How Is Marijuana Used?

Today, marijuana is used in many different ways

Man smoking with a vape pen
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The most common method of using marijuana is to roll it into cigarettes, called joints, and smoke it. It can also be smoked in a pipe or a bong (which filters the smoke through the liquid).

Marijuana is also smoked in a blunt, which is a cigar that has been hollowed out to replace the tobacco with marijuana or a mixture of tobacco and marijuana.

Some smoke marijuana in bubblers, which are mini-bongs about the size of a pipe.

And, of course, one of the oldest methods of smoking marijuana—as well as hash, tobacco, and other substances—is with a hookah.

However, marijuana users are known for their creativity and ingenuity, especially when they run out of rolling papers. They can fashion bongs and pipes out of soda bottles or cans, corn cobs, and even pieces of fruit.

Gravity Bongs

Another way to smoke marijuana using common household items are gravity bongs, sometimes called bucket bongs or waterfall bongs. They can be made from plastic bottles, milk jugs, buckets, and two-liter soda bottles.

The homemade gravity bongs use gravity to pull the smoke into the chamber with water, or sometimes beer or wine.


A relatively new method of consuming marijuana is by vaporization. Vaporizers heat the marijuana to a point just below the point of combustion when the active ingredients can be inhaled as a vapor, rather than more harmful smoke.

Users choose to use vaporizers for several reasons:

  • It reduces the harmful effects of smoking marijuana.
  • Some claim they get a better high when the "vape."
  • Vaporizers produce less marijuana smell than smoking.
  • Vaporizers are usually small and easy to conceal.


This method of using marijuana is somewhat similar to vaping, but it uses hash oil, which is extracted from the marijuana plant and condensed into a wax form.

A glass pipe or bong is heated with a blowtorch. When the hash oil is placed into the pipe it creates vapor almost immediately.

Dabbing is thought to produce a greater high than smoking marijuana. Hash oil is also known as Butane Honey Oil or BHO.

Oral Ingestion Methods of Using Marijuana

Now that medical marijuana is legal in many states and recreational marijuana use is legal in some areas, more marijuana-based products are being produced and marketed.

Some companies are producing a line of food products called "marijuana edibles."

Oils extracted from marijuana plants can be used in cooking, baking, or simply mixing with food to create a variety of products that can be ingested orally, even taken in capsule form—known as "cannabis caps" or weed pills.

"Pot brownies" have been around for decades, but now marijuana is being baked or added to many types of food, snacks, and candy. Vendors in states where recreational marijuana is legal are selling cakes, cookies, ice cream, gummy bears, lollipops, cereal, granola bars, and even chewing gum containing marijuana.

Marijuana oil can also be added to common beverages. It is sold in teas, sodas, and even beer. Using marijuana leaves to make tea has been done for many years.

Today, however, the tea is much more potent.


Another relative new method of using marijuana involves infusing liquids with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabinol (CBD) to make sprays that users can spray under the tongue. This method is typically used by medical marijuana users who want to avoid the harmful effects of smoke.

But, sprays are also used in areas where marijuana is still illegal because they are difficult to detect. Some use sprays in conjunction with smoking marijuana, by spraying the differently flavored spray on joints and blunts.​

Marijuana Tinctures

Tinctures are liquids extracted from marijuana plants that are infused with a solution of alcohol or alcohol and water.

The user places a few drops to the solution under the tongue and it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.

Because this form of marijuana is highly concentrated, highly potent, and fast-acting, it is generally used for medical purposes, but because it produces an intense high, is often abused.

Topical Methods

Topical oils are extracts from the marijuana plant that is thicker than the oils used in edible products. The oils are placed on the skin and are absorbed to relieve muscle pain and soreness.

Because marijuana topicals do not produce a high, they are usually used for medicinal purposes only.


Gieringer, D. "Cannabis Vaporization: A Promising Strategy for Smoke Harm Reduction," Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics 2001.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Marijuana." DrugFacts Updated January 2014

National Institute on Drug Abuse. "What Is Marijuana?" Marijuana: Facts for Teens Updated January 2017