Today, marijuana is being reevaluated on a cultural and legal level after being considered an illegal substance for decades.

Recent research reports a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use. As such, many states have legalized marijuana for either medical and recreational purposes, or both.

Still, some researchers and lawmakers want to see more scientific evidence supporting specific benefits of marijuana. Aside from more research, there are concerns that marijuana’s potential risks could outweigh its benefits in some cases.

Curious about whether the benefits behind this substance are all they’re talked up to be? We break down some of the most researched benefits as well as a few considerations.

What are the benefits vs. risks of marijuana?

Just as synthetic drugs can help some conditions and not others, marijuana isn’t a one-size-fits-all line of treatment. It’s thought that marijuana’s benefits come from some of its compounds called cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD).

CBD is one of the most widely studied cannabinoids in marijuana. CBD is also found in another related plant called hemp.

One major difference between CBD and marijuana is that the former only contains a trace amount of the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This compound is best known for its hallucinogenic effects on the brain.

Cannabis plants may contain up to 40 percent CBD. CBD is thought to have anti-inflammatory effects on the central nervous system. This can translate to multiple benefits in the body.

Still, there remains concern over the effects of THC in traditional marijuana. This is due to the fact that it can have stimulating or depressant effects in some people, which may lead to other side effects.

Thus, when considering marijuana for any medical condition, your doctor will likely assess whether the anti-inflammatory benefits outweigh any psychological risks.

What are the benefits of marijuana?

Currently, there are two synthetic versions of marijuanaTrusted Source. Doctors prescribe them for the treatment of severe epilepsy and chemotherapy side effects.

The following list of marijuana benefits are some of the most commonly discussed in scientific research, as well as anecdotally.

Pain management

The cannabinoids in marijuana may reduce pain by altering pain perception pathways in the brain. This may be helpful to treat conditions that cause chronic pain, such as:

  • arthritis
  • fibromyalgia
  • endometriosis
  • migraine

It may also minimize cancer treatment side effects, like loss of appetite.

In some instances, medical marijuana is reported to help replace the long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, which can have negative side effects.

Reduced inflammation

CBD in marijuana is thought to help reduce inflammation. In theory, this may benefit inflammatory conditions, such as:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • rheumatoid arthritis

Decreasing inflammation in the body can also improve overall health.

Neurological and mental disorders

Due to its effects on the limbic system, doctors sometimes prescribe marijuana to treat the following neurological and mental health conditions:

  • anxiety
  • epilepsy
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Tourette syndrome

Sleep management

The relaxing effects of marijuana may help improve sleep disorders, such as insomnia. And improved sleep may also occur when pain is reduced from marijuana usage.

What are the risks of marijuana?

Marijuana is said to have opioid-like effects on the central nervous system. However, it poses much fewer risks than synthetic opioids. It’s also not considered as addictive as other substances.

Those are two reasons why many advocates are pushing for marijuana legalization, so patients can have safer options for pain management. In fact, some people use marijuana as a way to treat opioid addiction.

Still, the potential risks of marijuana need to be considered in equal measure. Below are some of the side effects you should discuss with your doctor:

  • Hallucinogenic effects. Marijuana may cause mild hallucinations, poor motor skills, or altered perceptions of reality. For these reasons, certain activities may be unsafe after using marijuana, such as operating heavy machinery. Do not drive after using marijuana. Not only is it unsafe, but it is illegal in every state to drive after using marijuana – even in states in which marijuana use is legal.
  • Depressant-like effects. Marijuana may cause depressant effects, similar to those seen with alcohol use. You may feel calm and relaxed but also have issues with coordination and concentration. Some people may also feel depressive symptoms as a side effect.
  • Stimulating effects. Marijuana may boost mood, but it may also cause hyperactivity, rapid breathing, and increases in both blood pressure and heart rate. These effects aren’t as common in marijuana compared to depressant effects.
  • Other side effects. These may include bloodshot eyes, dry mouth, and increased appetite.

It’s important to know that the side effects of marijuana can vary between people. You may not know your exact experiences until after you’ve used it.

