Medical cannabis is a versatile medicine that is used by patients across the country to alleviate the side effects and symptoms of countless medical conditions. Many new patients wonder how to medicate with cannabis or how to take cannabis. Medical cannabis can be administered using a variety of methods, including:
The most traditional form of ingestion is smoking the dried flowers or leaves of the cannabis plant. Cannabis can be smoked through a pipe, rolled into a joint (or cigarette), or smoked using a water pipe. Depending on the individual patient, the cannabinoid content, the potency of the cannabis strain, and the amount inhaled, duration and onset of the effects can vary.
Harbory recommends patients use vaporizers or edible forms of cannabis to combat the negative health effects associated with smoke inhalation.
A vaporizer is a device that extracts the therapeutic ingredients in the cannabis plant (cannabinoids) at a much lower temperature than is required for burning. This allows patients to inhale the active ingredients of cannabis as a vapor instead of smoke, decreasing exposure to the harmful effects of smoking. Patients use this method of consumption as a safe, fast-acting alternative to smoking.
Cannabis can be infused into butter or oil that is then cooked in food. The effects of edibles are usually felt within 20 minutes to an hour or more, and can last much longer than other consumption methods. It is recommended that patients only eat very small portions at a time, and wait at least an hour to assess the effects so as not to over-medicate. Edibles will also kick in much faster if eaten on an empty stomach. Patients often report that this method provides more relaxing bodily effects than the cerebral effects associated with vaporizing and smoking.
Capsules are a good way for patients to regulate their dosage more consistently. These may contain activated cannabis or hash oil that is mixed with coconut or safflower oil to aid digestion. Capsules come in a variety of sizes and doses.
Tinctures and Sublinguals
For patients who do not want to smoke, vaporize or consume edibles, tinctures and sublinguals are effective ways to administer medicinal cannabis. Sublinguals are absorbed under the tongue for 15-30 seconds, allowing cannabinoids to enter the blood stream. Tinctures are measured with a dropper, making it easy to measure the appropriate dose.
Topical Medical Cannabis
Topical solutions are absorbed through the skin and have anti-inflammatory properties that can treat muscle pain, joint pain, or skin problems. Cannabis absorbed through the skin can be used to treat migraines, eczema, bruises and arthritic joints. When applied to the skin, topical generally do not affect brain receptors, and so they do not provide a “high” in the patient.
Hash and Wax
Hash is made by collecting the resin from the flowers of a female cannabis plant. The primary active substance of this part of the plant is THC, an important psychoactive cannabinoid compound. This resin can also be compressed into small blocks that can be eaten, smoked or added to tea, edibles and other medical cannabis products. Hash contains a much higher concentration of THC, so patients will often combine a small amount of hash with a less potent form of cannabis.