Forms of Cannabis
Today, you have more options than ever to self-medicate with cannabis. Once you’ve identified the cannabis strains that work best for you, it’s time to consider a consumption method. The form of cannabis you use will likely change with your intention and medical needs. For instance, sore muscles benefit most from a topical, whereas a higher dose edible can function as a sleep aid for patients with insomnia.
The activation time, effect, and duration all vary with different consumption methods. Be mindful of what delivery method works best in which scenario. This will help maximize the therapeutic benefits from whatever form of cannabis you choose to consume. Making sure you use the proper form and dosage of cannabis will ensure a comfortable, positive experience.
Best for: Anyone who needs immediate relief.
How it works: Cannabis flower is the time-proven favorite of many habitual consumers. When you inhale flower, either through a bong, pipe or joint, cannabinoids enter your blood stream directly through your lungs.
Activation time: Within seconds of inhalation
How long the effects last: Approximately one to three hours
You should know: Smoking flower also gives you full control over the strain and cannabinoid content. You can monitor your high easily and effectively manage your dosing strategy.
Best for: People who need a higher concentration of THC.
How it works: Vaping cannabis is a smokeless form of inhalation - the cannabis is heated, not burned. Considered a healthier alternative to smoking, the lack of tar or carcinogens in cannabis vapor means it typically doesn’t irritate the lungs.
Activation time: Similar to smoking
How long effects last: Approximately one to three hours
You should know: Cannabis oil can contain up to 80% THC content, as opposed to around 20% THC found in top-shelf flower. Portable vaporizers are popular for their convenience and discretion - perfect for when you’re on the go. The vapor doesn’t smell too strong, and it dissipates quickly.
Best for: People who want a sustained sense of relief and don’t mind waiting for it; people who don’t like smoking or inhaling.
How it works: You ingest cannabis through infused snacks, mints, drinks, and even capsules.
Activation time: Anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on what type of edible you eat and how your body metabolizes cannabis
How long the effects last: Anywhere from one hour up to six hours
You should know: The onset is much longer than other methods, but the effects are much stronger. Experimentation is key with edibles because there is a huge range in effect and activation time. Edibles that are absorbed by your mouth, like a mint or lollipop, will have a different impact than ones you digest. Start slow with a low dose, before you opt for that 20 mg caramel.
Best for: Those who need immediate relief from serious conditions.
How it works: Consuming concentrates or “dabbing” refers to heating a minimal amount of cannabis concentrate on the end of a titanium nail and inhaling the vapor. Concentrates, also referred to as wax, budder and shatter, can be extremely potent. Experienced users with a high tolerance appreciate the robust flavor and long-lasting effects.
Activation time: Immediately after inhalation
You should know: One of the downsides is that the high THC content of concentrates can increase a user’s tolerance, making it difficult to find relief through other forms of cannabis. Though there are portable wax pens, dab rigs are typically more involved, making this method most appropriate for home use.
Best for: Those new to cannabis, or who want to experience the benefits without exposure to irritants.
How it works: You ingest the cannabis by mouth, by placing the tincture under your tongue.
Activation time: 15 to 30 minutes (a bit slower than smoking or vaping)
How long effects last: Similar to smoking (up to three hours).
You should know: Consuming tinctures through your mouth increases the bioavailability of cannabinoids. Essentially, you experience a quick and highly effective treatment. The lack of equipment and smoke makes them appealing to new users.
Best for: Those who need localized relief of pain and inflammation.
How it works: Cannabis-infused balms or transdermal patches are applied directly to the skin.
Activation time: Anywhere from five minutes to two hours
How long effects last: The duration depends on the medium. A balm can last for around an hour, whereas a transdermal patch can provide up to 12 hours of relief with continued release.
You should know: Whether you use a cream, salve, or a transdermal patch, you can get extensive relief with little to no psychoactive effects. Topicals are a perfect solution for people who don’t want to get high, but need the medicinal properties of cannabis. Benefits of using topical forms of cannabis include dosage control, continued release, convenience and systemic relief.