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4 Ways People Consume Marijuana Without Smoking

Now legal in 33 states, more and more Americans are familiar with medical marijuana, which can offer relief to people struggling with everything from multiple sclerosis to inflammatory bowel disease. Research on the endocannabinoid system — a system of receptors present throughout the body which plays a key role in the central nervous system and other bodily processes, helping the body maintain homeostasis — has helped scientists and medical professionals develop a whole new array of ways to utilize cannabis; a trip to a dispensary today would give you access not just to medical marijuana to be smoked, but topical cannabis solutions, edibles, and other new methods designed specifically with medical users in mind.

Because of all this, more people are looking to medical marijuana to treat their ailments. But how do you choose the best way for you to consume medical cannabis?

Ultimately, that’s a decision you can only make for yourself (ideally with the help of a respectful medical professional). Shannen Barnett, a nurse and the founder of medical cannabis company Sana Sana Formulas, tells Bustle that everyone’s endocannabinoid system “is individual and everyone has different responses to cannabis, period, regardless of age, sex, weight, or diagnosis” — so it’s tough to make any across-the-board recommendations for how much cannabis a person should use to treat their ailment, or how they should take it.

Potential cannabis users should also stay aware of dosing guidelines or suggested doses on packaging. “When you go to the doctor and you’re getting prescribed a medication, you’re not getting prescribed a. dose that is for you as an individual,” says Barnett. Rather, “this is a dose based off of generalized dosing guidelines for a population.” The same is true in medical cannabis doses — so know that going in.

With this in mind, Barnett suggests that new users might want to experiment with micro-dosing, in order to get a true understanding of their medical cannabis needs, and maintain a journal tracking their results: note the size of the doses you’re taking, what times of day you’re taking them, and how they make you feel. This kind of measured approach, says Barnett, is “the only way to really know how it’s going to work for you. And it allows you to do it without having any negative experience — I call it the ‘I wish I could un-take it moment’ many people have had, when they come to cannabis.”

To get your research started, here is an overview of a few of the medical cannabis methods available.

1. Vaporizers

A 2007 University of California study found that vaporizing marijuana, rather than smoking, minimized the amount of harmful toxins consumed.

While Barnett feels that inhaled cannabis makes more sense as a recreational rather than medicinal option, she notes that you can still micro-dose when using inhaled cannabis — “you can just take smaller hits.”

2. Edibles

Edibles — candies, baked goods, or other foods infused with marijuana. appeal to many new medical marijuana users, as they seem familiar and non-threatening (who doesn’t love a cookie?). But Barnett urges caution: users “need to be careful, because everyone metabolizes it differently. Edibles aren’t going to kick in at the same time for everyone. Some people, they kick in right away, other people, it doesn’t happen until they go to dinner and all of a sudden they’re high.”

Typically, it takes more time for the THC in edibles to hit the bloodstream compared to smoked marijuana, so giving your dose time to be fully metabolized before you try any more is key.

And be aware that even though they contain medical cannabis, edibles also contain food ingredients — so if you have a food allergy, or should not consume sugar or artificial sweeteners, make sure to look out for them while choosing edibles.

3. Topicals

According to some research, topical ointments and creams can potentially help relieve the symptoms of ailments like arthritis and eczema without any of the psychoactive components one might experience with smoking or edibles. In fact, they’re a favorite way to use cannabis to decrease inflammation. “The best way to consume the anti-inflammatories properties of cannabis is not going to be inhaling them,” says Barnett. “It is probably going to be better if it’s ingested or used topically.”

4. Capsules

One of the newest medical cannabis products on the market, cannabis capsules typically contain oils of varying levels of potency. Users can swallow them, or cut them open to apply topically.

The Bottom Line

Barnett’s main advice for beginners has less to do with utilizing any particular method than it does doing your own research to ensure product quality: “A lot of [companies producing medical cannabis products] will boast that their lab testing and the third party tested, [but] just saying it doesn’t make it true.” Rather than just trusting branding, “you want to actually see those results,” and check for more than just potency — Barnett recommends checking for tests to make sure that the batch is not full of pesticides or heavy metals. “You want to actually see that it’s been tested for multiple things and that it has a date and a batch number.”

She also notes that when it comes to medical cannabis, “there’s different strains — that’s like different brand names for medications. And the strain is like its own profile.” She recommends keeping notes on which strains you have used in your journal as well, so that you can keep on top of your specific reactions to them.

And in the end, the best way to find what works for you is with slow, controlled experimentation. “For the general person,” says Barnett, “the best course is to start with one thing, implement it in the smallest dose possible and adjust the frequency of dosing before [you are] adjusting the dose size.” It will allow you to gauge your response, and “be able to continue living [your] life without really any interruption.

This post was originally published on September 21, 2015. It was updated on July 3, 2019.

This article was originally published on Sep. 21, 2015

Now legal in 33 states, more and more Americans are familiar with medical marijuana, which can offer relief to people struggling with everything from multiple sclerosis to inflammatory bowel disease. Research on the endocannabinoid system — a system…

Smoking Cannabis Without Tobacco: Pros & Cons of Pure Cannabis

Mixing cannabis with tobacco is a commonplace activity in Europe, but almost blasphemed in the USA. Why do people mix cannabis with tobacco in the first place? We explore this phenomenon and give alternatives to tobacco for those wanting to kick the habit!

