by Michael Litchfield
June 6, 1991
Last Updated Jul 12, 2009 - by Erowid
- Eating and Drinking
This paper is an exposition on the consumption of marijuana for its psychoactive effects. Covered will be the two primary methods used in America today, smoking and eating/drinking, with smoking being the more common method. There are a whole lot of lies, half-truths, myths, and supposition about the consumption of marijuana this is an attempt to clear things up as much as possible.
Smoking is the quickest but least efficient method of ingesting marijuana and experiencing its effects. Marijuana smoke contains a number of carcinogens, many of which can be removed if the smoke is filtered through a water bong but it will still contains some carcinogens and can be an irritant. Studies have shown THC has a bronchiodialator effect, which may be effective in purging the particulates from the lungs.
Joints, marijuana cigarettes, are the perennial favorite of many people. They are "shake", marijuana which has had the stems and seeds removed, which is inside a fold of rice paper and then rolled into a cylinder. This is the singularly most portable method to smoke grass once the joint has been rolled.
When a joint has been smoked down to the point that it is difficult to hold it is called a "roach" and wide variety of paraphernalia exists which are designed to hold the roach without burning oneself. Collectively known as "roach clips" they include tweezers, alligator clips, forceps, needle nose pliers, and ceramic pieces with holes through them. There are a number of devices available to facilitate rolling a joint. Absolutely essential is a cleaning tray to remove the stems and seeds from the lose marijuana. There are a number of papers available with which to roll ones joint, varying in color, pattern, size, and presence of gummed edges. There are rolling "machines" which make the process of rolling a joint much less ticklish, but with practice and skill at rolling joints these tend to hinder more than help. One of the more intriguing techniques of smoking a joint is taking what is known as a powerhit. This is accomplished by having an accomplice surround the burning end of the joint with their mouth, taking care not to allow their skin to come into contact with the glowing end, and blowing while one takes a hit from the other end. This can be somewhat dicey, but is one of the more intimate ways of sharing a joint.
Etiquette requires one to pass the joint in a circular fashion through those present. No one is required to take a toke if they do not care to, but they are expected to pass it on if it comes to them. "Bogartting", hoarding the joint when it comes to you, is a SERIOUS breach of protocol. People too stoned to smoke the joint let alone pass it are expected to be skipped over and a joint can (politely) be removed from someone if they do not seem to be sharing the consensus reality.
Bongs, or water pipes if you are in a head shop, pass the smoke through water to cool and filter it. Grass is put into a bowl on the end of a tube whose other end is in a sealed container partially filled with water. The end of the bowl's tube is below the level of the water so that as the smoke exits the pipe it is bubble through a layer of water. The air pressure in the chamber is lowered by breathing through another tube that stays above the water level in the chamber. When the air pressure inside the chamber is lowered, air from outside the chamber passes through the bowl and its tube and bubbles through the water. Bongs are not particularly portable, as they tend to be awkward, delicate, and heavy. Sizes range from the size of a small pill container to eight foot tall escapees from a mad scientist laboratory. Principally made from glass, plastic, ceramic, and metal they can be an art form unto themselves. The principal benefit of smoking grass through a bong is that the smoke is cooled and several carcinogens are removed without removing the active ingredients. One can put any number of liquids in the chamber to filter the smoke, and beer or other forms of alcohol are often used, but this is not recommended. The active ingredients in marijuana are fat and alcohol soluble and when filtered through such substances the active ingredients go into solution. In addition the carcinogens in marijuana smoke are water soluble so that when smoke passed through some liquid other than water one loses active ingredients and gains carcinogens in the smoke entering your lungs. One method recommended is to put ice water in the chamber, the cooled water is not quite as effective at removing the carcinogens but the additional cooling is favored among smokers. Carburetors are small openings in the chamber that are covered during the hit and towards the end opened to allow all the smoke to escape the chamber. Occasionally one finds a bong designed so that carboration is accomplished by lifting the bowl slightly and allowing the air to enter the bowl tube.
Pipes are the simplest devices used to smoke marijuana. For the most part they are similar to pipes used to smoke tobacco but marijuana pipes should be made of heat resistant materials such as stone, ivory, metal, glass, and occasionally harder woods. Grass does not tend to stay lit in pipe so flame constantly has to be applied to bowl which heats it up more than pipes with tobacco in them typically are heated. A common variant of pipe is the stash pipe, a pipe where one may store a small amount of grass. Some stash pipes are constructed in such a manner that the the smoke passes through the stash area so that the grass inside is bathed in the smoke and acquires a coating of resin which contains THC thus making it more potent when it is turn is smoked. There are glass hash pipes which are used to smoke hashish and hashish oil, the materiel is placed in the bowl as with other pipes but instead of heat being applied to the top of the substance it is applied to the bottom of the pipe.
