Methods of consumption

Raihan Rana/Wikimedia Commons

You know how some people prefer to sip craft beer because they’re mostly interested in showing off what they know about hop varieties, while others prefer to chug bottles of Mad Dog 20/20, despite the fact that it looks and tastes like wiper fluid, because their primary interest is getting sloppy drunk in the cheapest way possible? Well, weed is basically the same.

Stoners have always been creative when it comes to inventing new ways of getting high, which is why there are hundreds of different options these days. If you’re just starting to experiment with the plant or haven’t been exposed to the latest technology brought forth by legalization, figuring it all out can be intimidating.

Most people assume that the mental and physical benefits experienced are largely dependent on strain choice, but the delivery method is just as important. Each one has its pros and cons, so it really depends on how you prioritize health benefits, psychoactive effects, price, potency, etc.

The most important thing to know is that there are three main methods for consumption: inhalation, oral ingestion and topical application. Within these umbrella categories, there are a variety of tools and techniques, each appropriate for different occasions. There’s going to be a noticeable difference if you rip a gravity bong versus a one-hitter, even though they both technically fall under inhalation.

Similar to alcohol, your preferences say a lot about what you value and who you are as a person and people are totally judging you for it. Kidding; it’s not that serious. But here’s a list of a few ways to get the job done. (It’s ranked by my personal preference as opposed to overall popularity because, well, I’m writing the column.)

Blunts. Not entirely sure who the first person was to carefully split open the cheapest cigar available so they could dump out the tobacco and use the remainder as rolling paper, but I’m pretty sure we would be besties. Puffing on a fat blunt makes me feel like a bad bitch. And if you were an unsupervised teenager who grew up on the East Coast and hated the people who raised you, it can also be a cathartic experience. In 2005, my best friend and I would head to the local 7-Eleven after school every day. She would meet up with our weed dealer in the parking lot while I went inside to purchase a Honey Dutch with my fake ID. Then we drove around hot-boxing her car while blasting hip hop and talking about how much better life was going to be after graduation when we could move out and do whatever we wanted. A lot has changed since then. I quit smoking tobacco years ago and no longer save old roaches for when my dealer doesn’t text me back, but rolling up a blunt with a hemp wrap triggers just as much nostalgia. Also it holds more weed, hits smoother and doesn’t run as bad as traditional joints.

Bongs. There are a variety of water pipes to choose from, but bongs are the most fun. I’m not married, but I’m pretty sure coming home after a long day to a clean bong filled with ice and packed with freshies is the same thing as living with your soulmate. The water acts as a filter, cooling the smoke, removing some of the carcinogens and providing a smooth hit with an intense, fast-acting high. Bongs are personal, and people name them the same way they name their cars, which means they’re something to care for and take pride in. Having high-quality bongs to showcase is a status symbol for stoners because it’s basically just a collection of expensive yet functional glass art. On the other hand, bongs made of plastic, covered in stickers or constantly black from lack of cleaning are for children and on principle, I’m against them. At one point, it was awesome admittedly. But for tax-paying adults to smoke out of in 2018? Absolutely not.

Topicals. Even though I have fun with it, weed will always be about healing for me. I’m so happy to live in a legal state with access to topical ointments and creams infused with THC and CBD because it’s been a game-changer when it comes to managing the pain I deal with from my autoimmune disease. They don’t have any psychoactive effects but they do provide serious localized pain relief. Most athletes I know work CBD therapy into their training recovery because it doesn’t come with the side effects that accompany most over the counter medication. A full-body massage with CBD oil is the ultimate act of self care and I highly recommend it.

Edibles. This has been one of the most popular methods since legalization. I think it’s because a lot of people struggle with the idea of smoking, and eating carries less of a stigma. Also, it’s so discrete you can do it practically anywhere. Personally, I don’t like it as much because it takes forever to kick in. Also, unless you’re making your own, there are limited options for healthy medicated food on the market right now. Most of it is chocolate and candy, which sucks because junk food is harder to stop eating and you end up so much higher than you ever wanted to be.

Dabs. Everyone keeps telling me this is where the industry is heading, but I think it’s the worst because it’s so far removed from what the plant means to me. When someone breaks out a blow torch, which is a required tool for dabbing, it makes me feel like whatever we’re about to do is a lot sketchier than smoking weed. Science claims this method is better for your lungs, but it always burns my throat and makes me cough for 10 minutes straight. Once the coughing stops, I realize I’m uncomfortably high, which is weird coming from someone who smokes weed every day. If I take a dab at noon on Friday, I don’t feel normal again until Sunday night. Why are people pushing for more potency when it’s already so concentrated? Not to mention the money it takes to satisfy the tolerance level of a compulsive dabber.