Up In Smoke: Consumption Methods of Cannabis in a Legal Market (Pt.2)

Earlier this week I looked at making a list of ways to consume cannabis, a variety we can perhaps only achieve realistically in a market where marijuana is legal. While some methods in part one did not require any kind of inhalation whatsoever, part 2 of 2 will look at methods that still involve inhalation, albeit in a much healthier way. These will cater to a clientele that still want their stone to hit them hard and the onset to be quick, so without further ado stoners, weed enthusiasts, or those just generally interested in the prospects of what a legal market will have to offer, here they are:

Vaporization

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Volcano-brand vaporizer in action. Source: Flickr Creative Commons

While it may sound like something out of a 1960’s science fiction film, vaporization has become a common form of consuming cannabis as the technology has progressed. How it works is through a machine which heats the cannabis buds (or oils in some vaporizers) to a temperature (between 185-210 degrees, generally) that is enough to extract the THC but just under the temperature of combustion that a traditionally smoking device would use. The vaporized gas is then consumed through a tube or a balloon that the machine has pumped into it. There are many different types of vaporizes on the market, but this is the basic premise of how they work.

Pros: Clean as a whistle! Due to vaporizes avoiding combustion levels of heat, the toxins (carbon monoxide and other carcinogens) and generally left out of the equation. This means a much healthier method of inhalation, that users report is actually a stronger high than through a bong or pipe, but comes on equally as quick. Volcano brand vaporizers, the top of the line in the market, have been reported to extract 95% THC with no toxins – a pure, smooth high. In addition, vaporizers use less cannabis chop, allowing multiple (up to 20-25) hits from one average-sized bud. So while vaporizers may be an expensive route to take, that money will be saved through your actual product

Cons: As mentioned, these things are expensive.  Mid range machines that will vaporize effectively run around the $250 mark, and the top-pf-the-line Volcano brand vaporizers can sell for close to $800. While they may be built to last and considered an investment, dropping this kind of money to enjoy your bud will not be realistic for everyone, however in a legal market where demand is higher, cheaper vaporizers that still retain good craftsmanship and effectively do their job will most likely emerge. Like any machine, maintenance is required, which is always a bummer, however this is generally no more difficult that scrubbing your bong with your mums old toothbrush.

Dabbing

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A jar of butane hash oil harderned in its ‘honey’ form. Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Another quirky-sounding consumption method that was popularised in the 1970’s but is starting to surface in the legal market is dabbing. Dabbing is a concentrated form of consuming butane hash oil (pure THC extract), and is described quite well by Philly 420 columnist Chris Goldstein:

“The term derives from the most common method used today: a piece of metal resembling a large nail is held at the end of a curved glass pipe then heated until glowing with a lighter or kitchen torch; a small ‘dab’ of the thick hash oil (greasy and thicker than cold honey) is placed on the end of a thin glass rod and then touched to the hot nail. The smoker inhales the instantly vaporized concentrate through the glass pipe — and gets seriously stoned.”

If this still has you confused, Vice has a great 10 minute introduction to butane hash oil. Very informative and succinct.

Pros: Dabbing is a strong, intense high that comes on about as fast as it gets. The waxy, honey-like substance is reported to have THC levels of around 70-90%, about 3 times as strong as premium weed strains, and 5-6 times as strong as the average Australia strains available in the blackmarket. Inhaling the oils is not thought by medical experts to be dangerous for the health, either, but rather similar to vaporizing cannabis herb.

Cons: As mentioned, consumption of these oils is a strong, intense high. If one dabbed one too many times in a single session, things may get uncomfortable – with reported anxiousness, paranoia and vomiting around inhaling too much of the stuff. Buying the extract is also expensive, as the extraction process takes time and money and drives up the cost. Many methods of consuming the oil can also be very dangerous. Butane, as you will probably already know, is extremely flammable and can leak unnoticed, potentially causing explosions if a single spark was to come into contact with it. Cannabis Culture did an article on accidents such a these.  Safer ways to consume BHO will surely arise, however, especially within a legal market that will push the demand for a stronger and purer high.

So that’s a wrap. I hope you have enjoyed reading about the many differing ways to consume marijuana and the many different buzzes you get from it. If you’d like to discuss anything with us or just simply voice your opinion, please comment below. Stay tuned for our next blog post.

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Up In Smoke: Consumption Methods of Cannabis in a Legal Market (Pt.1)

I’ve met many folks over time that have tried cannabis and not liked it. There can be a plethora of reasons as to why, and many people are simply uncertain about being intoxicated by any substance, especially one with a stigma like marijuana. One common excuse I have heard though is that they like the feeling of being high, but not the actual smoking aspect of it, which for some can be unpleasant, especially if asthmatic (like myself) or not used to inhaling smoke. They either cough most of it out or ‘bum-puff’ and not feel the effects. I thought I would run through 3 ways (more in the next blog post) of consuming cannabis that would be possible within a legal market. They are still practiced in countries where it is prohibited on a federal level, but much less out in the open and tend to be in locations where high-grade medical marijuana is available and circulating (see California, Canada, parts of Europe).

