Eating, Vaping, & Smoking – Methods of Consuming Cannabis

Let’s face it – cannabis is coming to the forefront of society. Gone are the days of treating it as taboo. Depending on where in the country you live, it may be perfectly normal for you to see someone walking down the street smoking a joint or dragging on a vape pen. With more and more people opting to consume cannabis regularly – or at least more people willing to be open about their consumption – it makes sense, as a blog focused on weed education, to profile how weed is consumed.


Many people I talk to regarding pot aren’t against the use of pot itself, but they are against the act of smoking. Fear not, Poopypants! In this article we will discuss the industry’s preferred method’s of consuming pot, and the equipment needed to do so. I WILL NOT be discussing any manufacturing processes (home-based or otherwise) in this article (stay tuned for that one). No beating around the bush today. Let’s get to it!


Let’s start with the time tested method EVERYONE knows – smoking. Smoking is different than vaporizing. The process of smoking involves setting the plant matter on fire (combustion), and inhaling the smoke created. Pretty simple. While the concept itself is in fact fairly simple, there is a whole industry dedicated to creating products that make smoking weed possible. Let’s take a look at some of those shall we?

  • Rolling Papers have to be one of the simplest and probably one of the older methods of consuming weed. Rolling papers come in packs and are small, rectangular sheets of very thin paper, similar to the tissue paper you would stuff into gift bags or boxes, or bible paper. Because of the delicate nature of the papers, learning to roll consistently proper joints takes time and practice.
  • Blunt-wraps are the tobacco leaves wrapped around cigarillos (White Owl, Swisher Sweet, etc.). Often, a straight-line cut is made down the length of the wrap with a knife or razor. The roller then opens the wrap and dumps some or all of the tobacco out. At this point the user refills the wrap with ground or broken up weed. This is called a blunt. Some prefer to mix the course tobacco left-over with their weed and re-roll the wrap. This is called a spliff. I recommend that even if you don’t like to smoke from rolled sources, you learn how to roll. This is a skill almost always needed at parties/get-togethers and can score you some free tokes/bud in the process (roller gets greens, yo).
  • Glass Blunts can be useful tools for those who prefer not to roll. It will usually consists of two nested glass pipes (think of a slide whistle) with the outer pipe holding the cannabis being smoked. The inner pipe acts as a mouthpiece to draw smoke from, slides back to create room for the broken-down weed , and as a push-rod to eject the ash from the end of the blunt. If all that seems confusing, check out the picture below. It’s effectively a permanent glass blunt wrap.


  • Pipes (dry) are probably the most common smoking apparatus on the market. They vary in size, shape, color, and material. Some are very ornate and expensive. Others are very generic and cheap. All of them do the same thing – let you smoke weed/tobacco. Think of your grandpa’s old corn-cob or tobacco pipe. Exactly the same concept – a bowl piece connected to an outlet pipe. Often, you will see a small hole on the side of the bowl piece. This is called a carb hole, and is there to allow the introduction of fresh air to clear the smoke from the outlet portion of the pipe. As you smoke, you cover the hole with a finger. This allows smoke to collect in the pipe without being rapidly cleared. When you are ready to inhale the smoke-load, you remove your finger and inhale rapidly. Voi-la!weed-bowl-6
  • Wet Pipes, water pipes, bubblers, bongs, yada, yada, yada… all use water to filter the smoke created before inhalation. This is done because many of the toxins created through combustion are water-soluble. The thinking here is that by drawing the smoke through a pool of water you will effectively both cool and filter out a lot of the “bad stuff” created by the combustion of plant matter, creating a smoother, cleaner rip on the back end. Manufacturers also add other physical methods of filtration as well (such as percolators), but we won’t go into that here. From a structural standpoint, bongs usually consist of a water chamber connected to a long neck that acts as a mouthpiece. The chamber is typically breached from the outside by a bowl connected to a down-stem. As you light the weed in the bowl and draw through the mouthpiece, smoke is carried through the down-stem to the water chamber, where it bubbles up through the water, into the neck piece and then to your mouth. Hits from a bong are typically smoother than that of one from a dry pipe, and thus easier to hold. Great for having around the house, but not nearly as convenient for on the go use as a dry pipe or some other methods would be.airflowDiagramBong


Traditional vaporizing, or “vaping”, as the kids these days say, uses an electronic element to heat air, which is then pulled through and around ground cannabis. The hot air vaporizes the THC on the outside of the plant matter and carries it to the user through a whip (long clear plastic tube with a mouth piece). This is called convective heating, and is probably the healthiest way to consume THC given that there is no combustion and is 100% calorie free.

