If you’re curious about cannabis but dislike the idea of smoking, sublingual tinctures and sprays are a popular option, with many products to choose from. Designed to be absorbed under the tongue, sublinguals are usually made with a base of oil or alcohol. They’re available widely in medical cannabis dispensaries and come in a range of formulas that produce high euphoria or no euphoria, and contain various mixes of pot’s active molecules and aromas. Some even come with added herbal medicines and flavors. Many patients are using them medically, but others turn to them for less serious “wellness” or “lifestyle” uses — like tolerating a long visit to the in-laws.
Here are some of the most popular and high-quality tinctures and sprays currently available:
Care by Design tinctures and sprays:
Marijuana beginners should start with products that are low in cannabis’ main active ingredient, THC (which causes euphoria), and take it slowly from there. For medicine you can tailor to your needs, Care by Design’s line of tinctures and sprays is a great place to start.
“The entire line was created to get customizable medicine,” says Care by Design representative Kial Long.
Developed in partnership with the pot research promoters at the California nonprofit Project CBD, the line features coconut oil tinctures in five ratios of cannabis’ two main active ingredients, THC and cannabidiol (which does not cause euphoria). These sprays have ratios of CBD to THC ranging from 1:1 to 18:1. These ratios allow you to choose the kind of relief you desire, rather than just getting super-stoned.
For beginners, the 18:1 formulation is very difficult to overdo. It contains only trace amounts of THC, and the CBD both calms anxiety and limits the effects of THC. With all ratios available in both tinctures and sprays, this may be the most customizable sublingual option on the market — it’s perfect for beginners trying to figure out what their tolerance is in a controlled manner.
Price: $48 (15 ml)
Where to find it: the Green Cross, San Francisco
Thera-Cann High CBD Spray:
Thera-Cann has a line of alcohol-based sprays in four ratios of CBD to THC. Whether you need pain relief or just want to improve your overall well-being, these fast-acting sprays quickly provide a potent dose of cannabinoids, along with minty-fresh breath. Thera-Cann’s Emerald Mist, the nearly all-THC type, can treat pain, patients report.
Price: $60 (30 ml)
Where to find it: Berkeley Patients Group
Forest Nymph Botanicals Sweet Dreams Tincture:
Forest Nymph Botanicals has a line of sublingual tinctures that blend strain-specific cannabis with other medicinal herbs. The Sweet Dreams Tincture will help you sleep like a baby. It’s made using an extraction method and includes valerian, calcium and magnesium in addition to a high-CBD cannabis strain called AC-DC. Who needs sleeping pills when this potent herbal mix will put you down for the count?
Price: $45 (30 ml)
Where to find it: The Bloom Room, San Francisco
Fiddler’s Greens Raw Tinctures:
There are several reasons to try the tinctures by Fiddler’s Greens, which are made in Sonoma County. In addition to offering specific strains and three CBD-to-THC ratios, the tinctures are also raw — not heated like most other tinctures — so they retain all the delicate aroma and qualities of the original flowers, which are organically grown. For example, unheated THC, called THC-A, offers pain relief with far less euphoria than THC. Owners Cameron and Shannon Hattan call them “raw liquid flowers in a bottle.”
Price: $50 (30 ml)
Where to find it: 7 Stars Holistic Healing Center, Richmond
Moxie Meds Relief and Recovery Tinctures:
Moxie Meds’ line of sublingual tinctures are “made for women, by women.” Formulated to treat menstrual cramps, hormone-related stress and other “reproductive concerns,” they’re also delicious, with a base of MCT (medium-chain triglyceride), coconut and olive oils, and flavored with strawberry and basil. They come in CBD-to-THC ratios of 1:1 and 4:1, and have added beta-caryophyllene, a common aroma compound found in cannabis that has been shown to help alleviate pain, inflammation, anxiety and depression.
While created for and marketed for women, these tinctures can benefit men as well. Robert Quesada, the athletic ambassador at leading Oakland dispensary Harborside, says he uses them to treat pain from rock climbing. You can squeeze some drops in a beverage or take them sublingually for faster relief.
Price: $40 (15 ml)
Where to Find It: 7 Stars Holistic Healing Center, Richmond
Emily Earlenbaugh is a cannabis patient consultant and wellness researcher. She is the author of the online course the “Mindful Guide to Cannabis” and has a doctorate in philosophy of science from UC Davis.