When you think of cannabis, it’s likely that the image of a rolled joint comes to mind. While this method of consumption is still a favourite, there are other ways to get results from weed that range from patches to potions.
The effects of cannabis are many; how it’s consumed should, and can, reflect the versatility of this plant. A non-smoker can confidently pass on a pinner in favour of a topical, for example. But ultimately, the way cannabis is consumed is only one factor in why it has the effects it does; your body’s chemistry also contributes to the experiences you will have. A good rule of thumb is to start with small doses, experiment with strains, and keep track of how you feel in a journal for reference.
Inhaling cannabis hasn’t gone out of style, it’s simply expanded in scope; the product you would use will depend on the amount you are looking to consume, your environment, and how much you want to protect your lungs. Consuming cannabis in this way means you can expect to feel effects within 10 minutes.
Joints are made of dried cannabis flower rolled in a smokable paper, either with a filter or without.
Pipes are useful for quick and easy cannabis consumption since you’re simply adding dried herb to the pipe’s bowl. The better the pipe, the smoother the “pull” – the amount of smoke that is drawn into your body. Smaller pipes that hold a minute amount of bud are called one-hitters.
Bongs are water pipes that bring down the potential harshness associated with a pipe or joint, because the smoke travels through water first. However, coughing can still ensue. Bongs deliver large amounts of cannabis compounds, quickly. A chamber (where you add the cannabis) typically fits about 0.25-0.5g of dried flower, so watch your dose.
Vaporizing has become a common alternative to smoking dried cannabis flower. Vaporizing doesn’t burn your bud, technically. It heats it up to a tipping point where it starts to “sweat”, and that sweat is turned into vapour, and you inhale that vapour. Vaping cannabis is said to be easier on the throat and lungs than smoking, and the heating method means you get more out of your flower because you aren’t burning it. Compared to smoking, you take in higher amounts of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, with the same amount of flower because they aren’t going up in flames.
Dabs and vape pens require cannabis extracts: a translucent, waxy, amber substance made from the resin of dried bud. This product can contain up to 99% THC levels, so be prudent when consuming. Dried flower contains the same amount of THC, but is less concentrated, so you get less THC compound per surface area. Dabbing requires a dab rig, which is similar to a bong in structure, except it needs heat — and lots of it. The chamber holding the extract is heated until the extract comes to a boil. Vape pens contain an extract housed in a chamber which is electronically heated and the smoke is inhaled; they are often presented as the portable version of dabbing, but keep in mind that the two methods are differentiated by the type of heat used. Effects can be felt within minutes, and last up to 6 hours.
Cannabis-infused creams and oils are of particular interest lately thanks to their ability to deliver relief without the “high” associated with weed. There are a few types of cannabis creams— each with their own purpose – legally available in the U.S., but Canadians will have to infuse their own topicals for now. (An accessory like LEVO makes the process of infusing oil very easy.)
Creams high in THC content are said to alleviate pain points, while creams high in CBD help to reduce inflammation. When using a cream with a high THC content on your body, you can expect to feel the effects in about 20 minutes. THC must go to the brain before you feel any psychoactive effects, so it may be a while before you feel any, if at all. CBD follows the same rules, except it has binding sites found all over the body. You will feel its effects in 15-20 minutes, and it can last up to 8 hours.
Cannabis tinctures are gaining momentum as a way to administer relief from physical ailments without having to smoke, vape or have an infused edible. Tinctures are created by adding decarboxylated cannabis (bud that’s been baked) in a substance like glycerin to let it infuse for several weeks; the solution is then strained and administered sublingually (under the tongue). This method allows the cannabis’s compounds to enter the body through the absorbent tissues found under the tongue; tinctures can also be made into capsules. The potency of the tincture will depend on the strain used to infuse it, as well as how much was used to infuse the base substance. The effects of tinctures can last from 4-6 hours.
One of the most discreet but potent ways to consume cannabis is through edibles. Edibles are made by infusing fatty substances (oil, butter) with decarboxylated cannabis. Eating cannabis-infused items affects your body differently than inhaling or applying it topically; it takes longer to kick in (30-90 min) and can last up to 8 hours. Because the compounds pass through your liver first, the cannabinoids are more potent than when you inhale.
Suppositories are fatty capsules you can place into your anus or vagina to experience relief from pain, constipation, cramps and other ailments in the abdomen and pelvic area. Use cannabis suppositories with caution: Your colon has a major artery running through it, and for that reason, you can potentially absorb up to 80% of the cannabinoids. Do not use a suppository that is high in THC – a little THC (1-5 mg) goes a long way.
Transdermal patches are an interesting twist to the concept of external cannabis application. In this case, you position the patch over a venous area — in other words, a place where an entrance to your blood stream is available, like under the wrist or the underside of the elbow. The effects are felt within 20 minutes, and can last up to 12 hours, depending on the potency of the patch.
The effects are similar to a slow inhalation. The cannabis is directly administered into your blood, so it doesn’t change form, unlike when you ingest cannabis compounds. Absorption is slow and steady over a long period of time.
Story by Katarina Kostovic
Photo by Steph Martyniuk
Interested in making your own edibles, tinctures and more? Tutorials coming soon to educate.tokyosmoke.com
The preceding is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to condone the use or consumption of cannabis. For more information, please refer to our disclaimer.