The Most Efficient Way to Smoke Cannabis? Study Says Dabs

The Most Efficient Way to Smoke Cannabis? Study Says Dabs

There are so many different ways to use cannabis. But have you ever wondered what method is most efficient? A new study points to dabbing—suggesting that inhaling heated extract vapor maximizes delivery of cannabis’ active ingredients.
Dabbing Outperforms Alternatives
According to the 2019 study from Forensic Science International, dabbing is significantly more efficient at delivering cannabis’ main active ingredient—THC—compared to other inhaled methods like burning a joint or a pipe bowl.

Over 75% of the THC in a dab makes it into the users’ lungs. By contrast, smoking cannabis destroys about 75% of the THC before it can get into the user, the study found.

The experiment utilized a machine built in-house which replicated smoking and dabbing, while collecting the smoke and vapor for analysis. The smoke or vapor that would have made its way into the lungs was analyzed for cannabinoid content. Comparing this result with the cannabinoids in the original sample, scientists were able to estimate how much THC and CBD from the original cannabis product would make its way into the consumer’s system. They called that the “recovery rate”.

Previous Studies on Vaping, Smoking and Joints
While this study points to vast differences between smoking and dabbing, earlier studies found less pronounced results. A 2015 study by Dr. Jeffrey Raber found decent recovery rates for smoking, with a range of 27.5% to 46.3%. While this represents a more optimistic picture for cannabis smokers, it is still significantly lower than the reported 75.5% recovery rate for dabbing.

Dabbing is also different than “vaping”. Dabbers inhale extract that’s boiling off a heated piece of quartz, ceramic, or titanium.

Vapers might be toasting flower in a Pax, or a Volcano, or sipping vapor from the equivalent of an e-cigarette.

Research on vaporizers shows a wide range of recovery rates that vary greatly based on the vaporizer used. Most vaporizers averaged recovery rates in the mid-to-high 50’s. One study showed rates from 51.4% – 82.7%, depending on the vaporizer. Only one vaporizer studied came close to the recovery rates for dabbing.

Keep Those Temps Low
While dabbing seems to outperform the other methods at first glance, Dr. Raber argues that dabbing doesn’t always have such high recovery rates. His team performed experiments on dabbing and pipe smoking, along with his research on joints. They found much lower rates of recovery for dabbing—around 40%. His research suggests that dabbing is on par with smoking when it comes to recovery.

Still, he says, “It is certainly possible that you could see high efficiency in terms of recovery via a dab.”

So why would we see such large variation in these studies?

“It seems to primarily be based on temperature,” explains Dr. Raber.

Higher temperatures lead to more combustion, which may destroy or convert active cannabinoids into something else.

In Raber’s experiments, he analyzed not only the smoke and vapor that goes to the lungs, but also the ash, side stream, and the exhaled smoke. Still, they only recovered about 50% of the cannabinoids from the original sample. The other 50% of the cannabinoids seemed to be destroyed or converted into something else. So, the new study may have used a lower temperature to dab, reducing combustion.

While combustion seems to be the culprit for smoking’s low numbers, we simply can’t assume that these cannabinoids just ‘go up in smoke’. After all, smoking joints has a strong effect that feels quite different from vaping or dabbing.

“It is quite possible other molecules that form during combustion, which are absent in vaporization, are leading to some of those experienced physiological effects,” explains Dr. Raber. Unfortunately, it would be very difficult to determine specifically what that molecule might be.

Is Dabbing THCA More Efficient?
Another important factor in the varying rates is the composition of the extracts used.

“We did observe differences depending on concentrate composition,” recounts Dr. Raber about his own study.

Raber’s study used extract rich in THC, while the new study used the natural “acid” form of THC — called “THCA” — that you’ll find on the fresh plant. The difference is important.

It may be that dabbing with THCA extracts offers a particularly efficient way to consume THC.

(We’re getting into organic chemistry here, but when you heat THCA it becomes THC — which is great for your recovery rate. But if you heat THC, it becomes CBN — bad for your recovery rate. This is why old weed is so weak. The THCA has mostly become THC and or worse, CBN.)

