If you’re just starting out with low-dosing cannabis, you might feel overwhelmed by the range of products and methods of consumption available. The primary factors in determining which method is right for you are: discreetness, potency, absorption rate, and effect duration. To help you choose the best method for your lifestyle, we will compare the most common consumption methods.
Most people think about cannabis in terms of smoking a joint. Cannabis can also be inhaled by vaping or dabbing (vaporizing high concentrates of cannabis on a hot surface). In this discussion, we use the terms smoking and inhaling interchangeably. With inhaling, the THC is fully absorbed directly into your system. It is the most potent and quickest way to feel the effects of cannabis. It also wears off quickly, with effects lasting about 1-3 hours.
There are a few considerations for inhalation. It is more difficult to control dosing, since you can’t manage the amount of smoke actually inhaled. There is also the smell and risk of second-hand smoke to consider, especially if you have children in the home. Most importantly, smoking in any form carries the risk of lung issues like coughing and bronchitis.
An effective but lesser known method is through sublingual absorption. Sublingual absorption is available through tinctures, sprays or strips that are placed under the tongue. The high amount of capillaries under the tongue allow the cannabinoids (like THC and CBD) to be absorbed directly into bloodstream.
The evidence of specific absorption rates is highly anecdotal. Oil-based tincures will be absorbed slower, because oil does not absorb as quickly through the mouth as some other solvents. If you are using an alcohol-based tincture, you probably will notice a faster rate of onset than ingesting cannabis, but not as fast as the onset with inhaling cannabis. The benefit of sublingual absorption is that it lies somewhere in the middle in terms of the onset rate, and tinctures are great for providing a more controlled dose, without the smell and health risks. Typically, the effects also last a little longer with sublingual methods versus inhalation.
Cannabis has come a long way from pot brownies. There are many edible products available today, with clear labeling to ensure careful dosing. Cannabis can come in pills, sweets, mints, beverages and much more. If you’re a parent and choose a product that would appeal to a child, like candy or baked goods, be sure to keep them safely stored out of reach.
The effect of ingesting cannabis is quite different from inhalation or sublingual absorption. Since this method requires the cannabis to be processed first through the liver, the onset of effects is much slower. The cannabinoids aren’t absorbed as fully as with inhaling, so the effect is also less powerful. On the other hand, the effects last hours, making it an effective option for aiding with sleep throughout the night and providing a longer lasting effect for “taking the edge off.”
Make the Best Choice For Your Needs
So what’s the best choice for you? Only you can decide! The best cannabis consumption method depends on your lifestyle and needs. We encourage you to find products with clear labeling, try new products in a safe environment, and as always, start low and slow!
Not sure where to start? Check out our review page to see some of the pros and cons of our favorite products.