Ways to Consume Cannabis Without Smoking

woman vaping in public
Photo by: PH88/Shutterstock

Think back to the first time you tried cannabis, you probably smoked it, like most of us. Can you remember the first uncoordinated attempt to light a bong, the ignorance of how long to pull the smoke, and the sore throat after coughing?

But not everyone likes to smoke, and for some, popping over to the dispensary for an ounce of flower may not be an option. Because when it comes to cannabis consumption, the second most important consideration, after the strain of flower, is the delivery method.

And even if you’re an avid smoker with an iron lung, you might want to consider a more health-conscious option. Here are the basics on how to use cannabis without smoking.

Delivery Systems

man smoking a joint with smoke around him

There are three basic delivery methods, and under these three broad methods are various products that serve specific needs, appropriate for different occasions. And it is exactly this flexibility that makes knowing how to use cannabis without smoking so appealing.

The basic methods are:

  • Inhalation
  • Oral
  • Topical

How to Use Cannabis Without Smoking by Inhalation

holding a marijuana vaporizer pen, a different way for people looking how to use cannabis without smoking

You don't need to combust your cannabis to reap its benefits because the important chemical compounds vaporize at a much lower, less harmful temperature.

Vaporizers are the logical choice for moderate users who know how to use cannabis without smoking it. A vaporizer steadily heats the cannabis to a temperature that is high enough to extract THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, but the temperatures are too low for the potentially harmful toxins that are released during combustion. Essentially, vaporization minimizes the health risks associated with smoking.

There are few design elements that distinguish vaporizers from smoking a joint; markedly stealth use and reusability. The type of cannabis product vaporized is the second critical component: many vaporizers take cannabis concentrates, which come in a variety of forms, including oil and wax.

These can be added manually or using cartridges, depending on the design. The prevalence of concentrate vapes is due to mechanical simplicity; fewer vaporizers take flower, which require a heating element to accomplish vaporization, and thus a more sophisticated design.

Another delivery method that’s growing in popularity is dabbing, where potent cannabis concentrates are heated, creating vapor that is inhaled.

Dabbing can be one of the fastest and heaviest highs, which leads inexperienced or unprepared user to find other methods of how to use cannabis without smoking.

Oral Cannabis Delivery Systems

marijuana edible brownies

Oral delivery is a perfect method if you’re looking for how to use cannabis without smoking. Oral delivery includes all techniques that are administered through the mouth, including tinctures, ingestible oils, and cannabis-infused food and drinks.

It is often assumed that the oral delivery method of using cannabis without smoking only signifies ingestion and digestion before entering the bloodstream, but not always. Tinctures for example, are administered orally and immediately absorbed into the bloodstream unlike edibles or drinks.

Tinctures – Tinctures are a liquid cannabis extract used by consumers looking for dosage control and fast-acting effects without the health risks associated with smoking. Most commonly, alcohol, vinegar, or glycerol are used as the solvent. Typically, three or four drops of the tincture are placed under the tongue, where it's absorbed into the body versus swallowed and digested.

Ingestible Oils – These are a happy medium between edibles and concentrates for people who are looking for how to use cannabis without smoking: they are swallowed and digested like an infused product, but often have the consistency of oil. These oils can either be eaten or put in easily-ingested capsules.

One popular oil, Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is made by extracting the therapeutic compounds of cannabis with alcohol and then evaporating the solvent, leaving behind a tar-like substance resembling oil.

Edibles – Eating or drinking cannabis will provide vastly different effects from delivery methods that immediately enter the bloodstream, such as smoking or vaping.

An edible is any food that contains cannabis compounds, whether or not the cannabinoids are bioavailable. These products take longer to enter the bloodstream, tend to cause powerful full-body, psychoactive effects, but are a simple method for people looking for how to use cannabis without smoking.

Infused food and drinks can be made a variety of ways depending on the dish. Most often, edibles are infused with a staple infused ingredient high in fat, like butter or olive oil, that enable extraction of the plant's therapeutic properties. Using tinctures in a dish is another great option for dosage control and simplicity.

Cooking with cannabis flower can be difficult because of the decarboxylation process.  But as the prevalence of cannabis cuisine grows, so does the presence of pot in the pantry.

Topical Delivery Methods

container of marijuana lotion with cannabis leaves nearby on a white background, showing how to use cannabis without smoking

Topical cannabis products are an important component in knowing how to use cannabis without smoking. Topical cannabis products often use full plant extract; an oil that has fully activated cannabinoids that can be absorbed.

Cannabis-infused lotions and balms are applied directly to the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation. A unique property of cannabis-infused topicals is their ability to treat symptoms without psychoactive effects.

So, if being clear-headed is mandatory, I suggest bypassing the euphoric high altogether and pick up some topical products.

Cannabis-Infused Food for Thoughtcannabis sour candy and buds

Now that you have seen the three basic methods of cannabis delivery, you know the ins and outs of how to use cannabis without smoking it.  If you’re interested in non-smoking cannabis products, check out Leafbuyer for deals on edibles, concentrates, and more from dispensaries in your area.