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bag with weed leaf on it, cannabis tincture, and vape pen on wood table, Marijuana Edibles vs Cannabis Tincture vs Vape

Marijuana Edibles vs Cannabis Tincture vs Vape

In the world of cannabis, there are many different products to consider, each with its unique advantages and disadvantages.

Ultimately, all cannabis products can provide relief. Finding the right products for you depends on your desired effect, tolerance, food allergies, and other preferences.

Our edibles vs tinctures vs vapes guide cover three of the most popular products on the market. We’ll describe the pros and cons of each to help you choose the perfect products for you.

Here's what we'll cover:

Table of Contents

  • Cannabis consumption method
  • Different types of cannabis products
  • Cannabis edibles
  • Cannabis tinctures
  • Cannabis vapes
  • Which product is right for you?

Ready to find the best product for you?

Cannabis Consumption Methods

Cannabis products come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, potencies, and forms. There are so many products available that there's bound to be an ideal product for you.

Each type of consumption method offers different onset of effects and duration of effects, which can affect the treatment of your symptom or condition.

Here are the main delivery methods:

Inhalation (Smoking and Vaping)

Cannabis can be inhaled through smoking and vaping cannabis flower and concentrates. Inhalers use a propellant to blast the medicine into your lungs. Inhaling marijuana boasts a faster onset of effects than any other consumption method but provides a shorter duration of effects.

When inhaled, cannabinoids and terpenes in the plant or concentrate are absorbed through the lungs and enter the bloodstream. As the blood pumps through your body, the cannabinoids bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Vaporization offers users an experience free from combustion, smoke, and carcinogens compared to smoking flowers. Vaporizing concentrates can provide a higher potency than smoking, which may not be tolerated well by new users.


Cannabis can be ingested in a variety of forms including capsules, edibles, oils and tinctures, and beverages. Generally, ingestible products have a longer onset and duration of effects. New users are encouraged to start with a low dose and slowly increase the dosage if needed.

When ingested, THC binds to CB2 receptors in the digestive system. Then, it is metabolized in the liver, eliminating much of the concentration of cannabinoids, however, the new metabolite is 3 to 7 times stronger than THC.


Intraoral administration such as sublingually under the tongue or buccally absorbed in the cheeks. Intraoral products include spray tinctures and tablets. These products are usually paired with a base to improve absorption in the mouth.

When a tincture is taken sublingually, there is a quicker onset of effects. They are a good starter product for new users who want to dose precisely and increase to their desired effects.


Topical products include salves, lotions, balms, creams, and transdermal patches. These products are applied directly to the skin and provide localized relief for minor aches and pains, inflammation, and other skin issues.

Except for transdermal patches, topicals can penetrate the upper layer of the skin but are not absorbed into the bloodstream. Topicals are non-intoxicating. Transdermal patches, however, do absorb into the bloodstream and cause intoxication.

Cannabis Products for Every Need

Whether you prefer quick-acting effects, long-lasting effects, localized relief, or discrete consumption, there is a compatible type of product for your medical or recreational needs.

Different Types of Cannabis Products

There is a wide range of cannabis product types. New users may feel overwhelmed with the sheer variety of products at their local dispensary.

Here are the main cannabis product types:

  • Flower: Dried herb, joints, blunts
  • Extracts: Shatter, wax, crumble, live resin
  • Edibles: Savory and sweet treats, drinks, capsules, tinctures
  • Tinctures: Alcohol-based extracts
  • Topicals: Creams, lotions, salves, balms, transdermal patches

Choosing the right one takes a bit of trial and error and depends on a variety of factors including your tolerance, desired effects, and budget. To help you zero in on a preferred product, we’ll describe edibles, tinctures, and vapes in detail below.

Marijuana Edibles

marijuana edibles

Marijuana Muffins

Cannabis-infused edibles are products that can be ingested, either through eating or sublingual application (under the tongue). They are an alternative to inhalation methods. Cannabis edibles is a broad umbrella term for many forms ranging from drinks to foods to capsules to tinctures (yes, technically they are edibles, but we'll discuss that later)

So, how do edibles work? You don't smoke then, so what happens when you eat them?

When edibles are ingested, they go through your body's digestive system and are metabolized in the liver. Whether it's a brownie, pill, infused cocktail, or cannabis oil, the cannabinoids are metabolized in the liver, which takes some time.

