MMJ 101: But Doc, How Do I Take It?

Edit: This is a non comprehensive list. I will be working on a series of instructional videos to better demonstrate different methods.

One of the daunting aspects for new medical marijuana users is deciding how best to consume their new medication. I missed out on the learning experiences of youth weed experimentation, so I got to be that awkward adult asking the guy at the head shop to show her how a bong worked.

It was sitting in a park with my friend Rachael that I learned how to use a pipe. Foolishly, I thought you just lit the herb and inhaled right? We sat there in the park for a while, and I barely felt any of what we were smoking. Finally, Rachael looked at me sideways and asked “You’re blocking the holes while you inhale right!?” The resulting puff ended with me hacking out a lung and my friend rolling down the hill laughing at me.

In reality, patients are sent a bottle filled with dried buds of a pungent herb, and given no instructions on what to do with it. The Health Canada insert warns you to avoid smoking, but doesn’t give options. Someone new to marijuana is given no direction on how to proceed. For all that I was clueless in many ways, I am not alone:

 

Different methods have different benefits and disadvantages, but they seem to fall into two major categories: Inhaling and Ingesting. This may not be a comprehensive list. People who take marijuana are a creative bunch as I have come to learn.

INHALATION:

Joints:

I think one of the better known ways of partaking in marijuana is the joint or marijuana cigarette.  There are variations even on this classic with some people using cigarette tubes and rollers, others hand rolling. You can make large joints, filtered joints, and so forth. The equipment needed to make these are pretty easy to secure. Smoke shops that sell cigarettes will often stock all the equipment necessary. Convenience stores often have rolling papers for sale. You can even make you own rolling paper from thin tissue or onion paper. Interestingly, it has been noted in smokers’ forums that the thin tissue-like paper often found in bibles is the perfect type, for comparisons sake.

Joints are convenient. They are portable, and can be disguised as cigarettes. They’re easy to use, and don’t require you to own anything conspicuous.

The disadvantages can be more or less severe depending on circumstances. IF like me, you are allergic to smoke, this is a method that will most likely cause you to cough. You are inhaling smoke, though you can use a filter to mitigate some of that. In comparison to other inhalation methods, joints use the most amount of weed for the same level of highness. This is in part because the set up makes the weed burn up faster. You can use various methods to slow down the burn, which can be useful in extending the rate at which you can smoke.

This method requires you to replace your equipment fairly regularly as filter get used up and the papers burn. While the cost of papers or cigarette tubes is fairly low, it is a regular expenditure.

Ania Smoking A Joint

Pipe

Assortment of Weed Pipes

A marijuana pipe is really not much different than a regular tobacco pipe. It involves a bowl into which the herb is packed, with some sort of hose coming out of the bowl area, through which you inhale the smoke.

A Weed Pipe in the Shape of A Smoking Caterpillar If you’ve seen any stoner comedies, or passed by any head shops, you’ve probably seen the various creative options that exist out

Weed Pipe in the Shape of an Octopus

there in terms of pipe options. Many of them are works of art in and of themselves. Ultimately, any properly shaped item that can be safely heated will do; as many stoners have figured out by carving their own pipes out of potatoes, apples, and even carrots.

Pipes use about pinched sizes amounts at a time. You light the herb directly as you inhale until you are either as high as you like, or until the herb burns up and you pack the next amount. As a result it takes less weed to achieve the same high as a joint.

Depending on what type of pipe you are using, it is a more conspicuous method of consumption. One aspect of pipes I don’t like is my tendency to breathe in ash.   There are a wide variety of pipes available. Some artistic, some plain, there are all types. I have not heard of many filtered ones, although there are water pipes which I am unfamiliar with, so the smoke can be a little harsh at times.

Bong

Artistic BongBong

Bongs, other than being a fun word to say, are a classic stoner icon. They are a water filled column through which the smoke is filtered before inhalation. Like pipes, some bongs can be a work of art, while others are simply functional.

