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The Different Forms of Marijuana & How They Differ

Marijuana is a drug that can be consumed in many ways. While each form has certain effects, each also comes with risks.

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Regardless of the type of marijuana you consume, each form has risks. 

The different forms of marijuana include the following:

  • Leaves, stems, and buds
  • Powdered leaves
  • Hashish
  • Tincture
  • Honey butane oil
  • Shatter
  • Wax
  • Dabs, vaping, and e-cigarettes

Leaves, Stems & Buds

This is the classic way of consuming marijuana. Generally, this form of marijuana is rolled into a joint or cigarette, or put into a pipe or bong to smoke it. Smoking the plant is one of the most commonly used methods to get high. 

With marijuana, the quality can vary widely. Some leaves, stems, and buds are very potent, while others are not. 

Marijuana smoke is dangerous and damaging to the lungs. According to the American Lung Association, marijuana smokers tend to inhale more deeply than tobacco smokers, causing greater exposure per breath to tar. There are also concerns about the dangers of inhaling secondhand smoke.

The distinctive smell of smoking marijuana is hard to cover up. If you don’t want others to know you are smoking weed, the odor and smoke can pose a problem. 

Powdered Leaves

To avoid smoking marijuana, some people grind the plant components into a smaller form, using a mill or grinder. This creates a fine powder, often consumed in edibles such as cookies, candy, and ice cream. 

Edibles can have a powerful effect, but it takes some time for that effect to kick in. Depending on the product, this lag time may be up to four hours. Because of the lag time, inexperienced users may continue eating edibles, creating a high probability of taking too much.

The potency of edibles varies widely, making it difficult to determine an appropriate dose. They come in many varieties, such as gummies, chocolate, jerky, and mints.


Hashish appears like a glob as it contains the marijuana plant’s sticky resin. 

It may be sold in blocks or clumps. Sometimes, it is pressed into cakes or balls. It can be smoked in a pipe or water pipe. It has a very strong odor when smoked or exposed to heat. 

Hashish is much more powerful than the traditional leaf form of marijuana. THC levels in hashish can range from 20 to 60 percent; comparatively, marijuana contains about 10 to 20 percent THC. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), higher levels of THC increase the odds of addiction. Long term, this can lead to a sense of apathy, decreased motivation, decreased care about appearance and behavior, and decreased ability to concentrate. This can lead to poor performance in virtually all areas of life.

Hashish is unregulated, so its potency can vary. It may produce distortions in thinking, problem-solving abilities, and memory. Smoking hashish can increase the risk of cough and bronchitis. 


Tinctures can be created from a basic mixture consisting of marijuana leaves and glycerin. The form of marijuana enables people to take the drug without risking lung infection. 

Marijuana tincture may have powerful effects for hours. Once taken, it is impossible to stop the drug’s effect or speed up how quickly it wears off. 

Honey Butane Oil

This form of marijuana is named for its honey-like appearance. It is yellow and glossy, and it is made by evaporating butane through a marijuana screen. 

Honey butane oil is one of the most powerful and dangerous forms of marijuana, as it has a very high level of THC. In fact, this form of marijuana can contain 40 to 80 percent THC compared to an average joint, which has only 15 to 20 percent THC. 

According to the DEA, the effects of honey butane oil are much more intense than the effects of traditional marijuana. Side effects can include anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. 


This is a marijuana product that is made by extraction. A solvent is pushed through marijuana buds and the remaining substance is left as a sheet. Once this is cooled and dried, it is broken into shards, called shatter

Shatter pieces may have up to 80 percent THC. Many users find the high to be overwhelming. 


This is a form of marijuana that is developed by extraction that produces a firm and waxy substance. Wax is designed to be smoked, but it can be 20 to 30 times stronger than traditional marijuana. 

The drug is so powerful that it can trigger hallucinations and psychotic episodes. One dose of wax is considered as powerful as smoking several joints of traditional marijuana. 

Wax can contain dangerous byproducts and solvents that are extremely damaging to the brain. It is highly addictive.

In one study of 800 college students, wax use was linked to higher levels of addiction, school and work problems, and risky behaviors. 

Dabs, Vaping & E-Cigarettes

With marijuana dabbing or vaping, the user takes a “dab” or a bit of marijuana concentrate and uses a vaporizer or e-cigarette to inhale the concentrate. Electronic cigarettes are also known as e-cigarettes or vaporizers

This method of taking in marijuana is sometimes preferred as there is no associated smoke or odor. This makes it easier to conceal or hide the use of marijuana.

Studies are increasingly concerned about the toxicity of cannabis concentrates. The FDA has warned the public to stop using THC-containing vaping products obtained on the street.

Dabbing has been associated with negative side effects, including psychosis as well as toxicity for the heart and nerves. Dabs have unpredictable and varying levels of THC, ranging from 23 to 75 percent. Contaminants may also contribute to dangerous side effects.

All Forms of Marijuana Have Risk

Marijuana is the most commonly used addictive drug in the United States, after alcohol and tobacco. Regardless of the type of marijuana you consume, each form has risks

Updated March 25, 2024
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