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Cannabis consumption

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A man smoking cannabis in Kolkata, India

Cannabis consumption refers to the variety of ways cannabis is consumed, among which inhalation (smoking and vaporizing) and ingestion are most common. All consumption methods involve heating the plant's THCA to decarboxylate it into THC, either at the time of consumption or during preparation. Salves and absorption through the skin (transdermal) are increasingly common in medical uses, both of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids. Each method leads to subtly different psychoactive effects due to the THC and other chemicals being activated, and then consumed through different administration routes. It is generally considered that smoking, which includes combustion toxins, comes on quickly but lasts for a short period of time, while eating delays the onset of effect but the duration of effect is typically longer.[1] In a 2007 ScienceDaily report of research conducted at the University of California–San Francisco, researchers reported that vaporizer users experience the same biological effect, but without the toxins associated with smoking.[2] Δ9-THC is the primary component when inhaled, but when eaten the liver converts this to the more psychoactive 11-hydroxy-THC form.


Sebsi, a Moroccan long-drawtube one-hitter


Cannabis can be smoked with implements such as joints, blunts, bongs, and pipes. Makeshift pipes or commercial pipes may be used, or cigarette-like joint or cigar-like blunt may be smoked. Local methods have differed by the preparation of the cannabis plant before use, the parts of the cannabis plant that are used, and the treatment of the smoke before inhalation. In early times, as in some parts of Africa today, a pile of cannabis was simply laid on a fire and the smoke inhaled.[3] Archaeological evidence confirms psychoactive cannabis was smoked at least 2,500 years ago in the Pamir Mountains.[4]


A Volcano forced-air vaporizer. The balloon, at top, fills with vapors and particulates, and can then be detached and inhaled from.
A vaporization pipe with flame filter.
28. Insert cannabis, other herbs or essential oils here
36. Flame filter prevents flame from igniting herb which instead is heated to vaporization temperature.

A vaporizer heats herbal cannabis to 157–210 °C (315–410 °F), which causes the active ingredients to evaporate into a gas without burning any plant material (the boiling point of THC is 157 °C (315 °F)).[5][6] Vaporizing releases a lower proportion of carbon monoxide and other toxic chemicals than does smoking, although the proportion may vary depending on the design of the vaporizer and the temperature at which it is set. A MAPSNORML study using a Volcano vaporizer reported 95% THC and no toxins delivered in the vapor.[7] An older study using less sophisticated vaporizers found some toxins.[8]

A pocket-sized form of a vaporizer may feature a rechargeable battery, heating chamber, and protective cover. Typically, portable vaporizers can only be used for liquids, feature pre-soaked wicks, and require the user to operate a cartridge.


Hash cakes or popularly known as space cakes are sold in coffeeshops.

As an alternative to inhalation methods, cannabis may be ingested. However, herbal cannabis must be sufficiently heated or dehydrated to cause decarboxylation of its most abundant cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), into psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).[9]


Various types of cannabis foods on display in a shop window in Amsterdam

Although hashish is sometimes eaten raw or mixed with boiling water, THC and other cannabinoids are more efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream when combined with butter and other lipids or, less so, dissolved in ethanol. Chocolates, brownies, space cakes, and majoun are popular methods of ingestion - which are usually called edibles. The time to onset of effects depends strongly on stomach content, but is usually 1 to 2 hours, and may continue for a considerable length of time, whereas the effects of smoking or vaporizing cannabis are almost immediate, lasting a shorter length of time.[10]

All of the active constituents enter the body when cannabis is consumed orally. It has been shown that the primary active component of cannabis, Δ9-THC, is converted to the more psychoactive 11-hydroxy-THC by the liver.[11] Titration to the desired effect by ingestion is more difficult than through inhalation, due to the long onset time for the effects.[12]


A bhang lassi (cannabis-infused drink) shop in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Cannabis material can be leached in high-proof spirits (often grain alcohol) to create a "Green Dragon".

Cannabis can also be consumed as a cannabis tea and many other beverages. Although THC is lipophilic and only slightly water soluble (with a solubility of 2.8 mg per liter),[13] enough THC can be dissolved to make a mildly psychoactive tea. However, water-based infusions (liquid edibles) are generally considered to be an inefficient use of the herb.[14]

Traditional cannabis-infused drinks include the Indian drinks Bhang lassi and Bhang thandai when prepared with bhang. However, bhang, a decoction of cannabis and spices in milk, averts the issue, as milk contains the fat in which the THC is soluble and first dissolved by cooking in ghee.

See also[edit]


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from Marijuana (Weed, Cannabis) Drug Facts, Effects. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved 2022-05-12.
  1. ^ "Wellness Center - Marijuana". American University. 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  2. ^ "Marijuana Vaporizer Provides Same Level Of THC, Fewer Toxins, Study Shows". ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily®. 16 May 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  3. ^ "Cannabis Vault : Spiritual Use #2". erowid.org.
  4. ^ "Earliest evidence for cannabis smoking discovered in ancient tombs". Culture & History. 2019-06-12. Archived from the original on June 13, 2019. Retrieved 2019-06-13.
  5. ^ "Cannabis and Cannabis Extracts: Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts?" (PDF). haworthpress.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-02. Retrieved 2011-01-25.
  6. ^ 1989. The Merck Index, 11th ed., Merck & Co., Rahway, New Jersey
  7. ^ Gieringer, Dale H.; Joseph St. Laurent; Scott Goodrich (2004). "Cannabis Vaporizer Combines Efficient Delivery of THC with Effective Suppression of Pyrolytic Compounds" (PDF). Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics. 4 (1): 7–27. doi:10.1300/J175v04n01_02. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
  8. ^ Gieringer, Dale. "Marijuana Water Pipe and Vaporizer Study". Retrieved 2006-04-21.
  9. ^ "Does marijuana have to be heated to become psychoactive?". Cannabisculture.com. 2003-01-02. Archived from the original on 2011-02-23. Retrieved 2011-02-23.
  10. ^ "Erowid Cannabis (Marijuana) Vault : Effects". Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  11. ^ Paulo Borini; Romeu Cardoso Guimarães; Sabrina Bicalho Borini (May 2004). "Possible hepatotoxicity of chronic marijuana usage". Sao Paulo Medical Journal. 122 (3): 120–3. doi:10.1590/S1516-31802004000300007. PMID 15448809.
  12. ^ Barrus DG, Capogrossi KL, Cates SC, Gourdet CK, Peiper NC, Novak SP, Lefever TW, Wiley JL (November 2016). "Tasty THC: Promises and Challenges of Cannabis Edibles". Methods Rep RTI Press. 2016. doi:10.3768/rtipress.2016.op.0035.1611. PMC 5260817. PMID 28127591.
  13. ^ Dronabinol from PubChem
  14. ^ Leslie Iversen (2003-04-08). "Cannabis and the brain. Invited review Brain". Brain. 126 (6). Brain – Oxford Journals: 1252–1270. doi:10.1093/brain/awg143. PMID 12764049.