Flowers and Oils and Gummy Bears, Oh My! A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis Modalites. It’s not just for smoking anymore.

We all know that cannabis flowers aka, buds, can be smoked. When you burn the flowers you also kill many of the cannabinoids, the active ingredients of cannabis. If you were to heat the flowers until it vaporizes the buds, then you get a higher concentration of the full cannabinoid profile and terpenes . However, keep in mind, sometimes smoking can cause a more intense high than vaporizing. We would suggest a new user not start with either smoking or vaporizing because the high can be too intense for many new users. There are more benign forms of cannabis one could try first before graduating to smoking or vaporizing cannabis if you are a new cannabis user who fears getting “too high.”

In general, if you want to use cannabis without a high then you would first want to try a topical cream or salve. Second try a tincture. Third recommendation is smoking or vaporizing. Fourth, try an edible with medicated butter, or oil. Then if none of those options work, I would try a concentrated form of cannabis. The least popular to discuss and the last resort for nausea relief is a suppository. All other forms except topicals or tinctures are likely to cause a high. We are not trying to demonize the high. A high could unexpectedly help medical patients because it could help them forget about their pain.

To recap, if you want to start using cannabis, I recommend you try cannabis in this order:

  1. Try topicals for pain relief, to help you heal or to fight cancer without “getting high.”
  2. Try tincture if you need pain relief and don’t mind a mild euphoria.
  3. Try vaporizing or smoking if you want to use cannabis for pain, nausea, and don’t mind “getting high.”
  4. Try eating edibles if you have want a different kind of high, or if your medicinal needs are not met by tincture and/or if smoking and vaporizing either isn’t enough or if you choose not to smoke or vaporize. Use with extreme caution.
  5. Try using concentrated cannabis for serious medicinal needs or if smoking or vaporizing do not produce the high you are seeking. Use with extreme caution.


Topical cannabis preparations

Topicals: The easiest way to use cannabis without a debilitating high is to use cannabis topically, aka transdermally. Topical use is recommended for pain, cancer, anxiety, muscle spasms, or cuts and bruises. It can be impressive to test a salve on bruises or minor cuts. A future blog will be dedicated to some case studies of the healing powers of salves. Anyone can make a cannabis salve at home by heating coconut oil with leaves and flowers, and then strain the material. Because coconut oil liquefies above 76 degrees, many experienced salve makers will add bees wax and many other delightful ingredients to help the salve solidify at room temperature and/or make the salve more healing and smell great. There are also lotions, creams, essential oils, and bath salts (the kind that relax you rather than turn you into a murderous zombie). Another great reason to use cannabis topically is because it is not likely to cause a person to fail a drug test. The Drug Policy Alliance has delved into why. However, cannabis producers are creatively discovering how to make their products stronger every day. I would recommend that if you want to be sure to pass a drug test, then you should go without using cannabis in any form for 6 weeks.

cannabis tinctures


Tinctures: The most benign way to ingest cannabis is in a tincture and can be used for pain, cancer, anxiety, muscle spasms, PTSD, insomnia, glaucoma and nausea. This sublingual use, meaning under the tongue, is fast acting and easy to use anywhere. The most common tinctures are made from glycerin or alcohol. If you use a few drops to a full dropper of tincture, swish for 15 seconds and swallow, then you may feel an immediate relief to anxiety or pain. The relief can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a full day. Glycerin is a vegetable sugar made from palm, soy, corn or coconut. Even though it is a sugar, glycerin is lower on the glycemic index than sugar and is approved for low carb diets. While some people report that they sleep better after using a glycerin tincture, it is considered non-drowsy and can be used while working. While the tincture can be used for nausea, it may require swishing for 15 seconds and spitting out of you can’t swallow anything. Alcohol tinctures could be used during the day but may be a bit more likely to cause drowsiness. Alcohol tends to extract more of the sleepy cannabinoids than vegetable sugars. Some people add other ingredients with healing properties or to change the taste of the tincture. Any form of tincture can be added to hot tea if you don’t like the thickness of a glycerin tincture or any taste of alcohol.

Volcano vaporizer


Vaporizing or Smoking: If a person wants to medicinally use cannabis and they don’t mind risking feeling a high in order to get relief, then they can go straight to the most commonly used form of cannabis, smoking or vaporizing the flowers. Doctors would prefer that patients vaporize versus smoking because there is not likely to be residual effects that could affect your respiratory health. Additionally, smoked cannabis has carcinogens whereas vaporizing has 95% less. If you were to look at a pipe used to smoke cannabis, you might notice a black tar like substance that you can probably assume would also exist in the smoker’s lungs. However there may be cannabinoids in smoked cannabis that help this problem such as those that cause the lungs to expand and dislodge residue. The University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute looked into the studies of smoked cannabis and concluded that they can’t seem to prove that smoked cannabis causes cancer. Surprisingly, cannabis smoked through water in a bong is not effective at filtering the carcinogens out of smoke. Never the less, patients have risked their respiratory health to get the positive effects of smoking. If a patient is suffering from nausea, smoking cannabis is the fastest way to relief. Smoked or vaporized cannabis can be particularly effective for glaucoma by helping to relax the eye and relieve inner ocular pressure. There are some analgesic (pain relief) qualities to smoked cannabis and may also work better than pain, anxiety or PTSD medications because cannabis helps you forget about pain, anxiety or post traumatic stress. Smoked cannabis helps cancer patients going through chemotherapy and battling nausea but more concentrated forms of cannabis may actually combat cancer cells and will be explored further when discussing concentrated cannabis. The effects can last up to 8 hours.


