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Cannabis Consumption Methods: Is Inhaling Cannabis Right for You?

If you’re relatively new to the wonderful world of all things cannabis, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by all the choices you have. Which consumption method is the right one for you?

Jason SanderJason Sander · Aug. 14, 2020 · 6 min read
Cannabis Consumption Methods: Is Inhaling Cannabis Right for You?

If you’re relatively new to the wonderful world of all things cannabis, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by all the choices you have. Which consumption method is the right one for you? In part one of our series, we discuss all the ways to consume cannabis through inhalation. Keep reading this article for all the information you need.

Behind choosing their favorite cultivars, the second-most important decision a cannabis consumer will make is how they ingest. Studies indicate that cannabis has a myriad of medical benefits. These benefits are physical and mental - but the extent of those benefits as well as how you feel the effects depends a lot on your method of consumption.

There are three main ways to deliver cannabis: inhaling, orally, and topicals. In this article, we are discussing all the ways to inhale cannabis. Part two of our series discusses ingesting cannabis orally, either oil or by eating edibles - as well as topicals. Without further ado, let’s start exploring the many ways to inhale cannabis.

Inhalation Methods

When a consumer inhales cannabis, the plant’s gases enter their lungs and are absorbed into their bloodstream. Inhalation happens one of two ways - either smoking or vaping. Smoking cannabis was the most common method of consuming for centuries. There is evidence that 2,500 years ago, people in Central Asia burned cannabis in clay pots and inhaled the smoke.

This ancient practice is changing rapidly, largely because many cannabis consumers are health-conscious nowadays. The negative impact on respiratory health and lung cancer from smoking tobacco is well-known. While there is no definitive evidence that smoking cannabis causes cancer, combusting any plant can potentially come with risks to the respiratory system. For this reason, many consumers are choosing to vaporize cannabis or consume edibles.

Because cannabis has been illegal in the U.S. since 1937, it has been difficult and next to impossible for scientific researchers to study the effects of smoking the plant. Effective and thorough research can’t exactly be done on something against the law. Much of the studies done on cannabis consumers have been self-reported, which means people described their behaviors. It’s tough to reflect the truth in a survey when its participants are describing something they did illegally.

"There is evidence that 2,500 years ago, people in Central Asia burned cannabis in clay pots and inhaled the smoke."

Handheld Pipes and Waterpipes

Consumers who smoke cannabis do so most commonly with handheld pipes. Pipes are small, easy to use, and highly portable to carry around. Cannabis consumers tend to prefer glass pipes, but there are also pipes made from other materials - like wood, metal, ceramic, and so much more.

Of course, there are also water pipes - which are also called bongs. These are larger than handheld pipes and vary greatly in size. These devices are filled with water and use what’s called a stem to pack the cannabis. There are also glass pieces called bubblers, which are closer in size to handheld pipes but also use water. Some cannabis consumers maintain the notion that the water in water pipes filters out potentially harmful irritants while inhaling cannabis smoke. However, there isn’t any concrete evidence to support this idea - just anecdotes and the fact that the smoke feels cooler on the throat with a water pipe.


Legal cannabis is a multi-billion dollar industry, and glassblowing is a decent chunk of that. Glassblowers create some amazing artwork with their creative designs. Millions of cannabis lovers are unlikely to cease their desire to smoke out of crazy glass pieces anytime soon.

There are also devices called hookahs, which are tobacco pipes that originated in India and evolved in Turkey. Many people think that these pipes called a narghile in Turkish, were used for opium or cannabis in Asian parts of the world. However, this is mainly not the case. Instead, flavored Turkish tobacco is inhaled through a hookah. Hot coals are placed on the tobacco and are heated up and smoked.

