Smoking has long been the most common way of consuming cannabis – whether passing a joint, or sparking a pipe, water bong, or one-hitter, it gets the job done. But are there better alternatives? Read on to learn all you need to know about each method of consuming cannabis.

In order for THC and CBD to work they need to be decarboxylated (heated). There are a number of ways to accomplish this, and combustion is only one of them, but it’s the most common so we will start there.


Smoking cannabis is quick and easy, especially when using joints or pipes, but it does have some drawbacks – including health risks to the respiratory system. Combustion of anything will produce hazardous by-products, like carbon monoxide. While it is noteworthy that there are no documented cases of lung cancer attributed to cannabis use, and studies seem to suggest it doesn’t increase risk of cancer, the heat and combustion by-products can definitely cause respiratory irritation – especially with prolonged, continuous use.

One of the most common issues with smoking cannabis regularly is the irritation caused by the heat. If you’re a regular cannabis smoker, it’s helpful to know that pipes and bongs burn the hottest!

Heat level: (500°C-700°C)

Efficiency: 20 – 50% THC content delivered

Onset 5 – 10 minutes
Peak 30 minutes – 1 hour
Total duration 1 – 3 hours



Vaporizing is a healthier alternative to smoking, and smoother to inhale – cannabis is only heated enough to activate the cannabinoids, but without the toxins of combustion.

Users report fewer respiratory symptoms with vaping versus smoking, with a better taste and less odorVaping has also gained a lot of popularity because it is more efficient – it doesn’t waste as much cannabis – and most of the products on the market allow users to select their heat level, which can modulate your cannabis experience.

Efficiency: between 45 – 80% THC content delivered (depending on device)

Onset 5 – 10 minutes
Peak 30 minutes – 1 hour
Total duration 1 – 2 hours


Low (290 – 330°F) 145 – 165°C

This low heat level will release primarily terpenes, and a minor amount of THC – resulting in a very mild experience. Depending on the terpenes in your strain, you may also experience an wakeful or sedative effect.


Mid (340 – 375°F) 170 – 190°C

As you approach and pass 167°C – the boiling point of THC – you will increase the level of THC delivered in the vapor. CBD evaporates at 160-180°C. In order to release the most important cannabinoids fully, we recommend 185-195°C (365 – 385°F) as the optimal heat range for most vaporizers.


High (200°C (390°F) and above)

Anything above 200°C will release a large amount of THC fairly quickly. A high temperature setting will increase the strength of each draw, as well as slightly increase efficiency – with the drawback of being less smooth and loss of terpenes. *Avoid purchasing vaporizers that contain poor quality or unsafe materials, as this may expose heat to potentially toxic compounds. Do your research first!



Cannabis infusions are all the rage right now and are making their way into the mainstream. Canada’s legal edibles market won’t be available this year, but will be expected come 2019.

So what are edibles? Basically, it’s when the cannabinoids have been activated through heat first and then infused (usually into an edible oil – i.e. butter, coconut oil, olive oil). You can either simply ingest the oil, or you can incorporate into just about any kind of food item. Remember though, edibles are for oral consumption only, never smoke or vaporize this kind of oil!

Edibles are much different from smoking or vaping, because your body processes it differently – via the liver.

This means that:
•  The time to take effect can vary widely
•  The effects and peak last much longer
•  THC is broken down into a metabolite called 11-hydroxy-THC – which is a lot stronger

Onset 30 minutes – 2+ hours
Peak within 1 hour of onset and lasts 1 – 3 hours
Total duration 4 – 8 hours

Here are some crucial tips to remember when consuming cannabis-infused edibles:

  • Eating before or after will impact the time it takes to feel effects. For example, if you consume an edible on an empty stomach and then eat afterwards, this will usually speed up the process.
  • The peak “high” lasts much longer – plan accordingly!
  • Edibles are Be especially careful when consuming edibles – start with a low dose (5-10mg) and wait at least 1 hour before consuming more.
  • Edibles are not yet for sale in Canada, but some people may make their own. Be especially careful of consuming edibles from an unknown source, a single “dose” may contain significantly more THC than it was intended to contain.
  • Consume your edibles with some food that contains at least a little fat, otherwise your body won’t absorb it very well because cannabinoids are fat-soluble.

Through high-quality cannabis oils, artisan confections and culinary infused-creations, cannabis is appealing to the palates of foodies everywhere. DIY oil and butter infusions will allow you to explore the thousands of cannabis recipes the cannabis community has developed at home.

Right now, Modern Leaf is giving away a LEVO so you can infuse your own oils and butters with your favourite flower easily – head to our Facebook Page to see how you can enter!



ABSORB (skin)

Cannabis topicals are becoming very popular to manage localized aches and pains. Cannabis topicals serve a few different functions. You won’t get a buzz from spreading cannabinoids on your skin, but you may feel some tingling as the cannabis works to improve circulation and act as a mild numbing agent for body soreness.

Topicals range from creams to balms, to body butter and heel rubs, to massage oils… one cannabis entrepreneur is even infusing cannabis into nail polish!



A tincture is an alcohol-based cannabis extract – there are also alcohol-free products, usually made with vegetable glycerin as a base.

Cannabis tinctures can serve as an alternative delivery method to smoking, and aren’t as powerful as edibles when you use it sublingually only. They also allow for higher precision of dosing and discretion in consumption.


There are two different methods to use a tincture, which alters the resulting effects.


How do I use Tinctures?

There are two different methods, which alters the resulting effects.

1. SUBLINGUAL(beneath the tongue)

–cannabinoids like THC and CBD are absorbed through the blood vessels in your mouth.

How to use: Place the dose of tincture under your tongue. Use your tongue to gently “paint” the tincture around your inner cheeks. You may also take a few slow, deep breaths in through your mouth and out through your nose while holding the tincture under your tongue. After about 30 seconds, spit the tincture out.

Effects: You should feel effects within about 15 – 30 minutes, and last a total of 2 – 4 hours.



–When you ingest the tincture, cannabinoids like THC and CBD are processed by the liver.

How to use: When ingesting tinctures, it is recommended that they are taken with food that contains some fat – this helps increase absorption significantly since cannabinoids are fat-soluble. You can even add tinctures to practically any drink or food, including juices, tea, coffee, salad dressings and sauces.

Effects: You should feel effects within about 30 – 90 minutes, and last a total of 4 – 8 hours. Ingesting a tincture is similar to ingesting edibles, which is why the peak effects will last much longer, and feel more intense.


While the legal cannabis market will provide consumers with high-quality cannabis tinctures, many also turn to DIY methods to make cannabis tinctures. Head over to cannabis lifestyle community Canndora to get a recipe for DIY alcohol-based cannabis tinctures.