Cannabis Delivery Methods and How They Work

man smoking a joint with smoke around him

The legalization of recreational marijuana has revolutionized the way people consume their herb. From new ways to make concentrates to state-of-the-art vaporizers, the marijuana industry is staying focused on innovation and technology. Many even seem to think that the days of simply smoking joints and doing bong rips are coming to an end. Instead, they believe the future of marijuana consumption lies in the form of edibles, vaporizers, and topicals.

If you’re treating a medical cardholder or simply looking for a relaxing, end-of-the-day recreational buzz, you have a seemingly endless amount of cannabis delivery methods available to you. Whether you’re inhaling it through your lungs or rubbing it on your skin, knowing the benefits and disadvantages of each cannabis delivery method makes it possible to determine the best method for you.

Smoking Cannabis

woman lighting a large joint to smoke, a popular cannabis delivery method

Perhaps due to the availability of devices and accessories and their ease of use, smoking is the most popular way to consume cannabis. There are a variety of ways to smoke marijuana; whether you’re seeking the social interaction surrounding a hookah or looking for a quick smoke with a portable hand pipe, smoking is one of the oldest methods in the books.

Other smoking devices include rolling joints with rolling papers, hitting a bong, and using a bubbler. Some people like to get creative and construct their own disposable, one-time use devices out of the household and even grocery items.

Many people choose to smoke cannabis as it’s a pretty convenient delivery method and offers the quickest onset of effects. Dosing is relatively easy to manage, as well. But while smoking cannabis is not as carcinogenic or harmful to your lungs as smoking cigarettes, smoking marijuana can lead to negative respiratory side effects.

If you choose to smoke, you can make it as healthy as possible by limiting the number of hits you take. If you choose a more potent strain with higher levels of cannabinoids, you can lessen the number of inhalations necessary for proper dosage. And contrary to popular belief, holding in the smoke does not intensify or quicken the effects of marijuana. You can avoid inhaling too many tars and toxins by taking short, shallow hits and then exhaling immediately.

Cannabis Vaporizers

woman using a vape pen

As an alternative to smoking, using vaporizers is the newest way to inhale cannabis. Similar to smoking, vaping involves slowly heating cannabis to a temperature high enough to extract cannabinoids, converting them to airborne vapors. Unlike smoking, the remaining plant material isn’t heated enough to cause combustion; this reduces the number of harmful byproducts you inhale.

Vaping devices come in a variety of forms from larger, tabletop devices to portable hand-held pens. Vaporizers offer the same benefits and convenience of smoking cannabis while limiting exposure to toxins and chemical irritants, and producing a stronger high.

Marijuana Edibles

marijuana buds next to edible cookies

Ingesting cannabis is one of the oldest methods of consumption and can provide some of the most intense, full-body, psychoactive, and long-lasting effects. Cannabis-infused products, or edibles, include baked goods, candies, sodas, and teas, most of which are prepared with about 5-10 milligrams of THC per dose. However, edibles do not offer immediate results.

Your digestive system processes cannabis slowly and it can sometimes take up to 2 hours before you feel the effects of the edible. But once THC enters your liver, the cannabinoids metabolize into a more potent chemical, 11-hydroxy-THC, resulting in an exceedingly powerful and enduring high.

Use caution when eating an infused product, as it’s easy to overindulge and accidentally over dose yourself. Treat edibles as you would any other drug; don’t consume them on an empty stomach or in conjunction with alcohol.

Cannabis Tinctures

using a cannabis tincture

If you’re looking to control your cannabis dosage a little more, tinctures offer fast-acting results without the harmful side-effects of smoking. Tinctures are liquid cannabis extracts that can be directly consumed by placing a few drops under your tongue. The cannabinoids are then quickly absorbed by the body rather than slowly digested, providing a fast onset of effects.

Tinctures offer the versatility of consumption in that drops can be added to any food or beverage. But, if ingested in this manner, results aren’t as immediate since the liver needs time to process it, just like with any other edible.

Tinctures are also quite portable, as the liquid is generally packaged in small bottles with dropper tops. A typical dose ranges from about 2-3 drops to no more than 2 full droppers.

Cannabis Topicals

cannabis salve jar next to leaf, salves and topicals are a good cannabis delivery method

By applying these lotions, balms, sprays, and ointments, topicals are another safe and effective way to administer your marijuana. But while they are the best option for localized relief, topicals will not provide cerebral stimulation or psychoactive reactions.

Topicals are made from cannabis extracts and oils that have been decarboxylated to active cannabinoids. They can be directly applied to and quickly absorbed by your skin.

Regardless of the delivery method you choose, remember to start low and go slow. Begin with a low dose of cannabis. Establish the potency of your product then be patient and allow time for the drugs to take effect. If more dosing is required, supplement as needed.