Newer products out on the market use a torch to heat a glass or metal “nail” to super hot temperatures. Once red-hot (literally), cannabis concentrate is dropped or pressed onto the nail. The resultant “cloud” is inhaled. This is called conductive heating, and while technically “healthier” than outright smoking, the oil/extract can still be burnt, and thus carcinogens can still be created and inhaled.

Regardless of heating method, vaporizing is often looked at as a healthier alternative to smoking. It also tends to create smoother, better tasting hits, as you aren’t setting anything on fire. With that said, read on for different vaporizing methods.

  • Vaporizer pens are effectively e-cigs, but instead of filling the cartridge with tobacco, it is filled with cannabis oils/extracts. This is then vaporized through either conductive or convective heating and inhaled. There are single use pens as well as reusable rigs that only require a cartridge change and occasional battery charge. This is hands down the most convenient and discreet way to consume while out and about. The pens are easily mistaken for tobacco products and the exhaled vapor has little, if any odor associated with it.
  • Vaporizer Boxes / Volcanoes are machines that use convective heating (the first type). The cannabis is placed into a small holding chamber where hot air is pulled or blown through. The resultant vapor is then either inhaled directly from the whip, or certain special machines can pump that hot air into a bag, which is then inhaled by the user. This is, again, considered the safest method of consuming THC.
  • Dab Rigs use the second type of heating we talked about earlier (conductive). These pieces are typically very similar to a water pipe, but instead of filling a bowl connected to a down-stem with loose plant matter, a glass or metal “nail” sits inside the down-stem. This nail is super-heated with a torch and the oil/extract is pressed onto the top of the nail as the user inhales through the mouth piece. There are rigs that use specialized glass bowls that can be super-heated. This tends to keep the “vapor” more contained then a nail would without an accompanying glass dome (see photo – glass bowl on the left, nail with accompanying glass dome on the right).


Perhaps one might argue that all the apparatuses presented above are quite unnecessary. “Why not just eat it?” – he might say. Good question, Chad. You could just eat the plant, but it would do very little, if anything, in terms of giving you a high. THC, in its raw form, is not metabolized the same as when it’s been chemically “activated” (decarboxylation). To do so, it simply has to be heated to a certain temperature, and dissolved into a chemical carrier that can help it get into the body and survive metabolism. The two most common carriers used are fats (oils) and any high percentage alcohol and are used to make either butter or tinctures.

  • Butter is typically the fat of choice for cooks or bakers. To make it, loose leaf trim or buds are activated in the oven, and then steeped in melted butter for a certain amount of time. After the prescribed amount of time, the butter is ran through a filter into a container and cooled back to solid. Once solid it can be used for anything regular butter is normally used for, with the added effects of THC and other cannabinoids for one’s pleasure and health.

*Please note, when going the edibles route, that it takes considerably longer to feel the effects of marijuana. It’s like taking medicine by mouth, so don’t expect anything in less than 30 minutes. This also means don’t keep consuming the edible(s) until you feel something. This will result in you catapulting over your intended target and likely making you sick or paranoid…or both. Do yourself a favor and start small, wait 45-60 minutes, and if not satisfied, repeat. Modern edibles are often manufactured to control the exact dosage you are getting, which allows you to understand how THC affects you on a micro-scale (milligrams).*

  • Tinctures are effectively alcohol based cannabis extracts. Once the tincture has been created, it can be consumed by itself, or by mixing it into other drinks. It goes through much of the same process (first decarboxylation, then dissolving), and can take a bit longer to infuse than butter, but in the end offers a bit more variation and freedom in terms of mixing and consuming.

