Which marijuana ingestion methods are there and what are their differences?

Which marijuana ingestion methods are there and what are their differences?
Miguel Antonio Ordoñez

Depending on your circumstances, not all methods of consuming cannabis will be suitable. Specific to the user's requirements or the ailment they are trying to tackle, knowing the speed at which ingestion methods take effect can make all the difference.

For those seeking out cannabis, it’s imperative to know which methods of ingestion you can choose from. Relief from pain, inflammation, stress, anxiety—the list of symptoms cannabis can support is endless. Not only will we cover the key consumption methods, but also the speed at which users will feel the effects.


There are four main consumption methods for consuming cannabis. Inhaling covers a myriad of options and is the most common, with effects felt in minutes. Edibles can take up to an hour or more to kick-in fully, while cannabis sprays take effect in as little as 15 minutes. Edibles do have the added benefit of a longer-lasting impact than other methods.

Aimed at physical ailments, topical creams require direct application to the affected area to be effective. Trailing just behind inhaling, this is the second fastest method; relief can be felt after several minutes a result of the cannabinoids infused in your chosen lotion.

Using cannabis via suppository is a less conventional, but promising administration method. Sitting between edibles and inhaling marijuana, effects take around 15 minutes to activate. The four main categories below are ranked in order of how fast their effects can be felt.



Both involve inhaling dried cannabis flower rolled into a cigarette or cigar shape. Joints require thinner, different papers, while blunts feature flavored or cured cigar wrappers. Effects can be felt in minutes, but many will be put off by the need to inhale potential carcinogens from the smoke.


Although the quality may vary, pipes can be bought and reused for a fraction of the cost of a vaporizer. Bowls are very similar to bubblers, but without the water. You only need to pack your herb into the relevant chamber and inhale to feel weeds effect in minutes. Both methods are direct; as such, some users find the experience harsh on their throat.


Growing evermore in popularity, vaping is a fast, discreet method of consumption. Vaporizers heat marijuana without burning the plant material, an instant health benefit over joints or blunts. Although more expensive to buy initially, using a vaporizer will provide results in minutes.


Significantly larger and usually less portable than a vaporizer, bongs feature long necks and water, making the smoking experience less harsh on the throat. Very similar to a bong, bubblers are small bowls with an additional chamber for you to draw the cannabis smoke through. Bubblers also feature water, so again, the hit is usually less harsh than a blunt or joint.


Not as straightforward, nor as cheap as the previous methods, dabbing is, however, the most potent means of inhaling cannabis. Concentrated forms of marijuana are inhaled on a dab rig or one of many other pieces of equipment. Dabs are powerful and felt almost instantly.




Applied directly to the skin, cannabis-infused lotions feature the same cannabinoids users receive when smoking or eating edibles. The most significant difference is creams are aimed at physical conditions because they are applied to your body externally.

Most topical creams contain CBD, but even if one contains THC, there will still be no psychoactive effects. This is because THC is lipid soluble, meaning very little of the cannabinoid will make it into the bloodstream.



Due to the unique way marijuana oil is absorbed directly into your bloodstream, users receive all the beneficial effects without the feeling of being high; all within 10–15 minutes. Suppositories are also unique in that they enable up to 80% of the plant medicine to be absorbed, much higher than any of the other methods listed.

While this anal option is not the most popular across the board, it may be extremely viable for certain individuals.




Tinctures are concentrated forms of cannabis suspended in alcohol, whereas oils infuse cannabinoids into a carrier oil like olive or hemp seed.

Taken either sublingually (under the tongue) or sprayed directly into the mouth, these methods take as little as 15 minutes to have an effect, and have no odor—making them an incredibly discreet method of consumption.


Simple and discreet, cannabis capsules are useful if you have other medication to take. Tablets also allow specific quantities of cannabis to be taken; dispensaries will mark their concentration. Another benefit of cannabis capsules is the effect can last most of the day without the need for users to top-up.


Marijuana brownies, cakes, coffee, even pizza. If it involves adding cannabis to your food or drink, you can class it as an edible.

Taking roughly an hour before users will feel the effects, the wait results in a high up to four times stronger than smoking cannabis. Edibles can be bought ready-made or prepared yourself.

Miguel Antonio Ordoñez
Miguel Antonio Ordoñez

Miguel Ordoñez is a long-time writer by trade. Utilizing his AB Mass Media and Communications degree, he has 13 years of experience and counting. He’s covered a wide array of topics, with passion lying in combat sports, mental health, and of course, cannabis.