Eating, Vaping, and Smoking Cannabis Compared

Cannabis can be consumed through a number of different methods. By far, the most popular methods today are vaping, edibles, and smoking. Here, we briefly explain the advantages and drawbacks of these popular methods.


Ingestion is the safest and most varied way to consume cannabis. Cannabis has been enjoyed as an edible preparation for thousands of years, and the young leaves are sometimes prized for their own flavor in their own right. Edibles can be incorporated in an extremely wide array of foods and beverages, including coffee, tea, and baked goods.

However, making a properly dosed preparation from scratch can be quite challenging and involves a number of steps in order to ensure that the active compounds in the cannabis can be easily processed by the liver. This usually means binding the cannabis to an edible oil such as butter.

For that reason, products such as CBD oil are quite popular for use in edibles as there is no need to pre-prepare the cannabis before incorporating it into any of a wide variety of products.

One drawback of edibles is that they can take a few hours to take effect. This is because the active compounds in the cannabis have to pass through the digestive system and to the liver before they reach your bloodstream and your endocannabinoid system.


Vaping has become an extremely popular way to consume cannabis in the past decade, largely due to the fact that it is convenient, fast-acting, and demonstrably safer than smoking. Ground up cannabis or cannabis-derived products such as CBD oils can be consumed through a vaporizer.

Like smoking vaping allows the active compounds in cannabis to enter the bloodstream through the lungs, allowing for effects to be felt in a matter of seconds. Unlike smoking, however, vape pens vaporize rather than combust cannabis. This means that the cannabis burns cleaner with much fewer harmful particles being drawn into the lungs, compared to regular smoking. Vape pens also allow very precise doses, if needed.

Vaping is not without its drawbacks, however. There is a bit of an investment involved getting set up with a vape pen, and not all vape pen types are suited for all lifestyles. One may have to go through a few pens and setups before finding something that works well for them.  When one is already set up however, the cost per dose can be quite low, and waste is kept to a minimum, especially when one keeps the vapor in their lungs for an extended period.


Smoking is, by far, the most common ingestion method for cannabis. Cannabis smoking has been around in some form or another for since the ancient Assyrians in 3,500 BC, and likely earlier.

While it’s a quick and low-cost way to consume cannabis, it’s also the least healthy way to consume it, as the lower temperatures often lead to combustion rather than vaporization, which can leave an enormous quantity of solid particles in the lungs.

However, many people enjoy smoking cannabis due to the convenience and variety of methods available that can help add to the enjoyment.

Other methods

Cannabis can also be applied topically on the skin and hair, as rectal or vaginal suppositories, or sublingually with specially-prepared tinctures.  Topical applications do not typically result in a high and only produced highly localized effects.

Rectal and vaginal suppositories are not quite as popular as most other methods. However, they offer an easy way to deliver highly controlled doses quickly. They work by entering the bloodstream through mucous membranes in the rectum or vagina.

Sublingual preparation, on the other hand, allows cannabis compounds to penetrate the blood barrier through the mucous membranes in the mouth. This makes it a fast-acting method that is non-invasive compared to suppositories. For this reason, sublingual medical cannabis products are gaining popularity as a way to deliver very controlled doses.