One-hits, or dugouts as they are sometimes called, are a highly portable method of smoking grass for someone who does not want to smoke an entire joint at one time. A one-hit is a small metal tube that has a small cavity at one end and a mouthpiece at the other. One presses the cavity into a small container of cleaned grass to fill it and then is lit somewhat like a cigarette and inhaled steadily until the grass is gone. One only gets one inhalation or "hit" per filling thus it is called a one hit. A dugout is small wooden container which has a space for the cleaned grass and another space for the one-hit itself.
- Gas Pipes (Carbureted pipes)
Gas Pipes are open ended tubes with a small bowl mounted near one end perpendicular to the main axis of the tube. The end near the bowl is covered with your hand and the smoke is drawn into the tube until the bowl is burned out then the hand is removed and all the smoke in the tube rushes into your lungs. These are usually made from glass, though occasionally one will find plastic pipes.
- Gravity Bongs
Gravity bongs are more a style of smoking than a particular apparatus for the consumption of marijuana. With a gravity bong one uses water pressure to create the vacuum in a chamber rather then one's lungs as with water pipes and gas pipes. A gravity bong is made by placing a cylinder that is open at one and and closed except for a place for a bowl at the other. The open end is placed in a large container of water until the chamber of the cylinder is filled with water. The filled bowl is then attached and a flame is applied to the marijuana in it. The cylinder is lifted slowly up. As the cylinder is lifted up the water trapped inside will seek to escape out the open end into the container due to the force of gravity. This creates a vacuum at the top of the chamber near the bowl, this vacuum sucks the smoke from the burning marijuana into the chamber replacing the water. A tube may reach from the bowl to near the base of the cylinder making it a true bong or the end may not actually enter the water so that is is similar to a gas pipe. after the material in the bowl has been burned and the smoke has filled the chamber the bowl is removed and the cylinder is pushed back down into the container. As the water re-enter the chamber it forces the smoke out where and hopefully into an expectant individual. This is the most common form of a water bong but any number of similar schemes exist which can use the vacuum created by the exiting water to draw the smoke, and then use that water again to force it out of the chamber.
- Tilt Pipes
Tilt pipes are pipes which have a heating element built into the pipe at the bowl, the element heats the marijuana to sub-flammable temperature but which will activate and release the cannabanoids, or active ingredients, from the plant material. Most smoking accessories apply an external flame to the marijuana which vaporizes and breaks down many cannabanoids before they can be consumed, thus wasting a portion of the active ingredients in the marijuana. These device tend to be very rare usually only found among connoisseurs. They are called tilt pipes because one tilts the pipe to bring the marijuana into contact with the heating element.
- EATING & DRINKING
The active ingredients in cannabis are fat and alcohol soluble so they can be extracted and added to foodstuff entering the system through the digestive tract rather than through the lungs. This type of consumption of marijuana tend to be both slower and more efficient than smoking it. Further the noxious effects of consuming heated smoke are completely eliminated. For these reasons this is the favored method of marijuana consumption by many people.
It is a myth that dried marijuana is completely inactive and must be heated before being consumed to activate the cannabanoids. While heating can increase potency by converting a less potent form of THC through decarboxylation, some psychoactivity is present even in fresh leaves and buds. Raw, dried cannabis taken orally can be quite strong, according to numerous first hand reports. Cooking extractions such as using butter or olive oil in a pan with heat are the most common ways to make cannabis-based foods and is considered to result in near maximum potency. [Section edited by Erowid Jul 2009].
The traditional method of eating it is to cook it in a brownie, especially when it is in the form of hashish, though it can be used in any number of things. The recommended method of eating marijuana is to saute it in butter or margarine over medium heat, then to strain the remaining solids out and use the butter to cook with. One can use this marijuana butter to make brownies, cook vegetables, or however else one might use butter to cook with, one can even spread it on a slice of bread. Many people will mix the the residual solids in with whatever they are cooking in hopes of making use of whatever cannabanoids might still be in them, but if done properly this in not generally valuable. A typical ratio for making the marijuana butter is one stick of butter to one eight of an ounce of marijuana, and headed for fifteen to twenty minutes.
One may extract the active ingredients from marijuana using alcohol and then use this tincture to make a potent drink. The highest proof alcohol available should be used, preferably 190 proof grain alcohol, since the water in the alcohol will dissolve other chemicals in the marijuana that one wishes to avoid. Some suggest soaking the grass in warm water for a period to remove those chemicals but that presents a whole host of other and is not really recommended. One may simply place the marijuana into a bottle of grain alcohol and let the canabanoids leach out, but this takes 2-3 weeks of time. A faster method is to heat the alcohol to sub-boiling and stir in the marijuana. Great deal of care should be taken if this method is chosen as the alcohol is highly flammable. The resulting tincture, often called "Green Dragon", is a light to emerald green liquid, which can be drunk straight, but this is not recommended. Highly lauded is a drink of 3 parts lemon lime soda, 1 part green dragon and a dollop of honey served over ice.