4 Cannabis Consumption Methods: Pros, Cons, and Myths

February 03, 2021

Joshua Adoghe

Many drugs are faced with stigma, but none is faced with an undeserved stigma as weed. Thanks to many after-school specials and websites like Monroe BLVD that are working relentlessly to debunk this mislabeling, misunderstanding, and myths that are surrounding cannabis.

In this article, we take a closer look at some of the myths that have sprouted over time concerning the consumption of cannabis. Before we dive deeper into the myths, let’s dwell a little on the different methods of consuming cannabis.

Methods of consuming cannabis

When it comes to consuming cannabis products, the first step is choosing your preferred cannabis product. The next step is deciding the best consumption method.

Although there are various ways to consume cannabis, we can categorize them into these main categories:

  1. Inhalations methods
  2. Oral methods
  3. Suppository methods
  4. Topical methods

First: Inhalation methods

Consuming cannabis through inhalation allows for all the active components (including THC) to be absorbed into your bloodstream via the lungs. Most times, you get almost immediate effects with inhalation. This is why most cannabis users opt-in for the inhalation method because of the near-instant high received.

Under inhalation, there are two main ways it can be done: 

1. Smoking Cannabis

Smoking is one of the most popular ways of consuming cannabis. Smoking involves lighting up the cannabis flower and inhaling the smoke produced by it. There are many ways smoking cannabis can be carried out; pipes, water pipes, joints, blunts, bowls, bubblers, and bongs: 

  • Pipes are one of the most popular devices used for smoking cannabis – basically because they are small, easy-to-use, and compact. Pipes are used by adding cannabis to the area that looks like a bowl at one end – this is known as packing a bowl. Once you have placed the cannabis at the bowl-like end, light it up. The smoke will travel through the chamber of the pipe and come out through the mouthpiece. From the mouthpiece, you can now inhale it.

  • Water pipes, bongs and bubblers are under this category of devices. They work similarly to pipes but the difference lies in the passage of the smoke. The smoke is filtered through water in the chamber. The function of the water is to cool down the smoke thereby creating an experience that is smoother during inhalation.

Related article: 7 Tips for first time smoking weed

  • Joints; this involves rolling cannabis using rolling paper. Once you've rolled it all in, you can then light one end and inhale from the other end – similar to cannabis cigarettes.

  • Blunts are not different from joints in many ways except for the fact that they are wrapped using cigar paper instead of rolling paper. Also, blunts are usually larger and can take more cannabis compared to joints.

Pros of Smoking Cannabis

Cons of Smoking Cannabis

Related article: 7 Best Ways to Smoke Weed - Pros, Cons, and More

2. Vaping Cannabis

Vaping has gained traction in the cannabis space due to advances in technology. It is another inhalation method that makes use of a unique device to heat the cannabis concentrate or flower. The device heats the cannabis to just the point below combustion around 356 to 374 Fahrenheit. At this point, the active compounds like terpenes and cannabinoids, are transformed into vapor. The vapor is then inhaled.

There are about three ways vaping cannabis can be done:

  • Dry herb/Wax Vaporizers: To use a vaporizer, you simply add the cannabis flower or concentrate into the heating chamber, regulate the temperature, and inhale the vapor produced through the mouthpiece. You can either get the portable version of vaporizers or the tabletop version which requires putting it on a flat surface or stand.

Related article: Benefits of Vaping Weed - 7 Reasons To Vape Weed Instead Of Smoking It.

  • Oil Vape Pens: Vape pens are used specifically for distillates and oils. They look just like a pen and are made up of cartridges that carry the distillates or oil. There is also a battery that provides power for heating.

  • Dabbing: Dabbing involves using a dab rig to vaporize cannabis concentrate. This is done by heating a glass, titanium, or ceramic nail and placing the cannabis concentrate directly on the heated surface. This generates vapor that is then inhaled.

Pros of the Vaping Cannabis

    • Smokeless solution; thus it reduces carcinogens and other toxins like tar.
    • Reduced side effects that can be experienced from second-hand inhalation
    • More environmentally friendly
    • Less detectable on clothes and furniture
    • More active ingredients are preserved with vaping while the resulting AVB can be consumed. This means it is cost-effective
    • There is a reduced risk of getting a tainted product
    • You have many types of vaporizers to choose from with various flavors and varieties in extracts for them

Related article: How to Choose a Vaporizer: Vaporizer high or Smoking high?