Smoking shisha or flavored tobacco dates back thousands of years and was seen as communal. Hookahs are a novelty and have only been used to consume cannabis or another substance in the western world. However, loading cannabis flower alone into a hookah will cause it to burn up quickly, so some consumers add tobacco to it as well. This causes the same concerns for health-conscious consumers as blunts, and speaking of which…

Rolling Papers and Blunt Wraps

Rolling papers and blunt wraps are used to smoke cannabis by filling the paper with flower and rolling it up into something that resembles a cigarette. It’s important to “break up” the cannabis flower before attempting to roll a joint. Some more eco-friendly rolling papers are made from plants like hemp, rice, and bamboo. However, cheap rolling papers are made with who-knows-what.

Joint smoking was popularized circa the hippie generation of the 1960s and 70s, but they were fairly common before that as well. Joints are even more portable than handheld pipes. Passing around a joint was seen as communal. It still can be viewed as such to this day, but it’s best to avoid doing this amid a pandemic.


Blunts are rolled with cannabis from cigar leaves that have the tobacco hollowed out. They do contain nicotine. Many old school consumers like the combined feeling of smoking cannabis and nicotine together. However, you are inhaling a lot of carcinogens this way, which makes smoking blunts possibly the most unhealthy way of consuming cannabis.

We recommend against both of these relatively outdated methods of consuming cannabis. Inhaling tobacco smoke and burnt paper is likely not good for your lungs. However, if you must choose one of the two, a joint is probably the better choice. we won’t try to stop you as long as you consume legally and responsibly!

Vaping Flower

Vaporizers heat cannabis flower past the point of combustion, meaning there is less smoke inhalation. There is a multi-billion dollar market for vaporizers of all kinds. Vaping is thought of as a healthier alternative than smoking. And while this appears to be true on the surface, some studies indicate that vaping nicotine can damage your lungs. However, little definitive evidence currently exists that vaping cannabis does damage to the respiratory system. We always urge you to do your due diligence for consuming anything.

Dabs and Vape Pens

Dabbing involves heating cannabis concentrates like wax and shatter on a surface, like a nail, or inhaled in what’s called a dab rig. Some consumers use blow torches to dab, which we recommend against. The safer option is what’s called an Enail, which heats the dab without the need for a large open flame.

There have been some inexperienced people trying to make their concentrates for dabbing which resulted in fires and explosions. Blowtorches and explosions are scary. For many people, especially newbies, and those who don’t consume or are uneducated might get the wrong impression about dabbing. However, when cannabis concentrates are made in an actual lab with highly knowledgeable professionals, explosions and fires do not happen.

Perhaps a safer option, at least the way you ingest, is with a vape pen. Vape pens come with pre-filled cartridges that are filled with cannabis oil. Vape cartridges are disposable and pens are highly portable and can be effective for the medical patient who doesn’t want to dab or smoke.

Due to untested, unlicensed illicit vape cartridges, there was an unfortunate vape crisis last year. Many people had their lungs damaged due to a substance called vitamin E acetate. However, again, these bad things don’t happen when consumers and product makers behave legally and responsibly. We have said it before, and we will say it again - these bad actors must be called out by responsible and conscious cannabis consumers. This is the way we prevent harmful materials from being illegally added in vape cartridges.

HashDash - Unique. Transparent. Educational.

This article is a solid primer to begin to educate you on the different ways of inhaling cannabis, and we hope you found value in it. While some more experienced consumers might have rolled their eyes at how elementary some of these explanations are, we are all about education and inclusion!

Be sure to check out part two of our series. In part two, we discuss oral ingestion methods like oil and the wonderful world of consumables. Consumables are one of the safest ways to ingest cannabis, so you don’t want to miss it. We also discuss the third method of consuming cannabis - topicals.

HashDash is compiling an entire information database that will continue to answer your questions on cannabis topics as well as where to find the best dispensaries in your area. Be sure to sign up for HashDash to discover your cannabis matches if you haven’t already. As always, thanks for reading, and happy consuming!

DISCLAIMER: HashDash does not condone or support any illegal activity. All cannabis consumption methods described in this writing are to educate readers as they consume legally and responsibly.

Jason Sander
Jason SanderJason is a versatile writer and marketer with over ten combined years of experience working with clients in various industries. He couples this expertise with six years of writing for the cannabis sector as well as a passion for the business side, and the science behind the plant medicine.




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