Although many methods are available for consuming medical cannabis, smoking continues to rank among the most popular. In this article, we’ll cover why patients sometimes choose this method and discuss some tips and options to help you get the most out of your medicine.

Why Patients Smoke Medical Cannabis

The popularity of smoking as a consumption method results from a few key factors. First, cannabis is fast acting when inhaled, providing an efficient path to the relief of severe symptoms. Secondly, smoking allows patients to carefully control their dose by taking multiple small inhalations until the desired level of symptom relief is achieved. Finally, smoking is a simple way of sampling a variety of medical cannabis strains in order to discover their unique effects.

Smoking Products

A wide variety of products and devices are available to assist medical cannabis patients. Many are available at your local dispensary and their staff will be happy to provide guidance in how to use them properly. Here are a few of the most popular options.


Pipes for medical cannabis are available in countless styles, including many simple and affordable options. Most pipes are very easy to use with a lighter or matches and allow you to easily control how much cannabis you’re consuming. A few tips regarding pipes:

  • Glass pipes are generally considered safest for medical use and provide the best flavor.
  • Many pipes have a hole on the side called a “carb” or “shotgun,” which should be covered with your thumb when lighting the pipe. You can release the carb to moderate airflow once the pipe is lit.
  • Many patients don’t realize that screens are optional for most pipes. Try skipping screens for easier cleaning.

Water Pipes

This is a larger variety of pipe that offer the added feature of water filtration. When inhaled, smoke passes through a layer of water inside the pipe, which creates a cooling effect. Many styles are available, varying widely in cost and features. A few tips regarding water pipes:

  • This method produces a large volume of smoke, so caution should be exercised to avoid irritation and coughing.
  • The “carb” or “shotgun” should be used frequently to clear smoke from the chamber. Smoke left in the chamber is more irritating to the lungs.
  • Water should be replaced before each use and water pipes should be cleaned regularly.
  • Water pipes are easily knocked over and should never be left sitting out or placed in precarious places.


These are small cigarette-like cones that contain only medical cannabis. Pre-rolls can be purchased at the dispensary or prepared at home using rolling papers. Many tutorials are available online to help you master this skill. A few tips regarding pre-rolls:

  • This method is convenient and provides good flavor when quality flowers are used.
  • Keep in mind that a normal sized pre-roll may contain more than one dose, depending on your needs and tolerance.
  • Though popular, pre-rolls are not the most efficient way to consume cannabis, because some smoke is lost into the air.
  • Pre-rolls tend to produce a stronger cannabis aroma than other methods and should be avoided if you’re interested in minimizing odor.

Proper Preparation and Smoking Techniques

Regardless of the smoking method you prefer, preparing your cannabis properly is critical. You’ll also want to make sure your cannabis is stored correctly at all times to ensure freshness prior to use. A few additional tips:

  • When lighting cannabis, inhale softly through your device until you see the flame being gently drawn into the cannabis itself.
  • When inhaling, draw the smoke fully into your lungs before exhaling. If you don’t see smoke when exhaling, this means your product isn’t properly lit or your smoking device may be clogged.
  • Always use the minimum amount of heat necessary to ignite the product. Excess heat will actually reduce the flavor and potency of your product.
  • When preparing a pipe or pre-roll, only include the amount of cannabis you wish to consume at that time. This will help moderate your dosage and ensure that any remaining product can be stored properly for future use.
  • Using a grinder will help your cannabis burn more evenly and expose cannabinoids to improve potency.

If you’re new to smoking cannabis, begin by taking only one or two inhalations and wait to feel their effects before consuming more. Be aware that patients new to cannabis sometimes don’t feel an effect the first time. Rather than consuming a large dose, try again at a later time. Start low and go slow!