High-THCA extracts have become increasingly available in recent years, but they aren’t the standard when it comes to dabbing.

Is dabbing really more efficient overall? Or is it about low-temp dabbing with THCA to max out recovery rates? More research is needed to fully understand this picture.

updated thc recovery rate histogram as jpeg sized 1024x640 - The Most Efficient Way to Smoke Cannabis? Study Says Dabs

Characteristics of a Reputable Cannabis Dispensary

Characteristics of a Reputable Cannabis Dispensary

Brick-and-mortar dispensaries have evolved considerably since the early days of Dutch coffeeshops and private patient collectives in California. Nowadays, storefronts exist across many cities in North America and abroad, taking the cannabis retail experience to the mainstream consumer.
When you first step through the door of a dispensary, you should have a good idea of what type of experience you’re about to have. Between atmosphere, staff, and menu selection, cannabis retailers can stand out from the competition in many different ways.

Here are some elements to consider when searching for a cannabis dispensary worth going back to again and again.

Ambiance
Many pieces come together to create a great ambiance in a dispensary. All of these elements will hit your senses when you first walk in the door:
Interior design
Lighting
Music
Merchandise placement
Staff presence and attire
These all fuse together to create a mood and feel that, if done correctly, will ensure a comfortable experience for the consumer. Good dispensaries work hard to develop the right ambiance for their customer base. As you leave the store, plunder in hand, every one of your senses should have been catered to.

Friendly and Knowledgeable Staff
Dispensaries are charged with connecting consumers with cannabis, and this experience is far more complex than walking into a convenience store and grabbing a six-pack of beer. A friendly, patient, hospitable, and knowledgeable staff of budtenders makes all the difference.

A well-trained budtender should be knowledgeable about all the various types of cannabis products, how to consume them, and be able to answer any questions you have about cannabis. They’ll be able to recommend an array of products that will meet your specific needs, whether it be flower, concentrates, edibles, tinctures, topicals, or any other cannabis product that they carry. They’ll also be able to tell you how to properly dose products.

Some dispensaries carry seeds and clones, so it’s important to have a budtender with cultivation knowledge at those stores. They should be able to help inexperienced growers get started, as well as be able to guide advanced growers through a library of genetics to help them find the right addition to their garden.

Broad Menu Selection
Having a comprehensive menu is imperative for a dispensary to capture the market. This includes having high-demand cultivars and specific brands and products in stock. Purchasers at dispensaries work tirelessly to create an inventory that captures what consumers want. A customer wants to walk into a single store and find specific brands, strains, or products all in one place.

An expansive inventory of products should include flower and concentrates, as well as various edibles, tinctures, and topicals. Consumers want variety and dispensaries usually offer similar products at various price points as well. This is to appeal to both the customer coming in for an inexpensive half-ounce of flower as well as the customer looking for a gram of top-shelf live resin and everyone in between.

Aside from cannabis products, some dispensaries also sell accessories like pipes, dab rigs, vaporizers, grinders, lighters, torches, papers, and more, to be a one-stop shop for anything a cannabis consumer may need. Not all dispensaries carry accessories though, so be sure to do some research ahead of time.

There is no secret recipe to success in building out a dispensary menu. Research and market data help, but a large part of curating products relies on purchaser intuition. Successful dispensaries rotate their menus and respond to feedback from their community about which products to carry and which to get rid of.

Competitive Price Points
Passing off savings to the customer hasn’t always been easy for dispensaries, especially for stores in states that tack on lofty excise taxes for cannabis products. However, saturation of product in the market forces many retailers to lower their prices, benefitting customers at the end of the day. Dispensaries have to provide their products and services at reasonable and competitive price points.

Dispensaries stay competitive by offering consumers reasons to return. This may include disseminating deals through advertisements, offering loyalty programs for frequent shoppers, and even discounting older inventory. With these tactics, a dispensary can capture and retain customers by giving them reasons to keep shopping at their store.

As the market continues to fluctuate, maintaining consistency in pricing is as important as keeping prices low—customers want to trust that a dispensary will always have certain prices for certain products. Referrals and word-of-mouth advertising also rely on maintaining consistent pricing.

