Article written by
Ruth LemonVP of Operations
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Although possible, snorting weed is not how people typically consume cannabis.
Snorting cannabis flower is not recommended, as it is difficult to process and is likely ineffective. A safer, more effective way to snort cannabis is through nasal sprays that contain isolated cannabinoids. You’re most likely to find CBD-based sprays, but those containing THC will get you high.
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Can You Snort Weed?
The nasal passage can be an effective way of delivering drugs, both recreationally and medically. When snorted or sprayed up the nose, the drugs can diffuse (pass) through the mucosal lining and be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. This makes nasal administration (snorting) an effective way to provide a fast onset of effects.
Although it is technically possible, snorting is not a common way to consume cannabis. Limited products are available, many of which have seen strong criticism online. The most user-friendly cannabis products for nasal absorption contain cannabinoids (THC or CBD) that are dissolved into a liquid to be sprayed into the nose.
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Snorting Cannabis Flower
Dried cannabis flower, or bud, is what most people picture when they think of weed. Flower is most suited to smoking and oil extractions, and it is not recommended for snorting for many reasons:
- It is difficult to grind the flower material into a small enough particle size for a comfortable experience.
- If the flower is not ground to a small enough particle size, the drug may not pass through the mucosal membrane, and the user may experience no effect.
- The flower must first be decarboxylated (heated), which converts THCA and CBDA into active forms (THC and CBD), for a user to feel intoxicating effects.
Snorting Cannabis Kief
Cannabis kief is the tiny, dust-like material often collected after grinding weed. It is made of the flower’s trichomes that become dislodged when grinding. This means kief is a highly potent form of cannabis, as it often contains much higher concentrations of cannabinoids than raw flower.
While kief is a more refined form of cannabis, snorting it is still not recommended for several reasons:
- Kief must be decarboxylated (heated) to activate the THC and/or CBD before snorting.
- As kief has a small particle size, it can be highly flammable. There is a risk of the kief catching fire while decarboxylating, which can be both wasteful and dangerous.
- Snorting kief may be very uncomfortable for the nose as it is still plant material. It is likely to irritate, and users may end up sneezing most of it out of their nose.
Snorting Cannabis Isolates
Cannabis isolates are refined cannabinoids, usually THC or CBD, that have been separated from all other compounds in the plant. These isolates are generally more than 98% pure and a highly potent form of weed. When isolated, CBD forms beautiful clear crystals that could be crushed and snorted; however, THC cannot form crystals, so it is impossible to snort THC isolates on their own.
Snorting cannabis isolates may be possible; however, there are some issues with this method, such as:
- THC cannot form crystals due to its chemical structure and exists only as an oil. This means that THC isolates can’t be snorted.
- Some users may read reports that THC can form crystals; however, these are crystals of THCA, the acidic form of THC. THCA must first be decarboxylated to have the desired effect (produce a high).
- Decarboxylating crystals requires heat. This process will melt the THCA crystals, forming oil users cannot snort.
- CBD crystals can be snorted, but they will not produce a high.
CBD is generally used by people seeking relief from uncomfortable conditions, such as inflammation, pain, and anxiety. Snorting crystals can be uncomfortable and is not a very discreet way to take cannabis medicine. It is unlikely someone would wish to snort CBD when CBD drops are widely available.
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Nasal sprays are a more comfortable form of delivery. They are made by dissolving or suspending drugs in a liquid carrier (often water-based) and fitted with a nozzle that sprays the solution up the nose. These are common in the medical field — think hay fever relief sprays.
There are also some nasal sprays for cannabis users. One company, Virpax, is developing a cannabis nasal spray to treat epilepsy. These usually contain cannabis isolates dissolved in a saline (salt water) solution.
Nasal sprays are probably the safest and most user-friendly way to “snort” weed. Although nasal sprays can’t be made at home, some products like the Verra nasal spray are available for purchase. Nasal sprays may have the following benefits:
- Studies suggest that nasal sprays may have higher bioavailability (more cannabinoids absorbed into the body), as the cannabinoids can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the nose.
- A preclinical study in mice showed that nasal administration of CBD might improve symptoms related to PTSD.
- A phase one study found that THC nasal sprays were well tolerated with minimal side effects. This study also suggested that the psychotropic side effects of THC were reduced with the nasal spray compared to other forms of cannabis containing the same amount of THC.
- Ingesting cannabis through the nose instead of inhalation via smoking or vaping results in less strain on the lungs, and some negative effects of smoking cannabis may be eliminated.
Although cannabis nasal spray may be the best way to snort weed, there are some things you should consider:
- Water can accelerate the degradation of cannabinoids. As most cannabis nasal sprays are made in a saline (salt water) solution, there is a risk that the products may degrade before being used.
- If you are worried about your nasal spray expiring, check the color. If the solution is pink, this is a good indication that the CBD or THC in the spray may have started to degrade.
- Nasal sprays are likely more expensive per milligram of THC/CBD than cannabis flower or vapes.
Will Snorting Weed Get You High?
It depends on what form of weed you’re trying to snort. Snorting cannabis that isn’t in its active form won’t get you high. To get high from snorting cannabis, users will have to either:
- Purchase nasal sprays containing THC.
- Snort decarboxylated kief (not recommended).
Although it is possible to get high from snorting cannabis, the user must purchase specialized products like nasal sprays. These nasal sprays are an effective way of getting high from cannabis without inhaling smoke that may damage your lungs. However, these products are likely much more expensive and may contain water that quickly destroys the THC, reducing the product’s effect.
Potential Benefits and Risks
The benefits and risks of snorting cannabis depend on the material used. Snorting cannabis flower or kief is not recommended as there is no evidence of its safety or efficacy.
Nasal administration is common among traditional pharmaceuticals and can also be beneficial in the medicinal cannabis space, but it requires refined cannabinoids. Professionally made cannabis sprays are generally safe and offer the benefits of weed without the risks associated with inhaling smoke.
Attempting to make snortable weed products at home is not recommended. It may lead to discomfort in the nose from snorting kief, burning the kief when trying to decarboxylate, or getting little to no effect from the cannabis that the user has snorted.
Potential risks of snorting weed and weed-based products include:
- Unknown safety profile
- Potential for heightened sensitivity due to increased bioavailability
- Risk of damaging nasal tissue and trapping cannabis material in it
- Uncomfortable sensations
- Unknown dosages when not using a commercial or medical product
Potential benefits of snorting weed and weed-based products include:
- Nasal sprays give a faster onset of effects than ingesting via oral routes
- Alternative to harsh smoke inhalation
The Bottom Line
Nasal delivery is a common form of drug administration, providing speedy drug delivery to the bloodstream. Cannabis isn’t typically snorted, especially not in its flower form, as it requires fine powdering and decarboxylation of THCA and CBDA.
Some available nasal sprays use a pump to dispense cannabinoid isolates dissolved in a liquid. This is the safest way to snort weed or cannabis-based medicines.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can you snort kief?
It is possible to snort kief; however, the kief must first be decarboxylated to activate the THC (turn the THCA produced by the plant into THC that provides the high). Although possible, snorting kief is not recommended. It can be dangerous, damage the nose, and will most likely offer little effect.
Can you snort CBD?
CBD can technically be snorted as a pure powder, but this is not the case with THC, as it doesn’t form a crystal structure. Some commercially available CBD nasal sprays are much more comfortable and discreet to use than other forms of CBD.