So there we have it – your most common and readily available methods of consuming cannabis. I hope with this information in hand you are better informed and thus more prepared to make preferential decisions surrounding your consumption of marijuana, and as always, Happy highs ūüôā !!!!

Indica? Sativa? Hybrid? What’s the Difference and what do I Choose?

Let’s set the scene, shall we? You – a newly admitted connoisseur in the now legal world of weed – have just walked into a dispensary for the first time. You are greeted by sights and sounds almost overwhelming to the senses. Plants and clones on this wall; seeds over there; THC-infused ice cream in the freezer; a hundred different strains of bud behind the counter; cookies, candies, cakes and everything else you never thought could be infused with weed sitting out in front of you to pick from like you were a kid in a candy shop. Then it hits you – “Where do I start, what does it all mean, and what product is best for me?”….

Maybe you’re new to this game. Maybe you’ve just been out of it for a while. Either way, there’s a few things you should be savvy to in order to help you along in this exciting new (or revived) journey you are about to embark on. So before we set sail for the high seas (get it?), Captain, let’s review a bit shall we?

Indica, Sativa, & Hybrid РWhat does it all Mean?

In the wide, wide world of weed, there are three generally accepted classifications we tend to place strains of cannabis under:¬†sativas, indicas, and hybrids. These classifications are often used to “sort” the characteristics of weed, if you will. This applies to both physical and chemical properties associated with the plant.

Physically,¬†sativas tend to be taller, lankier plants with narrow leaves and an overall structure similar to that of a Christmas tree. Outdoors, they can grow upwards of 15 feet given the proper environment. Indicas tend to grow shorter and more stout, with very broad leaves and an almost bush-like appearance. As such, they tend to be more suitable for indoor growing than sativas. Hybrids tend to show a mix of parental characteristics. You may get a plant that is long and skinny (sativa structure) with broad, fat leaves (indica). Maybe you’ll get a short, squat plant with long, narrow leaves. Maybe you’ll get a plant somewhere in the middle. Furthermore, I should point out that these physical properties are usually only important to those who cultivate.

Structural Differences between Indica and Sativa

Chemically, sativa, indica, and hybrid take on new and important meanings. In the world of consuming cannabis the user’s end experience is largely dictated by the chemical profile of the plant at hand. Sativas are said to provide uplifting, creative, energizing, and potentially euphoric highs best suited for “day-time” use.¬†Indicas, on the other hand, are thought of as more suitable for the user seeking a more sedative effect – perfect for relaxing in front of the TV or to calm your mind before heading off to bed. You may have heard of a special state one enters while consuming cannabis called “couch lock”. This refers to the lack of desire associated with moving when consuming particularly sedative strains of cannabis – i.e – you don’t wanna get up. Those strains¬†tend to be indicas.¬†Hybrids,¬†again, tend to fall somewhere in the middle. Some provide a very “sativa” experience, while others will have you on your ass reaching for a bag of cheetos faster than you can forget what you were just doing.

“Why?” – you ask. Read on, Captain.


Central to all these experiences, are the chemical profiles at hand. While the plant itself contains hundreds, if not thousands of individual chemicals in varying amounts, there are a few chemicals that are much more common than others. The first we all know and love, is THC (őĒ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the most abundant cannabinoid found in cannabis and provides the “high” (euphoric) effect most users are searching for. It also relieves pain, nausea, and can stimulate appetite (munchies anyone?). Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second most abundant cannabinoid found in marijuana, and is¬†non-psychoactive. It will not provide a high, but is often used to alleviate other medical conditions as well as counter any anxiety that may be brought about with THC consumption. Those looking for symptomatic relief while remaining clear of mind will tend to lean towards strains significantly higher in CBD and lower in THC.

and Terpenes

By now you’ve heard me mention this word a few times – so let’s finally address it.

