Photo by Nesha Deshmukh

Most people associate marijuana to smoking a joint billowing smoke from a bong. Medical cannabis has come a long way!

The many ways to ingest

Smoking dried medical cannabis can be dangerous to your lungs and the body because of carbon monoxide a byproduct of smoke. Luckily there are many ways to ingest cannabis and get the medicinal benefits.

Different countries and different regions have different availabilities of cannabis products.

It’s also important to keep in mind that when consuming cannabis in dried form is not easy to estimate an exact dosage. It’s not like a pill or liquid which can be measured and titrated specifically for a person. This is why it is so important for you to understand the many ways to ingest medical cannabis and make an informed choice on what works best for you and your lifestyle, in combination with your symptoms.

Smoking

How it works: Burning the dried plant in a rolled cigarette, device, or pipe.

  • Results in a more rapid onset of action, higher bold levels of cannabinoids, and shorter duration of effects compared to oral administration
  • The amount of THC delivered is not uniform and dosage is difficult to control
  • Inhaling smoke can have detrimental effects on the body long term

Vaporization

How it works: Heating the dried plant in a vaporizer device and inhaling the vapor.

  • Results in smaller quantity of toxic by-products such as carbon monoxide
  • More efficient extraction of THC v. smoking
  • More rapid absorption
  • Effects are felt in 10 minutes and last up to a few hours

Tinctures/Oils

How it works: Cannabis oil is a cannabis based product obtained by separating the resins from cannabis flowers. It can be added to baking or taken directly through a dropper via tincture.

  • It is a very potent cannabis product and the dosage can take a lot of adjusting
  • Rapid absorption (takes effect faster then edibles, but still not as fast as inhalation)
  • Can be expensive for people who require a high dosage

Oral Baked

How it works: Cookies, brownies, chocolate bars etc. Butter can be made from the oil and there are full recipe books that explain how to bake with it like this one.

  • Much slower onset of action
  • Lower and unpredictable peak blood levels of cannabinoids
  • Longer duration of effect

When ingesting cannabis, it will take approximately an hour to hour and ½ before feeling affects. Note that ingesting can last up to 10-12 hours.

Beverages/Tea

How it works: Cannabis is infused into teas, juices, smoothies and sometimes sodas and drunk like any other bevi.

  • Alternative for people who don’t want to inhale anything or have digestive issues with food
  • Longer lasting effects

Packaged Edibles and Other Goodies

The laws surrounding the sale of edibles is different from country to country. While Health Canada has recently given the approval to sell cannabis oil from a licensed producer which can be used to make edibles, it hasn’t sanctioned the sale of baked goods.

It is important to speak to a representative from licensed distributor of medical cannabis in order to decide which way is best to consume medical marijuana for you. Experts in licensed operations will be able to guide the patient on how to figure out the best dosage for their symptoms.

For more information on medical cannabis click here.