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The Forms of Medical Marijuana Consumption

Cannabis Consumption Method Forms

Today, there are multiple consumption methods available for medicating with cannabis. The form of marijuana you use may change with your symptoms and medical needs. For instance, chronic pain may benefit most from a topical, whereas a higher dose edible can serve as a source of nighttime relief for PTSD patients.

The activation time, effects of marijuana and duration all vary depending on which method of delivery you use to consume cannabis. Be mindful of what delivery method works best in which scenario. This will help maximize the therapeutic benefits from whatever form of medical marijuana you choose to consume. Making sure you use the proper form and dosage will ensure a comfortable, positive experience.


Best for: Anyone who needs immediate relief.

How it works: Smoking cannabis flower is the time-proven favorite of many habitual cannabis users. When you inhale flower, either through a pipe, joint or vaporizer, cannabinoids enter your bloodstream directly through your lungs.

Activation time: Fast acting, within seconds of inhalation

How long the effects last: Approximately one to three hours

You should know: Smoking marijuana or vaping flower also gives you full control over the strain and cannabinoid content. You can monitor your high easily and effectively manage your dosing strategy.

* Cannabis flower is not permitted in New York state.


Best for: People who need a higher concentration of active product.

How it works: Vaping cannabis is a smokeless form of inhalation – the cannabis is either dried flower or in an oil form. When vaping cannabis, it is heated, not burned. The lack of tar or byproducts of combustion in cannabis vapor means it typically doesn’t irritate the lungs.

Activation time: Within seconds of inhalation

How long effects last: Approximately one to three hours

You should know: Cannabis oil can contain up to 70% 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. When vaping cannabis flower, you’re accessing the full benefits of whole plant medicine. Cannabinoids and terpenes are activated at different temperatures. The boiling point of THC is 315°F, but CBD is at 356°F. Using a vaporizer with temperature control settings will allow you to enhance different aspects of a strain’s cannabinoid and terpene profile and tailor the experience to your needs.


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 and inhaling the vapor. You can use a dab rig with a titanium or electric nail or a portable dab pen.

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: Within seconds of inhalation

How long the effects last: Up to twelve hours

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.

* Concentrates are not permitted in New York state.

How to Consume Marijuana Without Smoking

There are many reasons why a patient may choose to not smoke cannabis flower. Some may have an aversion to the act of smoking or can’t inhale smoke due to a lung condition or immune disease.

For years, patients have had limited options to choose from. When purchasing their medicine, it was basically edibles vs. smoking. Today, there are many innovative products on the market. These different delivery methods offer the benefits of plant medicine without the need to smoke cannabis.


Best for: People who want a sustained sense of relief and don’t mind waiting for it; a great cannabis product for people who don’t like smoking or inhaling.

How it works: You ingest cannabis through infused food, gummies, 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, will have a different impact than ones you digest. Start slow with a low dose, before you opt for a higher THC content.

* Edibles, specifically infused food and beverages, are not permitted in New York state.


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 swallowing the capsule

Activation time: Up to two hours, depending on how your body metabolizes cannabis

How long effects last: 4 to 12 hours

You should know: Oral administration offers an accurate way to achieve consistent dosing. The onset of capsules is much longer than other methods, but the effects are long-lasting.


Best for: Those new to cannabis, or who want to experience the benefits without exposure to irritants.

How it works: You ingest the tincture by mouth, by placing the recommended amount under your tongue, holding for 15-30 seconds then swallowing.

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 orally allows the product to be absorbed through the mucosal surfaces of your mouth and throat. This 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 chronic pain and inflammation.

How it works: Cannabis-infused balms or transdermal patches are applied directly to the skin.

Activation time: Anywhere from a few minutes up to one hour

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 a slow, controlled release.

You should know: Whether you use a cream, salve, or a transdermal patch, you can get relief with little to no psychoactive effects. Topicals are a perfect solution for people who don’t want to get high but can benefit from the medicinal properties of cannabis. Topical forms of cannabis allow for more consistent dosage control, convenience, and systemic relief.


In today’s medical marijuana market, there are many ways to use marijuana. Different delivery methods have different benefits. The forms of medical marijuana you choose may change throughout the day. Certain methods of delivery can be better suited to specific symptoms. Experimenting with different forms of cannabis will help you understand what works best for you. Always remember to pay attention to activation time and how long the effects last – not all delivery methods are created equal.

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