The legal issues

As of January 2020, 11 states as well as Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana, and 33 states have legalized it for medical use. However, marijuana itself is still considered illegal under federal law.

So, what does this mean if you’re interested in using marijuana for medical purposes?

First, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of marijuana for your condition.

Next, look up the laws in your state. Even if marijuana is legal in your state, you could be prosecuted for using it if you travel to a different state where it’s not legal. Plan accordingly to avoid any legal issues.

It’s also important to distinguish the difference between marijuana and CBD.

Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level but are still illegal under some state laws.

Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level but are legal under some state laws.

Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration and may be inaccurately labeled.

The takeaway

Marijuana is perhaps one of the most contentious topics today, both from a legal and health perspective.

More research on the benefits of marijuana for your health is needed for both sides of the debate to come to an agreement on its use in medical and recreational settings.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in the potential benefits of marijuana for your own health, it’s important to reach out to a doctor first. They can help guide you through the benefits versus any potential risks, as well as the legalities behind obtaining a medical marijuana card, depending on where you live.

Never try any drug or substance to treat a medical condition on your own. This includes plant-based sources like marijuana.

Sensation of a Marijuana High: Smoking, Edibles, and Vaping

Overview

Smoking, ingesting, or vaping marijuana can make you high or “stoned.” If you’ve never tried marijuana, you might wonder what it feels like.

Marijuana can have drastically different effects from one person to the next. Some people report feeling happy or relaxed. Others report laughter, altered time and sensory perception, and increased appetite. But marijuana can also cause less-desirable effects.

Keep in mind that marijuana is still illegal in most states. In others, it’s only legal with a prescription. You should only use marijuana when it’s legal.

Sensations of being under the influence of marijuana

Marijuana affects each person differently. Some people are very sensitive to marijuana’s effects, while others might not notice them as much.

How you react to marijuana depends on a number of factors, including:

  • the dose, strain, and potency
  • whether you smoke, vape, or ingest it
  • how often you use marijuana
  • your age, gender, and physiology
  • whether you drink alcohol or take other drugs at the same time

While high on marijuana, you might feel:

  • euphoric
  • relaxed
  • amused
  • giggly
  • creative
  • hungry
  • more sensitive to light, color, sound, touch, taste, and smell

However, marijuana use can also lead to unpleasant feelings or experiences. These include:

Negative reactions are more likely when you’re inexperienced or take too much. Strong cannabis can trigger a stronger reaction.

Stages of being high

The active ingredient in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). When you smoke or vape marijuana, THC enters your bloodstream via your lungs. Its concentration in the blood peaks within minutes. Eventually, THC is broken down and excreted in urine and stool.

Since your blood concentration of THC changes over time, it’s possible to experience different stages of being high. For example, feelings of euphoria tend to peakTrusted Source sometime after blood concentration of THC has peaked.

More research needs to be done to understand whether the effects of marijuana change over time.

Do different strains cause different highs?

Strains are different breeds of the cannabis plant. There are three main strains of marijuana: indica, sativa, and hybrids.

Users associate indica strains with relaxation, while sativa strains are believed to produce a more active, physical high. Hybrid strains are thought to combine the effects of both indica and sativa strains.

However, these differences in high are not scientifically proven. In addition, some researchers believe they’re unfounded.

According to a 2016 interview with Dr. Ethan Russo, an expert on the human endocannabinoid system, “One cannot in any way currently guess the biochemical content of a given cannabis plant based on its height, branching, or leaf morphology.”

He also stated that: “The differences in observed effects of cannabis are then due to their terpenoid content.” Terpenoids are a substantial group of organic compounds found in plants. They can have a wide variety of effects in humans.

Are the munchies real?

The “munchies” are a scientifically supported effect of marijuana. There’s likely more than one mechanism behind them.

THC affects brain areas that control appetite. It may also increase ghrelin, a hormone associated with hunger. Finally, THC enhances smell and taste, which can cause you to start or continue eating.

What does it feel like to vape marijuana?

Vaping marijuana is different from smoking marijuana. When you vape, you are inhaling vapor instead of smoke.

Vaping releases higher concentrations of marijuana’s active ingredients than other methods. As a result, vaping can produce a stronger high.