Edible cannabis preparations

Edibles: Edible cannabis sounds like it would be a benign form but it is actually far from it. When eaten, cannabis is metabolized, the high is often hard to predict and can last 36-48 hours. This is a much longer duration than smoking. However it can help people with digestive issues especially, pain, glaucoma, muscle spasms, insomnia and really most any ailment. Eating cannabis may not be the way to use cannabis while working, as it can make a person very drowsy or “spacey”. Generally any edible that uses a fat to extract the cannabis tends to bring out the sleepy qualities of the cannabis. It is best to try a very small portion of an edible, and wait 2 hours. If after 2 hours you feel nothing, try another tiny piece of an edible and wait another couple of hours. This can be exhausting trying to find the right dosage. If we are in a state that has tested edibles, we can see how many milligrams are in an edible. You might be able to discern how much you can handle eating if you have experience and know what works and what doesn’t.

Cannabis wax


Solventless Concentrated Extracts:

Bubble Hash aka Ice Water Hash: For the seasoned user, we can recommend concentrated cannabis, aka concentrates. Concentrated cannabis is an exploding new aspect to the cannabis industry for medical use and for adult fun use. The original concentrated cannabis was called hash, bubble hash, ice water hash and kief. The newer forms of hash are considered hash oils.

Bubble hash cannabis


Bubble Hash or Ice Water Hash is a collection of the strained trichromes of the plant that fall off when cannabis is washed in ice water. Then you strain the material through bags with certain sized, or sizes of micron fabric that collect the crystals. Then the crystals can be pressed or left unpressed, dried and smoked. The term bubble hash comes from the fact that bubbles form in the ice water when being agitated to shake the crystals off of the cannabis buds and leaves. This particular form is especially good for insomnia. The other original concentrate is kief which is the crystals that have fallen off of the buds and leaves without the need for ice water. Some people trim their cannabis on a screen so that they can catch the crystal kief below and spread it on top of cannabis for smoking or vaporizing. It can also be pressed like ice water hash.

Rosin: A new form of solventless concentrated extract has emerged on the market and it is called Rosin. When heat and pressure is applied to cannabis a hash oil is emitted and this hash oil is called rosin. This author has tried to extract rosin with no success but I have enjoyed using other people’s rosin.

Full Extract Cannabis Oil / RSO: The least controversial hash oils are full extract cannabis oil, aka, Rick Simpson Oil and CO2 hash oil. The full extract cannabis oil and Rick Simpson Oil involve high powered alcohol mixed with buds and leaves, strained and cooked down into a black paste. We recommend Everclear for the solvent. The Full Extract Cannabis oil aka RSO is the oil that many use to combat cancer. Even the federal government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse has had to admit that THC and CBD have been found to kill cancer cells in a high enough concentration particularly when coupled with radiation. This oil is somewhat dangerous to produce because heating alcohol is extremely flammable. However there have been no known accidents producing this oil.

CO2 Oil: CO2 oil is less controversial because it is not as dangerous to produce and does not leave any known residual solvents.

Butane Hash Oil (BHO) and Propane Hash Oil (PHO): The most controversial is Butane Hash Oil (BHO) and Propane Hash Oil (PHO) because of the explosive capabilities of releasing the flammable substance into the air. Too many people have chosen to make this substance in their home or in buildings putting innocent people at risk. There is a way to capture the liquid and vapor and reuse it several times which does not release the flammable vapor into the air and this is called a closed loop system. These hash oils can be used in vapor pens, or put on a nail heated with a torch and vaporized. Hash oils can be used in edibles, such as gummies. When eaten, BHO, PHO and CO2 oils are less debilitating, and less of a sleep inducer than edibles made with medicated butter.

Suppositories: Last and definitely least popular is suppositories. When all other forms are not useful, the last option may help with nausea and digestion more than any other ailment. Suppositories are inserted rectally, thus the reason why it is the least popular. However when you have severe nausea, you don’t rule out any potential therapy.

Every day cannabis producers are finding new ways to use the cannabis plant so this list will likely be longer in the future. Have fun finding out which form works for you. And for best results, use cannabis correctly and if you need guidance, check out our blog on how to use cannabis medicinally and recreationally.