Overview of Consumption Methods & Dosing

There are a variety of ways to medicate using cannabis. These ways include inhalation, oral consumption and topical use. Each method has its own benefits and drawbacks. The information below is a generalized guide.


Onset of effects in 1-3 minutes, duration of 1 to 3 hours.

Smoking is the most direct method of inhaling medical cannabis. Common methods of smoking include pipes, water pipes and cannabis rolled into papers (i.e. a “joint”).


Onset of effects in 1-3 minutes, duration of 1 to 3 hours.

Vaporizing is the medically-preferred method of inhalation. When vaporizing, the plant material is heated sufficiently to provide a pleasing vapor, but not enough to ignite and cause actual smoke. With no combustion, the potentially harmful side effects associated with smoking are avoided. Inhalation is one of the most efficient methods of consumption, which makes vaporizing an appealing alternative for quick, potent relief.

Edible Ingestion

Onset of effects in 30-120 minutes, duration of up to 8 hours.

When medicating with edibles, it is advised to start slowly by taking a small dose and then wait anywhere from 30 to 120 minutes for the full onset of effects. Edibles can be quite potent, with effects lasting up to 8 hours or more. Patients should exercise caution as onset time and proper dosage can vary according to an individual’s body chemistry. As a general rule, beginning medical marijuana patients should start with smaller doses ranging from 2.5-5mg while more experienced patients can dose in the 10-20 mg range.

Tincture Ingestion

Onset of effects in 5-20 minutes, duration of 2 to 4 hours.

Marijuana tincture is a potent and effective medicine which is typically placed either directly under the tongue for fast, direct absorption into the bloodstream or into a beverage such as tea or fruit juice for a more gradual effect. Tincture is typically administered with a medicine dropper which enables consistent, easily repeated dosing.


5 to 20-minute onset, duration of 1 to 3 hours.

Topicals are typically applied directly to the affected area (hands, joints, back, etc.), with results evident in 5 to 20 minutes.