Cannabis Form Factors

Form factors in cannabis refer to the different product taxonomies that cannabis products can take. From novel products like cannabis suppositories to tried-and-true brownies (i.e. edibles), cannabis form factors are as expansive and creative as they are impactful on its efficacy.

Readers should be familiar with the most OG of form factors: flower. “Flower” is the term used to describe the buds of the cannabis plant (also known as nugs, buds, etc.) that are traditionally harvested, dried, cured, and ground to a coarse powder (to increase surface area) prior to being combusted (i.e. lighting on fire) and inhaled. The intent behind adding heat to flower is to create a decarboxylation which turns the THCa contained within the plant into the THC that is ingested and interacts with your endocannabinoid system.

Cannabis consumption form factors include:

Through first-pass metabolism

  • Edibles (oils, snacks, drinks)

Bypass first-pass metabolism

  • Sublingual (tinctures)
  • Inhalation (flower, vape, dabs)
  • Transdermal
  • Intravenous

Cannabis form factors play a critical role in determining what will be an effective consumption method for a user that is looking for specific kinds of relief. Those looking for a quick and energetic high may look to use high-temperature dabs vs. those who are looking for an all-day effect, which would mandate the use of edibles or transdermal patches, which allow for extended-release throughout the day.

Many of the important differences between cannabis form factors hinge on how the ingested compound becomes bioavailable. For example, sublingual vs edible cannabis either bypass or goes through first-pass metabolism, respectively. As such, while they are both taken orally, the sublingual (under the tongue) is absorbed into the mucous membranes and can enter the bloodstream without needing to be digested by the stomach and liver. Inhalation methods get the product to the blood even quicker; the vaporized/combusted product comes into contact with the alveoli in the lungs, immediately delivering the ingredients to the body and brain.

Choosing between form factors is particularly important for individuals with a genetic predisposition affecting their metabolism of THC and/or CBD. A cannabis consumer can If you’d like to know if you lack the ability to efficiently break down THC or CBD through first-pass metabolism, we suggest Strain Genie’s Cannabis DNA test.