Home Culture Edibles, Smoke, Vapor or Oils: Which Method is best for Medicating?

Edibles, Smoke, Vapor or Oils: Which Method is best for Medicating?


One of the great things about cannabis is there are so many different ways you can consume it – and each different method of delivery will offer you a slightly different effect than the last. For centuries (if not longer) we’ve known about smoking and eating as two great ways to consume cannabis – and in recent years, we’ve seen vaping and oils come about, each offering a unique experience.

Not only is marijuana most likely the most versatile medicine on our entire planet, but there is literally a form of consumption to suit almost anyone’s needs. This is what makes this such a perfect option for hundreds of thousands of people who use medical marijuana every year. The number of people who have become more comfortable with cannabis thanks to an alternative to smoking is astounding.

With so many options, where should a newcomer to marijuana – medicinally or recreationally – start when it comes to delivery method? Well, there are a lot of different factors to consider when making this decision, and frankly, some methods are much safer for first timers as far as not risking the chance of having a very uncomfortable couple of hours.

Multiple Options for Method of Delivery

The two oldest methods of consuming cannabis are through smoking and through edibles. Smoking is probably the most common form of recreational cannabis consumption – and likely a large percentage of medicinal patients as well. The effects are nearly immediate for most strains (we all know some strains just like to creep up on you) and they generally last for a couple of hours.

One of the reasons smoking is preferred to edibles is the fact that the onset of the high is much more noticeable right away, allowing you to dose as needed. If two or three bong rips or puffs off a joint get you where you need to be then great – stop there and pick it up again when you come down or feel you’re ready to.

With edibles, the chances of “overdosing”, or basically consuming too much THC, (which, may I quickly remind you, has NEVER resulted in death or even close) is much higher. The reason for this is it takes longer for edibles to work their way into your bloodstream and to your brain. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours before you feel the effects from an edible.

Since it takes so long for the onset of effects, people tend to eat too much thinking it’s not working. Then, when it kicks in, they’re in for a rather uncomfortable couple of hours. When using edibles it’s always best to eat a smaller amount and wait a while until you feel the effects. Once you’re sure that the high has set in, you can eat more if you think it’s necessary.

Now, if you want the quicker onset of smoking, but you aren’t too thrilled with the possibility of an irritated throat, you can always choose the alternative of vaping. Vaping has absolutely been proven to be safer than smoking cannabis – the reason being that smoking leaves behind a tar-like substance in the lungs (similar to tobacco tar, but not linked to lung cancer) and vaping does not leave any tar behind.

The high produced when you vape rather than smoking can also be different, even if it does hit you just as quickly. When you smoke you are also burning off a significant amount of the THC and other cannabinoids in the plant matter that get you high – when you vape, the temperature is controlled to release far more cannabinoids, resulting in a different high.

Lastly you have oils, which can be consumed in a number of ways. Some people use it directly on their skin, letting the cannabinoids absorb through their skin and into the bloodstream. Some use oils to make edibles that have a slightly different effect than when you bake the flowers into the food you’re eating.

Oils can also be vaporized or smoked (bringing on similar, but more potent effects than vaping or smoking plant matter). Oils are the newest form of marijuana consumption and by far the most controversial in certain forms and by certain individual consumption methods. There are also many companies that use oils to make capsules for medical patients who are not comfortable with other forms of consumption.  

If you want to learn more about oils and other concentrates, you should check out my previous article The Truth about Marijuana Concentrates.

What Makes Edibles and Oils so Different?

One thing that anyone who has experienced an edible or any form of hash oil knows is that these forms of cannabis are much more potent – and the reason for each is different. For edibles, the reason that the high is often more intense and longer lasting is because of the way your body processes the THC.

When you use cannabis flower to make edibles, whether it is baked goods or cannabutter, you will release a different cannabinoid than you’re used to. When you eat cannabis flower in such a way, the THC is metabolized by your liver, which in turn releases 11-hydroxy-THC, which is a much more potent version of the cannabinoid than you get from any other form of delivery.

With oils it is a little bit different as there are multiple ways you can consume them. While you’ll read more about vaping and smoking oils below, we’re going to take a quick look at using oils in edibles as an alternative to flowers, and using the oil directly as you would with any other essential oil.

When you consume a cannabis edible made with THC oil you can expect much of the same as the old-fashion edibles made with flowers. However, you should always remember that oils are far more potent with THC as they are concentrated; which means even with the same amount, say a gram, the THC content will be double or more.

Baked goods and other edibles that come from dispensaries are better for first timers since you’re much more likely to have an idea of how much you’re consuming compared to homemade edibles. Retail items are required to have labels that accurately explain the dosage of the item – and many come in single doses.

Oils can also be mixed into a drink (which some parents do for children using THC oil to treat a condition) and others even rub the oil directly into their skin in a similar fashion to how essential oils are used.

Why Choose Vapor or Smoke?

The main reason that anyone would choose vaporizing or smoking over an edible or an oil is because the chances of reaching your desired high is much more likely. As mentioned earlier, it is much easier to dose as you go via vaping or smoking rather than choosing an edible and getting impatient. For those who are new to the cannabis scene, it may be wise to start here to ensure you have a pleasurable experience.

Another reason that people choose vaping or smoking is because of the quick onset of the effects. If you’re in pain or you’re nauseous, then you don’t want to be waiting around for 30 minutes to two hours for an edible or an oil capsule to kick in, you want relief now. The best way to obtain that is through a delivery method that will bring on the effects the quickest and these methods are by far the best for that.

Now, whether you choose to smoke or vape with flowers or oils is an entirely different story. If you’re a beginner it is wise to start with flowers until you have an idea of the effects you desire. Not everyone likes to be baked out of their mind, some prefer a much mellower buzz – and until you know that you should be careful with oils and other concentrates as they are far more potent.

Choosing the Best Way to Medicate

In the end, what it comes down to is your needs and your personal preference. For someone who is in pain and cannot wait up to a couple hours for relief, then a vaporizer or a joint are likely the better options. Then they are able to medicate on an as-need basis, allowing them more control.

However, for children and patients who are not comfortable with smoking or vaping, edibles and oils are very attractive options. Oils, as mentioned, can be used in many different ways including in edibles, as a topical and even in capsule form. A while back we posted an article about Wana-Caps, which are a slow release capsule form of marijuana.

The way you medicate should be discussed between you and your doctor – always do what helps your body and mind the most and always dose responsibly when choosing edibles and oils as your delivery method. Each and every one of these forms of consumption offer much needed relief and each form will work better for some than it will for others.


  1. The development of methods of administration is still in its infancy. Oe of the artifacts of the WoD is research and development into ailment-specific applications and non injurious methods of administration is still being performed mostly by non clinicians.

    Once cannabis is rescheduled, real scientific work can be done to create actual medications and supplements instead of these crude extracts. Until that day, I’ll stick with kief.

  2. I had a very long lightly detailed comment, rather a question.
    You said it well about eating let’s use cookie. Some with little or no experience may eat that cookie and every 20 mins end up eating half dozen until the benefit kicked in. Now the are having a really bad experience ruining it for them and all he told.
    Then some one posed a question to me concerning the latest to become the way to deliver. Plugging. I had read about it so I didn’t just stand there eith my chin having down. I may even be willing to try it, but the stigma of where you would plug in o guess wigs me out too. Would you have any real info on this. Bit embarrassed to ask bit your input, should say ideas on this would be highly appreciated.

    Thank you,