What is Cannabis Flower? Benefits, Effects, and More

Alternaleaf Team
Written by
Alternaleaf Team
Oct 26, 2022
Last updated:
Nov 23, 2023

Cannabis flower has been consumed for millennia but its potential medical benefits are only now being explored. In Australia, dried flower is the second most common type of medical cannabis prescription (right after liquids).

Consuming flower can be confusing for first-time medical cannabis users. There are lots of ways to inhale cannabis and it can seem like there’s a lot to learn. But many people prefer cannabis flower for its rapid onset, more complex effects and the diversity of available strains.

What Is Cannabis Flower?

The flower is the part of the cannabis plant that contains the cannabinoids and terpenes that give cannabis its psychoactive properties. These compounds are stored in trichomes, which are tiny hairs on the flower that release sticky resin.

When you buy cannabis flower, it’s already been dried and cured. This delicate process preserves the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds in the bud. This also preserves the taste and smell. Other parts of the cannabis plant, like the leaves and stem, are discarded because they don’t contribute to cannabis’ beneficial effects.

Because the whole flower is preserved, each strain of dried cannabis flower is unique. This is quite different to other products, like oils, which may contain a pure extract of THC or CBD.

Some medical cannabis patients prefer a “whole-plant” medicine because they benefit from the entourage effect of different cannabinoids and terpenes working together.

What's the Best Way to Consume Flower?

green moss, close up
Cannabis flower is packed with cannabinoids and terpenes, both of which have therapeutic value.

To have an effect, cannabis must be activated by heat. So for example, simply eating dried cannabis flower won’t actually achieve anything therapeutic.

Historically, smoking flower is the most common way to consume cannabis through a joint, bong, or pipe. But physically burning the cannabis can be harmful and reduce the therapeutic effect of cannabis.

Not surprisingly, there are concerns about the health risks of smoking cannabis and smoke inhalation. While there is evidence that smoking cannabis is less harmful than smoking tobacco, healthcare professionals recommend vaporising over smoking.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) only approves dried flower to be vaporised rather than smoked. Vaporising heats cannabis to a lower temperature than smoking, reducing the toxic byproducts produced by combustion. This reduces the risk of harmful side effects and makes vaping safer than smoking.

There are actually only two vaporisers approved for medical use in Australia: the Mighty Medic and the Volcano Medic 2. Using conduction and convection heating, they give you precise control over your dose. They can be used with dried cannabis flower.

Liquid vapes and carts refills are also available. These disposable, portable vape pens use the same basic premise as the Mighty Medic and Volcano however are used to inhale liquid cannabis extract vs dried flower. Instead of filling them yourself, they use prefilled cartridges. Some patients prefer these as they are discreet and portable.

What Are the Effects of Flower?

Cannabis flower is fast-acting, especially compared to other cannabis products like capsules or tinctures.

When you inhale cannabis vapour, it travels quickly into your lungs. From there, compounds including cannabinoids and terpenes are almost immediately absorbed into your bloodstream through the alveoli. Alveoli are the cells that line the interior of your lungs.

As a result, you’ll feel the effects very quickly.

Every cannabis strain contains a different combination of cannabinoids and terpenes, so the effects vary somewhat, too. For example you may feel strong effects on your mind and/or body. These could include relaxation, euphoria, increased sensory perception, reduced concentration, and impaired memory.

Expect the most potent effects within about 10 minutes of consumption. After that, the effects can last one to three hours, fading over time.

If you’re new to inhaling cannabis, it’s important to start low and go slow, especially if your prescription contains THC. The rapid-onset effects from a big inhale can feel intense, even if short lived.

Buy Cannabis Flower Safely with a Prescription

Cannabis flower is popular for a reason. With so many strains available, your prescription can be tailored to your specific needs. And with high-quality, precise vaporisers available with a cannabis prescription, you can stay in control of your treatment and experience.

If you’d like to try cannabis flower as an alternative medicine, book a consultation with a doctor at a cannabis clinic or your local GP to see if you might be eligible for a prescription.

There are a number of risks associated with the use of medical cannabis and your doctor will explain these to you before issuing a prescription. Medical cannabis affects everyone differently and may not help with your chronic condition.

Related articles