As with smoking, you should feel the effects of vaping right away. These effects can last up to four hoursTrusted Source.

Results from a 2018 studyTrusted Source indicated that vaporizing cannabis produced higher blood THC concentrations and stronger effects than smoking the same amount.

What does it feel like to be high on edibles?

Ingesting marijuana, whether in tinctures, sprays, or food and drink, leads to a different high than smoking. Theoretically, the effects are less intense, as THC is released into the bloodstream over a longer period of time.

For example, in a 2017 study that compared the effects of smoking, vaporizing, and ingesting cannabis, users reported weaker drug effects when cannabis was ingested.

However, there are anecdotal reports of edibles producing a strong and sometimes debilitating high. This might be due to the dose.

Other sources suggest that when ingested, THC reaches the liver faster, where it’s broken down into another psychoactive compound. The high might change depending on the concentration and ratios of THC and its metabolites in the bloodstream. More research needs to be done to understand these differences.

It can take between 30 and 90 minutesTrusted Source before you start to feel the effects of marijuana edibles. Edible highs tend to last longer than a smoking or vaping high. The effects are typically gone within 24 hoursTrusted Source.

How long does a high last?

The duration of a marijuana high depends on a variety of different factors, including the dose and potency. In addition, how you consume marijuana can drastically affect how long you feel high.

2017 reviewTrusted Source identified the following times for the onset, peak, and total duration of a marijuana high.

Method Onset Peak Total duration
Smoking and vaping Within minutes 20 to 30 minutes 2 to 3 hours
Edibles 30 to 90 minutes 3 hours Within 24 hours

Keep in mind that other differences, such as whether you smoke marijuana using a bong or a joint, can also affect how long the high lasts.

CBD vs. THC highs

CBD refers to cannabidiol. Like THC, CBD is a compound found in cannabis. However, unlike THC, CBD does not produce feelings of euphoria, or a high.

CBD does interact with the endocannabinoid system. Its effects are similar to those associated with marijuana. It’s been used to treat pain, anxiety, depression, and a number of other conditions.

Marijuana often contains a combination of CBD and THC. Other cannabis products only contain CBD or THC.

Effects of marijuana on your health

Marijuana has both short- and long-term effects in your body. Both depend on how much you take, how you take it, and how often. The negative effects of marijuana can be more pronounced in younger users.

In particular, marijuana can negatively affect:

  • mood
  • sleep
  • attention span
  • learning and memory
  • respiratory health
  • circulatory health
  • digestion
  • immune system
  • mental health

Marijuana is also addictive, which means that you can become dependent on it. If you’re thinking about taking marijuana, take some time to learn more about its effects on your body.

Takeaway

Smoking, vaping, or ingesting marijuana can make you high. A marijuana high is associated with feelings of relaxation and contentment, though negative reactions are also possible.

Smoking and vaping tend to produce a shorter, more intense high than edibles. However, what you experience after taking marijuana depends on a lot of factors, including the dose, potency, and your own previous experience with the drug.

If you’ve never tried marijuana before, proceed with caution.

Beginner’s Guide to Marijuana Strains

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Cannabis use is on the rise in the United States. A 2018 study notes that, while cannabis use among teens has decreased, American adults are increasingly using cannabis on the daily.

According to Forbes, the global cannabis industry is estimated to be worth $7.7 billion. It’s projected to hit $31.4 billion by 2021.

The industry is booming in part because cannabis can be a versatile form of medication. A number of research studies have found that cannabis has the potential to help with a variety of medical conditions, including anxietyTrusted Sourcechronic pain, and epilepsy.

But, as any recreational or medical marijuana user can tell you, not all cannabis is created equal. Different strains of cannabis produce different effects, and thus can be used for different reasons.

If marijuana is legal in your state and you’re looking to try it, but not sure which strains best suit your needs, we’ve got you covered. Check out our guide to marijuana strains below.

What is a marijuana strain?

If you’ve read a little about marijuana, or if you enter most dispensaries, you might see the words indica, sativa, and hybrid. Generally, most people divide marijuana into these three categories.

