Marijuana. Cannabis. Weed. Pot.
You smoke it, right? Or put it in brownies and eat it.
It gets gives you that wonderous high and takes the pain and stress away.
But did you know, there are various other ways to consume cannabis in the world of medical marijuana? Inhalation and ingestion are certainly two, but there is also topical marijuana, sublingual absorption (the area of tissue under the tongue), nasal sprays… even suppositories!
Each method of consumption affects people in different ways and it is best to consult with a medical professional before deciding which method is best for you.
How is Cannabis Consumed?
Apart from the procedure in which the medical marijuana is administered, each method of consumption can affect people in different ways.
These factors include the time it takes for the cannabis to begin taking effect, the duration in which those effects last and how potent the effects are.
Different chemical makeups are often designed to be delivered in certain ways, such as topically or via inhalation.
For example, ingesting edible marijuana can have long-lasting effects, but it takes 20-30 minutes for it to take effect.
Inhalation provides faster relief but may not last as long.
The clinic or dispersing agent will be able to advise you on which method is best for you and your symptoms, however, this article will give you a general overview of what each method entails and the pros and cons of each method.
The Different Ways of Consuming Weed:
Rolling up that joint and smoking the stress away…
That’s what weed is all about right?
Well, it certainly is one way, and a common one at that.
You can smoke marijuana by using a traditional pipe, a water pipe or rolling paper (to make a joint). The cannabis then enters the lungs and then is dispersed into the bloodstream.
Because of this, smoking medical marijuana usually provides almost instant relief. This method is also relatively inexpensive and makes it easy to regulate the dosage (you smoke until the pain or symptoms are gone).
Smoking can have some mild side effects such as coughing, lung irritation and a sore throat.
You will also smell of smoke (may not be an issue for everyone, but certainly is for some) and therefore may be unpleasant to those around you.
Inhalation doesn’t just involve smoking, however. You can also use vaporizers. These can be in the shape of a pen and used similar to smoking, or can be devices that you place on a desktop and release a vapor (which you breathe in). The cannabis enters the bloodstream in the same way as smoking, so is also fast acting, but not as long-lasting as some other methods. Vaping units can also be quite expensive and require recharging. They also may need time to warm up.
Research also shows that vaping is less harmful as smoking, in terms of damage to the lungs and exposure to toxic elements.
Lastly, there is also a method known as ‘dabbing’. This involves heating up and inhaling a concentrated solution.
There is a high risk of burns with this method, as the devices are difficult to use. There is also a high risk of inhaling harmful chemical, and/or overdosing (although never fatal, an overdose is very unpleasant and uncomfortable). The safest way to use concentrates is with a vaporizer.
Once upon a time, there was only awfully tasting brownies with questionable dosages of medical marijuana.
Now, there is popcorn, cookies, ice cream, chocolate, chews… too many to mention.
Most taste pretty good now, as well. The cannabis is eaten and enters the bloodstream via the intestines once the stomach and digested it.
As a result, it can take 30 minutes to an hour to feel the effects, but it can last much longer than inhalation. There are many factors that can affect this method of consumption, such as weight, metabolism, food recently eaten and dosage level.
It is therefore difficult to manufacture the right dosage for the patient. Edibles are currently not available in Hawai's market, however, there are oils that can be used for oral administration.
It is also important to note that edibles may be difficult to store and keep safe from children and pets.
Tinctures or Sublingual Sprays
These involve mixing extracted cannabinoids into an alcohol or oil-based solution, which is then sprayed or squirted under the tongue and absorbed into the bloodstream through vessel rich tissues under the tongue and surrounding the mouth.
Lozenges are also common. This allows for smaller dosages and doesn’t have negative effects on the lungs, like smoking.
Also, although not quite as fast as inhalation, it is also fast-acting and is considered more socially acceptable in many areas compared to smoking. However, it can be expensive for higher doses.
Topical Creams or Transdermal Patches
This method involved the absorption of cannabis through the skin.
This may be through topical creams, patches (much like the ones you would use to quit smoking) or balms.
These are often used to treat localized pain, such as arthritis or joint pain, as the cream or balm can be spread into a specific area, without the ‘high’.
The effects of these solutions can be as fast as a few minutes. Patches aren’t as common but allow for a slow release of the medical marijuana over a period of time, sometimes even days. However, they can be slow to take initial effect.
These can also be difficult to apply, as they need to be applied to clean, dry skin with a relatively low amount of hair.
Some individuals may also have or develop an allergic reaction to the patch or cream. It is important to note that they may not work for everyone.
These work by inserting a small cone-shaped mass of medical marijuana into the rectum, where it is then absorbed into the bloodstream via the colon.
Rectal administration has been used for many different medical ailments to provide fast-acting and long-lasting relief, such as the use of rectal diazepam for long or cluster epileptic seizures. Research shows it is one of the most efficient ways to digest medicinal solutions.
However, as you can imagine, they can be difficult and embarrassing to administer. They must also be refrigerated, which may cause issues if you would need to administer any place outside of your own home.
It is, therefore, a pretty controversial method of consumption with many refusing to consider it, but some swearing by it.
So Which Method is Best For Me?
To reiterate the point made earlier, it is best to consult with a professional prior to deciding which method of consumption is best for you and your symptoms.
It would depend on your symptoms, body, and circumstances and there isn’t really a ‘one method fits all’.
This article is designed to give you a basic overview of many of the different methods currently on offer and get you thinking what may be more appropriate for you.
Medical marijuana has come a long way since the main method of smoking it. From topicals to delicious edibles, sprays to those controversial suppositories.
Good luck in finding the best method for you.