Community Outreach
Visibility is a key factor to help a dispensary stand out among the competition, and a lot of dispensaries promote themselves through community outreach. By offering services other than the sale of cannabis products, businesses have a chance to give back to their local community.

Some examples of community outreach include adopting highways for cleanup, participating in local fairs and gatherings, and facilitating donation drives and fundraisers.

Many great dispensaries may also provide extra—and often free—in-house services for customers and patients. Wellness services such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage therapy, and yoga are some examples of additional offerings you may find.

Some retailers even provide cultivation seminars, cooking with cannabis classes, and even lectures from educators, activists, and prominent members of the cannabis community. These extra services aim to drive community participation and engagement, and make a local dispensary stand out among the competition.

The Different Ways to Smoke and Consume Cannabis

The Different Ways to Smoke and Consume Cannabis

When it comes to cannabis consumption, the second-most important consideration, after the flower itself, is the delivery method. This point is often overlooked, as evidenced by the prevalence of consumers who have limited their experimentation to only one or two methods. If you find yourself within this category but aspire to become a comprehensive cannabis aficionado, let this be your checklist. Gaining the mental and physical benefits of cannabis is largely dependent upon how it’s consumed, with each method providing a unique experience and host of effects. Who knows — you could find a new favorite. Let the exploration begin!
There are three basic delivery methods: inhalation, oral, and topical. Under these umbrella methods are various techniques that serve unique functions, each appropriate for different occasions.

Inhalation Delivery Methods
When cannabis is inhaled, the gases enter the lungs before absorbing into the bloodstream. There are currently two prevalent types of inhalation methods: smoking and vaporization.

Different Ways of Smoking Cannabis
This ancient custom is the method most commonly associated with cannabis, and there are many different ways for consumers to smoke. Advances in vaporization technology, however, have offered smokers an alternative method with fewer health concerns. The effects associated with smoking are widely debated, but health professionals are in agreement that smoke-free methods pose less risk and are medically preferred.
Cannabis smokers have a wide array of devices at their disposal, including hand pipes, water pipes, rolling papers, hookahs, and homemade one-time use devices. Each of these provides different experiences and influence the grade of smoke inhaled.

Hand Pipes
lPFPCjVKQxaSiOwbCWwE Hand Pipes Sara Dilley - The Different Ways to Smoke and Consume Cannabis
These are probably the most common smoking device in circulation today and generally favored for their convenience: they are small, portable, and simple to use. Hand pipes have grown into an artistic expression and are available in countless creative forms and styles, both for decoration and functionality (such as disguise pipes that imitate everyday objects). Hand pipes operate by trapping the smoke produced from burning cannabis, which is then inhaled by the user.

Water Pipes
66nPAhbbQRK7XnVV3z8V Water Pipes Sara Dilley - The Different Ways to Smoke and Consume Cannabis66nPAhbbQRK7XnVV3z8V Water Pipes Sara Dilley - The Different Ways to Smoke and Consume Cannabis
Water pipes come in slightly different variations, including but not limited to bongs and bubblers. Like hand pipes, these come in a variety of styles and designs but increase in sophistication by incorporating water. The health benefits associated with the addition of water are up for debate: water cools the smoke, but it’s uncertain whether it acts as an effective filter for harmful constituents.

Rolling Papers
p49stTUTqijD9md4wZgH Rolling Papers Sara Dilley - The Different Ways to Smoke and Consume Cannabis
Generally, these are used to smoke joints or blunts. Joints are cannabis rolled in a paper, the composition of which varies across an assortment of plants including but not limited to hemp, bamboo, and rice. Blunts are cannabis rolled in cigar paper made from the tobacco plant and contain nicotine. Blunt consumers often prefer the flavor and combined effects of the nicotine and cannabis; however, the medical risks linked to nicotine deter most health-conscious cannabis consumers.

