How to consume marijuana
Weed has been consumed by humans for thousands of years, and done so in many different ways. In the beginning it was simply thrown on a fire and inhaled, and as we evolved, so did how we consume weed—hashmaking has been around for at least one thousand years, and extract technology has exploded in only the past few decades.
Why someone picks one consumption method over another depends on a few factors.
Experience level: If you’ve never consumed cannabis before, you’ll likely want to start with vaping, edibles, or smoking, and stay away from dabbing—it’s usually for more experienced consumers or those with a high tolerance.
Situation/Circumstance: A joint may be perfect when going to a concert, but if you’re at home on a rainy day, you might want to pull out the bong or try an extra dose of edibles. If you’re looking for pain relief, a topical can be applied to a specific spot on your body, or you can take a tincture to help fall asleep.
Personal preference: People just like certain consumption methods over others. Some stick to flower and only roll joints, while others love dabbing, even when on-the-go. Or, you may not like smoking or vaping and stick to edibles. Many people mix and match many methods.
Below, explore our guide on cannabis consumption methods and click through for more in-depth information on each method. Learn about the pros and cons of each and see which methods are best for you.
Probably the oldest form of getting high, weed has been rolled up, packed in a pipe, and simply thrown on fire and inhaled for thousands of years. Smoking weed is the go-to method for most, and it can be smoked through various devices, including pipes, bongs, joints, blunts, and much more. There’s a way to smoke weed for every situation.
An edible is any food or drink infused with cannabis. To make an edible, cannabis is infused into butter, oil, or another substance, and that infusion is used to make food. There is a diverse array of cannabis edibles, including gummies, brownies, cookies, and other baked goods, as well as soft drinks, beer, and wine, and even more unusual foods such as beef jerky and potato chips. The possibilities are endless.
When ingested, an edible is processed through the stomach and liver, which leads to a long onset of effects and typically a strong experience. Edibles are easy to use and dose, but start low and go slow with them—many people make the mistake of eating too many edibles because they don’t think they’re working, only to have all of them kick in at once later.
Vaping is great for everyone, from first-timers to experienced stoners. Vape pens, which vaporize cannabis oil inside a cartridge, are simple and easy to use, as well as discreet and portable. They are a great way to get into cannabis. Many other kinds of portable and tabletop vaporizers exist, which can vaporize flower, concentrates, or both.
Vaping cannabis is considered a safer method of consumption than smoking—vaporization happens at a lower temperature than combustion, or smoking, which is easier on the throat and preserves more cannabinoids and terpenes.
Dabs, sometimes called concentrates or extracts, are a concentrated, highly potent form of cannabis. They appear as waxes, oils, shatters, and a multitude of other forms and are consumed in a dab rig, hence the term “dabbing.”
A dab rig looks similar to a bong, except instead of a bowl for flower it has a nail, which is made of thick glass that can withstand a lot of heat. When a dab is placed in a nail, the high temperatures flash vaporize it.
Because dabs are a lot more potent than flower, dabbing is typically for experienced cannabis consumers. If you’ve never consumed weed, you might want to wait until you get more familiar with the plant before dabbing.
Tinctures are cannabis-infused liquids that extract cannabis compounds from the plant, usually with alcohol. They’re often applied under the tongue, and unlike edibles, they enter the bloodstream immediately, allowing for fast-acting effects and precise dose control.
A variety of flavors, potencies, and cannabinoid profiles are available for tinctures, catering to your specific preferences or medical needs.
A specific type of tincture is RSO, or Rick Simpson Oil. This oil is eaten or put into capsules for ingestion and originated when Rick Simpson used concentrated cannabis to treat his skin cancer.
Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions and balms that are applied directly to the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation. Topicals can usually treat symptoms without giving you psychoactive effects, allowing you to be clear-headed while getting symptom relief.
Read more of Leafly’s guide to marijuana consumption
- What is dabbing?