How to Use Cannabis Oils

Thanks to relaxing legalization and advances in technology, there are a variety of ways to use cannabis. You can smoke or vape it, or medicate with edibles, tinctures, and topicals to provide relief as needed. This article will provide a breakdown of your non-smokable cannabis options, and a table that highlights the main differences between the main forms of consumption. By the time you’re done reading this, you should be able to confidently choose the options that fits your needs.

How to Use Cannabis

When deciding how to consume cannabis, consider how long it’ll take you to feel the effects, how long the effects will last, and the benefits of each method. If you don’t want to smoke or carry around a lighter, then edibles and tinctures may be a reliable substitute. Alternatively, if you’re looking for targeted treatment of specific pain areas without the potential for intoxication, consider topical varieties of cannabis that are designed for external application.

Use the table below to map your preferences to the best method for consuming cannabis for you.

Method of ConsumptionOnset of EffectsDuration of Effects*Benefits
DabbingImmediately+/- 5 hours
  • Potent
  • Quickest method of cannabinoid delivery to the bloodstream
InhalersImmediate1-2 hours
  • Discrete
  • Portable
  • Delivers measured doses
  • Virtually odorless
SmokingWithin seconds15 minutes – 3 hours
  • Potent
  • Stronger entourage effect
  • Free of additives, adhesives, and heavy metals
  • Better flavor and aroma
VapingWithin seconds15 minutes – 2 hours
  • Discrete
  • Portable
  • No smoke (just vapor)
Topicals10 minutes – 3 hoursUpto 12 hours
  • Discrete
  • No psychoactive effects
  • Localized for targeted treatment
TincturesWithin 15-45 minutes90 minutes – 6 hours
  • Discrete
  • Potent
  • Maximizes cannabinoid availability
  • Can control dosage
Edibles30 minutes – 2 hours6-10 hours
  • Discrete
  • Can control dosage
  • Long-lasting effects
  • No equipment necessary

*Duration of effects depends on the dosage, your body chemistry, and potency of product (among other factors)


Foods infused with cannabis oils offer a non-smokable delivery method for enjoying the effects of cannabis without the concerns associated with smoking. These products are typically available in a variety of sweet and savory options, designed to align with your taste preferences. 

Regulated edible products allow for consistent serving sizes, something that smokable cannabis does not. It can be difficult to tell how much you’ve actually consumed when you smoke because of factors like how deeply you inhale or how much cannabis you’ve packed into your bowl. With accurate serving sizes and a homogenous edible product, you can easily identify how much cannabis you are consuming, allowing yourself to gradually feel the effects and notice differences in effect with different serving sizes.

Keep in mind that edibles do not take effect instantly as they must be digested before absorption. The time it takes to digest and “feel” the edible can vary from person-to-person, ranging from half an hour to up to two hours. This delayed onset can lead some to consume more than intended due to an apparent lack of effect, or due to how delectable the edibles are.

How to Dose Edibles

When using edibles, it’s best to start low and slow. States like Massachusettshave set the serving size to 5mg of THC, but that may be too much for some. If you typically have a lower tolerance to other substances such as alcohol, caffeine, or prescription medications, it may be best to start with a “microdose of 2.5mg or less.

You can always eat more, but you can’t eat any less. Once your body starts digesting the cannabis you’ve consumed, you’ll continue to feel the effects until it has processed all of it.

Cannabis tinctures

Tinctures have gained popularity due to their high potency and lack of intricacy when it comes to using them. Tinctures are designed to be taken orally or sublingually, similarly to edibles, but they contain much higher concentrations and just a small amount is needed for effect. While you might need to eat an entire chocolate bar to absorb 10mg into your body, a tincture may only require one dropper-full of cannabis oil to be absorbed by your body.

Tinctures are a discrete, potent option that minimizes the time and effort involved in consumption, while maximizing cannabinoid availability.

However, due to the high concentration of cannabinoids relative to other cannabis products, tinctures are not usually designed for taste. Tinctures with large amounts of cannabis may taste hashy, bitter, or metallic, or carry a residual aftertaste. Think of a tincture similar to a high-proof grain alcohol; the goal is to maximize potency rather than create a pleasurable taste.

How to Use Cannabis Tinctures

Due to the high concentrations within tinctures, it can be easy to over-serve yourself.Sublingual absorption increases the bioavailability of cannabis and can have a different effect at smaller serving sizes than a similar servings in edible or smokable formats. Caution is key; as with edibles, you can always enjoy more, but can’t lessen what has already been consumed.

Cannabis topicals

Topical cannabis products allow for external absorption by your body’s biggest organ: your skin. The skin is able to absorb and process cannabinoids differently, in a targeted fashion, which allows for a unique delivery that is specific to the area being treated

Rather than ingesting cannabis as a means of targeting the entire body and endocannabinoid system, you can apply topical cannabis directly to the target area. Our body contains a variety of CB1 and CB2 receptors throughout the body, and these can be activated through topical applications.

Topicals can be used at any time since they don’t have psychoactive effects, just medicinal benefits. And if you’re concerned about random drug screenings, topical products do not have a noticeable effect on drug tests (with the exception of hair follicle tests) looking for impairment and high concentrations of THC metabolites, unlike most other forms of cannabis.

When using these products, be sure to carefully follow the instructions on the product label.

Cannabis inhalers

Cannabis inhalers are formats of inhalable cannabis products that do not involve combustion or actual “smoke.” These cannabis vapor products are considered to be safer than smokable options. They are precisely dosed and offer immediate relief, with a rapid onset time that acts much faster than an edible or tincture might.

It is important to make sure that your inhaler is free of harmful additives, adhesives, or heavy metals that could cause other health issues.

We recommend trying one dose first and waiting an hour or two to see how you it affects you. Once you have an idea of the effects, you can adjust how much or how often you dose with your inhaler.

Choose the Right Cannabis Modality for You

Whatever method of consumption you choose, take your time researching your options. Ask questions, and discuss your options with your healthcare provider and the Happy Valley Host assisting you with your purchase. It may take some trial and error to find the right option and the appropriate serving size for your needs.

No matter which modality you choose, our bodies respond differently to cannabis and cannabinoids. Start slow, with low dosages, and evaluate according to how your body’s endocannabinoid system reacts. Make sure to keep track of what products and concentrations work best for you to ensure a reliable, consistent experience.

Learn how to pick cannabis cultivars

If you would like information that you can use to enhance your cannabis experience delivered directly to your inbox, join our mailing list. Scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email address to become a Happy Valley Insider today.

Open 7 days a week


Gloucester & East Boston

Are you over 21?