Indica, which originates from the Hindu Kush mountains of India, is believed to have a relaxing effect on the user. Sativa has a more energizing effect, while hybrid is a combination of the two.

Many industry experts, however, are reconsidering the indica, sativa and hybrid categories. According to Amos Elberg, head of data science at Confident Cannabis, these terms are more or less meaningless.

“We see samples of all cannabis products tested through our partner labs, and when we look at all the data, particularly of the chemical makeup of flower, we see no identifiable characteristics that are consistent with indica, sativa, or hybrid,” he explains.

“Essentially people are using these terms as catchalls for effect, but they’re not all consistent with those effects. Some indica makes some people wired, not couch-locked, for instance.”

In other words, people shouldn’t be alarmed if a reportedly energizing sativa strain has more of a mellowing effect, or if an indica strain makes them feel more bubbly and excitable.

Beyond indica, sativa, and hybrid, dispensaries might divide the types of cannabis they have into strains. Strains are essentially different breeds of cannabis, and they’re bred to have specific effects on the user.

But if the terms indica, sativa, and hybrid are essentially useless categorizations, are strain names also meaningless?

Not exactly, says Elberg.

“Not all seeds that are sold under the same name are genetically identical, or even necessarily related. Some producers may choose to create a strain name essentially as a branding exercise, or to identify their product with an existing name because they believe the product matches characteristics the market expects from product sold under that name,” Elberg explains.

There are, however, still consistencies among product sold under specific strain names, Elberg adds.

“In general, for the less common names, product sold by different vendors tends to be pretty consistent,” he notes. “For the most common strain names, however, a wider variety of different products are sold.”

If you purchase product from a quality source, the strains should be more or less consistent. Bear in mind, however, that every person reacts differently to cannabis.

How to choose a strain

The strain you choose depends on what effect you desire. As mentioned earlier, cannabis has a range of medical uses, but some strains are better for certain conditions than others.

It’s also worth researching the potential adverse effects of the strain. Many of the more common strains, which you can find below, list dry mouth, dry eyes, and dizziness as possible side effects. Marijuana also has the potential to interact with medications you might be taking. Do not operate machinery when using marijuana.

CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTORIf you’re interested in trying cannabis, and you’re looking to help treat a medical condition or currently taking any medications, speak with your doctor first.

Different types of strains

According to user reviews on Leafly, here’s what people might expect from a few of the most popular marijuana strains.

Acapulco Gold

Originating from Acapulco, Mexico, Acapulco Gold is a well-known and highly praised strain of cannabis. It’s noted for its euphoria-inducing, energizing effects. It’s said to reduce fatigue, stress, pain, and even nausea.

Blue Dream

Blue Dream is relaxing and soothing, but it isn’t a total sedative. This makes it perfect for easing pain, cramps, or inflammation for when you can’t afford to fall asleep. Plus, it’s said to lift your mood and give you a feeling of euphoria.

Purple Kush

Purple Kush is great for inducing a state of bliss so that you feel relaxed, happy, and sleepy. It’s often used for reducing pain and muscle spasms. Its sedating effects means it can be used to reduce insomnia.

Sour Diesel

A highly energizing, mood-lifting strain, Sour Diesel is great for giving you a burst of productive energy. It also has notable destressing and pain-relieving effects.

Bubba Kush

Bubba Kush is a relaxing, sleep-inducing strain. It’s perfect for helping you fight insomnia and get some shut-eye. It also offers pain-reducing, stress-relieving results.

Granddaddy Purple

Granddaddy Purple is another highly relaxing strain. It’s often praised for its insomnia-fighting and stress-reducing results. Users also note that it can make you feel euphoria and increase hunger, which is great if you’re experiencing a lack of appetite.

Afghan Kush

Originating from the Hindu Kush mountains near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Afghan Kush is super relaxing and sleep-inducing. This, too, can help you feel hungry if you’re experiencing a lack of appetite, and can relieve pain.

LA Confidential

LA Confidential is another relaxing and sleep-inducing strain that is often used to soothe insomnia. It’s also said to have noticeable anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing effects, which makes it a favorite among people with chronic pain.

Maui Wowie

Maui Wowie can help you feel super relaxed, yet energetic and creative. It reduces fatigue, too, making it great for days when you need to be productive.

