There are a lot of different types of cannabis products on the market. If you’re new to cannabis, all the options can be a little overwhelming. What are the differences between the different types of cannabis products? What are the pros and cons of each? And which is going to deliver the effects and overall experience you’re looking for? 

 

Let’s take a dive into each of the different cannabis product types so you can find the right product for you.


Flower

There are plenty of new, innovative cannabis products on the market, but for many cannabis consumers, it doesn’t get much better than smoking some good old-fashioned flower. Also known as bud, flower is the smokable part of the cannabis plant. It’s cultivated, harvested, dried, and cured before making its way to the dispensary. 

Flower is the smokable part of the cannabis plant. (Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

How to Consume 

One of the reasons smoking flower is so popular with cannabis consumers is the variety of ways it can be consumed. You can pack it in a bowl and smoke it out of a pipe, use it to take bong rips, or roll it into a blunt or joint.

Pros of smoking flower

  • Because smoking flower is so popular, you can typically find a wide variety of strains at your local dispensary. The more options you have at your disposal, the more likely it is you’ll find a strain you enjoy.
  • Flower is one of the most affordable cannabis products, so it’s a great option for consumers on a budget.
  • Flower has high bioavailability, which means a higher percentage of cannabinoids make it into your system than in some other methods.
  • Because smoking allows the cannabinoids to pass directly into your bloodstream through the lungs, the high is almost immediate.

Cons of smoking flower

  • You’ll need some sort of smoking apparatus, like rolling papers, a pipe, or a bong, to consume cannabis flower.
  • Depending on the potency of the strain, the high can be short-lived. On average, effects last anywhere from one to three hours.
  • Unlike other cannabis products, there’s no standard dosing structure for flower, which can make it easier to overconsume.

Concentrates

Concentrates are made when you remove excess plant material and other impurities from the cannabis plant, leaving only the most desirable plant compounds, namely cannabinoids and terpenes. Because all the other materials are removed, concentrates have a much higher proportion of cannabis terpenes and cannabinoids than cannabis flower.

Concentrates have a much higher proportion of cannabis terpenes and cannabinoids than cannabis flower. (Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

How to consume

There are a wide variety of cannabis concentrates and, as such, there are a wide variety of ways to consume concentrates. For example, you could sprinkle kief on a bowl of cannabis flower to increase the potency. Or you could use a portable or tabletop vaporizer and vape the concentrate. Or you could vaporize concentrate using a dab rig, which consists of heating a glass, ceramic, or titanium “nail” then applying the concentrate directly to the hot surface, instantly turning it into vapor for consumption.

Pros of concentrates

  • Because concentrates are so potent, you need less in order to feel the effects.
  • Concentrates have a rapid onset, so you’ll feel the effects very quickly.

Cons concentrates

  • Because concentrates are so potent, they produce extremely strong effects. A little goes a long way, so they can also be easy to overconsume, making them a challenging product for a novice cannabis consumer.
  • In order to safely consume concentrates, you need a proper set up, like a dab rig or portable vaporizer, which requires some investment.

Edibles

Edibles are cannabis-infused food or drinks that can be made with either cannabis flower or cannabis concentrate. They come in just about every form you could imagine, including baked goods, chocolate bars, popcorn, cooking oils and butters, gummies, mints, and beverages. 

Edibles are cannabis-infused food or drinks that can be made with either cannabis flower or cannabis concentrate. (Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

How to consume edibles

As the name suggests, edibles are meant to be eaten. Or in the case of cannabis-infused beverages, drunk.

Edible pros

  • Edibles are a great way to consume cannabis without any inhalation, making it an ideal choice for consumers with an aversion to smoking or vaping.
  • Consuming edibles is pretty straightforward. There’s no need to invest in any tools All you have to do is pop it in your mouth, chew, and swallow.
  • Edibles are manufactured with precise doses. When you eat an edible from the dispensary, you know exactly how much THC and/or CBD you’re getting, which makes it easier to control your experience and avoid overconsumption.

Edible cons

  • Unlike smoking or vaping, which is absorbed directly into the bloodstream, cannabinoids in edibles are absorbed through the digestive tract. This causes a delayed onset, with effects from edibles taking anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours to kick in. The potency also gradually increases as the edible is digested and more cannabinoids are absorbed into the system.
  • Consumers sometimes ingest additional edibles when they don’t experience the effects right away, which can lead to overconsumption and a too-intense, long-lasting high. The effects of an edible can last anywhere from four to six hours.
  • The serving sizes for edibles are sometimes confusing. For example, a single serving might be one-fifth of a cookie. If you don’t take the time to read the label, you may accidentally ingest more than one serving and, in turn, get more than one dose.

Tinctures

Tinctures are herbal solutions created by steeping a plant, in this case, cannabis, in alcohol.

Tinctures are herbal solutions created by steeping a plant, in this case, cannabis, in alcohol. (Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

How to consume tinctures

The most common way to consume a tincture is sublingually, or under the tongue. The cannabis compounds are absorbed into the body through the blood vessels under the tongue. Any cannabinoids not absorbed through those blood vessels then make their way to the digestive tract, where they’re absorbed in the same manner as edibles. Tinctures have a fairly rapid onset when taken sublingually, as fast as 15 minutes, but they can also have delayed effects similar to an edible.

Tincture pros

  • Much like edibles, tinctures have precise dosing, which makes it easier to control your experience.
  • If you don’t like the taste, you can mix a tincture with a food or beverage. Just expect a more delayed experience, since the cannabinoids will be absorbed into your system as if you were eating an edible.

Tincture cons

  • Because tinctures can have both rapid and delayed onset, it can make for an extended high, which not every consumer wants.
  • Tinctures have a tendency to be more expensive than other cannabis products.
  • Some people have an aversion to the taste of tinctures, likely due to the alcohol. 

Topicals

Topicals are cannabis-infused products like lotions, balms, sprays, transdermal patches, or salves meant to be applied directly to the skin. Unlike cannabis products that produce a psychoactive effect, THC topicals provide localized effects to the specific area of the body where they are applied without a high. CBD is absorbed better by the skin so CBD topicals can deliver a more full-body effect.

Topicals are cannabis-infused products like lotions, balms, sprays, transdermal patches, or salves meant to be applied directly to the skin. (Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

How to consume

As mentioned, topicals are meant to be applied directly to the body. However, some topicals, like bath salts, are meant to be used for soaking sore muscles.

Topical pros

  • There is a huge variety of cannabis topicals on the market so there are plenty of opportunities to find a product that supports your specific needs.
  • There are many CBD-infused topicals that don’t have any THC in them. In many places, those topicals are available from traditional retailers as well as dispensaries.

Topical cons

  • If you’re looking for an intoxicating experience, you won’t get it from topicals.

Choose the Cannabis Product That’s Right for You

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to choosing a cannabis product. The right product depends on a variety of factors, including your tolerance, budget, and the kind of experience you want. But now that you understand the different product types, you’re armed with the information necessary to choose the cannabis product that’s right for you.