Note:  Unlike most edibles, nanoemulsions (tiny cannabis oil particles that can be easily mixed with water) can enter the bloodstream in the upper gastrointestinal tract producing faster-acting effects. Since these products have tiny particles of cannabinoids they can take effect in 10 to 15 minutes.

Here's where it gets interesting. The liver can convert THC into a stronger and longer-lasting metabolite known as 11-hydroxy-THC.

Because they have to go through the digestive tract, edibles can take effect between 60 to 90 minutes. The onset of effects can be influenced by the ingredients, amount consumed, and your tolerance.

Effects from edibles can last much longer than all other consumption methods. The effects can last between 6 to 12 hours and peak at 2 to 5 hours. The long-lasting effects can be good for certain conditions such as sleep issues.

For some, the long-lasting effects can be heaven-sent. For others, the metabolized THC can cause too much intoxication. If you become too intoxicated with edibles or any other product, refer to our blog resource on how to avoid greening out and what to do if you do.

The best way to consume cannabis-infused edibles is to eat them with saturated fats (LDLs)  since they can help deliver the cannabinoids through the body. Edibles that have a low-fat content, should be eaten with food that has a high saturated fat content for better bioavailability (the efficiency of absorption into the bloodstream).

People with compromised digestive tracts may have trouble feeling any effects from an edible.  If you have a compromised digestive system, consider other consumption methods such as tinctures taken sublingually.

If you are new to cannabis edibles, it's best to start off with the lowest dose possible and build your way up. Even if you are a seasoned cannabis smoker, consuming edibles is entirely different and can produce intense effects, so be careful.

For new users, we recommend starting off with a low dose (2.5 to 5 mg). Take a dose, wait about an hour or two to gauge the effects, and take another dose if needed to reach your desired effects. It can take some trial and error to find the perfect dose.

Most cannabis edibles contain a maximum of 100 mg and are divided into 10 mg servings. Commercially-produced edibles can offer a more consistent product compared to homemade edibles which may have inconsistent dosing and effects.

  • Pros:
    • No active components are destroyed by heat or lost through exhalation and no noxious byproducts are created
    • THC is converted to a metabolite that is 3 to 7 times stronger
  • Cons:
    • Inconsistent results
    • Interacts with other medications
  • Percent bioavailable: 4 to 12%
  • Time until onset: 60 to 90 minutes
  • Duration of effects: 6 to 8 hours

Cannabis Tinctures

cannabis tincture

Cannabis Tinctures

Cannabis tinctures, a type of edible, work a little differently than traditional edibles. Cannabis tinctures can be added to food or consumed sublingually under the tongue with a few drops of marijuana-infused oil.

When absorbed sublingually, the cannabinoids are immediately absorbed into the bloodstream through blood and lymphatic vessels in the mouth. Since they absorb at a quicker rate than traditional edibles, they can take effect in as little as 30 seconds to 5 minutes and effects can last up to 3 hours.

In the early nineteenth century, tinctures were widely popular in the U.S. and were infused into ethanol. Today's tinctures are infused in oil in a dropper bottle. The tincture dropper allows users to get a precise dose in milligrams. The tincture has its potency on the packaging.

Tinctures offer users unparalleled versatility since they can be used in many different ways. A tincture can be added to your favorite food or drink, they can be absorbed under the tongue, they can be used in feeding tubes, and can also be applied topically or through capsules.

It's important to make note of a few different varieties of tincture that you may come across including the following:

  • Full-spectrum: Full spectrum products contain the entire chemical profile of the plant including all cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, phenols, and proteins providing a true-to-form aroma, flavor, and experience
  • Broad-spectrum: Broad-spectrum products contain all of the same cannabinoids as full-spectrum products, except for THC. THC is removed through a remediation process so you can enjoy the health benefits of tinctures without intoxication.
  • Distillate: Distillate is also a common oil that removes all the cannabinoids except for one and combines it with a carrier oil.

One of the advantages of cannabis tinctures over traditional edibles is the higher bioavailability of the cannabinoids in the oil. In fact, sublingual cannabis has double the bioavailability or more than edibles and inhalation methods. That means that a smaller dose is needed to produce the same effect.

