One of the most important considerations for connecting your customers with the right product is how they plan to take it. Although smoking and edibles are the two most common ways, they’re far from the only options.
You can also dab concentrates, use capsules, under-the-tongue tinctures, and other types of products.
All in all, there are four main delivery methods for cannabis: inhalation, oral, sublingual, and topical. We’ll take a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of each to help you choose the best option for your customers.
Inhalation: Smoking, Vaping and Dabbing
Inhalation is undoubtedly the most common way of consuming cannabis. Smoking is more popular but you can also vape e-liquids or dried cannabis flower, as well as dab cannabis concentrates. The main advantage of this method is its fast effects.
- Advantages: Instant effects, efficient absorption1, pleasant flavour, convenient
- Disadvantages: Shorter effects, not as safe as other methods, harder to control dosage, can have a strong smell
- Recommended for: Smoking is the go-to option for most cannabis users, so it’s better to think of when you shouldn’t recommend this method. For example, some people may prefer longer-lasting effects or have concerns over the health effects of smoking and vaping.
Oral Delivery: Edibles, Capsules, Beverages, Oils
Most medications and supplements are taken by mouth, so it’s not surprising that many cannabis products can also be used in the same way. Although edibles are the best example, you can also ingest cannabis oils (such as Rick Simpson Oil), capsules, and even cannabis-infused beverages. This method is ideal when your customers are looking for the longest-lasting effects.
- Advantages: Longest-lasting effects of any method, pleasant taste (sometimes), convenient
- Disadvantages: Low absorption, works slowly (upwards of 1-2 hours)2, difficult to control dosage, easy to take too much
- Recommended for: This method is ideal when your customer wants long-lasting effects.
Sublingual Delivery: Tinctures, Tablets, Strips and Isolates
The sublingual method refers to putting the active ingredient under your tongue to let it absorb directly into the blood vessels, bypassing the digestive system. This may not sound familiar to recreational cannabis users but is the most common way of taking CBD oil. You can also use this method for cannabis oils, such as Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), tablets, strips, and isolates (pure THC or CBD).
- Advantages: Works relatively quickly (15-40 min)3, relatively long-lasting effects (4-6 hours), easy dosage control, efficient absorption
- Disadvantages: Not as easy or pleasant as other methods
- Recommended for: If your customer is interested in CBD products, CBD oil is the best overall option. The sublingual route is also great for people who don’t like to smoke or want longer-lasting effects of edibles without the risk of taking too much.
Topical Delivery: Creams, Balms, Oils
The last major option is to apply a cannabis-infused topical product (oil, balm, etc.) directly to the skin. Unlike the other methods, topicals are used for localized issues such as muscle soreness or dry skin and won’t get you high (unless you use a special transdermal formulation)4.
- Advantages: Works well for localized issues, unlikely to cause intoxication, convenient
- Disadvantages: Relatively low absorption
- Recommended for: Topical products are a good option for customers looking to relieve muscle or joint pain or help with a skin issue without getting high.
Choosing the Best Method
There are four main methods of cannabis consumption — oral, sublingual, inhalation, and topical — and each comes with even more product options. We’ve only covered the basics, so be sure to check out our deep dive into each of these methods.
It helps to get a sense of why your customer wants to use cannabis and their preferences to recommend the best method and associated product to suit their needs.
Our Producer Connect database makes it easy to search through thousands of products with different consumption methods.