One of the most frequently asked questions that we get is "what is the best way to consume marijuana?" With so many people smoking for the first time due to medical reasons, or revisiting the changed cannabis industry after a couple of decades off, or whatever the reason, it seems like I get asked this question at least once a day. The truth is, there isn't a correct answer to this question. Simply, it's a matter of personal preference.
There are so many ways to consume marijuana, that it is rarely the same from one person to the next. The best way to figure out what is best for yourself is to determine what your goal is. Are you trying to get a light head change, or are you trying to get totally blasted, or somewhere in between? How you are trying to feel will largely determine the method you end up liking the most.
Also, availability will be a big factor as well. For instance if you live in Idaho like my cousins, and you don't even know what a headshop looks like, chances are you are just going to go Macgyver no matter what. In this article I will discuss my personal opinion on various methods, but as always, this is not the only opinion out there, and certainly doesn't list every method of consumption. If you have a different opinion, or have a different method of consumption, please leave it in the comments section so that others can benefit from your expertise.
The most common way that people consume the first time (or first time back) seems to be the joint. A three foot double perk is very intimidating, but a doobie seems like not as much of a big deal I suppose. The joint is highly versatile (you can smoke it anywhere that smell is not a factor) and it certainly gets you high. Plus, they are fun to smoke; who doesn't like holding fire in their hand? The big downfall to the joint though, as I alluded to above, is the smell. Joints wreak, so smoking them anywhere and everywhere is not always possible. Plus you have to re-up on papers from time to time, which is not as awesome as having a piece that is re-usable.
The pipe is a logical next step to this discussion, since it is probably the second most common form of consumption. A pipe is easy to carry around, cheap if you know the right places to purchase one, and are good for the 'pass-around group' settings. The bowls burn longer than in pieces that use water. The big problem I have with pipes is that they don't get me high enough. If I smoke several bowls I get high, but there is only so much smoke that fills into the chamber of the pipe at any given time, so taking my finger off the carb doesn't give as big of hits as a bong. However, I smoke all day everyday, so my end goal is probably different than others reading this article. If you don't smoke like a broken chimney, a pipe is a great way to go.
A bubbler is a great in-between for those that have been smoking off the pipe but are not ready for the bong. A bubbler is basically just a fancy pipe with water filtration capabilities. I have hit off of some amazing bubblers in my day. The 'sherlock' bubbler style is my personal favorite. I don't know the physics of the situation, but it just seems like sherlock bubblers create the ultimate wind tunnel in the chamber of the bubbler when the carb is released. Most bubblers are smaller than bongs, so they are easier to pack around, yet offer bigger hitting than a pipe.
The bong is fantastic. I vividly remember my first bong hit. It didn't go well, but it started a love affair that continues to this day. Bongs require a knowledge of one's lung capacity, so that the bong operator will know when to time pulling the carb or taking their finger off of the carb hole. If you don't time it right, you will either take in too much smoke or leave too much smoke in the bong. The first can be quite painful, while the latter is not too big of a deal other than wasted smoke is just sad! A bong is harder to pack around, but it always does the trick. I don't like bongs that are too big, or too small. A one to two foot bong is perfect for my lung capacity; others will obviously vary. A bong purchase is a fantastic investment to those out there that are debating whether or not to make the jump.
A blunt could have followed the joint, since it's basically a joint in a cigar wrap, but I figured I would do it after the more common methods. A blunt is not nearly as easy to roll as a joint, and a lot of people I know don't like tobacco mixing with their weed so they don't do it. I love blunts myself, even though I will admit that I'm not the biggest fan of tobacco. A blunt burns longer than a joint, you can roll enormous blunts that can hold several grams, and flavored blunt wraps are fantastic. I have smoked a lot of flavored paper joints, but they don't seem to pack as much flavor as a fruity blunt wrap. The same downfall that plagues the joint also plagues the blunt. Also, logically, a bigger blunt will make a bigger smell, so be aware of that.
Knife hits are like the marijuana equivalent of beer bonging. It's fast and furious, and reminds me of college. The obvious benefit of the knife hit is you get annihilated, the downfall is you can hyperventilate and pass out in your kitchen (I've seen it too many times). Also, it takes quite a bit of prep, and your knives will never be the same! But if you are trying to go from zero to hero, knife hits are a great way to consume marijuana..