Hookahs
xxiTKUiTlCbMWaAAPuDl Hookahs - The Different Ways to Smoke and Consume Cannabis
This is one of the less common methods of smoking cannabis and is generally associated with smoking shisha, the American term for wet tobacco. Cannabis is rarely smoked alone in a hookah because its low water content causes the plant to burn faster than it can be inhaled, producing an acrid taste and wasting the herb. For economically-conscious smokers, this is likely the prominent concern as large quantities of cannabis are needed to yield the same results as other smoking methods.
To resolve this, cannabis is sandwiched between tobacco, introducing the same health concerns associated with blunts. However, the hookah does allow multiple people to smoke at the same time, significantly changing the smoking experience.

Homemade One-Time Use Devices
RdK8JXMdSim3YkOTeHAI Homemade One Time Use Devices Sara Dilley - The Different Ways to Smoke and Consume Cannabis
This method may allow for the greatest creativity and includes all disposable cannabis smoking devices. The most common homemade device is a pipe due to its simplicity, but skilled crafters have taken on water pipe designs as well. Health effects associated with this method are equally variable depending on the material and method used for assembly.

Vaporization
EFZ9JJDJQ3CjxPcDU5T7 Vaporizers Sara Dilley - The Different Ways to Smoke and Consume Cannabis
Vaporizers are the logical choice for moderate to experienced and/or health-conscious cannabis consumers. A vaporizer steadily heats herbs to a temperature that is high enough to extract THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, but the temperatures are too low for the potentially harmful toxins that are released during combustion. Essentially, vaporization minimizes the health risks associated with smoking. This improvement comes with an equally significant reduction in odor, which is generally the first acknowledgement of first-time vaporizer users. There is a diverse landscape of vaporizer models and the market is only expanding as the technology improves.
Which Type of Vaporizer Best Suits You?
There are multiple elements that distinguish vaporizer designs, markedly portability and product. As the market grows, so does the efficiency and quality of portable models, which generally fall short to fixed models (requiring an outlet power source) in durability and robustness. The form of cannabis product is the other primary component: many vaporizers take cannabis concentrates which come in a variety of forms, including oil and wax. These can be added manually or using cartridges, depending on the design. The prevalence of concentrate vapes is due to mechanical simplicity; fewer vaporizers take flower, which require a heating element to accomplish vaporization, and thus a more sophisticated design.
A younger delivery method that is a point of contention amongst the cannabis community and attentive policy makers is dabbing. Dabbing is a form of vaporization in which potent cannabis concentrates are dropped on a heated nail, creating vapor that is trapped in a glass globe and inhaled. Although there are obvious health benefits associated with clean concentrates over combustible flower, concerns arise from dabbing’s image and the intense effects of high-THC extracts.

Oral Delivery Methods
Oral delivery includes all techniques that are administered through the mouth, including tinctures, ingestible oils, and infused food/drinks. We most often assume that oral delivery denotes ingestion through the digestive tract before entering the bloodstream, but this is not always the case. Tinctures are essentially a topical application that is administered through the mouth, and they are immediately absorbed into the bloodstream unlike edibles or drinks.

Tinctures
aIlDkHmETAqeaQqX4Zo1 Tinctures - The Different Ways to Smoke and Consume Cannabis
Tinctures are a liquid cannabis extract used by consumers looking for dosage control and fast-acting effects without the health risks associated with smoking. Most commonly, alcohol is used as the solvent (any proof greater than 80 can be used effectively), but other fat-soluble liquids can be used as well, such as vinegar or glycerol. Generally, three or four drops of the tincture are placed under the tongue, where it’s absorbed into the body versus swallowed and digested. When ingested, tinctures are immediately absorbed in an empty stomach but require time to process through the liver, reducing dosage control.

Ingestible Oils
cgcMTwfsR3uamq00BiPh Ingestible Oils - The Different Ways to Smoke and Consume Cannabis
Ingestible oils are a happy medium between edibles and concentrates: they are swallowed and digested like an infused product, but often have the consistency of oil. These oils can either be eaten or put in easily-ingested capsules. One popular oil is Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), which originated in 2003 when Simpson used concentrated cannabis to treat his skin cancer. RSO is made by extracting the therapeutic compounds of cannabis with alcohol and then evaporating the solvent, leaving behind a tar-like substance resembling oil.

