Any patient who is considering the use of medical marijuana for help with pain, nausea, neuropathy or seizure disorders should be familiar with the different methods of consumption of the plant. With many states having already legalized medical marijuana and many more considering it, medical cannabis is in a kind of legal limbo: the federal government refuses to reschedule it for use, but individual states can legalize it – to a point.
But until it is legalized at the federal level, taxes won’t be collected from this booming business, and medical consumers will have to experiment to find the right delivery system and the right dosage for themselves. This semi-legal status also makes it impossible to regulate and sometimes makes information about it difficult to get.
Smoking a joint or a pipe is the most old-fashioned method of ingesting medical cannabis. This method delivers results almost instantly, so it is an effective delivery system for medical use. The problem with smoking medical cannabis this way is that it can feel unpleasantly harsh, and it may be harmful to the lungs. This method is not a good option for anyone who is already suffering from COPD, asthma or any other pulmonary condition.
Vaping is a process that is less harsh on the lungs, but delivers relief as quickly as smoking does. In vaping, the medical cannabis is heated only to the point that it releases the effective compounds, but is not all the way to combustion point. Vaporizers are available in a wide array of forms from small discreet pens to bulky table-top machines. Downside: the more expensive vaporizers can be too pricey for most consumers.
Medical edibles come in a dizzying array of products, from candies to soft drinks, and from brownies to marinara sauce. Edibles have become sophisticated and often do not taste at all like the medical marijuana they contain. But edibles take much longer to start working, and you have to experiment to see if you will start to feel the effects in a half-hour or two hours. This makes assessing the correct dosage more difficult.
As the science behind the use of medical cannabis becomes more definitive, there will undoubtedly be even more methods of delivery developed. For now, other methods include trans-dermal patches which are fairly mild, but effective. Sublingual drops and sprays are more accurate about the ratio of THC to cannabinoids, but their impact may be slower than smoking or vaping. Medical marijuana suppositories – which must be refrigerated – are an obviously less comfortable way of administering the dosage, but relief is quick and it generally lasts for a long time.
The choice of delivery systems is personal, but most sufferers are able to find one or two that work the best for them.