Eating, Smoking, Vaporizing, and Drinking — What Are the Different Ways to Use Cannabis?

Did you know that cannabis is one of the most versatile substances on the planet to ingest? There are a number of ways to receive the medicinal benefits of cannabis, whether it’s smoking, vaping, drinking or eating. There is a different way to use cannabis for every kind of weed enthusiast out there, whether recreational or medicinal. Read this article for all the different ways to use weed!

The growing cannabis industry is leaving cannabis enthusiasts with a mountain of new ways to enjoy weed. Whereas once upon a time it was generally accepted that one would smoke cannabis, the ways to ingest it now go way beyond that. Both medical and social users are now taking advantage of a number of ways to ingest cannabis, including eating it, smoking it, vaporizing it, and even drinking it. Cannabis and hemp are even being used as topical treatments these days, and so can be used externally rather than internally, too.

So what are the differences in all the ways to ingest? Depending on how cannabis is ingested, it is metabolized differently by the body. This means that the effects can be different and the purpose for use is different for the different methods of ingestion. This is a guide on how to use all the different methods of ingestion to suit the purpose you are using, and for a better understanding of how they work in the body. Depending on whether you are using weed socially or medically, frequently or infrequently, there is a method of ingestion that will suit your needs in the healthiest way possible.

Smoking weed

We will begin with what is arguably the most popular way to ingest weed — smoking. Although it is the most popular way to ingest, it is not always the most health-conscious decision. However, it is widely accepted because of how ancient a tradition it is to smoke weed. Smoking dates back as far as 5000 BC to ancient shamanistic traditions with smoking tobacco and cannabis. It is probably worth mentioning that the cannabis flower can be smoked basically right off the tree, and no other treatment to it is required at all in order to smoke it.

When cannabis is smoked, it is received directly into the lungs. This means that it is the nervous system that is effected first, before the cannabinoids reach the blood stream and subsequently the brain. This makes it the fastest way to feel the effects of weed. The small sacs or cavities in the lungs through which cannabis does its work have an enormous surface area (even larger than the surface area of skin), so the cannabinoids travel quickly over this surface area, making it easy for the body to accept. The high from smoking can be felt within minutes of inhalation, the effects are felt quickly, and it is quickly processed by the body. This means that a high from smoking weed might last only a couple of hours.

Eating, smoking, vaporizing, and drinking — what are the different ways to use cannabis?

Although smoking weed is far healthier than smoking tobacco, there are still health risks associated. Inhaling the combusted fumes of basically anything involves inhaling carcinogenics into the lungs. This makes smoking one of the less health-conscious methods of ingesting cannabis. However, it is a desired one because of how quickly and easily it is to achieve the desired effect. If you are using cannabis medically, smoking is probably not the best choice. This is especially true if you are using it quite frequently, as frequent smoking can cause health problems in the future.

On the other hand, smoking is one of those methods of ingestion that is preferred by the social user. It’s hard to deny that it is nicer to pass around a joint sometimes than it is to share a brownie together, although that’s also fun. Smoking is also used entheogenically because of ancient beliefs of smoke’s ability to carry prayer and messages.


Vaporizing is another method of inhalation, but is a much healthier alternative to smoking. There are so many different vaporizing products on the market these days that all use different forms of cannabis. Some products simply require your buds, whereas others use a very concentrated form of cannabis called cannabis oil. Which one you use will depend on what you’re looking to get out of your vaporizing experience.

All in all, vaporizing does not actually require combustion, which makes it an easy way to ingest weed through inhalation without the risks that come with inhaling the respiratory toxins that come associated with smoking the cannabis flower. When the cannabis flower is smoked in a joint or other smoking apparatus, over 80% of what is inhaled are actually elements that do not contain cannabinoids, the medicinal property of the plant. This material is also potentially risky to the health of the lungs, and so while consuming little medicinal constituents, the smoker is also potentially damaging the body.

Vaporizers work in a completely different way. Nothing is burned or combusted in the process, so carcinogenics are not a worry. A vaporizer is usually an electronic device or battery-powered device that heats up your cannabis nearly to the point of combustion. Instead of burning, the flower or oil is vaporized, and what is inhaled into the lungs is a very potent water vapor containing cannabinoids. Vaporizing is also a better way to extract the cannabinoids from the buds for absorption into the body. This means that this method of ingestion achieves a better high, better medicinal properties, and less damage to the body.

Eating, smoking, vaporizing, and drinking — what are the different ways to use cannabis?

Some vaporizers take the buds straight into the cartridge, whereas others are filled with a very potent cannabis oil. Cannabis oil is also something you can make at home if you already have a vaporizer, and that way you can choose your own strain for the oil, too. In either case, almost all of the cannabinoids present in the buds or oil make their way into the body when you use a vaporizer, so both are good options to go with.

Those who are using cannabis medically would benefit greatly from this method if ingestion, especially if you are using it frequently. There are virtually no health risks associated with using weed this way, the effects are stronger and more long lasting than smoking, and the body absorbs more cannabinoids this way. Less of the most important parts of the cannabis plant are lost in the process of vaporization, which allows for maximum medicinal value.

Ingestion through edibles

Cannabis can be ingested orally through eating it in a huge range of dishes. It can be added to just about any meal these days, whether it is a savoury treat or a sweet treat. In fact, cannabis can even be ingested orally through pills or capsules if you don’t like the taste. This process almost always takes place through cooking cannabis down into butter or oil and then using that butter or oil as an ingredient in the cooking process. There are incredible health benefits from consuming cannabis orally, especially if you choose which butter or oil you cook your cannabis into. There are many health benefits you can reap from something like coconut oil, for example.

