Cannabis culture can be confusing if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Ideally, you have a friend to be your marijuana mentor, but in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be safer to smoke alone. Have no fear! A stoner is near. I’ll help guide you into the ever-expanding wide world of weed.

A collection of marijuana paraphenalia

Daniell Marlow

I have been an avid, and boy do I mean avid, pot smoker for fifteen years. I’ve tried nearly every trend in that time, from good old-fashioned dirt weed to today’s powerful concentrates. I have put over 10,000 hours into the craft of consuming cannabis. If you’re looking for someone to show you the (hemp) ropes of modern marijuana, you’ve come to the right guy. Allow me to answer the internet’s most asked questions about weed, with the hopes of teaching you something new in the process.

Let’s start off with some history. Where did marijuana come from?

An image of a woman blowing smoke on a cannabis plant

Gerry Kingsley / Getty Images

Naturally, it came from the ground. But more specifically, marijuana has been around for way longer than people have been smoking it. The oldest marijuana plant dates back at least 20 million years in mainland China. About 2500 years ago, the ancient Chinese started smoking it.

While the ancient Chinese were undoubtedly chill, the ancient Hindus of India were even chiller: they ingested marijuana in the form of edibles at least 500 years before it was ever smoked. Here in America, prior to the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, “marihuana” was regularly consumed in an alcohol-based tincture. The latest advancement in cannabis consumption occurred during the 1970s (big surprise) with the distillation of powerful concentrates. These days, most weed in the states comes from legal pot farms and dispensaries. Marijuana is closer than ever to nation-wide legalization, but we still have a ways to go.

So what’s the deal with legalization?

An image of a protestor at a march for the legalization of cannabis

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Unless you live in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, or Washington smoking marijuana recreationally is against the law. In the United States, marijuana laws have disproportionately imprisoned black and brown communities ever since they went into effect.

At this point, I must admit to being the whitest dude on the planet. I say things like “word” and “catch ya later” unironically; I truly intend to catch you later. It goes without saying, I am writing this from a privileged perspective and most of what I say should be taken with a pinch of salt. For a large portion of the US population, marijuana smells like trouble.

Black men are four times as likely to be arrested for possession despite using the drug at the same rate as white men. This is the reality of the damage done by politicians demonizing a plant. Black families and communities have been destroyed by outdated, irrational, and ill-informed marijuana laws. Recent headlines suggest that legalization may be just around the corner, but for many, it is already too late. You can learn more about the fight for cannabis reform by visiting Last Prisoner Project.

Okay, now that I’ve introduced myself and let you know what you’ll be in for, let’s get into some terminology.

CBD, THC, terpenes…what’s the difference?

What’s the difference between indica, sativa, and hybrid?

@redeyesonly / Via Twitter

Botanically speaking, the terms indica and sativa describe physical differences between marijuana plants. To the laymen (lame men, in my case), the terms describe marijuana’s effects on the body.

When you think of indica, think of “in-da-couch”, because that’s where your (gr)ass is about to be, buddy. Indicas bring on relaxation, lethargy, and hunger. When you think of sativa, just think the opposite of “in-da-couch”, whatever that means to you. Sativas inspire energy, creativity, and sociability. If you plan to wake-and-bake (smoke weed in the morning), smoke a sativa. A hybrid, then, is a marijuana strain that is slightly social but slightly sleepy, too.

It’s a spectrum, but every type of marijuana falls broadly into one of these three categories, so choose wisely. Armed with this knowledge, you are prepared to answer the next logical question: how should I get stoned?

So, how should you go about ingesting cannabis?

What are edibles?

Twitter: @Cher_Cher_007

Edibles, any food chemically infused with cannabinoids, have come a long way since ancient India. They were Americanized in the sixties due to Alice B. Toklas’s cookbook containing a recipe for “Hashish Fudge”, but today’s edibles are only limited by our imagination. Edible enthusiasts have pretty much mixed marijuana into any tasty treat you can dream of, drinks included. Modern bud bakers can control dosage to an amazing level of precision, measured in milligrams of THC, which is convenient for controlling your dosage.

Edibles are a fantastic way to make the time fly by. They produce an intense body high without the drawbacks of smoking, like smelling skunky or convulsive coughing fits. But the rule with edibles is to be patient! The high they produce tends to creep, or come on slowly. If your time is money, you might want to smoke instead.

What do people mean by “flower”?

@BudPictures / Via Twitter

Smoking “flower” is what most people think of when they think about marijuana. For many, it’s still the best way to get ripped. When you smoke weed, you are smoking the buds of the marijuana plant. Weed might have once been a weed, but modern marijuana is highly cultivated like produce. Marijuana strains are artificially selected for potency, taste, and appearance. It’s simple Mendelian genetics with a dash of hydroponics, mixed with stoner ingenuity.

Smoking weed is simple. All you need to do, really, is light the flowers on fire and inhale the smoke. But unless you have a field to burn, I’d recommend grinding your bud and putting it into a smoking device before you ignite it. Before we go any further, I’m going to need you to concentrate.

What are dabs?

