Comparing Marijuana Consumption Methods

Herbal Relief CentreConsumption Methods, Education

Comparing Marijuana Consumption Methods

Smoking is only one method of consuming marijuana. The perception that smoking, or combustion, is the only way to enjoy the relief from pain, anxiety, and insomnia creates a barrier for some individuals. Not only is there a negative stigma associated with joints, pipes, and bongs, but it comes with a few legitimate health concerns.

We’re here to dispel assumptions and provide education about cannabis consumption. If you are interested in any of the following methods but still feel like you need more information, please do not hesitate to stop by our clinic.  

This is far from an exhaustive list. We have chosen to highlight the most common types of consuming marijuana, with positive and negatives of each method. We have also included some notes on the method or the tools you will need for each.

Combustion or Smoking

By far the oldest method of marijuana consumption, It has been documented in ancient Asia, Viking culture, and medieval Germany. They all smoked marijuana for pain relief, including during childbirth and for toothaches.

This is usually the fastest way to feel the effects of THC and CBD. As the smoke reaches your lungs it is passed into your bloodstream. From there it takes seconds to hit your brain. After it hits your brain it takes a few minutes for the effects to become apparent. This method allows you to very accurately measure how much cannabis is getting into your system.

Unfortunately, this method comes with a few drawbacks. Because you must burn the flower your lungs receive more than just the cannabinoids. They come with burnt plant material and paper if you are using rolling papers. Plus, the negative connotations of smoking joints and bongs are hard to avoid.


Rolling papers are the cheapest way to smoke marijuana, however, they can be tricky. Rolling a joint takes practice and can lead to spillage. You may end up with a joint that is lumpy, too thin, or too thick. If you are looking for a small hit of cannabis, a joint could end up being too much. Plus, it’s a good way to burn your fingers.


Way more straightforward than joints, pipes allow you to better control the amount you smoke. You can buy large or small pipes and even one-hitters. The marijuana needs to be lit every time you smoke out of it, making it difficult to enjoy on a windy day. However, it makes it very simple to save half a bowl for later. Pipes require regular maintenance, as the smoke leaves a gooey residue that can clog your pipes.


These are not for the faint of heart. Typically, they come with a larger bowl than a pipe and allow for a huge gust of marijuana smoke. Bongs come is a wide range of sizes and are great for people who would like to consume a lot of cannabis at once. They also require maintenance and regular cleaning, but can often be very ornate. They have a number of subcategories, such as gravity bongs and bubblers.

A Special Note About Resin

These combustion methods leave a film in whatever pipe or bong you use. Some people feel that collecting and smoking this resin is a good idea. We would strongly advise against it. It contains a high level of ash, carbon, and tar and very little THC. It is extremely hard on your lungs with very little payoff. Do not resort to this, be proactive and ensure you have enough cannabis on hand to keep your cool.

Vaporizing or Vaping

This method is deceptively like smoking marijuana. However, in this method, the flower is not lit on fire. Instead, it is heated to the desired temperature and the active ingredients are vaporized and inhaled. Most vaporizer users actually choose a different form of cannabis than the dried plant, like concentrates like oil, shatter, wax, and budder. They can have up to 80% THC instead of the standard 5 to 25% of dried cannabis. This means you need to smoke a great deal less and can have a greater effect.

Vaporizing is considered the healthiest way to consume marijuana as there’s less smoke and tar created in the process. The high reaches your brain in the same way as combustion: the THC travels to your lungs, into your bloodstream, and to your brain. The effects are quickly felt and you have a great deal of control over the amount you take in.

The downside of vaping cannabis is that it can be a little fussy. You must be careful when loading your pen or vape, and regular cleaning is needed. Most vaporizers are electrical, meaning they need to be charged, have batteries, or be plugged in for them to work. Plus, even though it’s the healthiest way to smoke marijuana, it is still smoking and can be hard on your throat and lungs.

Vape Pens

These devices can be quite small, looking like a large marker, or big enough they are a handful. They are usually quite streamlined so they fit comfortably into your pocket or purse. Usually, these need to be charged regularly, so plan to bring one with you for long days or overnight stays.

Table Vapes

These are bigger vaporizers that require a table or counter for use. They can be massive or mini, plug-in or battery powered. Consider these the bongs of the vaporizing world, with just as many variations.


Likely you’ve heard of “special brownies” but cooking cannabis in food is not isolated to brownies or even desserts. Because THC and CBD can be delivered through tinctures, capsules, sprays, and oils, there are few recipes or beverages that cannot accommodate a little cannabis.

The ultimate plus to edibles is that there is absolutely no smoking. You do not have a pipe or vape pen to keep clean, nor do you have to worry about what the smoke and vapour is doing to your lungs. The effects of ingesting THC and CBD are usually much stronger and last longer, up to 6 hours. This is ideal for someone using cannabis for pain management.

Edibles take a longer amount of time to get to the bloodstream via your gastrointestinal system and is much harder to control the amount. Users report a lag time of 30 minutes to 2 hours. This makes it very easy to consume too much and feel very sick later on, especially if you begin to overlap your doses.

Baked Goods & Food

Weed can be used in oil or dried form to be added to a great deal of baking or cookery. It is easily added to any lipid like butter, coconut oil, or olive oil, which can be stored and used when needed. The cliche of brownies really does work well, as the rich flavour of chocolate goes well with cannabis, but you will find a huge array of savoury recipes and candies.

For more information on cooking with cannabis, visit Herbal Relief for any of our cannabis classes where you can learn to create your own edibles.


Marijuana can be brewed into tea or beer, or be added to coffee or wine. This can throw off the flavour of your drinks a little but has the same effect as eating it in cooking. This can be an effective way to treat chronic pain with your morning coffee or insomnia with an evening herbal tea.

Capsules or Tablets

For those who do not want to change the taste of their food or drinks and are not interested in smoking marijuana, consuming cannabis in pill form can be the perfect solution. These tend to be quite strong and have the same delayed reaction to the rest of edibles, so talk to your doctor about making sure you have the right dosage.

Tinctures or Sprays

Cannabis can be dissolved directly on the tongue. This is a much faster delivery system to your bloodstream than the rest of edibles on this list, with effects felt after 5 to 15 minutes. They are also quite discreet, as they are odourless and have no smoke or vapour. Tinctures can be dropped onto the tongue like food colouring, while sprays are more like breath-freshener sprays that are squirted onto the tongue.

Topical Application of Cannabis

Cannabis is a great way to reduce inflammation. For those who have pain in a specific area, this is a wonderful way to target that pain or swelling without affecting your brain at all. These are typically all CBD but no THC, which means they have no psychoactive properties. They come in creams and oils you can spread on luxuriously over a big area or keep to a small patch of pain.

Find What Works For You

With so many options, its great to try a variety of them. Keeping tinctures on hand can be useful for those who struggle with anxiety as they are very portable, while chronic pain sufferers may use edibles for the lasting effects. For many patients, combining several different consumption methods can be the best way to find relief. For your own unique plan, talk to us at Herbal Relief. We’ll help you get started with cannabis consumption you can feel comfortable with.