Cannabis consumption: Factors to consider
There are plenty of choices when it comes to cannabis, so how do you know which cannabis consumption option is right for you? Here are a few factors to consider:
- Onset — how long does it take to feel the effects?
- Duration — how long will the effects last?
Both onset and duration are influenced by a wide variety of factors including strain, terpenes, personal tolerance, physical composition, and potency. Today, let’s talk about four of the most common methods of cannabis consumption and their pros and cons.
Onset: 1-15 minutes Duration: 1-3 hours
Smoking cannabis is the most popular way to consume it due to the ease of use, quick onset, and accessibility. A joint1 is an iconic figure and bowls2 and bongs3 are also very common. The fast onset of smoking makes it a good choice for someone who needs immediate relief from pain or other symptoms. That fast onset also makes it easy to control your dose: simply inhale as many times as needed to feel the desired effect. Smoking allows you to quickly get the benefits of cannabis and makes it easy for you customize your experience.
However, there are health risks associated with smoking. While not as dangerous as smoking cigarettes, igniting plant matter means that you will inhale carbon monoxide and tar. There is one step you can take to help mitigate the risks associated with smoking: make sure you only smoke flowers that have been tested for pesticides and microbes. While mold and pesticides are never healthy, they become particularly dangerous when smoked rather than eaten. Look for test results from a reputable third-party lab so you can be confident that what you’re smoking is as safe as possible.
Onset: 1-15 minutes Duration: 1-3 hours
Vaping heats the cannabis below the point of combustion, allowing you to inhale vapor rather than smoke. Both flowers and cannabis oil can be vaped. Vaporizers were originally tabletop devices, but portable vape pens are now far more popular.
Vaping offers the same benefits as smoking — fast onset and easily controlled dosage. Vaping is also quite easy, making a great choice for people who are new to cannabis. While vaping is generally regarded as safer than smoking, no long-term studies have been done. However, the few studies we have indicate that vaping is safer than smoking.
The best way to mitigate your risks is to make sure your vape pen comes from a reputable company and to make sure that the flower or oil you’re using was thoroughly tested.
Onset: 15-45 minutes Duration: 2-4 hours
Tinctures are an alcohol or glycerin base infused with cannabis and other herbs. You take them by placing the desired dose under the tongue and holding it there for a few seconds while the blood vessels absorb the active ingredients. You then swallow the tincture to ensure that anything that wasn’t absorbed into the bloodstream will be picked up by the digestive tract.
Tinctures are one of the easiest ways to consume cannabis, so they are frequently used by children who need medical marijuana. Most tinctures come with a dropper that makes precise doses easy to measure. While you always want to look for products that have been tested for pesticides, microbes, and potency, tinctures are an excellent way to introduce someone to cannabis.
Onset: 30 minutes-2 hours Duration: 4-6 hours
Edibles come in a huge variety, from the classic pot brownies to gels to infused chocolates to savory energy bars. While they take time to kick in, their effects are long-lasting. The long-lasting effects and extreme ease of use — eating is as easy as it gets — make edibles a good option for anyone looking for a prolonged experience. Edibles can help people get through a workday without pain or sleep through the night.
While no long-term studies have been conducted, edibles are generally regarded as safe. One of the few risks of eating an edible is taking too much. Because it takes so long to feel the effects, it can be easy to think the first dose was too small. Most bad experiences with edibles come from taking an unnecessary second dose. Mindful consumption is the best way to avoid the risks of overconsuming.
While there are many factors that go into deciding which cannabis consumption options are right for you, personal preference is usually the deciding factor. It’s important to educate yourself on your options and it’s worthwhile to try something new from time to time. However, the best way to consume cannabis is the way that works best for you.
Image credit: Leafly