They are similar to pipes in many ways, including in using smaller amounts of weed in order to create the same effect. The smoke is a bit more delicate than what comes out of a pipe, though it can still be harsh and irritating for those with allergies. Bongs are a lot less portable than pipes or joints, but they can create a more full headed high. Bong is my go to when I need a stronger high because of elevated pain.

Vaporizer

Vaporizer

Vaporizers create an inhalable substance that is more steam and less smoke. They come in many different styles, Magic Flight Vapealthough all of them are on the expensive side. You can get small pen sized ones with a coil heating element. Those involve more burning and so it is more smoke and less steam. These are usually the less expensive vaporizers. They are conveniently portable, but can still be too harsh for those with allergies.

The other more expensive kind uses some sort of heating chamber, ceramic or otherwise, that heats the weed rather than burning it, producing more steam and less smoke. This is usually the best option for someone, like me, who is allergic to smoke but relies on marijuana’s ability to not involve their digestive system.

Some of the designs are discrete, streamlined, and portable. Others are bulkier, or cruder looking. Vaporizers are also convenient since the steam they produce is less odorous and so are better for medicating around other people or in apartments.

Vaporizers provide a bit of a faster high, and one that doesn’t last as long as other methods. It uses relatively small amounts, and in the case of non-burning vapes, the left over product can be re-smoked for a less strong high.

The biggest disadvantage is the price, and in the case of some the lack of portability. Because of my allergies, I am trying to raise some money to buy one. If you would like to donate here is the fundraiser. And here is the type I am hoping to acquire.

Some vaporizers use a liquid. I have no personal experience with these ones since the liquid can be difficult to find.

EDIBLES/INGESTIBLES:

When it comes to ingestibles, I don’t have as much experience. Because of my digestive problems they don’t work consistently.

Edibles take a longer time to kick in than inhalables. When they are homemade, it can be harder to control the dosage, however dispensaries in the US sell cookies with controlled doses. As a result of these two issues, it can take a while to determine the amount that works best for you.

There are all sorts of cookbooks out there that teach you how to make different types of edibles. I recommend the Stoner’s Cookbook.

Usually to make edibles, the weed is converted into a type of oil or butter. This in turn can be used to make candy, cookies, brownies, and a variety of other dishes including savory ones. Some people prefer edibles since they don’t involve the lungs and so may be better for your health. Others like the slow going effects, while others just like to indulge in some cookies.

A word of caution, if you make your own cookies, be sure not to leave the plate lying around for when the munchies kick in.  Eating too many can be an unpleasant experience.

Among the disadvantages of edibles, is that they can be hard to acquire in certain places. As of right now, licensed producers in Canada are not allowed to sell edibles, butters, oils, or anything other than herbed buds, and in some cases pills.

Although hard to find, many of the types of ingestibles can be made at home. However, they often require larger quantities of weed to make, and can cause a strong odour. Some methods of creation can be unsafe and potentially dangerous. Advice on making them can be found on the internet, including in the aforementioned cookbook.

Other ingestible methods include:

Weed Alcohol or Tincture: An alcohol based extraction of THC and CBD. The intoxicant seeps into the alcohol which can then be swallowed directly or added to something. This is a method that can be used for people who absolutely cannot smoke, but want something faster hitting with less digestive involvement.

Weed Oil*: Not to be confused with cooking oils infused with THC, Weed Oil is an extraction method of weed that creates a concentrated thick oil or even resin. It can be manufactured, however, it is also a by-product created by smoking a bong, pipe, or vaporizer. The heating causes the build-up of naturally produced weed oil which can then be collected. Weed oil can be burned as part of a joint, rolled into a ball to be smoked in a pipe or bong. It can also be ingested directly. Once a month, I clear out my bong and dissolve the weed alcohol in a hot cup of tea with lemon and honey. This method uses less digestion since a lot of it is absorbed in the mouth. However the taste isn’t overly pleasant.

THC Pills: I have no experience with these, however, I have heard of some dispensaries and pharmacies that stock these.


If you would like to help make it possible for Ania to regularly get her meds, consider becoming one of our patrons. Any little bit help.

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