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It can be overwhelming at times to explore all the different ways to consume cannabis. With so many options out there, how are people most often using cannabis? In the following article, you’ll learn about how people are using cannabis, for what reasons, and the additional benefits of growing it yourself. 

All the Ways to Use Cannabis

Today, we are going to learn all about the different ways of using cannabis. You are going to learn from the latest research into both medical and recreational cannabis usage. We’ll discuss the different methods and product types commonly used. You’ll learn by comparing and contrasting medical and recreational cannabis preferences. Finally, we’ll discover the added benefits of growing cannabis at home. 

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1. Medical Cannabis Usage Patterns 

Medical cannabis patients are often a topic of research. As such, they provide plenty of real-world answers to common questions around cannabis. This includes the different ways people consume cannabis. A recent study performed by Luque and colleagues (2021) explored the usage of medical cannabis specifically. They found a combination of high variability, collective trends, and patterns. Let’s dive into the details to learn more.

Usage patterns

Regarding the use of cannabis throughout the day, these researchers found a wide assortment of responses. For example, 5% of participants reported using cannabis once per day. On the other end of the spectrum, 24% of participants used at least six times a day. In between these two points, we find the bulk of people. Specifically, 30% of participants used cannabis 2-3 times a day, while 21% reported consuming cannabis 4-5 times a day (Luque et al., 2021). 

Based on these findings, we see a variably of daily usage patterns for medical cannabis patients. The majority of participants (51%) fall in the middle range of 2-5 times per day. These findings demonstrate how medical patients manage their daily usage sessions based on their personal needs (Luque et al., 2021). 

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Types of Cannabis Administration

That’s not all we learned from this study. The researchers also explored the different types of cannabis administration. They found that vaping and smoking were most commonly reported, with a slight edge toward the former (Luque et al., 2021). 

Smoking cannabis is most often in the form of joints, using bongs (waterpipes) and pipes commonly found. Vaping can be performed using portable or tabletop vaporizers called ‘dry herb vapes.’ These devices are filled with dried flower and then use either conduction or convection to aerosolize cannabinoids and terpenes. Cannabis vape pens, on the other hand, use pre-filled cartridges that attach to ‘batteries’ for usage. These cartridges are filled with various cannabis extracts and concentrates (Luque et al., 2021). 

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When it comes to medical cannabis, many health practitioners will encourage vaping over smoking due to the health effects of combustion. This may be why vaping is so popular amongst medical cannabis patients (Luque et al., 2021). 

But, there was even more to the story. Participants report a large variety of different cannabis usage methods in lower overall frequencies. For example, these patients reported using dried flower, infused topicals, concentrates, tinctures, edibles, capsules, and cannabis oil (Luque et al., 2021). 

Cannabis concentrates are often consumed by dabbing. Similar to using a bong, a dab rig involves a water-filled chamber. The significant difference is the replacement of a bowl for a hammer (or nail). These nails are larger than bowls and made of materials that can withstand the high heat used during dabbing (often in the form of a butane torch). Electronic-nails plug into outlets and use electricity to heat themselves (Luque et al., 2021).  

Researchers found considerable variability in the types of products used. Some of the cannabis products mentioned by participants include distillate, suppositories, rosin, shatter, RSO, shatter, crumble, and rosin. While there were plenty of differences, overall, smoking a joint was reported as the most effective consumption method. The next most commonly used way was smoking via a pipe or waterpipe (Luque et al., 2021). 

The Benefits of Medical Cannabis

In this study, participants also reported the benefits they received from using medical cannabis. The most common reasons for using medical cannabis included:

  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Arthritis
  • Nausea

Generally speaking, 89% of participants indicated that they got great relief from their condition by using medical cannabis. The majority of respondents felt that they got relief from their condition and reductions in pain and the usage of other prescriptions. Overall, the most significant benefits were:

  • Increased mood
  • Improved quality of life
  • Decreased pain 

One further fascinating finding was that the health benefits reported were inversely correlated with age. In other words, the younger the adult participant, the larger the improvements. Many of these participants used medical cannabis for multiple medical conditions at the same time. It is critical to note that these patients were supervised and supported by medical professionals (Luque et al., 2021).

2. Recreational Cannabis Usage

Another recent study explored the use of recreational cannabis, specifically as it relates to legal status in their home market. Goodman and colleagues (2020) found more confirmation that smoking dried flower is the primary method of consumption. Moreover, they found that legal cannabis led to more participants reporting the use of cannabis concentrates, edibles, infused beverages, and vape oils (Goodman et al., 2020). 

A different study from 2019 provides further information about how consumers use recreational cannabis. The researchers found that people who used cannabis did so for a median of 250 days out of the year. Moreover, most participants smoked their first joint more than an hour after waking. Nearly half of participants did, however, smoke a joint in the hour or two before bed. The median hours per day spent stoned was found to be four hours (Kumar et al., 2019).

Research published in 2020 by Turna and colleagues explored the patterns of usage of medical and recreational consumers. They found that recreational consumers reported less frequent usage (less than weekly) and problematic use of cannabis. Recreational consumers did have a lot of overlap with medical patients regarding seeking pain reductions, sleep improvement, and the promotion of relaxation (Turna, 2020). 

3. The Chance to Grow Cannabis

As we learned today, there are numerous reasons why people use cannabis and how they do so. Another important consideration involves how people get their cannabis. In Canada, cannabis has now been legal for several years, which has undoubtedly changed how Canadians get their weed. 

While the cannabis market has more options for consumers than ever, not everyone buys their marijuana. Many people have taken up growing cannabis at home. You can legally purchase weed seeds and grow them at home (but no more than four cannabis plants per household). The act of growing cannabis itself is beneficial for our health and wellbeing. 

Soga and colleagues (2017) decided to perform a formal statistical assessment of the benefits of gardening. They found some fantastic results! The benefits of gardening were found in numerous health outcomes. For example, participants were found to have:

  • Reduced depression
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Lower body mass index (BMI)
  • Increased life satisfaction
  • Increased quality of life
  • Enhanced sense of community. 

As you can see, the act of gardening itself may enhance the benefits of using cannabis in our lives. Consider growing cannabis at home to see the benefits for yourself.

Final Thoughts

As you now know, there are many reasons why and how people use cannabis. Although smoking a joint is the most common method, consumers frequently vape, dab, ingest, and apply other types of cannabis products. Similarities exist across both medical patients and recreational consumers, including goals like reductions in pain, anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Cannabis consumers often seek to improve their mood and increase their overall quality of life. Finally, many adults find additional benefits from growing their cannabis at home.  

Citations

Goodman, S., Wadsworth, E., Leos-Toro, C., Hammond, D. (2020). Prevalence and forms of cannabis use in legal vs. illegal recreational cannabis markets. International Journal of Drug Policy, 76, 102658. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0955395919303718.

Kumar, N., Puljević, C., Ferris, J. et al. Cannabis use patterns at the dawn of US cannabis reform. J Cannabis Res 1, 5 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s42238-019-0003-z.

Luque, J., Okere, A., Reyes-Ortiz, A., & Williams, P. (2021). Mixed methods study of the potential therapeutic benefits from medical cannabis for patients in Florida. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 57, 102669. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0965229921000108.

Soga, M., Gaston, K. J., & Yamaura, Y. (2016). Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. Preventive medicine reports, 5, 92–99. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.11.007.