5 Ways To Get High Without Inhaling Smoke

As marijuana gains traction as an actual medical option for some, more and more of the health-conscious among us are taking another look at cannabis. But the idea of smoking may still be a hurdle. So what if you want to smoke weed, but you don't actually want to... smoke? Well, you've got options.

To be totally clear: The evidence we have suggests that, overall, smoking weed definitely isn't as bad for your lungs as smoking cigarettes.

That said, this is a surprisingly complex issue, and there's not much conclusive research out there. What we do know is that smoke created from combusting any plant material contains harmful compounds, and inhaling smoke of any kind can irritate your lungs. There's also evidence that regularly smoking marijuana for an extended period of time may have long-term effects on your lung and cardiovascular health.

The other thing to keep in mind, of course, is that ingesting marijuana in different ways can have vastly different effects on your body. For instance, edibles provide a high that lasts way longer at a much lower dose than smoking — and doesn't give you the chance for a severe coughing fit. So, especially if you're interested in using cannabis for medical reasons, smoking it isn't necessarily the best way to go.

Luckily, cannabis users are a pretty creative bunch and have come up with a bunch of other ways to get high without inhaling smoke. Ahead, we've collected five of the techniques you might want to consider.

This month we’re celebrating High January by leaving our stoner stereotypes behind. Instead, we’ll take long-time smokers and total newbies through all the various complexities of the current cannabis world. It’s 2017 and we’re ready to blaze a new trail.

(Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws. To learn more, click here.)

Vaporizers

Yes, you're still inhaling something with a vaporizer. But it's not smoke — it's vapor! Essentially, your vape is heating up your plant material without burning it, thus avoiding combustion.

But if you're looking to live that #VapeLife, watch out for the way your vape actually heats up. In vaporizers that use conductive heating (e.g. the PAX and the Magic Flight Launch Box), the plant comes into direct contact with the heating element, meaning that combustion can still happen if you're not careful.

With vaporizers that use convective heating, however, such as the Firefly, your cannabis never touches that heating element. Instead, the air around the plant material heats up, making combustion much less likely.
Concentrates

At this point, "concentrate" could refer to a million different things in the cannabis world. But at a basic level, a concentrate is simply a more efficient way to use marijuana.

Most commonly found in the form of waxes or oils, concentrates are extremely potent extracts from the cannabis plant. You can use concentrates with certain types of vaporizers (the microG, for instance) to avoid combustion.

The other popular way to consume concentrates is "dabbing," which requires putting them directly on a hot surface and inhaling through a special pipe. Although it's not smoking, dabbing isn't quite vaporizing either, and it's known to cause some pretty intense coughing fits. So it may still be harsh on your lungs, even if you're not really smoking.
Tinctures

Tinctures are really just another type of concentrate. But they're specifically made by extracting compounds from marijuana using very high-proof alcohol, meaning you don't want to put these in a vape or anywhere near heat.

Instead, you can put a few drops in a mixer, your favorite salad dressing, or straight on your tongue if you don't mind the, uh, potent taste. Bonus: You can make your own tinctures using marijuana that you've already vaped to give it a second life.
Edibles

If you're reading this article, we're going to assume you've come into contact with pot brownies at least once in your life. But the world of edibles is so much bigger than that. Sure, you've got your other sweets — gummies, chocolates, and cookies tend to be the most common — but you'd be surprised what else is out there.

Edibles are so variable due in large part to the way they're made. To make most edibles, you first have to create either butter or oil that's infused with cannabis. From there, you can make pretty much any recipe that includes butter or oil. But really innovative chefs have other ways to infuse foods with cannabis, which means that it's not just baked goods — you can also find cannabis mac and cheese, popsicles, sodas, coffee, and beyond.

Remember, though — start low and go slow with these. Edibles can take a while to kick in (up to an hour), so you don't want to go for a second dose before you're totally sure you can handle it.
Topicals

These lotions, body oils, and sprays are absorbed through your skin. That makes them great for easing localized pain (e.g. a sore shoulder) and more discreet uses (e.g. weed lube).

However, these don't give you the same kind of high that other methods of consuming cannabis do.

When inhaled or otherwise taken up into your bloodstream, marijuana binds to a network of cannabinoid receptors that are in your brain, causing psychoactive effects. But compounds in topicals don't make it to your bloodstream. They activate a different network of cannabinoid receptors found throughout your body, including your skin.

So your body may feel tingly, soothed, relaxed, etc., but not necessarily "high."