Cons of Vaping Cannabis

    • The vaping unit and other materials can be very expensive; although, the herb isn’t very expensive
    • For new users, vaping can be a bit complex. This would require a little learning to understand the right vaporizers, the right temperature, and how to maintain the right battery system
    • Vaporizers require regular cleaning and maintenance of the battery system
    • There is a possible side effect of popcorn lung (or Bronchiolitis obliterans)  which is a potential risk of using the vaping delivery method

Second: Oral methods

There are various ways cannabis can be consumed using the oral method. The most used are:

1. Edibles

This includes cannabis-based beverages, gummies, and baked goods. Once you ingest these cannabis-based edibles, the cannabinoid is absorbed into your digestive tract thus causing a slower realization of the effects – usually between 20 minutes and 3 hours. Amongst all the methods of cannabis consumption, taking edibles is one of the most straightforward methods. You simply take it in and wait for the effects to play out.

Related article: How to avoid munchies while high? 7 Helpful Tips & 9 healthy Munchies

Pros of Eating Cannabis Edibles

    • Edibles come in a lot of varieties like brownies, cookies, cakes, rice crispy treats, and even savory treats
    • It is a better option for those who cannot smoke for example people with asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
    • Research has shown that when you consume cannabis edibles, there is a more body-centered effect that is well distributed in your body and lasts longer for about 3 to 7 hours
    • Great for joint pains, muscle spasms, and overall relief of pain

Cons of Eating Cannabis Edibles

    • It takes a long time before the effects set in
    • Very difficult to regulate the dosage
    • You can't be sure of the potency of the THC in the products as not all edibles are created in the same way
    • Can be easily mistaken for a normal snack which means smaller kids or underages can end up eating it

Related article:  How to Make and Dose Edibles With Cannabis Concentrate

2. Tinctures

This is achieved by putting cannabis into alcohol. Tinctures are absorbed into the bloodstream sublingually (i.e. under the tongue). You put a few drops of cannabis tinctures under the tongue and keep it there for a while to get absorbed. Then take the remaining liquid and swallow it. 

Taking this approach can give you a dual effect – firstly from the tincture taken sublingually you can have an immediate effect, then you can have a second effect from the remaining liquid swallowed into the digestive tract. You can also cook with CBD tinctures in water-soluble CBD - this allows for a faster rate of absorption. 

Although alcohol-based tinctures have been the oldest variety of tinctures and the easiest to make, not everyone is comfortable with consuming alcohol. This is why Oil-based tinctures have become very popular and accessible to many. Another base content for infusing cannabis apart from alcohol and Oils is vegetable glycerine. This is a more recent option and a healthier option since vegetable glycerine is a healthier form of fat.

Since oil doesn’t mix with water, scientists came up with a new technology to make tincture based water, where you can add it to any drink or food without changing the taste. 

Related article: Oil-based and Water-based Cannabis Tinctures: Which is better?

Pros of Taking Cannabis Tincture

    • Can be taken more discreetly compared to other consumption methods
    • Tinctures do not require vaping or smoking which makes them a better option for many who do not smoke
    • Quick onset of the effects
    • Most tinctures do not contain sugar, gluten, or fat.
    • Very convenient for medical purposes due to the consumption precision and administration in large doses
    • Tinctures have a longer shelf life due to the presence of isopropyl alcohol and ethyl alcohol which are active preservatives.

Cons of Taking Cannabis Tincture

    • Getting a Cannabis tincture is solely dependent on the laws in the area you live in
    • Usage could cause loss of appetite as reported by some users.
    • Alcohol-based tinctures have a downside since ethanol has the propensity to denature organic compounds

3. Drinks

With the increasing demand for alternative methods to smoking, edibles, and vaping, novel technologies have been developed to allow beverage companies to create weed beers, tonics, teas, and aperitifs. According to Headset’s cannabis beverage market report of 2019, the cannabis drink sector doubled over the last two years with a present worth of $3 million (about 1.4% of the entire cannabis sales).

Pros of Drinking Cannabis Drinks

    • A great alternative for those who don't like smoking or vaping
    • Also, a great option if you are not a fan of alcohol-based tinctures due to the alcohol content
    • You can find a variety of great tasty CBD-infused drinks that can easily be added to your morning, noon, and evening beverage.

Cons of Drinking Cannabis Drinks

    • Needs to pass through the digestive system before you can get the onset of effects
    • Not all CBD drinks contain sufficient doses of CBD.

Third: Suppository method

Older persons would most likely be familiar with the word suppositories compared to the younger generation. This shows that suppositories have been around for a long time, but just recently did the product get into the cannabinoid space as a delivery method. The Suppository method of delivery was created to deliver THC and CBD to medical patients who don’t smoke. Suppositories are made in small capsules that are either inserted vaginally or rectally. This method of delivery has many benefits for both men and women. Cannabis Suppositories can be used for:

  • Endometriosis; a condition in which the lining of the uterus grows beyond the uterus which results in severe pains.

  • Vulvodynia or painful vulva and Dyspareunia or painful intercourse; this can result in painful sex which can be remedied by cannabis suppositories that offer fast relief for the pelvic region.

