It still delivers the immediacy of smoking, though the effect is generally considered to be different and ‘lighter’. It also produces significantly less odor, which makes the process more discrete and less likely to affect others.
Vaporization does require special equipment, but that equipment has become much cheaper, smaller and simpler in recent years.
These liquid cannabis extracts are another smoke-free option providing relatively fast relief, discretion and dosage control. Typically a few drops are placed under the tongue and absorbed, avoiding the digestive system. This makes them faster than edible methods, though slower than inhalation.
Ingestible oils are like tinctures in being concentrated cannabis extracts, but they are delivered via the digestive system, either as capsules or as an ingestible product or ingredient. This yields a slower onset that tends to involve deeper, full body effects which can also be expected to last substantially longer than inhalation methods.
Any medical cannabis delivered via ingestion will be slower acting, more full-body and potentially more psychoactive (though the strain selection will have a big impact on that aspect of the effects). Beverages, baked goods, chocolates, and gum have all become available in various markets, with the range of options steadily broadening.
Topical creams and poultices are based on a thick, full extract oil, and allow the active cannabinoids to be absorbed through the skin. They are mainly used for certain types of direct, localized pain relief and have the unique advantage of not producing any cerebral effects, so there is no ‘high’ associated with their use.
Researchers are just beginning to determine the therapeutic potential of more than 80 medically significant cannabis compounds.