Since the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 legalized hemp-derived cannabidiol or CBD, medical marijuana products have flooded the market. Burgers, coffee, cartridges, pet shampoo — you name it and there’s probably a version that contains CBD.
According to one 2018 study, CBD users report using, on average, two different forms of CBD, with the most popular delivery method being sublingual, or taken under the tongue.
The abundance of CBD products on the market can be overwhelming for consumers. Here is a rundown…
Edibles (including pills and capsules)
This category is any product that is meant to be eaten including gummies, coffee, etc.
With such a large variety of edible CBD products available, people may have an easier time finding something that fits their preferences. For example, food productsmay have an earthy flavor that some may find unappealing but pills and capsules tend to be tasteless. Packaged edibles can also make it easier to take a specific dose
Absorption can be slow, erratic and variable, according to research. How much food someone has recently eaten can affect how much CBD is absorbed by the body, which is usually around 20%-30%. Peak bloodstream levels are usually achieved within one to two hours, though it can take up to six.
Like e-cigarettes, vaporizers heat up dry cannabis flower or CBD oils, creating an inhalable vapor.
Vaping is the fastest way to potentially feel results. Peak bloodstream levels occur around 10 minutes but most people can start feeling the effects within a few minutes of the first inhalation and the effects can stick around for three to five hours.
Like edibles, a variety of factors, such as how deeply someone inhales, how long they hold their breath, and how hot a vaporizer runs can affect CBD absorption, which can vary from 10%-60%. Dosing can also be difficult, although prefilled pens that meter out doses help to consistently zero in on the right amount.
Lastly, vape cartridges can contain propylene glycol, a liquid alcohol that’s also found in e-cigarettes and can break down into formaldehyde, a probable carcinogen, at high temperatures. There are “solvent-free” oils on the market.
Oils and tinctures
The CBD in these products are usually extracted from hemp and then diluted with an oil, often sesame. The resulting oil or tincture is then typically placed under the tongue using a dropper or sprayed on the inside the cheek, where it’s absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
After vaping, oils and tinctures are the second-fastest way to feel the effects of CBD — usually within 30 minutes. Unless it’s added to food or immediately swallowed, in which case it will have to be processed by the liver first. Dosing can be tricky. Labeled droppers can be a big help, as can shaking the bottle well before use because CBD can get stuck to the side of the container.
Topicals include lotions and balms that are rubbed directly onto the skin, as well as transdermal patches that stick to the skin and gradually release CBD into the bloodstream over time.
They generally need to contain higher amounts of active ingredients to be effective, which can drive up the price. There’s also the risk of skin irritation. The time required to take effect can vary.