Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 15, 2023

The cannabis plant is very versatile and can be consumed as a medicine, recreationally, as well as in religious ceremonies. Some users choose to smoke weed in a bong, joint, spliff, or blunt, others prefer vaping, using cannabis tinctures, adding cannabis seeds to their diet, or buying weed brownies from their dispensary. 

Each part of the cannabis plant is used for different purposes, but users mostly consume weed for its cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), the former producing psychoactive effects, while the latter produces sedative and anti-inflammatory effects. 

No matter your reason for weed consumption, you should know which part of the marijuana plant can be used for smoking to prevent the unwanted side effects from consuming the wrong parts. Let’s get into it.

The Anatomy of the Cannabis Plant

Similar to other flowering plants, the cannabis plant has common parts such as the roots, stem, leaves, and flowers, plus a few additional parts. These include the various types of leaves such as the sugar leaves and the fan leaves, as well as the flower of the cannabis plant which contains resin glands. 

Generally, marijuana plants have long stems with large fan leaves, however, there are a few differences between the female cannabis plant and the male cannabis plant. The sex of the cannabis plants can be discovered in the pre-flowering phase where both female and male plants have developed their reproductive organs.

Female Marijuana Plants

The female cannabis plants are those that have cannabis buds, or cannabis flowers, covered in resinous trichomes which are the source of most cannabinoids and terpenes, the psychoactive and medicinal compounds of weed. The female plants are also necessary for the creation of cannabis seeds, which is what happens when the female reproductive organs of the plant are pollinated by the male plants.

Besides the flowers, the sugar leaves also contain high levels of cannabinoids as they’re also covered in trichomes, but contain significantly less compared to the flower. The leaves can be used to make cannabis edibles such as weed brownies, cannabis tea and coffee, cannabis oil, cannabis butter, and other cannabis products.

Male Marijuana Plants

Male cannabis plants grow pollen sacs instead of cannabis flowers, therefore the purpose of the male plants is to pollinate the females and initiate seed production. After being pollinated, the female plants produce cannabis seeds which can be planted by cannabis growers in order to grow new plants. 

Apart from pollination, male plants are also used for hemp fiber which is used to make products like clothes, textiles, paper, rope, and other items. Male plants also contain a dose of cannabinoids, which can be extracted and made into hash or cannabis oil. These products have lower THC levels compared to cannabis products made from female plants.

Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plants

Hermaphrodites or “hermies” have both male and female reproductive organs and can self-pollinate. This condition can happen as a result of stressing the plants due to bad weather, nutrient deficiencies, and diseases, which is why growers need to keep their plants under optimal growing conditions.

Hermies often produce other hermies, which is why their development should be avoided if you want to have a healthy cannabis garden. To prevent hermies from pollinating your female plants, separate them by putting one type in another room.

What Part Of the Cannabis Plant Do You Smoke?     

After we went over all the parts of the cannabis plant, let’s see which parts of the marijuana plant can be used for smoking.

The parts of the cannabis plant that have the most cannabinoid and terpene content are the cannabis buds from the female cannabis plant. Their resinous trichomes make the perfect kief, and the flowers as a whole can be used to make joints, blunts, or spliffs, as well as in bongs, vaporizers, and other smoking devices.

Users who smoke the cannabis flower should keep in mind that different cannabis strains have a different THC content. For example, cannabis Sativa and cannabis Indica strains will have higher THC levels compared to cannabis Ruderalis strains.

Marijuana leaves are also parts of the cannabis plant which can be smoked. Sugar leaves covered in trichomes can also be smoked, although they contain fewer cannabinoids than the flower and can even irritate your throat since the plant matter is harsher in the leaves than in the buds.

Which Parts of the Marijuana Plant Should Not Be Smoked?

Not every part of the cannabis plant should be smoked. One example is the marijuana stem which doesn’t have many medicinal and psychoactive effects. Smoking the stem can even cause respiratory irritation which is why it’s not a good idea to include it in your joint. 

Another example is some weed leaves. If growers treat the cannabis plant with fertilizers, cannabis leaves are the parts that contain the highest concentration of chemicals and should be avoided. Instead, you can try smoking the leaves which are closest to the bud, as we’ve mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Final Thoughts on the Smokable Parts of the Cannabis Plant

Smoking cannabis is only one way of consuming the cannabis plant. Other than smoking weed, you can choose to vape, dab, ingest, or topically apply different cannabis products to get your desired medical or recreational effects. While the cannabis buds contain the most cannabinoids, other parts of the cannabis plant, such as the sugar leaves, also contain cannabinoids and can be used to make different cannabis products.

It’s also good to know that even if smoking weed is your favorite pastime activity, it shouldn’t be done if you’re planning on driving shortly after, or if you’re a developing young adolescent, as weed can have short-term side effects on cognition and reaction time, and long-term effects on brain development in youths. Weed consumption isn’t advised for pregnant women either and people with family conditions of psychosis or schizophrenia.

If you do decide to smoke weed, use it responsibly, do your research, and don’t consume more than you can handle. Happy smoking!

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.