A Beginner's Guide To Consuming Cannabis

There's more than one way to skin a cat, and even more ways to get stoned. Here are some of the many ways that cannabis can be consumed.

We note that the subject contained in this article represents illegal activity in certain jurisdictions. Whilst we do not condone any acts which are contrary to any such laws, we understand that readers in those jurisdictions which have decriminalised cannabis may find this article of interest.

Cannabis is a diverse plant that is growing in popularity worldwide. More countries are legalizing it, and more doctors are prescribing it, thanks to the abundance of medicinal benefits that continue to emerge as more research is done on the plant.

And the plant is not only helping long-suffering patients, but also the economies that legalize it. According to Grand View Research, the global legal marijuana market is set to reach USD 66.3 billion by the end of 2025 expanding at a CAGR of 23.9%.

It's clear that there's a lot of buzz around bud. However, marijuana isn't just a number or a medicine. For many, cannabis is an experience. It can make movies more engrossing, make food more appetizing, and make sleep more satisfying. So without further ado, let's look at some of the different ways you can get high.

cannabis joint/ spliff

Joints/Spliffs

Joints and spliffs are most people's introductions to cannabis. In essence, these are marijuana cigarettes. A joint can go by other names such as jay, reefer, doobie or cross-joint, if you've ever watched Pineapple Express.

Cannabis joints are a relatively simple method of getting high. You simply grind your cannabis flower into small particles and roll it as you would a cigarette, using either a traditional filter or what is known as a "roach," which is a rolled piece of thin cardboard that serves as a filter. You can either use only cannabis, or you can add in tobacco for a different flavor. Joints remain one of the most popular methods of smoking cannabis, and likely will for many years.

Smoking a joint will get you high almost instantly, and is one of the quickest ways to get stoned – though if you're a beginner, be warned, they can be harsh on the throat.

Glass water bong

Bongs/Bowls

If you think of joints as the equivalent to a glass of wine or a beer, bongs and bowls are like a vodka shot.

Having a "bowl" requires a glass bong filled with water. You'll place your ground herbs into the "bowl" or cone piece of the bong, burn it and then inhale through the mouthpiece. Bowls have the benefit of being filtered through water, which can soften the smoke somewhat – however, you're inhaling more in one hit than you typically would with a puff on a joint, and so expect to get much higher, much more immediately.

If you're going to have a bowl, make sure you have a couch and some Dorito's nearby for safe measure.

Cannabis edibles in the form of brownies

Edibles

As the name suggests, edibles are simply foods that have had cannabis added to them. Typically people will have edibles in the form of cookies, brownies or gummies, though you can add cannabis to virtually anything. You just need to ensure you've decarboxylated the weed so that it's active, and you're ready to go.

Edibles notoriously take a little longer to kick in—often between 30 minutes to an hour—at which point people often think "hey, this brownie hasn't worked, I should probably have another." This is the most common error with edibles and one that should be avoided particularly for beginners, as they often end up getting too high and become very anxious.

For this reason, try to be aware of the THC content of your edibles, as they can often have higher concentrates of cannabinoids than joints or bowls, and will actually get you higher than smoking.

Edibles can also provide a different type of high to smoking—often labelled as a "body high"—which can make even the most leather-lunged cannabis veteran feel like it's their first time getting stoned. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Cannabis oil vaporizer

Vaporizers

Vaporizers are devices which heat up cannabis or cannabis oil to the point of vaporizing it without burning the plant matter. The purpose behind vaporizers is to minimise the harmful smoke you ingest through cannabis use, while still enjoying the benefits of the plant.

You can get dry herb vaporizers, or alternatively, you can get vapes which require an oil cartridge. Each method will yield a different high.

Dry herb vapes will simply use cannabis flower, meaning that the high will be quite similar to a joint. Vaporizer cartridges, on the other hand, often contain highly concentrates amounts of THC oil, and can boast THC levels of upwards of 90%. Comparatively, joints will often only have THC levels around 12-25%. Again, beginners are warned, vape cartridges aren't for the faint-hearted.

Because of the growing movement toward a healthier lifestyle, vapes were poised to be the next "big thing" in cannabis, just like they were taking over the tobacco industry. Though recently that's become less certain, with many people falling ill or losing their lives due to cannabis vaporizers they have purchased on the black market. Learn about the vaporizer crisis here before deciding if this is the method of consumption for you.

Block of cannabis concentrate called Hash

Hash

Hashish is potentially the oldest cannabis concentrate there is. Appearing throughout Arabia as early as 900 AD, hash has been said to translate to either "grass" or "assassin" in Arabic. (Perhaps it means both?) Either way, this concentrate was first made by rubbing the marijuana plant in your hands until you had resin all throughout your palms and fingers. At this stage, the resin would be rolled into balls called "charas" which could then be added to joints or smoked in pipes to achieve a stronger high than just smoking flower.

Nowadays, hash is made using sieves, sometimes mechanically, which is referred to as "drysifting". If you've ever used a grinder, chances are you've done some drysifting yourself. The finer powder that you are sometimes left with at the bottom of your grinder is known as kief and is its own form of mild cannabis concentrate.

From there, one only needs to heat and compress the kief into a block shape to create hash. Hash is a milder concentrate, but can still have 2-3 times higher THC levels than the traditional plant.

4 different samples of cannabis concentrates

Dabs

Dabbing is a form of cannabis consumption which requires cannabis concentrates, such as wax, rosin, budder, shatter, or any kind of Butane Hash Oil (BHO.) Once you've chosen your concentrate, then you'll need a dabbing rig, a blowtorch, and a carb cap.

Once you have all the necessary parts, load a tiny amount of wax onto your dabber, and then, using the blowtorch, heat up your nail until it goes red. Once red, pick up the dabber and slowly lower the wax onto the nail, and inhale the resulting vapor. To avoid losing any vapor while you inhale, place the carb cap over the nail during inhalation.

Remember, the THC levels are going to be at least 3x stronger than joints or bongs, so start at a very low dose, and make sure you're seated comfortably when you first try it.

So there you have it, a list of all the ways you can consume cannabis. Each method will provide a different experience, and different methods will suit different people. Just ensure that you take it slow, understand your dosage and enjoy yourself!

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.

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