Ways of Consuming Cannabis

Inhalation

Smoking and vaporization

Although cannabis is often associated with smoking, it’s not the only inhalation method that patients can use to medicate. While smoking cannabis involves burning the flowers and inhaling the active components of the plant, the vaporization method allows the release of these same ingredients by heating them to a temperature that releases an inhalable vapor. Inhalation tends to be the most popular way to medicate for consumers, mostly due to the fast delivery. Illinois adult medical cannabis patients 18 years of age and older are permitted to purchase and use inhalation products.

  • onset: 0-15 minutes
  • duration: 1-4 hours
  • peak: 30 minutes
disposable vape pen
chocolate cannabis edible

Oral Ingestion

Edibles, tinctures, capsules and lozenges

The onset for oral ingestion is much slower than inhalation but the effects tend to be much stronger and last longer. This is because the process of digestion causes the cannabinoids to undergo a significant chemical transformation that enhances its effects. Oral ingestion is very popular because of the vast array of options available and how it can be done discreetly.

  • onset: 30-120 minutes
  • duration: 6-8 hours
  • peak: 2-3 hours

Topicals

Lotions, oils, balms, creams and bath bombs/salts

They differ from many other cannabis products in that the consumer does not get “high”. They are absorbed through the skin providing quick relief for such things as muscle aches and soreness at the site of application.

  • apply to areas of pain or rash as needed
  • cbd absorbs better than THC
  • apply small amount to non-affected area to test for possible allergic reaction
cannabis topical lotion
cannabis transdermal patch

Transdermals

Patches and gel pens

Like topicals, transdermals are applied on the skin and do not get the user “high” but the medicinal properties can permeate throughout the entire body instead of a localized spot. Although not known to provide quick relief, they do offer a discreet and continuous dose throughout the day.

  • onset: patch 20-30 minutes, gel 5-10 minutes
  • duration: patch 8-12 hours, gel 4-6 hours
  • high bioavailability, no equipment needed

Sublinguals

Tinctures, sprays and activated oils

Sublingual simply means “under the tongue”. The main benefit of choosing this method is that it enters directly into the bloodstream and is considerably faster acting when compared to digesting the cannabis.

  • onset: 15-60 minutes
  • duration: 1-6 hours
  • peak: 1-2 hours
cannabis tincture