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How Is Marijuana Used?

Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism.

Lisa Sullivan, MS, is a nutritionist and a corporate health and wellness educator with nearly 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry.

February 2020 UPDATE: Recent illnesses have been associated with the use of e-cigarettes (vaping).   Since the specific causes of these sometimes fatal lung injury cases are not yet known, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends refraining from all vaping products.  

Marijuana can be used in more ways than simply smoking it as a cigarette. The delivery methods are important considerations for medical marijuana users as well as those who are using it recreationally, whether legally or not. Learn about the variety of methods available.

Smoking

A common method of using marijuana is to roll it into a cigarette (or joint) using tobacco rolling papers and then smoking it. It can also be smoked in a pipe or a bong (which is a filtration device that uses water).

Marijuana can also be smoked in a blunt, which is a cigar that has been hollowed out to replace the tobacco with marijuana or a mixture of tobacco and marijuana.

As of December 20, 2019, the new legal age limit is 21 years old for purchasing cigarettes, cigars, or any other tobacco products in the U.S.  

Some smoke marijuana in bubblers, which are mini-bongs about the size of a pipe. And, of course, one of the oldest methods of smoking marijuana—as well as hash, tobacco, and other substances—is with a hookah.  

However, marijuana users are known for their creativity and ingenuity, especially when they run out of rolling papers. They can fashion bongs and pipes out of soda bottles or cans, corn cobs, and even pieces of fruit.

Marijuana smoke is carcinogenic; therefore, the American Lung Association recommends continued research to study the effects of marijuana use on lung health.  

Gravity Bongs

Another way to smoke marijuana using common household items is a gravity bong, sometimes called a bucket bong or waterfall bong. These can be made from plastic bottles, milk jugs, buckets, and two-liter soda bottles. The homemade gravity bongs use gravity to pull the smoke into the chamber using water, or sometimes beer or wine.

Vaping

A relatively new method of consuming marijuana is by vaporization. Vaporizers heat the marijuana to a point just below the point of combustion. The active ingredients can be inhaled as a vapor, rather than as more harmful smoke.

Vaporizers are used for several reasons:

  • Some claim they get a better high when they “vape.”
  • Vaporizers produce less marijuana smell than smoking.
  • Vaporizers are usually small and easy to conceal.

In order to deter minors, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration enacted a rule to require e-cigarette companies to cease manufacturing and selling fruit-flavored vaping products by the end of January 2020.  

Dabbing

This method of using marijuana is somewhat similar to vaping, but it uses tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) resins extracted from the marijuana plant.   (THC is the ingredient in marijuana that produces a high.) It may be in oil form (hash oil or honey oil), a soft solid form (wax or budder), or a hard solid (shatter).

A glass pipe or bong is heated with a blowtorch. When the resin extract is placed into the pipe, it creates vapor almost immediately. Dabbing is thought to produce a greater high than smoking marijuana.

Because a butane lighter is needed to bring the resins to the right smoking temperature, users are regularly exposed to high levels of methacrolein, benzene, and other toxic substances, according to research from Portland State University.  

Oral Ingestion

Home-baked marijuana brownies have been around for decades, but now marijuana is being baked or added to many types of food. Marijuana edibles are being produced and marketed now that medical marijuana is legal in many states and recreational marijuana use is legal in some.

Oils extracted from marijuana plants can be used in cooking, baking, or simply mixing with food to create a variety of products that can be ingested orally or taken in capsule form.

Vendors in states where recreational marijuana is legal are selling cakes, cookies, gummy bears, cereal, granola bars, and even chewing gum containing marijuana.

Marijuana oil can also be added to common beverages. It is sold in teas, sodas, and even beer. Using marijuana leaves to make tea has been done for many years. Today, however, the tea is much more potent.

While many people perceive marijuana ingestion to be less harmful than smoking, the delayed onset of marijuana effects associated with edibles, such as baked treats, is often the cause of frequent overdose.  

Sprays

Another relatively new method of using marijuana involves infusing liquids with THC or cannabinol (CBD) to make sprays that users can spray under the tongue. This method is typically used by medical marijuana users who want to avoid the harmful effects of smoke.

Sprays are also used in areas where marijuana is still illegal because they are difficult to detect. Some use sprays in conjunction with smoking marijuana, by spraying the differently flavored spray on joints and blunts.

Marijuana Tinctures

Tinctures are liquids extracted from marijuana plants that are infused with a solution of alcohol or alcohol and water. The user places a few drops of the solution under the tongue and it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.

Because this form of marijuana is highly concentrated, highly potent, and fast-acting, it is generally used for medical purposes, but because it produces an intense high, it is often abused.

Topical Methods

Topical oils are extracts from the marijuana plant that is thicker than the oils used in edible products. The oils are placed on the skin and are absorbed to relieve muscle pain and soreness. Because marijuana topicals do not produce a high, they are usually used for medicinal purposes only.

Marijuana is usually smoked as a cigarette called a joint or a spliff, or in a pipe or a bong, but many other methods of ingestion are used today.

7 Ways To Boost The Intensity Of Your High

Cannabis delivers a powerful psychoactive high. But sometimes, this effect can become diminished or not feel as potent. Here are our 7 tips for boosting the intensity of your high.

