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A Journal of Cannabis and Culture

Beyond Smoke

Beyond Smoke

Not too long ago, the only ways to consume cannabis were to smoke flower or eat dodgy, low-quality marijuana edibles. The results could range from pleasurable to perilous—a sort of cannabis roulette if you will. Your fate would be a mystery until your pot brownie’s THC kicked in, resulting in either a relaxing high, if you were lucky, or a traumatic bout of paranoia if you weren’t. Thankfully, we can now curate our cannabis experiences to avoid nasty surprises while maximizing the medical and therapeutic benefits.

Cannabis’s effect on a particular person is determined by several factors, such as dosage, strain, terpenes, our individual endocannabinoid systems, and the route of administration—meaning the form in which we choose to consume cannabis. Deciding which mode we use to take cannabis “can make all the difference in the world to a patient’s success,” Dr. Jordan Tishler told me, as the founder of Massachusetts-based cannabis medicine clinic InhaleMD and president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists. Smoking may be the best-known way to consume cannabis. “Inhalation is a quick onset, and moderate duration,” Tishler told me, noting that these qualities make smoking helpful in treating intermittent or episodic problems like insomnia or migraines. But it’s far from the only method.

Here’s a roundup of alternative formats, for people with lung or throat problems, or who just want to experiment.


Edibles take longer to kick in—up to an hour or two—and the effects can last several hours, depending on dosage, your metabolism, and whether you’ve eaten a meal first. Just be aware that when you eat cannabis, it’s processed through the liver, which can majorly increase the potency of THC. So start with a low dose—try 2.5 mg of THC—and wait to see how it affects you before eating more.

After experimenting, you’ll have a ton of options. Want to relax after a long week? Break off a single square of a Kiva Confections chocolate bar for a post-dinner treat with 5 mg of THC. Looking for something stronger? How about a Korova chocolate chip cookie with 10 mg of THC? Just want to chill out, minus the psychoactive high? Try a CBD cookie from Dr. Norm’s, or a Kushy Punch gummy.

According to Dr. Tishler, THC and CBD Edibles are also an ideal way to treat chronic issues like pain, “where we don’t take them ‘as needed,’ but rather by the clock to get long-lasting, stable relief.


Both THC and CBD are anti-inflammatory, so topical applications like balms, lotions, oils, and bath soaks can soothe inflamed or irritated skin and relieve sore muscles. Aside from transdermal patches, cannabis topicals do not result in a psychoactive effect, even if they contain THC.


Nonalcoholic cannabis-infused beverages are a good way to enjoy the uplifting or relaxing effects of THC and CBD without inhalation. Like edibles, they can have a long-lasting effect, but they may have a slightly quicker onset than edibles (around 30–90 minutes) due to the potential for sublingual absorption and the way the cannabis travels through your digestive system.

Hi-Fi Hops, a cannabis-infused sparkling beverage with a hoppy flavor, comes in two dosing options: 10 mg THC and no CBD for a noticeable high, or 5 mg THC and 5 mg CBD for a more balanced buzz. Or try mood33, a cannabis-infused sparkling tonic with 33 calories per bottle and a range of THC to-CBD ratios. Mood33 comes in three effects: Joy, Passion, and Calm.


Like edibles, sublinguals are ingested orally: you put them underneath the tongue via a tincture or strip. But instead of passing through the digestive system and getting broken down by the liver, they’re absorbed through the mucous membrane into the blood. This means the effect of the THC isn’t magnified like it is with edibles, and the onset is quicker, too, starting within 15 to 45 minutes. As with edibles, the effects can last several hours—typically between three and six.

Need pain relief? Try Awakened Topicals’ Raw Cannabis Sublingual Tincture, with a CBD: THC ratio of 3:1. For sublingual strips, consider Kin Slips, which come in four effects, including sleep and creative energy, with varying CBD and THC ratios. One effect, Park Life, is a calming, pain-relieving blend, in a 10:1 ratio of CBD to THC.

This story and many more are available in the newest issue of EMBER magazine—made with our partners, PAPER magazine. You can grab a copy at your local MedMen cannabis dispensary or at Barnes and Noble.

A Journal of Cannabis and Culture
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