Sublingual administration

  • Pros:
    • No active components are destroyed by heat or lost through exhalation and no noxious byproducts are created
    • Fast onset of effects makes this method easier to titrate than other methods
  • Percent bioavailable: 40 to 98%
  • Time until onset: 30 seconds to 5 minutes
  • Duration of effects: 2 to 3 hours



Cannabis Vape

Vapes are one of the most convenient, fast-acting, and easy-to-use cannabis products on the market. Vapes can either refer to devices that heat up dry herb or concentrate or pre-filled cartridges that screw into a 510 threaded battery and disposable THC vape pens (CBD varieties are also available).

Vaping concentrates can produce fast-acting effects within 1 to 5 minutes after inhalation. The effects can last for 2 to 3 hours or longer depending on the person. Generally, vaping takes effect at temperatures between 311 to 424º F. In terms of bioavailability, 36 to 61% of the active ingredients in cannabis are absorbed into the bloodstream.

When referring to vaping, there are a few different ways to consume marijuana vapor. At home, tabletop vaporizers offer more power and temperature control when vaping cannabis. Handheld and portable vape pens offer convenience and portability.

For the ultimate convenience, you can buy disposable vape pens that come with a cartridge and battery combo or pre-filled vape cartridges that can attach to a battery. You can also buy reusable cartridges and fill them with your own cannabis oil.

When it comes to vape cartridges, it's important to consider the ingredients used to make the products. Watch out for harmful additives such as propylene glycol (PG), polyethylene glycol (PEG), and vitamin E acetate. These are used to make the viscosity of the oil easier to vaporize by the battery. When heated, they can turn into harmful toxins in the body.

Vaporizing flower

  • Pros:
    • Convenience and discreet
    • No carcinogens, carbon monoxide, smoke, or butane inhalation
  • Cons:
    • May destroy some terpenes
    • Odor, cough, carbon monoxide
  • Percent bioavailable: 31 to 61%
  • Time until onset: 30 to 90 seconds
  • Duration of effects: 2 to 3 hours

Vaporizing pens with concentrate

  • Pros:
    • No smoke, carbon monoxide, or butane inhalation
    • Portable, convenient, and discreet
  • Cons:
    • Odor, carbon monoxide, cough
    • May contain unhealthy residual toxins and additives
    • Potential for increased tolerance
  • Percent bioavailable: 31 to 61%
  • Time until onset: 30 to 90 seconds
  • Duration of effects: 2 to 3 hours

Which Product Is Right For You?

Now that we covered the three main types of cannabis products, it's time to choose one but you'd like to try out. Even within these categories, there is so much variety in terms of potency, flavor, ingredients, and so much more.

If you're unsure of what to try, you can always ask your budtender to give you recommendations based on your specific needs.

Cannabis product effects vary by person depending on their genetics, metabolism, gender, age, and tolerance. If you want to have a better idea of what cannabis products to start with, here are a few factors to consider.


How strong do you need your marijuana to be? Do you need to treat chronic pain? Cannabis edibles, tinctures, and vapes can provide a high potency. Check the label for potency. If you're not sure how you would react, start with a low dose and gradually increase until you find your desired effects.

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You'll run across several products with two of the main cannabinoids: THC and CBD. While there are many more minor cannabinoids in cannabis, these two are the most commonly found. THC produces a more intoxicating feel while CBD produces no intoxication with clear-headed effects.

Consider the other types of cannabinoids found in the product if it is broad-spectrum or full spectrum. Does it have CBN, CBG, CBC, or terpenes? All of these can also have synergistic effects alongside the two main cannabinoids. Make sure to research these cannabinoids to check for effects and intoxication.


Terpenes are the aromatic compounds found in plants and herbs that are responsible for their unique aroma. Common terpenes include limonene, pinene, linalool, beta-caryophyllene, and myrcene. While there needs to be more research, terpenes are thought to enhance the health benefits of the plant.

Become a Master of Marijuana

Using your cannabis safely and effectively can take some time if you are a new user. Even if you are an experienced user with one product, another product may interact with your body differently.

No matter what your skill level is, a complete cannabis education can fill in the gaps to help you use cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, grow cannabis, cook with cannabis, make cannabis extracts, and even start a business or career in the industry.

For a world-class cannabis education, enroll in Cannabis Training University’s online marijuana college. Since 2009, our curriculum has been developed and regularly updated by veterans in the industry.

For a much more affordable fee than other cannabis colleges, CTU can turn you into a Master of Marijuana.

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  • Cannabis laws
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  • Cannabis business

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