There are a variety of ways to consume medical marijuana, and patients may find that one method is more effective than another for their particular needs. Each patient should find which method is best for them.
The most common form of consumption is smoking the dried flowers of the cannabis plant. Hash and kief can also be smoked. Cannabis can be smoked through a pipe, water pipe or in a rolled cigarette (“joint”).
Smoking cannabis has immediate effects, and a relatively short duration of effects. The effects of smoking medicinal cannabis can vary between 45 minutes to 4 hours.
Regular smoking may have a negative impact on health, so vaporizers and edible forms of cannabis are recommended whenever possible.
Cannabis can be infused into butter or oil, that can then be cooked in food. Edible cannabis usually takes longer to have a physical effect, and can have a significantly longer duration of therapeutic effect than smoking or vaporizing. Edibles can take 20 to 90 minutes to take effect, depending on an individual’s metabolism and other factors. The therapeutic effects can last over four hours.
Many patients report that eating cannabis has a more relaxing bodily effect than a mental high. Often patients consume edibles at night for a sound night’s sleep.
Because dosages can be tricky to judge, it is recommended that one eat a small amount of a product and wait to consider it’s dosage timing, potency and intensity. It’s best to wait an hour or more before assessing the dosage so that an individual does not over medicate. And, if after an hour or 90 minutes has passed with little to no effect, try consuming an additional ½ of the original dosage.
A vaporizer can extract the therapeutic ingredients of cannabis (cannabinoids) at a much lower temperature than can burning. This allows patients to inhale their medicine as a vapor instead of a smoke.
Many patients find that their cannabis goes much further when vaporized. Cannabis vapor has a subtle, light and pleasant odor that does not linger.
Topical Cannabis medicines are applied directly to the skin. There are many topicals – oils, creams, balms, salves, lotions, sprays. Patients report that they are extremely effective for psoriasis, sore muscles, spasms, rheumatoid arthritis, restless leg syndrome and migraines. Topicals are non-psychoactive, meaning they do not effect a mental high.
Tinctures are a cannabis concentrate in liquid form. Tinctures are taken sublingually (under the tongue) or mixed into tea. Onset and duration of effects vary, so it is recommended that patients take small doses, and wait about 15 minutes to assess potency and intensity.