Contents:

You had everything prepared so well. You got your weed, you had your favourite snacks and fresh water standing by. You had your comfy clothes in your comfy place to sit, ready to revisit your favourite music, movie, or YouTube channel. But when you light up, you don’t feel the high you were hoping for. Maybe it creeps up on you. No. This is more mellow and diminished than you expected. This is a frustrating problem to encounter. Whether the quality of your stash is subpar or your tolerance is through the roof, here are 7 ways to boost the intensity of your high.

1. CHOOSE STRAINS WISELY

Hopefully, you really do have a good source for your weed. This will of course be easier if it’s legal through a dispensary or cannabis club where you live. If you live somewhere where your choices are limited, it may still be possible to at least know the name of the strain you’re offered.

This is enough for you to research the cultivar on our site for some general advice. Here, you can also learn about the unique effects of each strain caused by its unique phytochemical profile, including dominant cannabinoids and terpenes. Varying ratios of these molecules induce anything from light and airy highs to deep body stones. You can even get figures on what THC levels to expect. Of course, these traits will vary depending on who grew the strain, and from which seeds. The best thing to do is to experiment until you find the strain that provides the sensations you desire.

2. STORE WEED WELL

When you get your weed home, where do you store it? If you use a plastic container or the baggy you got the weed in, this may spoil the herb’s potency. Plastic can conduct an electric charge, which will fry the THC-rich trichomes on your flowers. Avoid this with a good glass or steel jar.

There are ones with humidity controls built in, as well as ones with removable humidity packs. If you lack these, a simple solution for curing is to leave a peel of orange, lemon, or lime sealed in with your weed for 2 or 3 hours. This will stop your supply from becoming dry, crumbly, and less potent as a result. A dark, cool place is recommended for preserving the quality of your stash.

3. CHANGE UP YOUR ROUTINE

Maybe you’ve got a good stash and you’re taking care of it. So why is there still a sense of diminishing returns from your weed? By definition, taking anything in excess is bad. If you’re smoking too much cannabis, that can spoil the treat of it. As your body adjusts to having more cannabinoids in its system, your cannabis tolerance improves.

Consider how you can change things up in terms of your cannabis use. Are you in the habit of smoking first thing in the morning? Try abstaining until evening, or at least 4:20pm. Smoke earlier in the day if you smoke too much at night. Don’t smoke with every meal. Observe when you’re smoking and see how you might catch your brain off-guard by changing up the schedule a bit.

4. CHANGE UP YOUR METHODS

Another thing you can adjust is the method by which you’re getting high. Some people like to smoke, but will experience a different sensation when trying different methods. You may prefer the feeling of a high from vaping or a bong hit. This may also be something you dislike. It depends on the individual constitution of each person.

Avoid using your lungs altogether by experimenting with edibles. In general, edibles and dabs are considered two of the most high-potency cannabis products. Proceed with caution.

5. EAT THE RIGHT FOODS

There are a number of pleasant accompaniments to marijuana that will boost its potent impact. A simple cup of black or green tea contains catechin, an antioxidant that binds with your brain’s CB1 receptors. This will help the soothing effects of cannabinoids come on much more efficiently.

Dark chocolate has a similar effect when containing 72% or more cacao. This will not only act as an antioxidant, it will slow down the breakdown of anandamide, the brain chemical named after the Sanskrit word for “bliss”. This will sustain the length of your high.

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids will also efficiently synthesise endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. Also, look out for foods with terpenes in them, like THC-boosting myrcene or high-enhancing pinene. Pinene can be found in sage, thyme, and other herbs, while myrcene can be found in mangoes, broccoli, and nuts. If all else fails, a multivitamin is good for you anyway, and improves cellular absorption and the flow of the circulatory system. That will be very helpful for the flow of THC.

6. EXERCISE

You should be looking at how healthy your habits are in general. Your diet can be tweaked to improve the quality of your high. Body fat is where a lot of THC is absorbed and stored. Sometimes this can be slow to release, diminishing the quality of your high. So, a diet and exercise routine that reduces your overall amount of body fat is advisable.

It may mean switching from ice cream to aforementioned dark chocolate. The exercise component is also highly relevant. Not only is exercise good for your overall health, studies suggest it impacts the brain in similar ways to cannabis. It doesn’t just elevate mood, it can actually trigger the release of THC from stored body fat. A 2013 study in Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that a cardio session raises blood-THC levels by 15%.

7. TAKE A TOLERANCE BREAK

If you have tried all of this and you’re still not getting high, we feel for you. You’ve optimised your circumstances for intensifying that high and it’s still not happening for you. You should start to consider why you’re chasing the high. Cannabis can enhance our lives in many ways, but it won’t resolve a deep-seated emotional issue. Be honest with yourself about your consumption levels. If you have been over-indulging, maybe over-exposure to cannabis is creating diminishing returns.

It is okay to decide to take a tolerance break from cannabis. See if you can last a month, or several, without any cannabis. The longer you leave it, the stronger your next high will hit you. It is estimated that a month is needed for cannabinoids to completely leave your system. If a tolerance break sounds unpleasant, you can find supports to get you through it. See what your life is like without cannabis. If there’s still a responsible place for it in your life, get back in and feel a more powerful high than before.

Users desiring the most potent psychoactive high from cannabis can follow our 7-step guide to making your high more intense.