There are so many different ways you can use cannabis, and each one will affect you differently. So, how do you know which one is right for you? Read on to discover the most popular ways to use cannabis and the application methods you can try, from topicals, edibles, inhalation, and more – and how to decide which one is right for you.

Why You Will Love This Guide

For some people, using cannabis for the first time just feels right. For others, it can take a lot of trial and error to find what works best.

As I am always telling my Well With Cannabis Community members, finding the perfect method and dose requires a bit of patience and a willingness to experiment.

You see, not all application methods are the same. When you put cannabis on your skin, it has a different effect than when you eat it or when you inhale it.

Additionally, you can combine different delivery methods to create an experience that is right for you and your needs. 

In this guide, we will explore the most common ways to use cannabis, the differences between them, and the pros and cons of each method so you can decide which application method is right for you!

Ways to Use Cannabis

When I say application methods, I am talking about all of the different ways you can put cannabis in and on your body to gain the desired benefits and effects. 

It’s important to choose an application method that is right for you because not all methods are right for all people.

I want to help you discover which method is right for you by explaining each option, their onset and duration times, and other pros and cons. 

From there, you can decide what methods you want to try and experiment with. 

Remember, you’re not limited to just one method; many people combine methods to achieve their desired outcomes.

The five ways to use cannabis we will review today include:

  1. Inhalation – products that are inhaled into the lungs 
  2. Topicals – products that are applied directly to the skin
  3. Tinctures – product held under the tongue for sublingual or buccal absorption
  4. Edibles – products that are processed by the digestive system 
  5. Suppositories – products that are inserted directly into the body, rectally or vaginally

Again, I recommend you try various methods to discover which works best for you because each one produces different effects. 

Helpful Tip

If smoking is not an option for you for personal or health reasons, scroll past the first section to see all of your alternate options below.

Inhalation

Smoking cannabis flower is the most popular way to use cannabis and is the most common way people try cannabis for the first time. 

When we think of inhalation, we typically think of inhaling cannabis smoke from a pipe, but there are many ways and devices that allow you to inhale cannabis:

  • Water pipes
  • Joint rolled with rolling papers
  • Blunt wraps
  • Glass pipes
  • Gravity bong
  • Dab rigs
  • Hash oil
  • Vape pens

It is common to see both plant material and cannabis concentrates consumed this way. 

With an onset time of 1-3 minutes, this method produces the most immediate effects, typically lasting for 1-3 hours.

Most people love the inhalation method because it is fast-acting. This is the best way to find immediate relief when trying to achieve something like pain relief.

While this is the most common cannabis consumption method, there are potential health risks associated with inhaling marijuana smoke.

If you are looking for a healthier alternative to traditional smoking, dry herb vaporizers are an excellent choice. 

These devices control the temperature of the smoke and prevent combustion, allowing you to consume the vaporized cannabinoids without the adverse effects associated with smoking. 

Inhalation Pros & Cons

  • Onset time: 1-3 minutes
  • Duration time: 1-3 hours
  • Effects: Systemic, circulates through the whole body
  • Pros: Quick-acting, high bioavailability rate
  • Cons: Negative health effects associated with smoking, shorter duration times

How To Try This Method

First, decide if you would like to try smoking, vaping, or dry herb vaporizing.

Get the necessary tools and purchase top-quality cannabis flowers

When inhaling, only draw a small amount in your mouth and into the lungs and release quickly. 

Wait 5-10 minutes to notice your results before inhaling again.

Repeat as often as needed until desired results are achieved.

Topicals

If you are looking for a way to enjoy the health benefits of the marijuana plant without the psychoactive effects, the topical application method is for you. 

Topical creams and other products can be applied directly to the skin at the place of discomfort for targeted relief from pain and other unwanted symptoms associated with medical conditions like:

  • Arthritis
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • and other skin conditions

Unlike other ingestion methods, topical absorption does not introduce cannabinoids directly to the bloodstream, meaning they will not produce a high, even if they contain any amount of THC.

Although it won’t make you high, topicals are still effective because the THC or CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors on the skin.

The typical onset time for topicals is 10-20 minutes, and the effects typically last 2-4 hours.

Because topicals do not absorb into the bloodstream, you can use them as often as needed throughout the day at the site of pain and discomfort.

Topical products come in many different forms, including: 

You can learn more about how cannabis benefits the skin here.

Topical Pros & Cons

  • Onset time: 10-20 minutes
  • Duration time: 2-4 hours
  • Effects: Localized, does not circulate through the whole body
  • Pros: Provides localized relief for specific areas, works from the outside in
  • Cons: Does not provide systemic relief

How to Try This Method

Cannabis topicals are not absorbed directly into the bloodstream, meaning it is easier to experiment with this method, especially for new consumers. 

There is no risk of consuming too much or getting too high, making it the safest choice for both elderly and young medical patients.

This means you can experiment freely and try different products and dosages as frequently as needed to find the right option.

Topicals to Try

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Note: I mentioned that you will not get high if you put THC on the skin in the form of a lotion or balm. However, if you use transdermal patches placed on the skin for an extended period, you may experience a high through transdermal absorption.

Tinctures

Sublingual, meaning under the tongue, is a popular method of consumption that involves holding a product under the tongue or inside the mouth to be absorbed. 

Many people believe this is one of the safest ways to consume the active ingredients we want and experience the effects of cannabis without the risks associated with other methods of ingestion. 

While tinctures are typically alcohol-based preparations, some people will use cannabis oil under the tongue as well.

When a product such as cannabis tinctures or tablets is placed under the tongue, it typically takes between 15-30 minutes to see an onset of effects. 

These effects have a typical duration time lasting 2-4 hours, and the effects are systemic, meaning they affect the whole body. 