Golden Goat

Golden Goat is notable for making users feel euphoric and creative. It’s also great for reducing fatigue and stress while lifting your mood.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights is another relaxing, sleep-inducing strain. It’s also known for its mood-lifting effects, and it can be used to relieve insomnia, pain, stress, and depression.

White Widow

White Widow improves your mood, gives you energy, and relaxes you all at once. It’s said to help reduce pain and stress, as well as feelings of depression. If you’re feeling fatigued, White Widow might help you stay energized and alert.

Super Silver Haze

Another energizing strain, Super Silver Haze is said to produce feelings of euphoria, relieves pain and nausea, and lifts your mood. This makes it excellent for stress relief. Buy Weed Online

Pineapple Express

Made famous by the 2008 eponymous movie, Pineapple Express has a pineapple-like scent. It’s relaxing and mood lifting, but is also said to give you an energetic buzz. Pineapple Express is the sort of strain that could be great for productivity.

Fruity Pebbles

Fruity Pebbles OG, or FPOG, is associated with inducing euphoria and relaxation, which could make it great for stress relief. It often makes users feel giggly, helps reduce nausea, and increases appetite.

Useful products

If marijuana is legal in your state and you’re interested in trying — or even growing — different types of cannabis strains, there are a number of products that can make your life a little easier.

GROWING LAWSLegislation around growing marijuana differs from state to state. Before you decide to grow, make sure you’ve done your research.

Volcano Vaporizer

Some people might prefer inhaling cannabis over smoking it through a pipe, bong, or joint. This desktop vaporizer heats up cannabis and expels the vapor into a balloon. The person then inhales the air from the balloon. Plug Play Pods

The vaporizer can be used with dried herbs or liquid concentrates, and can be purchased here.

Magical Butter Kit

Cannabutter — or cannabis-infused butter — is the basis of many edibles. Unfortunately, making cannabutter can be a lengthy and labor-intensive process.

This butter kit, however, makes it easy to infuse herbs into butter. It has its own heating unit and thermostat, which ensures that the product and butter are at the ideal temperature throughout the process.

Check Dosage Checker

The tCheck Dosage Checker tests the strength of cannabis-infused liquids — like alcohol-based tinctures. It can also test cannabis-infused olive oil, ghee (clarified butter), and coconut butter, which will help you determine how strong your edibles are before you indulge.

Unfortunately, it only checks liquids, not dried herb.

Palm Mincer

Grinding up cannabis can be time-consuming, so the Palm Mincer can be quite useful. It fits perfectly into your palm, and it can be used to chop up cannabis quickly and efficiently. What’s more it’s dishwasher safe, so it’s easy to clean off the sticky cannabis resin. You can buy it I here.

Harvest Starter Kit

If you want to start growing your own cannabis, this convenient starter kit contains everything you need to harvest it.

The grow kit includes a trimming tray, a microscope for examining the buds to determine whether they’re ready for harvest, three types of pruning shears, a disinfecting spray for your tools, a drying rack, and gloves.

Note: Even if marijuana is legal in your state, it continues to be illegal under federal law.

Vaping, Smoking, or Eating Marijuana

The safety and long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes or other vaping products still aren’t well known. In September 2019, federal and state health authorities began investigating an outbreak of a severe lung disease associated with e-cigarettes and other vaping productsTrusted Source. We’re closely monitoring the situation and will update our content as soon as more information is available.

Over the past decade, marijuana laws have continued to change across the United States.

What was once vilified as a potentially dangerous “gateway drug” is now being recognized by many states (33 plus Washington, D.C., to be exact) as having medicinal properties that can help manage a range of health conditions, from anxiety and cancer to chronic pain and more.

Marijuana is now also recreationally legal in 11 of those 33 states. (Note that marijuana is still classified as illegal by the U.S. federal government.)

In states where marijuana is legal, it’s being sold mostly in three different ways:

  • to be smoked
  • to be eaten
  • to be vaped

If you live in a state where marijuana is legal, you might be wondering how best to consume it, especially in light of recent federal investigations into the safety of vapingTrusted Source.

