Ingesting medical marijuana
There are several ways of ingesting medical marijuana, ranging from the classical bong to less conventional methods such as topical lotions or oil concentrates. We guide you through the options that are available and show you the benefits of each. But always remember this: it does not particularly matter what method you choose. The most important thing is that it is a method that fits your needs and that you feel comfortable with.
Smoking is perhaps the most widely known method of ingesting medical marijuana and for good reasons. It is one of the fastest methods for ingesting medical marijuana, with close to instant pain relief and it is relatively cheap. Smoking is done with dried cannabis, which is widely available. Because smoking is done by rolling the cannabis into small cigarettes, or placing it in a pipe or bong, it is also easy to regulate the dosage. For patients with asthma or other lung conditions, or for those who are being treated for lung cancer, smoking medical marijuana probably is not the best solution. They are also some doubts about the long term effects of smoking medical marijuana on the lungs, so proceed with caution.
An alternative to smoking medical marijuana is the process of vaporization, which works by heating up a small amount of cannabis, turning it into ‘vape’, which you can then inhale. The biggest benefit of vaping is the reduced health risk: it is much cleaner than directly smoking marijuana and can thus be a good alternative for patients with long conditions. The main drawback of vaping is the cost, with a large upfront cost for a quality vaping device and usually higher prices for the vaping liquid compared to dried cannabis. Also keep in mind that vaping devices need some time to warm up, so if it is instant pain relief you are after you might be better off with other methods. One major benefit of vaping is that is much more socially acceptable, allowing you to vape in places where lighting a cigarette or pipe might be frowned upon.
For those who want to use a more accessible method of ingestion edibles might be an option. These are edible products with marijuana as one of the ingredients and are thus an ideal way to ingest marijuana. Do note however that edibles work very slowly: it can take hours before you feel the effects. This might make it difficult to get the dosage right, especially in the beginning. If you are just figuring out if medical marijuana solves your medical issues you might want to consider alternative ingestion methods which work quicker and thus allow you to determine the right dosage for your condition.
A good alternative to edibles are tinctures, basically solutions of cannabis in alcohol. Tinctures can be found in different shapes and forms, such as those that can be take orally or as skin patches. The easiest to use and most popular are the sublingual (under the tongue) solutions, which you spray or squirt under your tongue, where they are adsorbed by the thin mouth tissue. They are however one of the more expensive options on the market, but are easy to apply and work faster than edibles. Especially if you are just starting out this might be a good option, but for long term usage we would suggest you at least try other methods.
Oils and concentrates
Traditional methods might not be the solution for some, such as Alzheimer patients, because they are hard to administer. For these patients marijuana oils or concentrates might be the right solution. These oils or concentrates are not directly ingested, but can instead be used as a cooking oil. This makes them very easy to incorporate into the daily routine of some patients and are much more accessible than traditional medication.
Do you want instant and targeted pain relief? Then topicals are an excellent way of ingesting marijuana for you. Topicals are patches or lotions with a marijuana extract and can be applied directly to the pain. This makes them very effective in targeting specific areas and thus an ideal choice for local pain, such as from arthritis, fibromyalgia or chronic pain from old injuries. Some topicals work slower than others, allowing you to choose the solution that best fits your treatment. Do you have sporadic pains that creep up now and then? A fast working topical lotion could be a quick and effective pain mediator. Topical patches on the other hand work slower and are thus best fitted for patients for chronic pain. Some patients do however have negative reactions to the adhesive used in these patches, so they might not be for everyone.
Choose your method
Besides the methods listed above there are several other ways to ingest medical marijuana. You could try suppositories, simple pills that allow you to quickly ingest medical marijuana. Other less conventional methods use fresh cannabis leaves, mixing it in a smoothie or just eating it raw. Some patients claim to only respond to raw marijuana, but studies have yet to back up this claim. Other methods include marijuana-infused drinks, juicing or capsules. There is no one-size-fits-all method, so it is up to you to find out how you like to ingest marijuana. The best advice is to try out some methods and stick with the one you like. There is no right or wrong choice!