What are terpenes? Simply put, terpenes are a class of very aromatic (smelly – and not necessarily in a bad way) compounds that lend different chemical properties to the user’s end experience. Do you understand aromatherapy? If so, you can start to grasp terpenes. They are largely responsible for the effects of aromatherapy and can be found in many, many different plants. You know why citrus smells the way it does? Terpenes. Lavender? You guessed it – terpenes. Ever smell weed and thought it reminded you of diesel fuel or Pine-Sol? That’s right – terpenes, and aside from providing the many aromas that accompany marijuana, terpenes also accent the chemical effect brought about by cannabinoids. For example, alpha-pinene (again, think Pine-Sol) is a terpene that provides an energizing feel, creates bronco-dilation, has anti-inflammatory effects, and aides in memory retention. Please don’t go around huffing Pine-Sol though. It’s not going to give you an eidetic memory. Linalool, on the other hand, is a terpene with sedative-like effects that may help counter sensations of restlessness or anxiety. Because terpenes can have such a profound impact on the end effect, it is important to understand the roles that they play in cannabis and how they can affect your experience(s) down the road.

(I also want to point out that there are many, many terpene compounds. Marijuana is not limited to the two I’ve used in my examples. If you are interested on a deeper level, I encourage you to do your own research. Finding the right strain for you means understanding what effect you are seeking and chemical profile needed to bring about that which you seek. To aid in such a journey, see the graphics below.)

Common Terpenes
Terpene Benefits

So Which is “Right” for Me?

Great question Рand the answer is: it depends!

A little anti-climactic, I know, but the desired effect will ultimately dictate the product sought. If you are simply seeking a head change you might go after a strain high in THC with a lot of pinene. If you need to focus or study but relieve pain you might go after a strain lower in THC, higher in CBD, and higher in pinene and humulene. Rather than simply seeking a “sativa” or an “indica”, know what you want, and investigate the strains that contain those chemicals/properties. Understanding how certain chemical profiles affect you will make for a much more pleasurable and agreeable experience.

Conversely, as a dispensary worker, don’t ask your patients/customers if they’re looking for a sativa or indica. Ask them what effect they seek or what symptoms they are attempting to alleviate, and make your recommendations based on that. Help to educate your customers so that they make informed, intelligent decisions that address their problems with efficacy. This will provide them with a pleasurable experience that will keep them coming back for more.

To Wrap it All Up…

Let’s back it up – Tarantino style – to the beginning. You just walked into that dispensary, and upon seeing everything sitting out in front of you, you aren’t overwhelmed. No – you are confident and excited – because now you know there is a room full of products and people capable of helping you on your journey. So off you go, Captain. Hopefully, with this information in hand you can walk away with a greater understanding of cannabis and how that can lead you to find exactly what you seek.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to shoot them my way, and I’ll do my best to get back as quickly as possible, if necessary. Thanks again for reading along, and as always, Happy Highs!

Image Sources








Cannabis: A Background and History

Here we will cover a brief background and historical synopsis of cannabis for your education and entertainment. If you’re into history and weed, get ready, because this is the article for you. So light up that fatty, pack that bowl, hit your blunt, or whatever else you gotta do to get your mind right – and get ready to learn.

*NOTE* – I will not be discussing any current social or political implications associated with marijuana or its uses – only background and history.

What Exactly is Cannabis?

For those who don’t know (and for those who just enjoy learning),¬†cannabis is a plant used for centuries by man-kind in various modalities. Commonly referred to as¬†marijuana – it is more specifically known for its psycho-active and medical properties and has been used for such qualities, and others, for thousands of years (stick a pin in this, we’ll get back to it).

There are three recognized species of cannabis: sativa, indica, and ruderalis – each displaying unique sets of physical and chemical properties that affect how the plant grows, smells, tastes (smokes), and what uses they are suitable for. Within these species, there are tens of thousands of strains, both genetically pure (100% sativa, indica, or ruderalis), as well as those of mixed gene lines (hybrids). Hybrid strains are….exactly that – a strain whose parents come from different species within the cannabis genus. A male of one strain will be crossed with a female of another, in an attempt to create an offspring (seed) with characteristics of both. The main physical differences between the two primary species utilized are presented in the graphic below.¬†Ruderalis is only generally crossed in an effort to change the photo-period required to induce flowering and will be discussed at a later time.