An image of cannabis shatter

Cappi Thompson / Getty Images

Concentrates, commonly referred to as “dabs”, are to flower what a shot is to beer. Concentrates (resin, crumble, live resin, oil, sauce, shatter, distillate, honey, sugar, batter, or extracts) are distilled marijuana oils containing huge amounts of our favorite cannabinoids and terpenes. Oils are extremely versatile and can put into a number of products, including topical serums. Dabs and other non-topical concentrates are typically ingested as a vapor – you heat something up, place your concentrate on it, and inhale the vapor. For some, smoking concentrates can be easier on the lungs. Concentrates get you way more stoned with way less effort, so proceed with caution. You can even mix your dabs with flower to mind-numbing results.

If your goal is to avoid the negative side effects of smoking, there is one last product you need to know about. Similar to edibles but with way fewer calories, tinctures are a great alternative for non-smoking potheads.

What’s a tincture?

An image of cannabis tincture

Medianews Group / Getty Images

A cannabis tincture is a highly concentrated liquid form of marijuana. Tinctures are made with an ethanol solvent, and the resulting liquids are the discreet way to consume THC, CBD, and terpenes in precise doses. As mentioned before, they were the most popular method of consumption in the United States before prohibition and are making a comeback today due to the popularity of CBD tinctures.

You consume tinctures sublingually, meaning under the tongue. Sublingual consumption allows THC, CBD, and terpenes to enter the bloodstream faster and to a greater effect (yes, please). Tinctures measure by the milligram, usually administered with medicine droppers. If only smoking weed were so convenient or precise.

What hardware do I need to smoke weed?

@WeedPorns / Via Twitter

Obviously, if you’re eating an edible, just eat up and enjoy. Tinctures are almost as simple — all you need is a dropper. When it comes to smoking flower and vaporizing concentrates, things get slightly more complicated.

In this next section, we’ll cover pipes, bongs, joints, blunts, cartridges, rigs, flower vaporizers, and the many silly names potheads know them by.

What’s a bowl?

Author hand modeling a marijuana bowl

Daniell Marlow

Marijuana pipes, what we call bowls, are simple smoking devices that can be made from almost anything, including glass, metal, wood, and household fruits. Bowls are straightforward: install your flower, ignite, and inhale. As a serial smoker, I like a small bowl for quick access, but bowls can take on a large array of sizes, shapes, and features. For instance, a bubbler is a bowl with water inside of it. When you take a hit from a bubbler, the smoke goes through the water, cools down, and makes for an overall smoother inhalation experience.

Bubblers are smoother to smoke because they are a miniature version of a water pipe; or as stoners know it, a bong.

What about a bong?

What are doobies?

Author holds a marijuana cigarette

Daniell Marlow

Joints, doobies, reefer rolls, pre-rolls, Ls, and loosies are some of the many names for weed rolled in cigarette paper. They come in all shapes and sizes and can even be coated in concentrates. Joints are similar to spliffs, which are joints with a little tobacco mixed in. Joints and spliffs both produce roaches, which are the cigarette butts of the stonerverse.

But what’s better than a marijuana cigarette? That’s right, an even larger marijuana cigarette.

What’s the difference between a joint and a blunt?

What about vaping?

THC:CBD cannabidiol vape pens with medical marijuana

Highgraderoots / Getty Images

Cartridges are the only choice for the sophisticated, twenty-first-century stoner. Small, potent, and virtually untraceable, they are the discrete dabbing device stoners have always dreamed of. They’re mildly expensive but worth the costs for the benefits. Simply attach the cartridge (a vial containing concentrate) to your dab pen (aka a battery), push a button, and inhale. Dab pens are known for smoother, less smoky, and more subtle highs.

Dab pens have made social stoning easier than ever. However, one may desire a bigger, bolder dabbing experience. For that, you need to make like a trucker from Indiana and get yourself a big rig.

What is a rig?

@RigDab / Via Twitter

Rigs, also known as dab rigs, are essentially concentrate bongs. Dab rigs are known for producing a large amount of easy-to-inhale vapor. Heating them up can be tricky, but if you’re willing to handle a flambé torch, you should be just fine. If it’s your first time hitting a dab rig, you better buckle in: you’re about to go to the moon.

Can’t you vaporize flower, too?

@DrDabber / Via Twitter

Before we finish, a side note on flower smoking hardware: truth be told, flower can also be vaporized. Buying the necessary machinery for doing so is expensive and therefore less accessible. Vaporizers vary widely in shapes, sizes, and price, but if you know someone with a Volcano, you should pray to Shiva they let you hit it. Vaporizing flower is a great alternative for those who can afford it, and has many of the same benefits of a tincture or dab pen: less smell, easy on the lungs, and a more subtle high.

With this reefer rookie’s guide to smoking, eating, and vaporizing weed, you can now get baked with confidence! Whether you choose indica or sativa, CBD or THC, blunts or joints, flower or concentrates.

Colombian woman wears joint themed face mask.

Fredy Builes / Getty Images

The world of cannabis is way too wide to cover all questions in just one article. So what questions do you still need to be answered? Be sure to ask below in the comments! And just remember — I am not a doctor, lawyer, scientist, or farmer. I’m just your friendly, neighborhood pothead.


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