consumption, because the active ingredients will soak into the bloodstream via the capillaries under the tongue. The full effect will usually be felt within 30 minutes and last for about three hours. This is a good option for those that needs something that takes effect quickly but doesn’t involve inhalation. It is also incredibly easy to dose, because most droppers will be graduated and come with dosing instructions, usually based on weight and severity of the ailment.
Whether you are looking for relaxation, help with pain or inflammation or for just recreational purposes, it’s good to know that you have several options for consumption. If you are looking for an internal option that kicks in quickly, your best bet will be inhalation or sublingual. If you need quick pain relief without the euphoric effects, topicals will be an excellent option for you. If you are looking for a long lasting option and you don’t mind waiting an hour or two to start feeling the full benefits of the cannabis plant, look for an oral option. If you need help figuring out what would be the best option for you, or you want to broaden your horizons on cannabis consumption, check out Alpine Dispensary in store or online. Our knowledgeable budtenders are here seven days a week to answer any and all of your cannabis questions.
(1)“How Marijuana Is Consumed.” Drug Policy Alliance, https:// drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/10-facts-about-marijuana/how-marijuana- consumed.
(2)Andre, Christelle M, et al. “Cannabis Sativa: The Plant of the Thousand and One Molecules.” Frontiers in Plant Science, Frontiers Media S.A., 4 Feb. 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ articles/PMC4740396/.
(3)Rahn, Bailey. “What Are Cannabis Topicals and How Do They Work?” Leafly, 27 Sept. 2021, https://www.leafly.com/news/ cannabis-101/what-are-cannabis-topicals.
(4) Leafly. “What Is Decarboxylation and Why Does Your Weed Need It?” Leafly, 6 May 2022, https://www.leafly.com/learn/ consume/edibles/what-is-decarboxylation.
(5) “11-Hydroxy-THC: The Reason Why Edibles Can Be so Powerful.” Cannabis Central, 12 Jan. 2022, https:// www.veriheal.com/blog/11-hydroxy-thc-the-reason-why-edibles- can-be-so-powerful/.