Cannabinoid Delivery Systems

Cannabinoid Delivery Systems

There are 5 main delivery systems: inhalation, ingestion, oral absorption, topical, and anal/rectal or vaginal (for women). Each way has its own advantages and characteristics.


Inhalation is the most common use of medical cannabis. Even so, smoking raises concerns about the risks to the lungs. Therefore, it is better to use a vaporizer. The vaporizer uses just enough heat to vaporize the cannabinoid and thus, does not produce harmful substances like with combustion. Therefore, vaporizing cannabis/hemp is a  much more healthy way to get cannabinoids into the body than smoking.

Read more: Does CBD have side effects?

Inhalation is characterized by the fastest effect out of all delivery systems, as it only takes 1-10 minutes to feel the effects, and it is very easy to adjust the dosage. Because of this, inhalation can be a great way for new users to experience cannabis. 

However, the duration of effect lasts only for 1-4 hours, much shorter than when you ingest cannabinoids.


This produces the longest lasting effect (4-10 hours), but at the same time it also takes the longest to feel the effects. It is only recommended for experienced users to use products this way if they contain THC. But if you just want to eat some CBD, for example some CBD gummies, then feel free to do so. Eating a THC cookie can cause an intense high, while eating a CBD cookie does not have the same risk. 

Read more: Cannabinoids - THC, CBD and more

In the case of foods containing THC, it will take at least 30 minutes to 2 hours for you to feel the effects. Because it takes such a long time, some people may think they haven't eaten enough and end up eating another dose or two. Although THC overdose is not dangerous, it can lead to very unpleasant experiences. It can cause intense paranoia and hallucination. If you or your friend is experiencing this, please be assured that THC overdose is not lethal. Just stay calm and stay hydrated, seek medical care if needed, and you will get back to normal when the high is over. 

The best time to take cannabinoids is after a fatty meal. Cannabinoids are soluble in oil and fat. Your body will absorb them best if they are ingested along with some fat.

Oral absorption/ Sublingual

In this delivery method, cannabinoids are absorbed by small blood vessels inside the mouth. This is the most common way to use CBD products, and most recommended by doctors and health professionals. It takes about 10-45 minutes to feel the initial effects, and the effects will last up to 8 hours. 

Although it sounds simple, there is still something that you need to pay attention to. Cannabinoids will go down the digestive tract if you swallow it, so you should keep it under your tongue for at least 2 minutes before swallowing. You can swish it in your mouth vigorously to make it easier to absorb. It is also important to shake your bottle well before use, to make sure the dosage is accurate.

Topical absorption

Using cannabinoids topically is an effective way to help with skin conditions and aid in wound healing. It is very simple to use, just apply a cosmetic or topical cream containing cannabinoids to your skin. You can even apply any CBD oil, like CBD full spectrum extract oil or even CBD distillate directly to your skin..

Read more:  What are terpenes? Why does cannabis smell?

Alternatively, you can also go online and find recipes for making your own cannabis/hemp skin care products. The method is very simple. You just need a carrier oil/substrate, maybe Vaseline, coconut oil, cocoa butter, then add a little beeswax to thicken it and then mix in the amount of cannabis / hemp extract that you want.

Read more: What is the Endocannabinoid system?

Applying cannabinoid topically has the advantage of not causing a high effect, even if you apply a lot of THC to the skin. At the same time, it is also very effective to reduce inflammation, flatten acne, treat burns, or help with psoriasis or various other skin conditions…


Finally, rectal or vaginal suppositories (for women) are the most controversial use. Some studies indicate that cannabinoids are barely absorbed into the bloodstream through this route. However, many people still claim that it indeed helped their conditions. Scientists have yet to explain why this is the case. Maybe, just a placebo effect? Or can it be due to the activation of some cannabinoid receptors on the spot that will generate some effects throughout the whole body without the cannabinoid having to enter the bloodstream directly by itself? Well, we need more research on this for sure. It is possible that cannabinoids, when applied in the form of suppositories, can bring benefits via mechanisms that have yet to be discovered.

Read more: How does CBD work in skincare?

Like topical application, this method does not make you high, even with products containing THC.

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