Cannabis Consumption Methods: Formats & Ways to Use Cannabis

Cannabis Consumption Methods: Formats & Ways to Use Cannabis

Surveys show that in Canada, the most popular cannabis consumption method is smoking dried bud – particularly in the form of joints, with 64% of consumers saying they prefer to smoke doobs. Other common methods of consumption include vaporizing dried flower, puffing on oil vape pens, and eating edibles like THC-infused cookies and brownies. These are only a few of the cannabis consumption methods that exist, and there are many more. Let’s take a look at all the different ways to consume cannabis.

Cannabis Inhalation Methods


As we mentioned above, joints are the most popular consumption method. Chances are, your parents or grandparents might have enjoyed this format of cannabis back in the day. That’s because joints have been around for ages, likely due to their versatility and cigarette-like shape. Although not everyone can roll them, many consumers prefer to smoke joints over other cannabis consumption methods. For those who can’t roll, luckily there are pre-rolled joints.


Crystal cannabis pipe
Cannabis pipes are easy to use and extremely portable

A favourite tool among cannabis enthusiasts, the pipe is both easy to use and extremely portable. Simply grind up your weed and put a pinch in the bowl, then light it up. They can easily fit in a backpack, purse or pocket, which makes them ideal for taking on the go.


Less portable than a pipe, inhaling from a bong is essentially the same as smoking a pipe, but with the addition of water. Some argue that the water cools the smoke, making it smoother to inhale; we’ll leave that up to you to decide. Bongs are great for at-home consumption, and because of their ability to hold more smoke than a pipe, you can take larger hits (if that’s your thing).

Dry Herb Vaporizers

Cannabis dry herb vaporizer
Dry herb vaporizers are a healthier, combustion-free option

For consumers looking for a healthier alternative to smoking cannabis, there’s the dry herb vaporizer. This type of vape heats cannabis to a lower temperature which vaporizes the cannabis rather than burning it. Smoke of any kind contains chemicals that may be harmful when inhaled, so vaping is a good way to reduce this risk. Another benefit of this cannabis consumption method is reduced odor. Vapor still produces an aroma, but it is much less noticeable than smoke from a joint, pipe or bong.

Concentrates (Dab Rig/Vape Pens)

Cannabis concentrates
Not for beginners, cannabis concentrates are often dabbed or vaped

This cannabis consumption method is not for beginners.

Concentrates are exactly what they sound like: highly concentrated cannabis in a variety of formats. Extracting cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant is a complex process involving specialized equipment which should not be attempted at home.

THC and other cannabinoids are captured by exposing cannabis to a solvent, such as butane, CO2, or alcohol. The consistency, flavour profile and effects of the concentrate are determined by the inputs and processes used. Without getting into too much detail about the different forms of concentrates (also called “dabs”), here are some of the most common ones:

  • Shatter
  • Budder
  • Wax
  • Crumble
  • Live resin

Other forms of concentrates include hash and rosin, both of which are made by applying pressure and/or heat without the use of a solvent. These are known as solvent-free extracts.

Popular ways to consume cannabis concentrates include “dabbing” – vaporizing the concentrate in a “dab rig”, a device somewhat similar to a bong – and adding on top of a joint or bowl. For this method especially, it’s important to start low and go slow.

Another way to consume cannabis concentrates is with a vape pen. Typically, a concentrate must be combined with propylene glycol (an organic compound commonly used in food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals) or an alternative substance to make it less viscous, before being poured into a vape cartridge and attached to a battery base for vaping on the go.

Cannabis Ingestion Methods

Cannabis Oil – Dropper

Cannabis oil in a dropper bottle

Cannabis oil can be consumed in many different ways, but the most popular method is the dropper bottle format. This format of cannabis is often chosen by consumers who prefer not to smoke or vape. Dropper bottles allow for customized dosing, as the dropper is typically marked in 0.1 ml increments. To consume, simply place a few drops under your tongue and wait several minutes before swallowing (this allows the oil to absorb into the mucous membrane of the mouth for faster onset of effects). Another way to consume cannabis oil is by mixing it into food or beverages – an easy way to make your own edibles.

Cannabis Oil – Softgels & Pills

Cannabis oil softgels
Cannabis oil softgels are a discrete smoke-free option

Cannabis oil softgels are a convenient way to ensure you get the exact dosage you desire. Softgels are typically made with cannabis oil encapsulated in a gelatin capsule, with a specified amount of cannabinoids in each capsule. This pre-dosed consumption method is an excellent smoke-free alternative to dried bud.

Cannabis Oil – Oral Spray

Pulling out a container of softgels or a dropper bottle may attract unwanted attention; for a more discreet way to consume cannabis oil, there are oral sprays. They look just like breath sprays, but come in a childproof container. You’ll find the same kind of oil inside the bottle as you would inside a dropper bottle or softgel – the difference is the delivery method. A couple sprays under the tongue is a good place to start, and you can easily adjust the dosage to find the number of sprays that works best for you.


An increasingly popular cannabis consumption method is ingesting food and beverages infused with cannabis. Known as “edibles,” some of the most common weed-infused foods include baked goods and gummy candies. Legalized in Canada as of October 2019, edibles have a much longer onset time than inhaling cannabis (1-2 hours vs. almost immediately) and the effects can last for several hours or more.

While edible products are just starting to be rolled out into provincial retailers, it will be interesting to see the innovative products that emerge in the coming months.

Topical or Internal Application

Cannabis Topicals, Creams & Salves

Cannabis-infused topical salve
Cannabis-infused topicals provide a localized effect

Interest in cannabis topicals is growing – and for good reason! Topicals, including cannabis-infused creams and salves, provide a localized effect rather than being felt throughout the body. This can be useful for targeting a specific area, or for consumers who don’t wish to feel the head high typically associated with THC.

The possibilities for topicals are endless. The days of applying a CBD-infused face cream in the morning and using cannabis-enriched hand soap are likely not far away, as this cannabis consumption method continues to gain mainstream attention.

Cannabis Suppositories

Yes, you read that right. While the jury is still out regarding the effectiveness of this route of administration, there are plenty of cannabinoid receptors located in the gastrointestinal tract (including the rectum) and the vaginal walls – meaning THC and other cannabinoids can bind to cells in these areas and potentially provide a localized effect. Cannabis suppositories typically consist of cannabis oil formed into an elongated shape which is then inserted into the anus or vagina.

For those who prefer not to inhale or ingest cannabis, or cannot do so for health reasons or dietary restrictions, this cannabis consumption method provides an alternative option.