The effect on the body of eating cannabis is considerably different from what you might expect from smoking it. When cannabis is consumed orally, the cannabinoids are received into the blood rather than through the nervous system. This means that it can take longer for the effects to take place, but they last for much longer while the body metabolizes. The effects can be felt anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours after eating, depending on how fast the user metabolizes and how long it takes for the blood to carry the cannabinoids to the brain. This also means that the onset of an edible high can come in stages, feeling the effects slightly at the beginning while they continue to increase in intensity for some time. The effects last much longer in the body through eating.

Cannabis is usually cooked into butter for eating, after which that butter is used to make cakes or bread or whatever it is you are making. However, cannabis can be infused into coconut oil, a far healthier alternative, because of its constituent health properties, too. For example, coconut oil contains a fatty acid called lauric acid which has a plethora of health benefits for the body. This cannabis-infused coconut oil can then be used for cooking or can be stored in capsules for single dosages.

The major downfall with eating cannabis is about getting the dosage right. Because of the time it takes to take effect in the body, it may be too late before the user notices that they need more, or they may take some more too soon. Using edibles for the first time, especially if you are making your own, is an experiment. However, like with vaporizing, there are almost no health risks associated with using weed this way, and in fact the health benefits are numerous. Cannabis is soluble in fats and so extracting the cannabinoids into butter or oil allows for maximum intake of cannabinoids into the body. The effects are felt strongly in the body and for quite a long time.

For medical cannabis patients, this is probably the best way to ingest cannabis. Not only are you ensured to ingest the most health beneficial parts of the plant, but you are ensured a long-lasting effect. For those dealing with chronic pain, having a painkiller whose effects last for 6 hours is much more desired than having to administer medication 6 times a day. It is a process which you can engage in at home, choosing your strain and your dose to suit you. Otherwise, there are many edible products available in dispensaries if you don’t fancy yourself a chef.

Tinctures, sodas, and other ways to drink cannabis

Of all the methods to ingest cannabis, drinking is the not-so-famous one. Cannabis is drinkable through a number of different delicious drinks, ranging from alcohol to sweet sodas. There are now companies in the USA selling soda drinks in dispensaries that contain cannabis. Drinking it is also as easy as steeping your own cannabis flowers in a strong spirit and making a tincture, of which you only require a single drop.

Just like infusing cannabis into food, infusing cannabis into liquids produces a much stronger effect on the body and mind, ideal for those using cannabis medically. Even though products are available, if you prefer to drink cannabis rather than to smoke it, it is easy enough to make your own drinkable cannabis at home. Just remember that THC and other cannabinoids are soluble in alcohol and in fat but are not soluble in water. If you try boiling your cannabis into a tea, you might be severely disappointed. The cannabinoids will also be accepted into the body through the blood, but perhaps faster than food because of the body’s ability to process liquids better. Nonetheless, the effect of ingesting cannabis orally takes longer to feel than from smoking it, so the user should allow some time before going for a second dose.

To make a cannabis tincture simply involves steeping the buds into alcohol. It only takes about a week for the alcohol to absorb all the THC and the other cannabinoids, but those who are really fussy about tincture can leave buds in there for up to a year before using it. Using cannabis this way is extremely potent, and you might only need a single drop to feel the effects.

It is important to note that when ingesting cannabis orally, whether it is drinkable or edible, allows ease for the cannabinoids to reach the liver. This means that it is processed easier and faster by the body and the liver receives some medicinal properties too. Overall, drinking or eating your cannabis is a much healthier way to consume compared to smoking.

Topical use of cannabis

So many cannabis users don’t know that it has been long used by humans to treat a number of things through its topical use. That means that, in order to reap some of the health benefits of cannabis, one not even need ingest it. It is applied to the skin to heal a certain area depending on what the ailment is, whether it is a cut or wound or infection.

The skin is one of the biggest organs in the world and covers an enormous surface area of the body. Because it is porous, it is entirely possible to apply medicine to the skin, and in fact makes sense to do so to be able to directly target the affected area. This means that cannabinoids can be absorbed through the skin rather than ingested into the body. Products such as cannabis creams and oils can be purchased that simply involve topical application. Otherwise, through the same process of steeping the buds in alcohol for tincture, steeping the buds in alcohol for topical application works too. It can be applied to cuts and wounds or all over the body for pain relief treatment.

The problem with contaminated cannabis

If you are buying cannabis to make your own edible or drinkable products, it’s important to avoid using contaminated cannabis. In countries where it is still illegal, it is highly likely that pesticides are being used on the plants that belong to the black market trade. If you are dissolving your cannabis in oil, alcohol, or butter, some, if not all, of these contaminations will make it into your product and have potential health risks.

If you are buying cannabis to make your own food and drinks, it’s best to grow your own so that you are aware of what is in it. Alternatively, if it is legal in your country you can purchase from dispensaries which will tell you if there is anything else in their cannabis. This is important to take note of, as the highest quality homemade products will be free from contamination and the potential health risks that they carry.


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  • Author_profiles-WSS-Emma Ryte

    Emma Ryte

    Born in Germany, lived in England my childhood years and spent my high school era in the US. My parents are basically hippies and that is why I have had the possibility to speak freely and explore my passion for the cannabis plant. My love for writing followed soon after. Writing about this subject has taught me so many things about the use, cultivation, health benefits and industrial options, and I love that I can share this knowledge with you! I visit Amsterdam as often as I can and I love the vibe there when it comes to weed, it lets me try new things and learn about the newest developments in the industry. The one person I would love to smoke some with would have to be Stevie Wonder. I love relaxing to his music while high and I would love to meet him!
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