How To Smoke Weed – Getting the Active Ingredients
The current intake methods of delivering cannabis’ active ingredients have seen an evolution over the past few decades but at the same time have conceptually been around for centuries. If you want to know how to smoke weed, we briefly introduce these intake methods in this weeks newsletter to help new patients decipher the often confusing jargin within the world of medical marijuana.
Why so many methods?
There are as many intake methods for delivering cannabinoids as there are cultures that have been harvesting it for it’s medicinal qualities. Many of the current methods we use go back to ancient Indian traditions such as smoking Ganja or the flower, consuming it in beverage form such as Bhang, or concentrating it as Charas which is a form of hashish. Other cultures such as those in Morocco have a long history of extracting cannabinoids as hashish. Each has their own advantages and purposes which is also why all these methods are still popular today.
How to Smoke Weed
The most common and recognized method of taking in medical marijuana is smoking the flower or bud. This method requires combustion and inhalation of dried and ground cannabis flowers. This is by far the most direct and simplest form of intake. The most common form of smoking is the marijuana cigarette also known as a joint or a spliff usually rolled by hand, using common rolling papers and sometimes using a manual rolling machine. Another popular method of smoking is with a pipe. these come in all shapes and sizes and have various features but are all characterized by a device that has a bowl to hold the ground bud and a mouthpiece used to inhale.
The next well known method of smoking is the bong which uses water as a filter to help trap debris and prevent users from inhaling these impurities. Bongs also consist of a bowl to hold the material, a chamber to combine the smoke with the water and a mouthpiece used to inhale. Generally lighters have been used to ignite the material but a popular less harmful option is hemp wick which is a natural wick made of hemp fiber and coated with bees wax that introduces no volatile hydrocarbons, which can be tasted and more harmful, the way lighters do. It is slightly more work than a lighter but makes a world of difference in terms of flavour and taste.
How to Smoke Weed – Vaporizing
Vaporizing or to ‘vape’ means inhaling the cannabinoid rich resin in the form of vapour not smoke. Vaporizing requires heating the material to the vaporization point of the cannabinoids but staying below the combustion point of the organic material in the flower. This is a much superior way to intake medical marijuana because it avoids most of the harmful impurities, toxins, and carcinogens found in the smoke of the plant. For medical reasons vaporizing is recommended over smoking. Vaporizing can be achieved manually with vapor pipes which hold the material in a chamber below a heated element such as lava rock or pumice stone. The element is heated directly by flame which prevents the material from combusting but allows the heat to vaporize the resin in the trichomes.
A traditional method of vaporizing is using a hookah or a shisha which uses coal atop a chamber to heat the material and vaporize the resin and is drawn through a main chamber and then through a tube with a mouthpiece called a whip.
We now have electric vaporizers that generally use ceramic elements to heat a glass bowl or chamber to vaporize the resin and is either pumped into a bag or drawn through a whip. These table top models usually plug into a wall but can also be found in hand held, battery operated, portable forms ranging in sizes from the size of a pop can down to the size of a pen.
How to Smoke Weed – Dabbing
Dabbing or doing ‘dabs’ means taking an extracted and concentrated form of the resin such as hashish or cannabis oil and vaporizing it with a heated nail or dish and inhaling it through a specialized bong or pipe. Since the active ingredient is concentrated only a tiny amount or a ‘dab’ of material is used, giving us the name dabbing. The concentrated forms of resin have names such as wax, butter, honey oil, shatter, bubble hash, hash oil, kief, and other exotic names.
Traditional forms of concentrates like bubble hash, also known as ice hash, and kief are mechanically separated trichomes containing the cannabinoid rich resin. The other forms of concentrates are chemically extracted resins that mainly use volatile solvents to dissolve the resin and then are purged of the solvent through heating and vacuum methods.
Solvent less extraction using liquid CO2 is becoming more popular for health reasons. Each form of extraction and purging produces the different consistencies in the concentrates. Several intermediate steps are performed to increase the purity of the end product creating more variations of concentrates. Common forms of heating the nail or plate is using a butane torch but more expensive electric elements also exist.
Because the resin has been extracted completely from the plant it is even more pure than vaporizing the flower because some smoke may still be produced if the plant material is toasted due to continuous heating, even if not ignited. Dabbing allows more of the terpene flavour profiles to be discerned because it is not hindered by the taste of smoke. Specialized equipment and elaborate extraction makes this a more costly method but is healthier than the other alternatives as long as the solvents are properly purged. This method also doesn’t require any preparation the form of grinding or disposing of spent material.
Please note that Health Canada has not regulated the production of concentrates so LP’s are not allowed to sell any forms of processed cannabis. Dispensaries that carry concentrates are operating outside of the MMPR program. We do not recommend patients try to make any solvent based extracts themselves as it is extremely dangerous and may cause fires.
How to Smoke Weed – Edibles
Ingesting cannabinoids can be done by extracting the resin using lipids such as oils or fats like butter or milk and then cooking or preparing foods or drinks thus creating edibles. An edible is anything that can be ingested and contains the active ingredients. The main difference between inhaling and ingesting cannabinoids is that the body converts the active ingredients into new compounds when ingested and produces very distinct effects that aren’t achieved through inhalation.
Inhalation requires heating the cannabinoids which is also another factor in the distinct effects that are produced between the two methods since heat changes the compounds into new compounds. Ingesting isn’t as fast acting as the previous inhalation methods so determining if you’ve had enough becomes more difficult.
The effects of ingestion last longer so in the case of having too much medicine it will take longer for any negative side effects to subside. Ingestion is the preferred method for those with respiratory issues and cannot use any of the above inhalation methods.