Gravity hits are another great way to forget what you were doing for awhile. It's kind of tough sometimes if you don't have the technique down, but if you can relax the wrist and get solid suction (insert inappropriate comments here), you can get some of the biggest hits of your life. You have to be able to make a solid cap, which can be kinda tough for some people, but at least once you make it you have it forever. The downfall is a possible mouth full of water, and the smoke doesn't filter through the water, it just sits on top (this can be fixed by making a 'percaliter,' but that takes the ultimate macgyver).
A waterfall/aqualung/vortex/liter, or whatever you call it (see picture) probably gets me the highest out of any of the smoking methods. It takes the least amount of weed, gets me high the fastest, and is very easy to transport. As long as you have a water source and the cap, transporting the bottle just looks like a used bottle. I've gotten ripped of this thing in minutes at sporting events, camping, you name it. Fast and effective. One downfall is it can also cause you to hyperventilate. I have seen more people knocked out by this device than I have ever seen in years of watching MMA. Also, I can't imagine using an industrially made plastic bottle to smoke out of is a good thing...
Vaporizers are considered by many as the best way to consume marijuana. From the literature that I've read, vaporizers can eliminate up to 95% of carcinogens from the plant material. Also, the taste is very distinct with a vaporizer. A big downfall to vaporizers can be the price (especially with a Volcano) and availability, but if you can get your hands on one, I promise you will not be disappointed. The high from a vaporizer is so thorough, and so pure, that you might never consume marijuana in any other way again.
Topical solutions are a not-to-common way of consumption. The downfall is it doesn't get your brain high since it is just basically a skin ointment, but if you are looking for medical relief, topical solutions are a stellar route to go. People get so caught up with smoking and eating, as a way of to consume marijuana that they forget the benefits of making ointments, oils, and lotions. Marijuana is truly a wonder plant, and I know many people that live and die by their topical solutions.
Another fantastic method is tinctures. I don't know about other areas, but in Oregon, tinctures reign supreme with the older crowd. I know so many people over the age of 40 that only use tinctures because they like the high it puts off, they can take it anywhere since it isn't smoked, and it is much healthier since it doesn't involve breathing in burnt plant material. I'm not the biggest fan of tinctures just because it takes so long to make it (although not much effort I'll admit). However, when someone has some, I always ask for a droppers worth, so perhaps I'm a being a bit hypocritical...haha.
The last method of consumption I will talk about is good old fashioned edibles. A brownie, a cookie, cannabutter on a cracker, cannabis infused oil items, you name it, I LOVE it! When you consume marijuana by smoking it, it goes into your nervous system. The high is intense and comes on quick, but it dissipates faster than when it goes into your blood stream when you eat it. When you eat it, it takes a bit to kick in (45to60 minutes), but when it does, oh my...This can be a problem for some people. They eat two brownies and are totally wrecked, when the same people should have probably only had a buttered cracker. If you are smart, you will be careful.
However, if you think you want to be a hero, be my guest and try to ride the highest high you can get from marijuana. Be aware that not all edibles are created equal. Some cannabutter/cannabis oil is stronger than others, and until you eat it as an experiment, you won't know how much is too much until its too late. For those of you out there in TWB land that are like me, and you've never met an edible you couldn't handle, the absolute best way to consume marijuana (in my opinion) is to make it into frosting. One of my best friends uses my atomic-grade cannabutter to make her famous frosting, and I assure all readers, there is nothing like it on this planet. I know it's exactly how I like it when other veterans complain that it's too strong. Cookies generally take 1/3 to 1/2 of a cup of cannabutter to make a batch. The red box classic Betty Crocker brownies generally take 2/3 of a cup of cannabutter. My friend's recipe calls for 2 full cups of cannabutter for enough frosting for 12 cupcakes. Now that's power!
As I stated before, there really is no BEST way to consume marijuana for all consumers. There is only a best way for each individual consumer. Hopefully this article helped put some ideas into your head, and gave you an idea of what to try. I encourage everyone to try everything and see what's best for them. If TWB readers have anything to add, please do so. Inquiring minds want to know what you have to say!