Here’s what we know.

Smoking and vaping both carry risks

For decades, health experts warned the public about the dangers of inhaling tobacco smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes.

For marijuana, some research suggests some compounds in it, known as cannabinoids, may have a few benefits.

One of the more well-known cannabinoids is called CBD. For this reason, some people believe smoking marijuana is less dangerous than smoking tobacco.

Cannabinoids, such as CBD, are different from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical in marijuana that gets a person “high.”

What about smoking?

Inhaling smoke of any kind — whether it’s cannabinoid-containing weed or tobacco or another substance — is bad for lung health, according to the American Lung Association.

Most marijuana users hold smoke in their lungs longer than tobacco smokers, putting them at greater risk for exposure to tar — which is harmful to the lungs.

Some negative health effects associated with chronic weed smoking include:

  • air pockets between the lungs and lungs and chest wall
  • chronic bronchitis
  • cough
  • excessive mucus production
  • possible increased risk of infection in immunocompromised people, such as those with HIV
  • possible increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections
  • weakened immune system
  • wheezing

What about vaping?

Vaping marijuana involves inhaling heated oil through a vaporizing device, often referred to as an e-cigarette. Vaping marijuana can also refer to using a vaporizer, such as a VolcanoTrusted Source, to produce vapor from dried plant material.

Some people believe vaping is safer than smoking because it doesn’t involve inhaling smoke. But the reality is, when it comes to vaping marijuana, there’s much less known about the negative health effects.

The most recent research suggests vaping THC oil could be quite harmful to lung health. The greatest concern at the moment is the severe effects of inhaling vitamin E acetate. This additive chemical has been found in many vaping products that contain THC.

What to know about vaping-related illnesses

As of Dec. 27, 2019, nearly 2,561 cases of lung injury (EVALI) caused by inhalation of vitamin E acetate, or “popcorn lung,” have been reported in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands) and have led to 55 deaths during that time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source.

Some of the people affected by vaping illnesses include children.

The CDCTrusted Source recommends people avoid using e-cigarettes and vaping products, particularly those containing THC oil, because they’re likely to contain vitamin E acetate.

Early research shows vaping liquids and oils — even once — can harm your lungs. Because vaping is new and hasn’t been well studied, there could be harmful effects of vaping that aren’t yet known.

Some states with legal marijuana are proactively warning marijuana users that vaping liquids has been known to cause severe lung injuries and death.

To stay up to date on the latest vaping-related illness news, check the CDC websiteTrusted Source for regular updates.

What’s the difference between smoking and vaping?

Smoking uses dried plant parts or concentrates

There are several ways to smoke marijuana:

  • One way is to roll dried parts of the flower into a joint using cigarette paper.
  • Some people mix their marijuana with tobacco, so it’s a bit less potent (this is called a spliff).
  • Some people use bongs or pipes to smoke.
  • Sometimes people smoke more potent forms of marijuana than the flower, called concentrates. These include hash and kief.

Vaping uses concentrated extracts or ground dry herb

When people vape, they consume concentrated marijuana. It seems to be a much more potent delivery system than smoking. In other words, you’ll get more high from vaping than from smoking.

Vaping can be more intense

Researchers have determined that the effects of vaping marijuana are much stronger than smoking.

In one studyTrusted Source, researchers found that first-time and infrequent marijuana users were more likely to experience adverse reactions from the enhanced delivery of THC caused by vaping when compared to smoking.

Both take effect fast

Both smoking and vaping have an almost immediate effect on the body. Their effects peak within 10 to 15 minutes.

Most experts recommend starting vaping or smoking very slowly, taking in a small amount at first and waiting 20 to 30 minutes before having more.

A note about marijuana strains

There are many strains of marijuana, each having slightly different effects on the body. Sativa strains are thought to be more stimulating. Others, called indica, are more relaxing. It’s worth noting marijuana strains can affect people quite differently. Just because a certain strain has purported properties doesn’t mean you’ll get those exact effects.

Another way to use marijuana

Because the harmful effects of smoking are well known and the health effects of vaping are unknown (and possibly very serious), it’s understandable that you might want to seek an alternative way to use marijuana.

