If you ask the pro stoners what their favorite way to get their cannabis rocks on, chances are they’ll say one word: sublingual. Sure, smoking reefer is fun & built for sharing; of course, edibles are as delicious as they are potent; vaping shatter or rubbing on a potent cannabis topical can certainly get the job done. These are all great options, but when it comes to efficiency and effectiveness, nothing works better than sublingual edibles or sublingual tinctures.
Whenever people think of ingesting cannabis products they usually assume it’s ingested, digested and absorbed through the gastrointestinal system. The most common way to get your marijuana fix is to smoke dried flowers, which introduces cannabinoids through smoke/vapor into your respiratory system. Both of these methods are extremely popular and can get you high, relaxed, focused or pain-free in a short amount of time (personal tolerances permitting).
There’s nothing wrong with consuming cannabis in these sorts of ways. That being said, have you ever wondered if there’s a better, faster, stronger technique for introducing cannabinoids directly in your system? Short of injecting liquefied cannabinoids & terpenes into your bloodstream, nothing is as fast or efficient as sublingual cannabis dosing.
How can you use sublingual THC drops? Is it possible to take edibles under the tongue? What is better: sublingual edibles or sublingual tinctures? Let’s say “Aaaaah!” and explore those strange glands under our tongues, because this article is going sublingual.
To start this guide, we’re going to look at the pros/cons for the two most common types of sublingual products on the cannabis markets today: sublingual edibles and tinctures. Obviously, sublingual cannabis products have to be safe for oral ingestion - that means a lot of extracts, concentrates, topicals and dried flower products aren’t going to cut it for this kind of cannabinoid absorption. Why is sublingual absorption so beneficial in the first place? Looks like we’ve stumbled upon our first important question we need to answer.
Sublingual dosing is best thought of as a kind of shortcut to accessing your body’s endocannabinoid system - the network of nerves and receptors that are interlinked with many important bodily functions, such as major organs. Sublingual glands act like a direct secret route to your ECS, hidden in plain sight under your tongue that provides faster absorption of cannabinoids and terpenes when compared with ingestions/digestion.
Your chosen method of consuming cannabis products will depend on many factors, such as tolerance to cannabinoids, flavor/aroma preferences, and your budget. We’re more focused on your needs in this guide to use sublingual THC or CBD. Do you need cannabis throughout the day for a serious medical need? Then you likely need more potent marijuana products that can be absorbed quickly for more timely effects. Are you a casual stoner who enjoys getting stoned from time-to-time? This means you’re more likely to be less time-bound for that THC kicking in, so you can experiment with a lot more different kinds of products.
The reasons you take cannabis, how urgent your need for its medical benefits might be, and how well you understand how weed affects your mind & body will have significant impacts on whether you might try sublingual tinctures or edibles under your tongue. Speaking of edibles and tinctures, what is better?
There’s no official rulebook stating that one particular cannabis product type is better than another. Everybody has different needs/wants from cannabis, so what works for you might not work for me and vice versa. Here are some pros/cons for both sublingual edibles and sublingual tinctures so you can decide which kinds of weed products will suit you best:
Available in many flavors/textures
Potency ranges from 2 mg to 100+ mg
Dissolve relatively fast (60-120 seconds)
Can be expensive
Can be difficult to find right dose
Dosing limited to per edible (fixed dosing)
Concentration of cannabinoids issues (all in one square, none in others etc)
Variable dosing options (per mg/ml, droppers, vials, etc)
Fast absorption rate (30-60 seconds)
Potency ranges from 50 mg to 2000+ mg
Some oils/concentrates can have overpowering, bitter flavors & aromas
Available in less variable flavors/aromas
Potency ranges typically on the higher end of the spectrum (perceived as “experienced stoner” products)
As you can see by this brief summary, the primary issues surrounding sublingual edibles has to do with their inconsistency as well as their lower-tier potency levels - many common edibles for sublingual consumption contain 5 mg of THC/CBD per square, with lower total cannabinoids per package than most cannabis oils. On the other hand, sublingual tinctures seem to suffer from a reduced capacity for flavors, with many cannabis newbies avoiding them altogether because they’re bitter, potent and are perceived to offer a much more intense psychoactive experience.
These negative assumptions don’t affect all tinctures or edible you hold under your tongue, but these problems certainly hurt their public perceptions nonetheless. Now that we’ve set the stage for what sublingual edibles and tinctures are and why they’re popular, let’s look at how you can make use of them in your pursuit of cannabis-infused health & happiness.
Sublingual tinctures dosing is extremely easy, and not only that but it offers some of the most accurate measures of cannabinoids than most other cannabis product types. Taking sublingual drops or entire vials offers easy to measure doses that are as accurate as per milligram, per milliliter. This is one of the most desirable features of taking THC/CBD drops under your tongue - you know exactly the dose you’re taking, it acts fast and is very consistent when absorbed through the sublingual glands.
This makes experimenting with cannabis oils a lot more convenient than most other cannabis product types - you can start with the lowest dose and slowly work your way towards your ideal level of psychoactivity, pain relief, relaxation or eased anxiety without over/under doing it. For this reason in particular, cannabis oils and concentrates tinctures are extremely popular among patients suffering from serious illnesses. Once a person gets used to dosing cannabis oils sublingually under their tongue, it is truly difficult to switch to anything else.
Despite the common misconception that sublingual tinctures are an ‘advanced product for advanced cannabis users’, they’re actually great for beginners. Learning one’s tolerance for cannabinoids is a lifelong challenge, especially in the beginning when you’re not sure what strains work best, how much or how often to take them. Taking cannabis sublingually through a tincture/dropper is the perfect way to discover your ideal dose of THC, CBD or any other cannabinoids/terpenes combinations you’re interested in. Also, if you overdo it on a THC dose with tinctures it’s easy to calculate how much CBD you might want to counteract with - many people say a 2:1 ratio of CBD-to-THC can help to reduce psychoactivity within 30-60 minutes. These figures will vary depending on your own personal tolerance to THC, but high potency CBD oil can certainly help to bring you back down to Earth when you find yourself flying too high.
