Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 5, 2023

The cannabis plant may produce some very unique effects, but it is also very unique-looking. When people think about marijuana, what immediately comes to mind, most often, are the big green weed leaves. This image is a common emblem on different kinds of weed paraphernalia, leading to an assumption that this is the most important part of the plant for cannabis use.

However, this is not necessarily the case, and it’s what we’ll discuss in this article. Growers know this, but casual users who buy weed from the dispensary may not know the details. While all parts of the marijuana plant are important, only some can be used for getting high.

Let’s see which parts are best for smoking as well as what methods you can use to smoke weed.

What Part of Weed Is Best for Smoking?

There is often confusion regarding which part of the plant matter is actually consumed. Even though the marijuana leaf is the most well-known symbol associated with marijuana, it’s the buds that are consumed. The same applies to making tinctures and oils, and other cannabis products such as edibles and topicals. You may be surprised, but there is a valid reason behind this.

As you may already know, the main compounds in the cannabis plant are the cannabinoids CBD (cannabinol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which are responsible for the medical and recreational benefits of weed. THC is the main psychoactive ingredient that gets you high and produces euphoric effects. CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive, but it has many other health effects and it also balances out the intensity of THC. Apart from cannabinoids, weed contains terpenes and flavonoids, which give weed its flavor and aroma.

That said, these compounds are most abundant in the buds or flowers of the cannabis plant. The buds are covered in trichomes (sticky resin) that contain the highest concentrations of THC and CBD. Only the female cannabis plants produce the buds, so during cultivation, the male plants are usually kept away after pollination.

What Weed Strains Are There to Smoke?

You may be surprised to learn that not all weed is the same. In fact, there are many strains of weed, with different THC levels, each causing a distinct type of psychoactive effects, and they all have different levels of medicinal effectiveness. So, your experience will largely depend on the strain of cannabis flower you’ve chosen to smoke and its unique composition of cannabinoids and terpenes.

The basics are that there are three main types of cannabis: Indica, Sativa, and hybrids. The former two are found in nature, while the latter is produced by combining both Indica and Sativa.

Cannabis Indica

The Indica strain plants are short and bushy with wide leaves that are dark green. The buds are quite dense and heavy and usually grow in clusters close to the branches of the plant. They are prone to developing blue and purplish hues when they’re exposed to colder temperatures.

Indicas are known to be quite sedative and produce relaxing and euphoric effects.

This is largely due to the high THC content, making them popular among both recreational and medicinal users. In fact, many people use Indica strains to help them with their anxiety or to treat insomnia, as well as to provide chronic pain relief.

Indicas make you feel calm and sleepy, and even slightly lethargic – a feeling known as the “couchlock”. Due to the calming effects, Indicas are better consumed in the evening, preferably when you’re planning on staying home and want to wind down. In these cases, Indica is a very good choice, though high doses may cause side-effects due to the higher THC content.

Cannabis Sativa

The Sativa is a little different, almost opposite to Indica in both how it looks and the effects it produces. Compared to Indica, Sativa is a lot taller, with the potential to grow as tall as 200 cm, and it has narrow leaves that are light green in color. The buds also look different, they are long and look a little fluffy and lightweight, even though they may weigh the same as Indica buds.

Sativas produce a so-called “cerebral high” and will make you feel more energized than sleepy. Users often report heightened creativity and motivation and an uplifted mood. They produce an enjoyable body sensation that will make you feel active and alert, and for this reason, they are better consumed during the day.

Sativas often have a higher CBD content than Indicas, which is why the high is different. Sativa strains are often used as medical marijuana to induce a healthy appetite or to treat mood disorders, but it can also be used for pain relief.


Hybrids are crossbreeds between Indicas and Sativas. They are artificially bred with the purpose of creating a strain that will produce unique effects. Hybrids are usually dominant in one or the other parent strain, but their content composition and the ratio of cannabinoids is completely one-of-a-kind.

For example, there are hybrids that produce a high that is the perfect blend of feeling energized and calm, or others that are so intense that your senses are very heightened. Overall, they are created to offer more options and to fulfill whatever needs a recreational or medical user may have.

Ways to Smoke Weed

Smoking weed allows you to feel the effects of cannabis pretty quickly, and there are a few methods, depending on your preferences and circumstances. Let’s review some details about all the methods you can use to enjoy your favorite strain of weed.

Roll a Joint

Smoking a joint is probably the most common method of consuming marijuana, mostly because it’s simple, convenient, and inexpensive. You only need rolling papers, which you can find in any convenience store, a lighter, and your weed. A grinder is not always necessary. It only takes two minutes to roll a joint, there are no complicated tools you need to use or bring with you, and it’s fast.


Vaping is also quite popular, especially in recent years. Vaping is also a very simple method – you only need your vaporizer and the weed. The upside is that vaping produces less vapor and odor than a joint, and it’s gentler on the throat and lungs because the weed is heated rather than combusted. The downside is that buying a vape pen is a small investment and if you use it often you will have to replace it regularly.

Load Up a Bong

Bongs have been used for centuries and their popularity is still going strong. Basically, a bong is a device for smoking cannabis that uses water as a filtration system for the smoke. The water traps some heavier particles from the smoke and it cools the smoke, making it easier on the lungs and having a smoother taste.

Fill Up a Pipe

Pipes are very simple for cannabis consumption and straightforward to use – just put some weed in the pipe, light it up, and you’re good to go. They’re convenient when you’re on the move because you can keep them in your pocket and use them more discreetly than a joint, for example.

Can You Smoke the Leaves?

There are two types of cannabis leaves – the fan leaves, which are the big ones you see on the branches, and the sugar leaves, which are the tiny ones covered in sticky resin, near the buds. The difference between these two types of leaves is the THC content. Since THC is concentrated in and around the buds, the sugar leaves will be higher in THC than fan leaves and they can still get you high, especially when mixed with buds.

Fan leaves usually only have trace amounts of THC (and CBD), so it’s unlikely that you’ll get high on fan leaves alone. Can you smoke them? Well, technically, you can, but smoking leaves won’t get you high. Can you still use them, though? Yes, you can. You can find ways to use each part of your cannabis plant. People often use fan leaves to make cannabutter or brownies, or even cannabis tea. Take note that however you use other parts of the plant, you’ll still need to decarboxylate them.

Can You Smoke the Stems?

Sometimes when you buy weed from the dispensary, you get a certain amount of stems in your bag along with the buds, especially when you buy shake weed, so you may wonder if you can still smoke it. Similar to fan leaves, stems contain very low amounts of THC and are unlikely to get you high.

Sure, you can mix them up with some buds, but since they’re not that psychoactive, you’ll end up getting a weaker high. And similarly to fan leaves, you can use stems to make weed-infused edibles or cannabis tea, or even oil-infused topicals.


There is some confusion over which part is used for smoking marijuana, largely due to the leaf symbol that’s representative of marijuana. However, the flowers that marijuana produces are the parts of the plant that are used for smoking because most of the cannabinoid content is concentrated there.

The fan leaves and the stems contain very little THC and can’t get you high, however, the sugar leaves have a considerable amount of cannabinoids, making them suitable enough for smoking. The most popular ways of consuming marijuana are smoking a joint and loading a bong, but vaping and using a pipe are also used.

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.