(Amy Phung/Leafly)¬Ļ

Within the plant itself, the leaves, stems, and flower buds are the most commonly utilized aspects. They can be used in food, tinctures, teas, or dried and smoked. In doing so, most users are often seeking interaction with the chemical compound¬†őĒ9 – tetrahydrocannabinol –¬†or more simply: THC.
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-from-tosylate-xtal-3D-balls(THC’s chemical structure)

THC is the primary psychoactive constituent but only one of the many compounds believed to bring about the desired effects associated with marijuana use. These effects can range from relaxation, creative inspiration, easement of pain, euphoria, and stress relief to nausea reduction, appetite stimulation, seizure reduction, and even cancer treatments. On the negative side, NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) has reported an increased risk for certain psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and potential substance abuse ² (with long-term use).

In essence, it’s a plant utilized recreationally and/or medicinally to relieve certain¬† conditions. There are non-medicinal forms of the plant – often designated in modern times as¬†hemp. Hemp is often used industrially/agriculturally to make things such as paper, rope, cloth, ethanol, etc., as it lacks any significant volume of THC, and can be grown with high efficiency and turn-over. In some cases, hemp is also grown and harvested for¬†cannabidiol (CBD) content – another chemical constituent with medicinal, but non-psychoactive properties. CBD is the second-most commonly occurring natural cannabinoid and is thought to have mediating effects on THC in vivo.

In the Beginning….

Now that we have a basic understanding of what marijuana is and some of its uses, let’s step back and take a gander at a bit of the history (for brevity’s sake I’ll try to really only cover the important bits – there’s literally a few millennia worth of history).

According to “Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutic Potential”, cannabis likely originated in either central Asia, near the Tian Shan mountains, or near the Altai mountains ¬≥. Cultivated first in China as early as 6000 B.C. (Erowid, 2017)4, and then India, cannabis has been used by man-kind for millennia. Usage was largely dependent on the culture cultivating it. Some used it for the highly nutritious seeds and strong textile fibers the plant is capable of producing. Others used it primarily for its psychoactive properties. For the purpose of this article, it is this use that we will follow and detail primarily, although cannabis’ role as an agricultural crop can not and should not be understated.

A Plant of 1000 Chemicals, Defined by One…

Part of the plant’s appeal in modern times is the wide array of chemical profiles (cannabinoids and terpenes), almost all of which include significant amounts of THC, available to both growers and users alike. Modern drug cannabis (gene) lines can be traced back to the wild, naturally occurring hemp plants of east Asia, Russia, and parts of the Mediterranean. As the plant spread, cultivators began selectively breeding the plants/strains that displayed greater THC content. In particular, gene pool lines originating in South Asia were spread to Africa, Sumatra, and eventually to the equatorial new world where they were adopted and improved upon as a psychoactive plant, achieving THC levels of about 5-10% of the plant’s dry weight¬≥. Today, by comparison, many of the strains produced are capable of having a THC content that comprises upwards of 25-30% of the plant’s dry weight. Such is the effect of selective breeding and modernized growing techniques on the plant’s gene expression.

America’s Past and Present Dealings with Cannabis

“Modern” America has certainly had a tumultuous past with cannabis. It is currently labelled as a Schedule 1 drug under federal classifications (meaning they deem it to have a high addictive potential and little to no medicinal value). This is a direct result of highly exaggerated and often flat-out inaccurate smear campaigns launched into the public beginning around the 1920s. At this point in time the recreational, smoked drug became associated with Mexican immigrants, and the powers that be jumped on anti-immigration sentiments to fuel marijuana prohibition¬†5. The plant was labelled as dangerous to children and society at large by propaganda and films such as Reefer Madness and, by the 1930s cannabis was prohibited in 24 states¬†5. In 1937, Congress passed The Marihuana Tax Act which made illegal the buying, selling, bartering, or giving away of cannabis without paying a “transfer” tax¬†4, 5. This was the first federal law attempting to regulate cannabis commerce in the United States and was subsequently declared unconstitutional in 1969 as a result of the court case The U.S. vs Timothy Leary¬†4. In the early 1970s, the Nixon-appointed Shafer Commision urged the government to roll back regulations on the use of cannabis. These recommendations were largely ignored by the government at the time, although some states did decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis and medical research did continue 7.¬† In 1975, the FDA established the Compassionate Use Program 4. This program expanded the use of “investigational drugs, biologics or medical devices outside the clinical trial setting for treatment purposes” and is still in place today¬†6.