If you’re looking to consume marijuana in the least risky way, ingesting it might be the way to go.

Edibles

Edible marijuana products, or edibles, can be any food or beverage. They include, but aren’t limited to:

  • brownies
  • candies
  • gummies
  • cookies
  • teas
  • coffee creamer

Effects take more time

Keep in mind that ingesting marijuana doesn’t have an immediate effect. Having too much can lead to adverse physical and mental reactions, such as:

  • paranoia
  • panic attack
  • elevated heart rate

But when eaten in moderation, edibles seem to have no apparent harmful health effects.

Marijuana needs to be heated

Eating “raw” marijuana won’t have the same effects on the body as consuming marijuana-based products prepared correctly. Marijuana has to be heated in order for its chemical compounds to be activated. Cooking it can do that.

Start small and keep waiting

It can take up to 2 hours for the effects of ingested marijuana to hit and around 3 hours for them to peak. Effects are often long lasting — anywhere from 6 to 8 hours.

For this reason, it’s important to start slowly. Consume a very small amount if you’re ingesting marijuana for the first time. For example, a common dose for edibles is 10 milligrams of THC. If you’re just starting out, opt for 2 to 5 milligrams of THC.

Focus on CBD instead

If you seek the purported beneficial health effects of marijuana without the high, you may want to seek out CBD oil and products that contain it. Note: the CDCTrusted Source does not recommend vaping any liquid, including CBD oil.

Note, however, that CBD products aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug AdministrationTrusted Source. If you do buy them, it’s important to do so from a reputable distributor.

Do’s and don’ts for edibles

Do

  • When consuming edibles, eat some other food along with them.
  • Don’t drive or operate machinery while under the influence of edibles. They may affect your judgement time and behavior.
  • Keep edibles away from children, pets, and anyone else who shouldn’t eat them.

Don’t

  • Don’t drink alcohol or use other drugs when taking edibles. It can intensify the effects.
  • Don’t have more if you’re “not feeling it.” Just wait.

While more research on the effects of consuming marijuana is needed, it appears we can conclude that smoking any substance — including marijuana — is generally not good for you.

New research suggests vaping liquids may also be detrimental to health and can cause serious problems, including death. So, it seems the least harmful way of consuming marijuana may be to eat it.

However, researchers note that long-term marijuana use and THC exposure may increase the risk of psychosis and mental health disorders.

If you want to get the health benefits of marijuana with the least amount of risks, it seems CBD products might be the way to go — though you won’t get high from using them.

Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state lawsMarijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.

Blunts, Spliffs, and Joints: What to Know Before You Roll Up

The terms blunt, spliff, and joint are often used interchangeably, but they’re not quite the same. To make things a bit more complicated, pot lingo varies from place to place.

Here’s a look at what it all means in the United States.

What is a blunt, anyway?

Blunts are cigars that have had the tobacco removed and replaced with marijuana. They can also be rolled using tobacco leaf wrappers.

As for the name? It comes from the Phillies Blunt cigar brand.

According to various internet sources, blunts originated in New York as a method for smoking pot discreetly, among other things.

What to know

Here are some things to consider before you get out that tobacco leaf or hit the corner store for a blunt wrap:

  • Blunts contain a lot more pot. Cigars are a lot bigger than the average joint, which means they can hold a lot more pot. Smoking an entire blunt is roughly the equivalent of smoking six joints.
  • Cigars and their wrappers are highly toxic. Even if you remove the tobacco, high concentrations of cancer-causing nitrosamines and other toxins created during the fermentation process may remain. And because cigar wrappers are more porous than rolling papers, the burning is less complete, resulting in smoke that has higher concentrations of toxins.
  • You’re inhaling harmful toxins. All smoke is harmful to lung health, no matter what you’re inhaling. According to the American Lung Association, marijuana smoke contains a lot of the same toxins and carcinogens as tobacco smoke. Smoking pot usually involves inhaling deeper and holding large amounts of unfiltered smoke for longer. This exposes you to even more irritants and toxins that damage your lungs and airways.
What about spliffs?

