Getting stoned with friends on a Friday afternoon is an American pastime. For some, smoking cannabis is even a ritual performed every day. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 12% of Americans say they smoke cannabis, while those who use it medicinally — some 3.5 million Americans, according to nonprofit group ProCon.org — rely on cannabis to treat any number of conditions.
But getting stoned with friends on a Friday afternoon isn’t what it used to be. The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has impacted communities around the world as government and health officials issue mandates to stop the spread of the disease. As a result, millions are struggling to maintain a semblance of normalcy while spending time away from others. The rules (or lack thereof) that once dictated how and when we consume cannabis with others have changed.
Sharing joints, bongs, bowls, pipes, pens, or vapes is out of the question. There’s no real sense in putting your mouth on a pre-roll before passing it to a friend if the underlying recommendation is to avoid the spread of germs. Sharing your stash isn’t recommended either. Scientists have discovered that coronavirus can live on specific surfaces for up to two-to-three days. And based on one small study of 78 coronavirus-impacted patients in China, those with more severe viral symptoms had a history of smoking.
While no studies have shown a direct association between the coronavirus and cannabis, it’s safe to say that COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, and smoking will only exacerbate the issues this virus creates. We’re not here to tell you to wash your hands or to maintain at least six feet between you and your friends — you’ve probably heard all that before. But what we can do is share some of the many ways to get stoned if you don’t feel like smoking weed. Tinctures, topicals, oils, and edibles are all available at a dispensary near you (and some dispensaries are even delivering straight to your door).
Let’s take a refresher course on the many ways to get stoned without smoking.
Oral Delivery Methods
Consuming cannabis via oral delivery is a tried and trusted method for getting high. Oral cannabis options include tinctures, ingestible oils, and infused food/drinks. Most of us assume oral delivery means ingesting cannabis through the digestive tract before it hits the bloodstream, but this isn’t always so. As you’ll see, tinctures are administered through the mouth, but are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, unlike foods or drinks.
Tinctures are a liquid cannabis extract used by those looking for dosage control and an opportunity to get stoned quickly without the health risks associated with inhalation. Alcohol is commonly utilized as the tincture base (any proof greater than 80 can be used effectively), but other fat-soluble options such as vinegar or glycerol are also effective.
Generally, three or four drops of tincture are administered under the tongue and held in the mouth. The tincture is then absorbed by the salivary glands and deposited into the bloodstream. Tinctures can also be swallowed much like an edible, but they require time to process through the liver, reducing dosage control as a result.
Ingestible oils are a medium between edibles and concentrates. They’re swallowed and digested much like an edible, but the consistency of the oil might remind you of a classic concentrate. One popular ingestible oil is known as Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO, which originated in 2003 when Rick Simpson used concentrated cannabis to treat his skin cancer. RSO is made by infusing therapeutic compounds found in cannabis with alcohol and evaporating the solvent, which leaves behind a tar-like substance that resembles oil.
Eating or drinking cannabis is a popular means of achieving the classic high. While inhaling cannabis has an immediate effect, ingesting it will alter not only how long it takes for you to get stoned, but what your high will feel like as well. Edibles typically have longer onsets and tend to cause powerful full-body, psychoactive effects.
There are countless ways you can go about preparing your own edibles, should you choose to do so. Most edibles contain a central ingredient that’s high in fat, such as butter or olive oil, that can soak up the therapeutic properties of the plant. If you’re looking for a stress-free means of incorporating cannabis into your foods, simply add the tincture to your snack, meal, or drink for simplicity and dosage control. If you’re interested in cooking with cannabis from home, check out how to make cannabutter that can be incorporated into any number of seasonal recipes.
Topical Delivery Methods
Topical cannabis delivery methods utilize full-extract cannabis that has the consistency of thick, lotion-like oil. Once administered to the skin as a lotion or cream, cannabis will be absorbed by your body and enter the bloodstream. Topicals are great options that provide localized relief rather than a typical high. You’ll remain clear-headed but your body will find relief depending on where you’ve applied your topical product.
Cannabis and COVID-19
If inhaling cannabis has you concerned, fear not. Options abound when it comes to getting stoned. While cannabis can’t prevent the coronavirus or stop its spread, oral and topical delivery methods can give you a little peace of mind when you need it most. Fire up your oven, bake your goodies, log onto Zoom, and share your cannabis creations with friends — from a respectable social distance, of course.