Edibles
Kn7FRdnZTyygZcaPWqat Edibles Clare Barboza - The Different Ways to Smoke and Consume Cannabis
Eating or drinking cannabis provides significantly different effects from delivery methods that immediately enter the bloodstream, such as smoking or vaping. Edibles can be defined as any food that contains cannabis, whether or not the cannabinoids are bioavailable. These products have longer onsets and tend to cause powerful full-body, psychoactive effects.
Infused food and drinks can be made a variety of ways depending on the dish. Most often, edibles are infused with a staple infused ingredient high in fat — like butter or olive oil — that enable extraction of the plant’s therapeutic properties. Adding tinctures to dishes is another great option for dosage control and simplicity. Generally, cooking with cannabis flower can be difficult because of the complication associated with cannabinoid activation (including sensitive heating temperatures and times, and sufficient solvent fat). However, as the prevalence of cannabis grows, so does the presence of flower in the kitchen.

Topical Delivery Methods
Topical cannabis administration utilizes full cannabis extract — a thick oil that has been decarboxylated to activate cannabinoids. Once cannabinoids are activated, they can be absorbed through your skin.
NtTPnaXRZy88vxKidpxo Topicals - The Different Ways to Smoke and Consume Cannabis
Topical effects differ from other medicating methods in that they don’t provide the cerebral stimulation that users describe as “being high.” Because of this, topicals are appropriate for consumers needing a clear head and localized relief (for example, muscle aches or soreness).

A Beginners’ Guide to Weed Knowledge

A Beginners’ Guide to Weed Knowledge

While there are plenty of veteran potheads out there, not all of us have been rolling up joints since middle school. Even those of us who have been steadily indulging for a while might not actually know anything about weed, whether it’s because we were too scared to Google it on our family computer or because we always had a friend who was a plug (and for that, we thank them). As the culture surrounding marijuana use continues to change—Michigan, Missouri, and Utah just passed amendments that ease up on marijuana restrictions—more and more people are toking up. And while we’re all for it, it’s important to get at least a little educated on it, just like you would with your diet or a new vitamin.
The amount of information and the lingo can be overwhelming: you might know that words like THC, cannabis, CBD, indica, and sativa are weed-adjacent, but they may not actually mean anything to you. And beyond that, you want to know what to look for; marijuana is a plant, after all, and there are certain characteristics to be cautious of or on the hunt for to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth (weed ain’t cheap, y’all). Thankfully, we’ve provided a guide here that not only breaks down the three main “types” of weed, but also some other basics like stem texture and scent. And yes, we even revealed what THC actually stands for—you’re welcome. This is your guide to weed, with all of the important stuff you should be looking for.

Sativas

sativa - A Beginners' Guide to Weed Knowledge
Sativas are known for motivating and getting you moving around versus vegging out on the couch. The leaves of a sativa are thin and spread apart. They have a higher levels of THC and lower levels of CBD (the chemical that’s believed to aid pain relief and anxiety). Creativity flourishes when smoking a sativa and treating depression is a major reason for its use among medical patients. Sativa strains are likely to get you talking, thinking, and philosophizing. To remember that sativas are typically elevating in their effects keep this phrase in mind, “Sunny Sativa.”

Indicas

indica - A Beginners' Guide to Weed Knowledge
Indicas have a higher CBD content and are noted for their calming effects. The leaves are also wider and much closer together than a sativa plant. When you are buying an indica bud you want it to be dense—that’s how you will know just how much of an indica it really is. The more compact the bud, the more indica properties it has. Indicas are helpful with pain relief, insomnia, and eliminating anxiety. It has been known to produce a heavy and relaxing body high. This can be great for muscle tension in athletes or as a way to unwind after a long workday.
Trouble remembering whether an indica is uplifting or couch-locking? Think of it this way: Indica = In Da Couch.