A bong. Photo source: Flickr Creative Commons

 Smoking

The traditional, classic method also known as combustion. This method releases active substances so they can be inhaled through the lungs. Rolled in cigarette style with papers are known as ‘joints’ or ‘blunts’ for a fatter, cigar-like roll , but it can also be smoked through a water-pipe (bong) or standard pipe. Makeshift bongs are sometimes created through plastic bottles, garden hose and foil. A traditional ceramic bong is pictured to the left. Cannabis was consumed through inhaling by native cultures also, however generally through large quantities burnt on a fire.

Pros: Smoking is one of the most direct ways to get high. It is fast and efficient and does not use, especially through a bong or pipe, much cannabis. It is generally the preferred method because marijuana’s illegality means edibles and other forms aren’t readily available. Bongs can be purchased from nearly any tobacconist, as they are legally able to sell them due to it’s ability to have any herb smoke through it.

Cons: Smoking is not the healthiest method of consumption. Burning and inhaling any plant matter releases harmful carcinogens into the lungs that are best avoided. As mentioned above, though, in a illegal market – what choice do you have? Another con is that so many people can make their cannabis last, they ‘spin’ (mix) with another herb to draw it out. While there are many great herbs to use for this purpose, the most common is tobacco – an obviously harmful product that makes many users more dependent on their chop, especially when smoked through a bong as it is a harder hit.

 Edibles

Ever got the munchies during a session of smoking and thought wouldn’t it be great to have some food laced with cannabis so you can keep

Cannabis edibles in Amsterdam shop. Source: Wikimedia Commons

your stone going AND eat? If you didn’t know already, edible marijuana is available in many different forms in the legal and medical market. Some popular products are Kiva chocolate, Nugtella (yes, Nutella with THC in it, it exists) and many other baked goods.

Pros: No smoke! No scratchy throat and dry throat and harmful carcinogens through this route, just a simply tasty treat eaten like anything else. In a legal market, products also specify dosage as well, so it’s easy to keep track of how much Cannabis your actually consuming to know what your threshold is. THC is generally absorbed in butter first when these products are made, so many of the products are baked goods. However, in legal markets, these butters blocks are sold separately, so you can cook your own food. Endless possibilities!

Cons: Eating marijuana is a different high. It takes 1-2 hours to actually effect your system due to your body digesting it and breaking it down, which is annoying for those who want to feel it close to instantly.  When it does hit however, it can be quite stronger than a traditional high through smoking and is often described closer to a psychedelic feeling. Many in the illegal market who make their own brownies with THC/Hash butter often overdo it as they are unaware of how much THC is in the product and eat too much, only to have a strong, intense and potentially uncomfortable high an hour or so later. This could be avoided in a legal market however, as the general populace could be educated to pace themselves with edibles, and companies would need to include dosage on the packaging.

Drinks

Similar to edibles, the legal industry has allowed beverages to also enter the market. These include THC-based drinks such as the range Dixie Elixirs make, which are sugar-free soft-drink style beverages that contain 40mg of active cannabinoids in every bottle (355ml). Juices are also available with similar dosages. Although containing no THC and will not get you high, I found it useful to include that hemp is also used for health juices and energy drinks. Cannabis Energy Drink has dominated this industry, and uses hemp seed extract combined with caffeine and taurine for a “burst of energy”. Cannabis infused alcoholic liqueurs can also be made, but somehow that combo doesn’t sound too great. Indian communities also make a beverage known as ‘Thandai’ – ground cannabis bud and leaf into a paste that is mixed with milk, ghee (a form of butter) and spices.

Pros: THC-infused drinks work faster than edibles. Liquids are absorbed faster into the bloodstream as they do not have to go through the traditional digestive process that food does, resulting in probably the most efficient, non-inhalant form of consumption with rapid effects.

Cons: Sugar-free is is good, as many foods will contain unnecessary sugar and other unwanted attributes, especially if eating large amounts. However artifical sugar, preservatives, colours and other nasties may be lurking in the ingredients. Also, no-one likes to pee while stoned, but it’s a small sacrifice to make and personally I’d rather that than inhaling carcinogens on every toke.

So there you have it folks, three quite interesting ways to consume your bud. In a legal market, it would be interesting to see how much the prevalence of edibles and drinks would deconstruct stigmas around cannabis, and to see if there would still be people sticking to the ‘old school’ method of smoking. Through some quick research of Colorado and Washington in the US, it seems that smoking is still prevalent, as a medical marijuana licence is still required in some shops to buy edibles and food. With a growing industry just waiting to pounce on newly legalised countries, it could also be argued that the variety of ways to consume cannabis, coupled with the value of hemp, could make this a multi-million , if not billion, dollar plant. I will be covering more methods in the next blog post, so please feel free to comment below with any thoughts and suggestions and if these alternatives to smoking appeal to you, support legalisation!