Aside from learning what strains, cannabinoids and terpenes your body needs – you also need to determine which consumption method (also called a delivery method) suits you best. Flower is the ideal way to use cannabis in its most natural, unadulterated form. Vaping, edibles or tinctures might be better for your needs. The delivery methods are numerous; we’ll take a quick look at each one to help you determine which delivery method suits you best.
There are dozens of nicknames for flower with the most common being bud or buds. Flower is cannabis in its natural form. It’s also the best way to receive all of the naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes in the strain. Flower is the least processed option for using cannabis as it’s really just harvested, dried, cured and trimmed. That is all.
But, smoking cannabis flower isn’t for everyone. Children can’t really smoke it, those with respiratory issues have a hard time and our elders might not like the idea of smoking something.
You can vaporize flower in a dry herb vaporizer so that it’s only heating the flower up enough to produce a vapor to inhale. Now, don’t throw your flower away after you’ve used in a dry herb vaporizer. You might have heard of ABV flower or already been vaped. You can use this to make cannabutter, edibles and can even mix it with tea to make a cannabis tea. Of course the cannabinoids will not be as strong after it’s been vaped, but some do remain after it’s been used in a dry herb vaporizer.
First and foremost, if you enjoy vaping cannabis make sure you are buying your cartridges from a state-licensed cannabis dispensary. Do not buy cannabis vape products from the black market because you just don’t know what you’re buying. With the current vaping health crisis in the U.S. you really can’t be too careful.
Cannabis vape products are ideal for those that live in an area where cannabis use might be banned – like many apartment complexes and mobile home communities throughout Arizona. Yes, these communities can ban you from using medical marijuana in your home even if you have a card. So, it’s best to use a discreet option like vape. Vape is popular because there is no offensive cannabis odor for anyone to complain about – and for all they know, you’re just using an e-cigarette.
The thing with vape is – there are not many manufacturers in the state that make strain specific utilizing every cannabinoid and terpene in that strain. Most of what you are going to find are just THC and/or CBD vape options with terpenes to flavor them. If your body requires a full spectrum (strain-specific) product, do your homework on the various vape brands across the state. Dream Steam is one that does produce strain-specific vape products.
Pay attention to the THC and CBD concentrations. Since concentrate is used, the THC concentration is often much higher – meaning you don’t need much to feel the effects.
Edibles are a good option for several groups of people including seniors and Arizona’s young medical cannabis patients. Some people just don’t want to smoke anything at all, and for them edibles are a good option. Edibles don’t work for everyone though. See our recent article titled: Edibles Don’t Work for Everyone – Here’s Why.
It’s hard to know what your exact ideal dosage is and then calculate that with the amount of THC or CBD that your body will actually receive through edibles. It’s different for every different category of edibles and it’s because of a little thing called bioavailability. Bioavailability refers to the amount of a substance that is actually available to your body.
That being said, your body is only going to receive so much of the cannabinoids that are listed on the package of edibles. For example, of a 50 mg cookie, your body might only actually end up getting between 5 mg and 10 mg of cannabinoids. After the cookie travels through various parts of your body through the digestive process, much of the THC and other valuable cannabinoids are lost.
For some, edibles are just too strong. Some, like me, don’t like how the effects can hit you all at once.
Tinctures are great for those that don’t want to use edibles or smoke anything (even vape). Tinctures are also quite versatile. They can be used as-is orally or in homemade topicals, cooking applications and they can even be used by themselves topically. There are so many ways to use tinctures so that you are still getting the cannabinoids your body needs but it doesn’t get boring to take them.
Tinctures have a higher bioavailability than edibles since the little glands under your tongue, called sublingual glands, start to absorb the cannabinoids within seconds. When using a tincture orally, you empty the dropper under your tongue after shaking the bottle well and let that liquid sit there for at least 1 full minute. Super easy and discreet.
Concentrates (also known as dabs) can be super harsh. You might take the smallest of hits and cough your head off for a few minutes – sometimes to the point that you almost pass out or vomit (yes, it can happen). Even with concentrates being so strong, it’s a different kind of high. The effects typically last longer.
You have to be careful with concentrates though – a tiny, tiny bit often does the job. Taking huge hits might only get you to one place – way to high! Sure, some might like being that intoxicated by cannabis, but not everyone does. For me, personally, a tiny dab the size of the tip of a pen is about all I can handle and I’ve been a cannabis user since I was a teen. Everyone has a different tolerance, lung capacity and preference.
There are multiple types of concentrates (P.S. – tinctures and vape are also concentrates since they are made with extracted liquid from the cannabis plant). Shatter, hash and plain ole wax are quite popular. Gaining in popularity are budder, crumble, live resin and rosin. There are a couple of newcomers to the concentrates world – bubble hash, sugar, crystalline and sauce.
Try a few different types of concentrates, you might find a form that you like. Just like vape – there’s no offensive cannabis odor left behind.
The Other Cannabis Delivery Methods
We’ve taken a good look at the most common ways to use cannabis, but there are more options. Topicals are available in THC, THC/CBD and CBD. They are lifesavers for many. The variety of consistencies and types of topicals ensures that there’s something for nearly anyone.
The types of topicals include:
Choose a consistency, scent and cannabinoid/essential oil profile that you prefer.
There are also these little things called suppositories. When most people hear the word suppository, they’re immediately grossed out. They do have applicators but are quite expensive.
Inhalers are another rather new option and are discreet. No one will think that you’re using THC or CBD or a combination inhaler, they’ll just think you’re using your asthma inhaler. There is no odor. One of the benefits of inhalers is that your body will have more of the cannabinoids available since your lungs deliver them right to your bloodstream. Another major advantage is that it’s a precise, measured dose.
Transdermal patches aren’t all that common but are available in some dispensaries. They are also rather expensive. They’re designed to stay on your body for 24 hours and deliver cannabinoids in small amounts over that 24-hour period. It’s best to use a new site daily.
Capsules and other cannabis products in pill form. This is another place where bioavailability comes into play. You will lose a good portion of the cannabinoids in a capsule through the digestion process. For those that need an easy way to use their cannabis, capsules may be a good idea. They are also a measured, precise dose. Capsules are available in liquid and hard form. Some companies use dried or ground cannabinoid powder and encapsulate that into a safe capsule for easy swallowing.
Sure, there are a lot of different ways to use cannabis. Which is the right one for you? If you’re like a lot of medical cannabis users, you’ll use more than one delivery method. For me – I prefer flower but I also use CBD topicals, CBD tinctures and I do use vape sometimes. I’ll dab every great once-in-a-while, but it’s really not for me. Try a few different delivery methods and see which work the best for you and which make you the most comfortable.