This method bypasses the digestive system and the lungs, which is important for some people, especially those who do not feel the effects of edibles

However, keep in mind that if you swallow any of the product that goes through your digestive system, it will be processed as an edible.

Tinctures Pros & Cons

  • Onset time: 15-30 minutes
  • Duration time: 2-4 hours
  • Effects: Systemic, circulates through the whole body
  • Pros: High bioavailability rate, quick absorption times
  • Cons: Taste can be a problem for some people

How to Try This Method

If you’re ready to try the sublingual application method, pick your product of choice.

Whether it be oil, tincture, concentrates, or powder

This method recommends holding the product under your tongue or inside your cheek for at least 60-90 seconds.

For the best results, hold the product as long as possible.

Follow the golden rule: “Start low and go slow.” Start with a small dose (1-5-mg) and record the effects.

If you don’t feel the desired effects after 60 minutes, increase your dose and try again.

Repeat the process until you have found a dose that works for you.

Tinctures to Try

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Edibles

Edibles involve eating cannabis in a variety of different ways, and it is very popular among cannabis users. 

Fooddrinks, or capsules – pot brownies, anyone?

Edible cannabis products are consumed, swallowed, and then processed by the digestive system.

Note that eating CBD products will be different than eating THC products because CBD does not produce an intoxicating effect when eaten.

However, THC products can produce stronger intoxicating effects when eaten, which is why it is important to take precautions when eating THC.

When processed by the liver, THC is turned into a potent metabolite known as 11-OH-THC. 

This compound readily crosses the blood-brain barrier and can cause extreme intoxication and even hallucinations in cases of overconsumption.

Edibles are further complicated by a longer onset time, starting between 30-90 minutes, and a longer duration time, lasting at least 4-8 hours, sometimes longer.

You can learn more about how to dose edibles here safely. If you need help calculating the dose, our edible dosage calculator can help.

Edibles Pros & Cons

  • Onset time: 30-90 minutes
  • Duration time: 4-8+ hours
  • Effects: Systemic, circulates through the whole body
  • Pros: Long-lasting, convenient & delicious
  • Cons: overconsumption of THC may have unwanted effects

How To Try This Method

If you’re brand new and have never tried edibles before, I recommend you check out my beginner’s guide to cannabis edibles before getting started. 

It will help guide you through everything you need to know to have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Please always remember the golden rule“Start low and go slow.” 

This means you should always start with a low dose and don’t consume more for a set period of time.

This will help ensure you do not accidentally consume too much THC, especially if you are not aware of your own personal tolerance level yet.

Edibles to Try

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Suppositories

Cannabis suppositories are cannabis products that are inserted directly into the body, either rectally or vaginally. 

They are quickly gaining popularity among the cannabis community for various reasons. 

They can be beneficial rectally for disorders like ulcerative colitis and Chron’s disease and beneficial vaginally for disorders like endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). 

One of the most reported benefits of cannabis suppositories is that THC does not produce the same intoxicating effects when orally consumed, like edibles.

This offers an easier way to help medicate individuals who do not want the strong high associated with cannabis, especially elderly folks and children.

The typical onset time for suppositories starts between 10-20 minutes, and the typical duration time of effects lasts for 4-8+ hours.

Cannabis suppositories are also said to have a higher bioavailability rate than other methods, as they are quickly absorbed directly into the stream.

Suppositories Pros & Cons

  • Onset time: 15-30 minutes
  • Duration time: 4-8+ hours
  • Effects: Systemic, not extremely intoxicating
  • Pros: Perfect for those who want to bypass the digestive system, quick to work, lasts longer
  • Cons: Difficult administration route for some

How To Try This Method

To try this method, you will need to purchase or make your own cannabis suppositories.

This can be as easy as adding cannabis-infused coconut oil to the recipe.

Once prepared, you can choose to insert them rectally or vaginally, depending on your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to smoke to use cannabis?

No, one of the biggest misconceptions people have is that you need to smoke cannabis to consume it. While this is the most popular method of ingestion, there are a variety of ways you can use cannabis without the safety risks associated with smoking.

Are there any side effects associated with marijuana use?

Yes, but this will depend on your use of cannabis and THC. Different methods of cannabis can produce different side effects, as outlined above. Smoking can affect lung health or produce secondhand smoke. Higher potency options can potentially have long-term effects on young people, particularly with brain development.  If you are concerned about mental health or other health problems, it is recommended to reach out to your healthcare practitioner. 

Conclusion

Cannabis has come a long way from the era in the ’60s and ’70s when it was smoked or just made into butter.

There are now so many different ways to use and apply cannabis to benefit you and your specific needs.

As I mentioned before, don’t be afraid to try one or more of these methods.

You may just find that a combination of a few may be the answer you are looking for.

If you are looking for more in-depth information on how you can find the right application method for you, please consider enrolling in the Cannabis Compass Online Course.

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Everything you wish someone taught you…

The Cannabis Compass Online Course will show you how to use, apply, and dose cannabis safely and effectively so that you can begin to manage your anxiety, pain, and inflammation the natural way from the comfort of your own home. Learn more below.

About Emily

Hi, I’m Emily Kyle and I teach people just like you how to use cannabis to find joy, enhance productivity, improve relationships, and naturally support your overall health and wellness.

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2 Comments

  1. I have a question :
    I live in Florida and if I order from you will I be able to receive my products? If I need assistance can you be teach by email and you will respond to me. Are all comments readable by the community that has a membership with you or just for you only?

  2. Hi Argenia. You are definitely able to receive our products in Florida. Our email inbox is always open for those needing assistance and responses are sent within 48 hours of receiving the email. Our Well With Cannabis Community has open threads that are viewable by everyone in the community, but there is private messaging capabilities as well. Our members work well with helping one another, providing their feedback and just lending a listening ear.