Taking THC or CBD drops under your tongue is very simple to. Here are the steps to get started and the rinse-repeat phases when you’re ready to increase your doses:
1. Purchase a cannabis oil in the dose range you prefer (if you’re a beginner, try to start with a lower tier concentration of cannabinoids - i.e. 50-100 mg)
2. Read the bottle carefully, confirming the mg of cannabinoids per ml of oil (i.e. 38.5 mg THC per 1 ml of cannabis oil means for every full dropper of the tincture you’ll receive 38.5 mg THC exactly)
3. Shake the bottle of cannabis oil rigorously - this will help to stir up any active compounds that might’ve settled on the bottom of the tincture over time. This is recommended every time you’re planning on taking cannabis oil sublingually.
4. We’ll talk about the different schools of dosing methodology in the next points (5a + 5b), but the next step is essentially tipping the bottle upside down with the tincture dropper in the extraction hole in the cap-seal, withdrawing as much cannabis oil as desired (0.1 ml - 1 ml per dropper) and then discharging the oil under your tongue.
5a. If you’re already familiar with THC and generally know how much you want/need to take for the desired effects. For example, if your bottle of THC oil reads “50 mg per ml” and you’re going to try a dose of 25 mg, then one half dropper (0.5 ml of oil) will deliver the correct amount of 25 mg THC under your tongue.
5b. If you aren’t sure what kind of dose is right for you, implement the “golden rule” of cannabis dosing: “start low and go slow”. This might mean dosing as little as 0.1 ml on the tincture dropper under your tongue, waiting an hour or more to see how you react, and then taking more immediately if needed or waiting until your next dose where you can increase by 0.1 ml each time, or jump the volumes as you’re comfortable with.
6. The final step is to hold the sublingual tincture dose under your tongue for 30-60 seconds. The longer the better as this will give the cannabinoids the maximum amount of time to be absorbed through your sublingual glands. Try not to swish the oil around or swallow it until it’s been at least 30-60 seconds. Always swallow the cannabis oil after you have held it under your tongue to ensure your digestive system can absorb the remainder of the cannabis oil - anything that hasn’t already been absorbed will be, albeit slowly through the less direct path of oral ingestion.
Cannabis edibles are among the most fun, diverse and satisfying methods for consuming cannabis. Chocolate, fruits, sugar and spices can be baked, cooked, mixed or swirled into a million different edible and drinkable creations, making cannabis edibles the clear winner in terms of taste. Flavors, aromas and satisfying your snacks/desserts cravings is great, but when it comes to efficiency or consistency of the effects of the cannabinoids in question, edibles are one big “see what happens” scenario.
Edibles that are consumed and absorbed through your digestive system can take time to break down and be put to use, leading to waves of effects (early onset followed by another surge of psychoactivity hours later). This unexpected behavior makes edibles very dangerous for those stoners who are just getting started, or anyone who can’t carve out multiple hours at a time where they have to lock themselves at home. In short, edibles are fun but they’re very unpredictable and are often too variable to be practical.
This is where sublingual edibles come into play. These small, thin and often translucent tabs, squares, gummies or lozenges are even easier to take than cannabis oils, but keep in mind that the dose can’t be customized/controlled as well. Here’s the steps to enjoying some sublingual edibles:
1. Purchase a sublingual edible with the desired dosing range (keep in mind some edibles offer ‘per square’ doses while others are simply ‘take a bite’)
2. Break off your ideal dose of sublingual edible - many sublinguals come in the form of tabs, lozenges or gummy squares to make dosing easy. Each square will have a listed THC/CBD potency value - i.e. 5 mg per gummy, 50 mg per lozenge, etc
3. Place the chosen amount of sublingual edible under your tongue and allow it to dissolved fully before swallowing. Some sublingual edibles can take more than the standard 60 seconds listed on the packaging (in some cases 2-5 minutes).
4. Once you’ve held the edible under your tongue long enough for it to dissolve, swallow it and wash down with some water or your choice of beverage. This will ensure any residual cannabinoids in your mouth are ingested and later absorbed through your gastrointestinal system.
Can edibles be absorbed sublingually?
Edibles can technically be absorbed through your sublingual glands - below the tongue - but this is not very practical as it would require you to hold edibles in your mouth for a long period of time until they dissolve. Cannabis oils are a much more convenient delivery method for sublingual absorption of cannabinoids.
How long do sublingual edibles take to affect you?
The effects of cannabis edibles can vary greatly from person-to-person, especially when considering how long they take to activate and how long they last for. Generally speaking, sublingual edibles or sublingual tinctures doses can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to take effect. This will depend on a number of factors, including your tolerance to cannabinoids, your diet, fitness, genetics, the dose taken, and much more.
Can gummies be taken sublingually?
Cannabis gummies are not usually taken sublingually, but it is possible to suck on them or let them dissolve in your mouth in order to absorb the cannabinoids sublingually. Edibles under the tongue, including weed gummies, are a popular way to get your desired dose of THC, CBD or other active compounds.
Is sublingual THC more potent than oral THC?
Sublingual THC and orally ingested THC can both be equally potent, it depends on the dosage you take and for what reasons you’re taking it. Sublingual tinctures are particularly potent seeming because of the fast absorption rate through your sublingual glands. On the flipside, orally ingested THC can lead to as potent results, they can just take longer to take effect due to the cannabinoids having to be digested/absorbed in a less direct way.