Explore the three common ways to use cannabis:
Inhalation is the most common way cannabis is consumed. Cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, are absorbed into the body through inhaling vaporized or smoked cannabis into the lungs.
Smoking is the direct inhalation of smoke from dried cannabis. Delivery methods for smoking include, pre-rolls, pipes, bowls, water pipes, bongs and hookahs. Smoking cannabis is the most harmful way of using because it directly affects and damages your lungs.
What about tobacco and cannabis? If you don’t currently use nicotine don’t add it to your joints. Your high isn’t worth the added risk of developing a nicotine addiction. Research shows that combining cannabis and nicotine increases harms for the user. Let’s look at some of the reasons cannabis and tobacco don’t mix.
- Increased chance of addiction/dependence on nicotine.
- Increased lung damage due to both drugs affecting lung health.
- Nicotine and cannabis have combined effects on the brain and how it works.
Vaping delivers cannabis in a vapour form through heating a cannabis extract or dried product. The high heat turns the product into vapour without burning, which is then inhaled.
Vaping exposes you to different chemical compounds with their own risks and harms. Vaping directly affects and may damage your lungs. The long-term effects of vaping remain unknown. Smoking cannabis is the most harmful way of using because it directly affects and damages your lungs.
Dabbing refers to inhaling high potency cannabis extracts with the use of equipment such as a dab rig. A dab of extract is placed on a hot surface and the fumes are inhaled. New or occasional users should not start with high potency products due to the increased risks of negative side effects such as dizziness, nausea and anxiety.
Choosing lower THC products may lower the risk of greening out. Dabbing may affect lung health and cause lung damage in all users.
Ingesting means eating, drinking or swallowing cannabis. Cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, are absorbed through the digestive track and processed by the liver. Ingested cannabis will affect you differently than inhaled cannabis and can have longer effects. Avoid driving or other safety-related tasks for an extended period of time after ingesting cannabis.
How are edibles different than other methods of consumption? Edible cannabis comes in a variety of food and beverage forms that cause your body to process cannabis differently. You’ll feel the effects of edibles much slower and there’s a chance the effects can be unpredictable, so you need to wait up to four hours before taking more.
Because edibles are ingested, which just means being eaten or swallowed, the cannabis is absorbed through the digestive track and processed by the liver. The liver will turn THC into an even stronger form which is transported throughout your body through your blood stream.
On top of that, because your liver has made the THC more potent through its processing, ingested cannabis will affect you differently than inhaled cannabis and the effects can last longer.
Make sure you avoid driving or other safety-related tasks for an extended period after ingesting cannabis. MADD Canada recommends waiting a minimum of 4-6 hours after using cannabis but there are many situations where it is recommended that you wait longer than that.
If you’re new to edibles or ingesting cannabis in general, Health Canada recommends first looking at the THC content of the product and starting with no more than 2.5 mg of THC. Remember that edible products contain varying amounts of cannabis, so make sure you read the label and do not exceed the recommended serving size to reduce the risk of consuming too much.
Oils can be taken by mouth, put into food or beverages, or swallowed as capsules.
- Droppers are controlled by the user
- Capsules have a consistent amount with every use
- People with allergies should check to ensure oils are safe for use as some carrier oils contain nut products
It may take between 30 minutes to two hours to start feeling the effects, however it can take up to four hours to feel the full effects. Because of this delay, taking a second dose too soon can lead to:
- nausea and vomiting
- anxiety or panic attacks
- in extreme cases, psychosis
Everyone reacts differently to cannabis and friends taking the same product may have different experiences.
The euphoric “high” a user experiences from edibles is not the same as the “high” from inhaling a joint. New and returning users should start with a low amount, be somewhere they feel safe and allow themselves plenty of time to feel the full effects.
With edibles, you should plan your day or evening because effects can last for up to 12 hours. Do not drive a vehicle or perform other safety-related tasks for an extended period of time after consuming any type of cannabis. For more information on impaired driving visit MADD Canada.
Topicals are lotions, creams, oils, etc. that have been infused with cannabis extracts and are absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. Primarily used for medical conditions and not typically used for recreational purposes.
When topicals are used as recommended, it is unlikely that the cannabinoids will produce an intoxicating effect.