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Methods of Consuming Cannabis & Their Affects

Your body’s response is based on a combination of factors [experience varies by individual as well as genetics, physical and mental health and history, age, personality as well as gender] but it is also based on the products you choose, the cannabinoid content in the product and the method of consumption you choose.


  • Inhalation - usually produces effects quickly.
  • Ingestion - takes longer to produce effects but the effects can be stronger and last longer [consuming small amounts of cannabis can reduce the risk of harmful or unpleasant effects].
  • Topical - is primarily for medical use and rarely psychoactive.
  • Other [see below]



This method involves the combustion (burning) or vaporization of ground dried cannabis flowers. Combustion could involve rolling the dried flower in paper and lighting it with a flame or putting it in a pipe or water pipe (sometimes called a “bong”), which cools the smoke before it is inhaled. Another way to inhale cannabis is to put it in a vaporizer or “vape” - an electronic device that heats the cannabis to an ideal temperature for the release of its active compounds in a vapour, which is then inhaled. Inhalation delivers the active compounds in cannabis to your body via the lungs. From there it quickly enters the bloodstream, so an effect will be felt rapidly - one inhalation may be all it takes to feel the effects. For this reason, you should wait 5 to 15 minutes after a single inhalation to gauge its full effect. If you’re new to inhaling cannabis, it’s wise to begin with one inhalation and consider that the more you inhale, the stronger the effects will be. It’s also important to understand that inhaling cannabis may come with risks to lung health (as well as other potential negative effects associated with cannabis use) and should not be done around children.



This method involves eating or drinking cannabis via oral tinctures, capsules, oils or edible products. When you ingest cannabis, the active compounds enter through your digestive system and are carried by the bloodstream to your central nervous system and your brain. Because it takes longer to enter the bloodstream through this method of consumption, the effect takes longer to occur than it does through inhalation. This can lead to the consumption of more cannabis than intended. The effects from ingestion can also last longer than those experienced from inhalation. If you’re new to ingesting cannabis, consider sampling a very small amount and wait at least an hour to determine your body’s response before consuming again.


Topical application:

These cannabis products are used primarily for medical purposes. They are rarely psychoactive. Even so, it’s wise to apply only a small amount on your skin to start. Research on this method is limited.


Other consumption methods include:

Juicing – fresh cannabis flowers can be used to make a juice. You would still ingest the plant’s cannabinoids, vitamins and minerals through this method. However, because the cannabis has not been heated in the process of making the juice, the compounds will not be activated or produce any intoxicating effect.

Nasal spray – similar to sinus medication, this method delivers a standardized dose of THC or CBD directly to the bloodstream.

Tinctures and lozenges – more research into these methods is required, but this method typically produces an effect within 15 minutes to 2 hours.

Suppositories – these may be used medically for specific conditions - more research is required.

Shatter and “dabs” – these terms refer to concentrated cannabis oil that delivers very high doses of THC through inhalation. The risks of this method include toxic psychosis, orthostatic hypotension and acute impairment. 


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