A spliff is a blend of cannabis and tobacco, usually in cigarette rolling papers.

The word spliff is West Indian and is said to be a take on the words “split” — as in split the difference between weed and tobacco — and “whiff,” referring to the smell of the smoke. Or, perhaps, referring to how adding tobacco masks the smell of the pot.

What to know

Adding tobacco means less pot, which is good, right? Not necessarily.

Both marijuana and tobacco smoke can damage your lungs and increase your risk for several serious conditions. Adding tobacco to marijuana just means you’re getting the damaging effects of tobacco, too.

Here’s what you need to know before getting spliffy with it:

  • Smoking tobacco and weed together can increase your risk for addiction. There’s evidenceTrusted Source that smoking marijuana with tobacco increases cannabis dependence symptoms. The two appear to balance out the negative symptoms caused by both. Smoked together, they also seem to enhance the enjoyable symptoms, such as relaxation. This makes a person less likely to notice the ill effects, and more likely to keep smoking.
  • Unfiltered tobacco smoke increases your risk for lung cancer and death. A recent study found that people who smoke unfiltered cigarettes are twice as likely to die from lung cancer and 30 percent more likely to die of any cause than smokers of filtered cigarettes. A spliff may contain less tobacco than a cigarette, but it’s still unfiltered tobacco smoke nonetheless.
Where do joints fit in?

Joints are the simplest of the bunch. They’re just ground marijuana rolled in cigarette papers. Sometimes people roll them with a crutch, which is basically just a stiffer bit of paper to hold the weed in place.

What to know

Unlike spliffs and blunts, which contain tobacco, joints contain nothing but cannabis and the paper it’s rolled in. The upside to smoking joints is that you’re not exposing yourself to tobacco or nicotine.

Still, they’re not much better for you:

  • Marijuana smoke can be just as harmful as tobacco smoke. Smoking marijuana irritates the lungs. People who smoke it often have the same breathing issues as tobacco smokers, such as chronic cough and frequent lung infections.
  • Smoking marijuana may cause air pockets in the lungs. According to the American Lung Association, smoking weed has been linked to the development of large air bubbles in the lungs and air pockets between both lungs and the chest wall in young to middle-aged adults who smoke a lot of pot.
  • Secondhand marijuana smoke may be more dangerous than directly inhaled smoke. Secondhand marijuana smoke contains a lot of the same toxins and carcinogens as directly inhaled smoke and may even contain more, according to some research.
Is one better for you than the other?

You might argue that joints are better for you because there’s no tobacco in a joint, but the benefit is minimal.

There’s no safe way of smoking anything. Joints, spliffs, blunts, pipes, bongs — they all carry risks.

Are there other options?

With cannabis become increasingly accessible, you have more options than ever for consuming pot that don’t involve smoking.

Edibles

Ingesting cannabis isn’t new. People have been making pot brownies and steeping marijuana leaves for tea for ages. These days, you have more options in areas with legalized cannabis, including gummies, lollipops, and capsules.

Just keep in mind that overindulging is a lot easier with edibles, so go slow, especially if you’re new to cannabis.

Oils

Cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, is derived from cannabis. CBD oil doesn’t contain THC, which is the compound that makes you high, but you get all of the other benefits.

You can apply CBD oil to your skin to relieve pain or add it to food and drinks. You can also find CBD oil capsules.

Sprays

Sprays are a newer way of using marijuana. Liquids are infused with CBD and THC to make sprays that you apply under your tongue.

The catch? This is a relatively new method, so there’s not much research on the safety of cannabis sprays.

Vaping

There isn’t any long-term data available yet on the safety of vaping. And in recent months, it’s been linkedTrusted Source to serious illnesses and even death.

If you’re going to give it a try anyway, be sure to get your cartridges from a licensed dispensary. Avoid liquids containing additives, including coloring, flavoring, and scents.

Blunts, spliffs, and joints are the main players when it comes to rolled cannabis. While each is slightly different from the other, they all come with the negative effects of smoking.

To use marijuana and avoid the harmful effects of smoke, consider an alternative method. Just be sure to get your products from a licensed dispensary. Be smart with your dosing to avoid any other unsavory effects, too.

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