In the USA, Canada, and South America, it’s almost blasphemous to mix cannabis with tobacco. In Europe, mixing is much more commonplace, and is even considered to be the “normal” way to use cannabis.

At the end of the day, cannabis users mix with tobacco for a number of reasons. It may be because they prefer the taste, the effect, or simply because they don’t want to put 1 or 2 grams in a single joint.

The advent of the cannabis revolution brought to the world an infinite number of ways to consume cannabis. The more that consumers become aware of the health risks associated with smoking, the more they are turning to edibles, vaping products, and extracts for oral consumption.

Despite these new ways to use cannabis, smoking is still many people’s preferred method of administration. In this article, we’re breaking down the pros and cons of mixing cannabis with tobacco, and we will share some alternatives to tobacco for mixing.

The cannabis vs. tobacco debate

There is a common school of thought that cannabis smoke is well tolerated by the body, while tobacco smoke leads to all kinds of cancers — lung, colon and rectal to name a few. But this is only partially true.

Most academic literature on the topic confirms that pure cannabis smoke does not cause lung cancers. Donald P. Taskin’s 2012 research is one such example, corroborated by previous studies as demonstrated in this 2008 literature review.

However, while cannabis smoke is not directly linked to lung cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it still damages the bronchioles of the lung. In fact, cannabis smoke is still carcinogenic, although not equally to tobacco. In this way, the argument that cannabis smoke is well tolerated by the body is a myth.

Habitual cannabis smoking (such as a joint on the weekends) is not considered to be of any great danger for the general population. In the studies mentioned above, however, it is clearly indicated that things become more complex in heavy or chronic cannabis smokers. The likelihood of developing a respiratory disorder increases in long-term cannabis smokers.

Regular cannabis users — especially those who use cannabis medicinally — are urged to consider the alternative methods of cannabis consumption. It may not be as dangerous as smoking tobacco, but it is nonetheless linked with dangers of its own.

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Smoking cannabis with tobacco vs. smoking pure cannabis: the pros and cons

If you don’t smoke tobacco at all, it seems like there are no pros to mixing cannabis with tobacco. But for the lover of the spliff (the mixed joint), there are just as many pros as there are cons. We’re breaking them down, one by one.

The benefits of mixing tobacco with cannabis

1. Your cannabis lasts longer

To virtually everybody that mixes, this is one of the most obvious benefits. For most people, ¼ to ½ gram is enough weed for a joint, and anything more is excessive. Most pure joints contain at least one gram, which to spliff smokers, is a complete waste of weed. Plus, nobody likes relighting a joint that they’ve already put out.

2. A spliff burns better than a joint

Arguably, the reason tobacco mixing became so popular in Europe was because for a long time, hash was the main commodity (not flowers). To smoke hash pure, it required a special pipe for hashish. However, it could be smoked in a joint providing there was tobacco or some other herbal mix.

Europeans still see cannabis flowers the same way: without a pipe, it’s almost impossible to smoke a pure joint without having to relight it before every puff. Tobacco helps the joint burn much more smoothly, mitigating the issue of it constantly going out.

3. The taste

This pro is arguably a con, too. To lovers of tobacco, the taste of a spliff is unmatched. Of course, to haters of tobacco the opposite is true. There are many spliff smokers out there who believe there’s no greater marriage than tobacco and cannabis, like peanut butter and jelly or strawberries and cream!

4. Mixing with tobacco intensifies the effect of cannabis

There’s no doubt that mixing with tobacco somehow alters the effects of cannabis. Nicotine and tobacco have cerebral effects of their own, and when used in conjunction with cannabis, it seems that tobacco potentiates the effects of cannabis. The high is less “clear” and more “cloudy”, giving the feeling that the high is intensified.

The benefits of smoking pure cannabis

1. You can enjoy the taste of pure cannabis

The smell and taste of cannabis are among the most important aspects of the cannabis experience. In fact, the smell and the taste tell a person a lot about the quality of the cannabis they are smoking. When you smoke pure weed, you get the full aromatic experience of weed without it being hindered or interfered with by any other plant (such as tobacco or other smoking mixes).

2. There is less chance of addiction

Typically, cannabis is considered far less addictive than tobacco. However, one 2016 study identified a higher risk of dependency for those who mix cannabis with tobacco. While this “addiction” may be to the tobacco inside the joint, the result is a dependency on the whole joint. Smoking pure cannabis reduces the likelihood of developing a cannabis dependence.

3. A pure cannabis joint means a pure cannabis high

Lovers of cannabis want the effects of cannabis — not the effects of cannabis mixed with tobacco. The experience of pure weed is different to the experience of mixed weed in multiple respects. We already mentioned the taste and smell, but the high itself is also much clearer when smoked pure. For some, this clear-headed high is preferable to the sometimes-too-intense high that can be had when mixing.

4. Smoking pure cannabis doesn’t damage your taste buds or olfactory senses like tobacco does

It is common for tobacco smokers to report a lacklustre sense of smell and taste. On the contrary, cannabis heightens taste and smell sensitivity. Pure cannabis does not interfere with these senses. It doesn’t take long after tobacco cessation to regain full faculty of the nose and taste buds.

Why do people mix tobacco with cannabis? We talk about pure joints vs. mixed joints, and the pros and cons of both.