Hybrids

hybrids - A Beginners' Guide to Weed Knowledge
Hybrids are the cherry on top of the cannabis sundae. They can be the perfect combination of energizing and relaxing, depending on the ratio of sativa to indica. Hybrids are created with the intention of maintaining the best qualities from both the sativa and indica parent plant, which often results in super-potent (and super popular) strains.

Tetrahydrocannabinol

marijuana bud - A Beginners' Guide to Weed Knowledge
THC for short, this is the naturally occurring chemical in marijuana which gives you the feeling of being high. THC talks to your brain and signals it to release dopamine (the hormone and neurotransmitter that works with the pleasure and reward hubs.) It’s thought to have been meant as a defense mechanism for the cannabis plant, intended to ward off herbivores and keep the flowers safe. (That sure backfired.)

Trichomes

trichomes - A Beginners' Guide to Weed Knowledge
Those sugary looking crystals all over your weed—those are trichomes. That’s where the THC is hanging out, in the trichomes, all over the stems and leaves. Up close they look like tiny mushrooms and can be a few different colors. The best scenario is for them to be milky or amber in color when you consume them. Milky trichomes will give you more of a cerebral high and amber colored ones will be more relaxing. If they are clear they aren’t going to be anywhere near as potent.

Properly Dried

weed - A Beginners' Guide to Weed Knowledge
If you bend a stem and it snaps, you’re good to go. Otherwise the marijuana is too wet and you really shouldn’t smoke it yet. If you are offered pot that is wet and has been in a sealed bag there might even be mold on it. Conversely, herb that crumbles when you break it up, like powder, is far too dry and will be severe on your throat. Try putting a few leaves of lettuce with your dry nugs as it’s a safe way to add moisture back into them. Be your own advocate and snap a bud before you buy.

Properly Cured

weed gets weed instead toys - A Beginners' Guide to Weed Knowledge
If taking a whiff of your cannabis reminds you of a freshly cut lawn, then your weed has not been cured properly. The curing process happens after initial drying and can take weeks. During this time chlorophyll breaks down and the plant turns non-active THC into a potent and very active compound. Because it takes a little extra time, some growers rush the process so be warned: rushing the curing process greatly compromises the power of your pot.

Top Shelf vs. Regs

everything need know marijuana cannabis 1 - A Beginners' Guide to Weed Knowledge
By now we should all be smoking on some good Mary Jane and leaving the brick packed schwag for the birds. You won’t be getting a dime bag of top shelf marijuana any time soon, but you do get what you pay for, don’t you? Top shelf cannabis is going to be truckloads higher in THC, taste better, and produce a very different high than if you’re smoking some reggie. When selecting herb, treat yourself. Let the jokers keep their nickel sacks.

Moldy Marijuana

moldy marijuana - A Beginners' Guide to Weed Knowledge
Take a few seconds before you roll up that joint and make sure your green is looking right. This is more prevalent on the black market, no doubt, but mold on marijuana can be spotted on buds bought from dispensaries also. Mold is gross, it’s not going to get you high, and it’s certainly not what you’re paying for. Even worse—it’s dangerous. You can get a lung infection from smoking mold. Scan your nugs cautiously before light that blunt.

Sparks

wiltshire weed bunker - A Beginners' Guide to Weed Knowledge
If nutrients haven’t been properly flushed from the plant during cultivation, chances are high that burning it will cause sparks to fly, and not in a good way. Sure it seems like a novel effect—it’s July 4th and 4/20 all mixed into one. Yippee!—but a badly flushed product will taste bad, smell off, and it’s not a good buy. Unfortunately, there is not much of a way to identify this issue until you’re smoking it.

Magnifier

magnifier - A Beginners' Guide to Weed Knowledge
Want to make sure you’re getting the best marijuana and don’t mind maybe looking a little pretentious while doing it? Get yourself a magnifier. From 60x – 100x you can easily see the color of the trichomes you’re getting, and do a quick check to make sure there is no hidden mold lurking around your potential buds. It’s worth it if you have a few options to choose from. There are several magnifying lenses on the market for under $25. If you shop at a dispensary in Denver, you are likely to see a large magnifier over the counter. If so, use it!

CART

X