Just as it seemed as if cannabis was gaining legal traction on a larger scale, the Reagan administration of the 1980s began its hard-hitting “War on Drugs” – of which cannabis was considered to be public enemy no. 1 by the administration 7. In its wake, youth-based educational programs (D.A.R.E) sprung up and proponents of the movement pointed to decreases in use among youth/adolescents as a major success. Reagan’s war on drugs also led to a significant increase in prison populations, placing financial strain on cities and governments short of money and space for newly classified criminals. Critics of the war on drugs used this as evidence that focus should be placed on treating addiction/abuse and not on incarceration 7. Concurrently, proponents of cannabis use argued that it was effective in treating certain conditions such as glaucoma and chronic nausea from cancer treatments¬†7. Cannabis use also became extremely popular among AIDS patients 7, leading to the passage of the nation’s first medical marijuana law in California circa 1996 (allowed for the use of marijuana with the prescription of a doctor)¬†4,¬†7. Two years later, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska follow suit¬†7.

As of today, cannabis is legal (either medicinally or recreationally) in 47 of the 50 states and three of five US territories. The federal government, states of Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota, as well as the American Somoa and Virgin Island territories continue to maintain laws against the use of cannabis in all situations 8. If you have any questions regarding the legality of cannabis in your state or territory, please consult your specific state or territorial policies/laws.

In conclusion…

There you have it – a basic working knowledge surrounding the plant, what it is, what it’s used for, and how we as an American society have interacted with the plant over the last 100 years or so. Hopefully, as cannabis continues to grow in its role in society, so will our knowledge of it on a scientific and sociological level. Just try not to forget it ūüėČ … Happy Highs!


1 –¬†Rahn, Bailey. ‚ÄúIndica vs Sativa: What’s the Difference Between Cannabis Types?‚Ä̬†Leafly, 20 Sept. 2018,¬† ¬†
2 –¬†NIDA. “Marijuana.”¬†National Institute on Drug Abuse, 25 Jun. 2018,¬† ¬† Accessed 18 Oct. 2018.
3 –¬†Grotenhermen, Franjo, and Ethan Russo. ‚ÄúCannabis and Cannabinoids.‚Ä̬†Google Books, Haworth¬† ¬†Integrative Healing Press,¬† ¬† ¬†id=JvIyVk2IL_sC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false.
4 –¬†‚ÄúCannabis Timeline.‚Ä̬†Erowid Cannabis Vault : Timeline, Erowid, 2 Oct. 1999,¬† ¬†
5 –¬†Ghose, Tia. ‚ÄúMarijuana: Facts About Cannabis.‚Ä̬†LiveScience, Purch, 18 May 2017,¬† ¬† ¬†
6 –¬†Office of the Commissioner. ‚ÄúExpanded Access .‚Ä̬†U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page,¬† ¬† ¬†Office of the Commissioner, 19 June 2018,¬† ¬†
7 –¬†Mapes, Jeff. ‚ÄúMarijuana Legalization: The Rise of a Drug from Outlaw Status to Retail¬† ¬†Shelves.‚Ä̬†,, 9 Nov. 2014,¬† ¬†
8 -‚ÄúLegality of Cannabis by U.S. Jurisdiction.‚Ä̬†Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Oct. 2018,¬† ¬†

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me in this informational blog. In it we will explore the world of cannabis and all that it entails (or at least we’ll try)! If you have a topic of discussion or question you would like to ask, please feel free to use the contact form and let me know!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. ‚ÄĒ Izaak Walton