For novice smokers, there is an entire world of options for using marijuana.  While long-time users are familiar with the pros and cons of all the different methods, new smokers often find themselves confused and bewildered.  This guide examines the five main ways for using marijuana, providing a brief introduction and a summary list of pros and cons.

Note: this article is a spinoff of the Methods of Use section in The Beginner’s Guide to Marijuana Part III.

Joints/Blunts

Smoking marijuana rolled into cigarettes (joints) or cigars (blunts) has a very traditional and natural feel to it.  Because blunt papers are often flavored, they can provide a very fun tasteful experience.  When instead of rolling exclusively marijuana, a mix of tobacco and marijuana is used, it is referred to as a spliff.  Spliffs provide a uniquely relaxing experience.  Many argue that nicotine and marijuana have a synergetic effect.  While rolled marijuana can be somewhat wasteful, it is very enjoyable and safe.  In emergency situations a joint can be much more easily disposed of than a pipe, bong, or vaporizer.  In the past, I’ve had to eat a joint or two to avoid police interruption!

Pros

  • Marijuana smoke filtered through unsmoked material
  • Papers inexpensive and widely available
  • Flavored papers available
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easy to sneak into/use in public places
  • Easy to hide/destroy in emergency

Cons

  • Difficulty rolling, particularly in nonideal environments
  • Wasteful as the marijuana continues to burn while being held/passed

Pipes

Pipes are the preferred method of many smokers.  Pipes can range from the small and discreet to the large and elaborate.  Pipes are an efficient way of smoking marijuana and are usually relatively portable enough to take places.  Because pipes have such immense variety, it is difficult to provide a paragraph introduction.  Pipes can be easily constructed from household materials, so even if it is difficult to obtain a suitable pipe in your area, one can be made for little to no money!  The preferred pipes among smokers are medium-to-small sized glass pipes with a choke or carb.  They often feature elaborate blown glass designs and come in an enormous variety of shapes and sizes.

Pros:

  • Easy setup
  • Efficiency and marijuana conservation
  • Relatively lightweight and portable (compared to bongs/vaporizers)
  • Relatively easy to hide (compared to bongs/vaporizers)

Cons:

  • Hits can be hot and harsh
  • If you hide one on your person and get patted down, game over
  • Clog with resin over time and eventually need cleaned

Bongs/Water Pipes

For regular smokers who have the liberty of smoking inside, bongs or water pipes are preferable.  Bongs are typically large and nonportable, so they remain in one location almost exclusively.  Bongs also have a great deal of diversity even in the mechanisms used, but all have essentially the same principle of passing the smoke through water to cool it down and filter out some of the particulate matter.  Some studies show that bongs are not an effective method of filtering particulate matter, but it is undoubtedly so that bongs cool the smoke down making for a a much more comfortable hit.

Pros:

  • Smooth hits filtered through water/ice
  • Massive hits cause intense highs
  • Some claim the water filters out particulate matter, but studies prove otherwise

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Fragile, easy to drop and spill/break
  • Very difficult to hide

Vaporizers

A newer method of using marijuana involves heating a sample of marijuana to a temperature in the range of 380-450 degrees Fahrenheit.  In this range, the THC and other active compounds are vaporized without combusting the plant material.  This provides for a cleaner experience with far less particulate matter.  There are two major types of vaporizers.  Induction vaporizers heat the material directly and convection vaporizers pass hot air over the sample.  Convection vaporizers are more complex and costly, but heat the material more evenly and are more efficient.

Pros:

  • Amazingly efficient
  • Healthy alternative to smoking
  • Novelty effect

Cons:

  • Some are more portable than others, but in general they are difficult to take places and hide in emergency situations
  • Some can be very expensive

Cooking/Extracting:

Of course, if you don’t feel like inhaling your marijuana, you can eat it too!  Everyone knows of pot-brownies and pot-cookies, but marijuana can be used in any recipe that includes butter.  As it turns out, the THC (and many other chemicals) are fat and alcohol soluble.  You can mix marijuana into a chai tea latte or dissolve it in grain alcohol for a shot of green dragon.  You can also extract some of the chemicals and do some interesting things with the THC-oil. See the Cooking category for fun recipes and extraction techniques.  Be aware that for many people, the effects of eating marijuana are distinctly different and more intense than with smoking.  The highs typically last longer as well.  Eating marijuana can be a difficult first experience, so I would recommend beginning with another method.  After you are more comfortable with being high, you can move on to experimenting with ingesting marijuana.

Pros: 

  • Long-lasting highs
  • Intense highs
  • Able to be easily taken anywhere baked goods are allowed

Cons:

  • Highs can be too intense and last too long for some people
  • Uses a lot of weed, a good batch of brownies can take 1/2 – 3 ounces of marijuana.

Conclusion

While many people have personal preferences for method of use, most regular smokers alternate between the various methods of use.  It is best to experience them for yourself and understand the pros and cons on your own.  Each seems to offer its own unique highs, of varying intensity.  If I had to rank the smoking methods by intensity, it would be from lowest to highest: joints, blunts, pipes, bongs, vaporizers, baked.  Some would disagree, but that has been my experience.  One note I would make is to save eating marijuana for once you are used to being high; it can be a scary experience for a novice.