  • Menstrual cramps; Sometimes using some OTC medications and prescriptions might not be sufficient to handle the aches and pains from PMS and menstrual cramps. This is where cannabis plays a major role. The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD can help to alleviate tension and create calmness throughout the body.

CBD suppository method of delivery can have an onset of the effects after about 30 minutes for the Vaginal method of application and around 15 minutes for rectal delivery. 

Pros Suppository method

    • Rapid onset of the effects compared to edibles
    • There is a long lasting effect with suppository method of application
    • Great for women faced with PMS and Period pain
    • Can help with conditions like acute inflammation and hemorrhoids through the fast activation of cannabinoid receptors in the rectum
    • The absorption rate is very efficient with up to 70% of the CBD absorbed via the rectal tissue

Cons Suppository method

    • Issues of portability. You need to keep it refrigerated to prevent it from melting
    • Less discreet compared to other methods of consumption
    • Not so convenient as it can be complex to carry out the insertion of the CBD suppositories 

Fourth: Topical method

We can particularly call a topical method a consumption method; rather it is a delivery method. The topical method involves absorbing cannabinoids through the skin. This can be used to provide localized relief effects for pain and soreness of the muscles. With topical methods, there are no psychoactive effects, unlike other consumption methods. Examples of topical products include Patches, Balms, and creams. Although the topical method is not widely studied, researchers have discovered that the application of topical cannabinoids can get an onset in a few minutes and lasts for about one to two hours.

There are presently some topical products that top the charts. Some are Fairwinds, Flow CBD Deep Tissue & Joint Gel, and Ceres, Super CBD Dragon Balm Roll-On.

Pros of Cannabis Topical Method

Cons of Cannabis Topical Method


There have been great concerns concerning consuming cannabis, especially inhalation of smoke. Furthermore, there are a lot of questions that arise from the different methods of consuming cannabis, and to be frank, there have been many misconceptions and misinformation regarding this topic.

Let’s take a look at some of the myths.

1. Oil Vaping is a healthier smoking alternative Many people believe that vaping is a better option when it comes to smoking cannabis. Unfortunately, there is more to it than just that. There has been evidence that points to the fact that vaping concentrated oils can have a negative impact on one’s health – most of the negative effects arise from the additives found in fake vaping devices. Most fake vaping devices come with additives like vitamin E acetate.

Furthermore, vaping cannabis flower instead of the concentrate is safer and less harmful to the lungs. Vaping the cannabis flower heats the flower to just the right point to release the cannabinoid vapor. This method helps to limit the carcinogen released.

2. Consuming Synthetic weed is safe: This is very wrong. Synthetic weed, also known as spice or K2, can be many times stronger than natural ones. Most synthetic weeds are made with highly toxic chemicals and most times nail varnish remover.

There are serious side effects like vomiting, hallucination, acute psychosis, stroke, and sometimes death.

Synthetic weed is not safe.

3. You cannot overdose from consuming cannabis: This is not true. Although you can get an overdose from consuming more than the required amount of cannabis, it can’t kill you. An overdose simply means taking more than your recommended quantity of cannabis. Some symptoms of overdose on cannabis include headache, pale skin color, blood pressure spikes, hallucination, loss of coordination, paranoia, anxiety, rapid heart rate, chest pain, etc.

Needless to say, baking brownies with about 10,000 pounds of cannabis and then eating them all in 20 minutes might not be healthy for you. Although consuming cannabis might not kill you, smoking too much of it won't make you stronger and will cause side effects. The rule of thumb is to consume cannabis in moderation.

4. Consuming cannabis leads to addiction and dependence: The fact is that one can become dependent or addicted to taking cannabis, but this only occurs in a small part of the already large community of cannabis users. Research even proves that only 9% of cannabis users become clinically dependent compared to 24% of heroin consumers and 15% of cocaine users.

5. Holding the smoke in your lungs allows for a better effect

While there is no scientific proof of this, holding the smoke in your lungs for longer periods increases the risk to your lungs. It is advisable to exhale the smoke whenever you are smoking or vaporizing cannabis and not to hold it for any amount of time.


Conclusively, amongst all the methods of consuming cannabis, smoking or inhalation is the most popular method used. This is because of the immediate effects that are seen. Even though there are several consumption methods, you have to choose a method based on your preference, cannabis product, and the experience you are looking to get.

Furthermore, the key to consuming cannabis is to consume in moderation. Because there are many misconceptions out there, the only way of getting ahead of the misconceptions is to get the right information from the right places.

About the Author 

Joshua Adoghe is a content strategist and content manager at FATECH technologies and Presently the CEO of JWC writing corporation. He has over 3 years of experience writing top-notch content and guides. With over 50 research work done in the health niche, he grabbed a likening for the cannabis industry and the benefits it can bring for many. Outside writing, Joshua is a lover of tech and programs. LinkedIn