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Ways to Use Cannabis

Start low and go slow.

The effects of cannabis aren’t always immediately felt. Everyone responds differently. Finding effective products and doses may take time. The basic principle is “start low and go slow.” Cannabis has a wide margin of safety and there is a limited risk of overdose. However, caution is warranted until you fully understand the effect that the cannabis may have.

There are many factors that impact the effect, including:

Amount used

Attaining desired results relies on using the correct dosing. Using cannabis in excess of an individual’s ideal dose can lead to diminishing returns and adverse outcomes.

Strain used

A strain is the variety of plant within a species. Strains define a specific cannabinoid profile—the mixture of THC, CBD, etc. within it. Each strain has its own physical characteristics, or phenotypes, such as height, leaf structure, and color. Depending on the strain and its corresponding cannabinoid profile, the plant will deliver varying effects and possible benefits. See a list of strains and possible effects. 

Method of consumption

It is important to choose a delivery method that works best for you. Absorption rates vary based on your chosen method of consumption.

Inhalation Overview

Inhaling through the lungs through:

Smoking
Hand- or machine-rolled cigarette
Pipe or water pipe (bong)

Vapor inhalation
Battery-powered handheld vaporizer
A disposable handheld vaporizer with replacement cartridge options
Electronic vaporizing device

Effects are felt almost immediately, within minutes.

Effects peak in 10–30 minutes, tapering off after approximately 2–4 hours, lasting about 4–12 hours in total.

Flower: The actual flower of the cannabis plant. This is the part of the plant that is harvested and used for medical purposes, as it contains the highest concentrations of active cannabinoids.

Oil: Cannabis oil is a thick substance made up of cannabinoids extracted from the cannabis plant. It is obtained by separating the resins from cannabis flowers using a solvent extraction process. Oil can be administered through a vape.

Shatter: Shatter is a cannabis concentrate and has a reputation for being the purest and cleanest type of extract. It is extremely potent and is only recommended for the experienced cannabis user.

Wax: Wax is a cannabis concentrate that refers to softer, opaque oils that have lost their transparency after extraction. Wax offers individuals a way to consume very high-potency cannabis with rapid onset and can be paired with flower, a vaporizer or dabbed.

Oral Overview

Taking cannabis in through the mouth under your tongue absorbs via the digestive system or blood vessels in the mucous membranes in the mouth.

Offers a faster onset than edibles but much slower absorption than inhalation, with 15-40 minutes before effects are felt.

Individuals sees lower, more delayed peak THC levels with oral administration, with effects lasting approximately 45 minutes - 2 hours.

Tinctures or oils: are concentrated forms of cannabis that are taken under the tongue (sublingually) or by mouth.

Spray: A spray is also a cannabis oil extract that is absorbed directly under the tongue (sublingual) and into the mouth.

Ingestion Overview

When taking cannabis in through the mouth, it enters the bloodstream after being digested or broken down in the stomach and absorbed into the digestive system.

Ingestion takes the longest to take effect, with onset at 30 minutes - 2 hours.

Individuals see effects lasting between 5-8 hours on average.

Food/Candy: Cannabis that is eaten enters the bloodstream after going through the digestive system. Edible cannabis is often used when smoking isn’t possible and produces a stronger and longer lasting effect than smoking. 

Beverages: Beverages with cannabis can produce a stronger psychoactive effect because as the body processes a liquid form of cannabis, it changes the structure of the THC, one of the chemicals in cannabis.

Topical Overview
A topical is applied to the skin directly ‘on top’ of the place where it is needed.

Topical forms act very quickly.

Topicals can last 1-2 hours.

Ointment/Lotion: Cannabis can be used in ointments, lotions, and creams for symptoms like rashes or joint pain. These forms are not absorbed into the bloodstream and do not have any psychoactive effects.

Balms: Cannabis can be used in a balm—for example, to topically treat headaches or muscle pain. Cannabis in a balm is not absorbed into your bloodstream and doesn’t have any psychoactive effects.  

This website contains medical cannabis information and is restricted to individuals 21 years of age or older. Please confirm your age and state:

  • IL
  • MD
  • MA
  • NY
  • OH
  • PA

Did you know that most medical marijuana information is state-specific? We have dispensaries in each of the above states, along with state-specific resources for patients. For the best experience, please select a state.