When it comes to consuming your medical marijuana (MMJ) products, what usually comes to mind? Typically, patients associate marijuana with smoking joints or from a pipe, but thanks to recent research there have been multiple ways created for patients to be able to consume their marijuana products safely and efficiently.

Choosing which consumption method works best for you can be an overwhelming experience for some. If you are curious about medical marijuana and would like to take the first step to getting the help you are looking for, there is an online eligibility survey available to see if you are eligible for a MMJ recommendation.

 

Inhalation Methods

Inhaled cannabis, whether smoked or vaped, allows the gases to enter the lungs for fast-acting absorption into the bloodstream.

Smoking

Onset: Within seconds of inhalation.

Duration: Effects will generally peak within 30 minutes and lasts for 1-3 hours.

While smoking marijuana is the most well known method of consumption, some patients worry about the overall safety of inhaling the smoke. The health concerns of smoking tobacco has added to the negative stigma of marijuana, but research has shown there is not much to worry about. Regular marijuanan smoking causes microscopic injury to the airways and can increase the risk of chronic bronchitis symptoms, but this subsides if smoking is stopped. 

Dr. Don Tashkin, MD of UCLA, a pulmonologist and cannabis researcher, spent years studying the effects marijuana has on lung function. He reported that “the accumulated weight of evidence implies far lower risks for pulmonary complications of even regular heavy use of marijuana compared with the grave pulmonary consequences of tobacco.” [2]

Another study done in 2012 also showed that marijuana smoking is not as harmful to your pulmonary health as cigarette smoking is. This 20-year-long study, compared people who occasionally smoked either marijuana or cigarettes and their lung function. It looked at how much air is inhaled as well as how much gets exhaled and found that marijuana has no negative impact on lung health. [2]

Vaporizing

Onset: Within seconds of inhalation.

Duration: Effects will generally peak within 30 minutes and lasts for 1-3 hours.

Vaporizers are a healthy alternative to those who want to experience the quick relief smoking offers without the process of combustion. A vaporizer steadily heats herbs to a temperature that is high enough to extract THC, CBD, and the other cannabinoids and terpenes present in the plant. The temperatures are too low for the potentially harmful toxins that are released during combustion, minimizing the health risks associated with smoking. 

Vaporizing cannabis is said to remove approximately 95 percent of the smoke that is inhaled. It has also been suggested that it can increase the yield of anti-inflammatory terpenoids that protect the lungs from irritation.

Vaporizers vary in price, sizes and technology which can determine the level of the marijuana effects. This comes with an equally significant reduction in odor, which is generally the first acknowledgement of first-time vaporizer users. 

Oral Methods

Oral delivery includes all products that are administered through the mouth. This includes tinctures, capsules, and edibles.

Tinctures

Onset: Approximately 30 minutes.

Duration: 4-6 hours

This method was the first method available as medicine in the early 1900’s, before marijuiana adopted its negative stigma. While they are less common today, they are a popular method of ingestion for medical marijuana patients. They offer a non-invasive and easy to understand way to dose marijuana for those who are new users. 

Tinctures are a concentrated form of marijuana that offers both versatility and discretion. They can be placed under the tongue, mixed into drinks, added on top of foods, or combined into a topical cream. Users feel the effects quickly and are able to control the amount they take easily. 

Capsules

Onset: Around 1 hour 

Duration

Marijuana capsules are ingested orally and absorbed through the stomach. The adsorbed compounds are then metabolized in the liver, which is where THC metabolizes into 11-hydroxy-THC. This has a longer half-life and creates more of a sedative effect than THC. Each individuals’ liver metabolism is unique, which is why capsules and edible can produce different effects to different users. 

Capsules are a great alternative for patients who are not interested in inhaling marijuana. They are pre-dosed, making it easy for patients to take on a daily basis.

Edibles

Onset: Fifteen minutes to two hours depending on metabolism and whether or not the user ingests them on an empty stomach.

Duration: Around 4-6 hours, but can last as long as 24 hours depending on the user.

For patients who have inhalation issues, they may consume marijuana by eating foods infused with marijuana.One of the main benefits of capsules is that they include a pre-measured dose. 

The marijuana effects are delayed because they rely on the digestion process before they can be absorbed into the blood system. The digestion process transforms the cannabinoids making the marijuana effects extremely strong once they are delivered into the blood system.

After eating an edible containing marijuana, THC is absorbed into the bloodstream through the digestive tract and undergoes a first metabolic pass in the liver before entering general circulation. Since this absorption process takes place more slowly than it does through the lungs the effects felt after consuming edibles will often be more gradual in onset but my last much longer, making them a great option for chronic pain sufferers.

Medical marijuana is being used to treat chronic conditions that can develop from a variety of health conditions. These can take some time to develop, last for a long time, and even lead to other issues.

Some examples of qualifying chronic conditions are:[3]

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Chronic Pain

 If you or a loved one suffer from a chronic illness and are having a difficult time managing the symptoms medical marijuana might be right for you One of our compassionate Florida Medical Marijuana Doctors will be able to guide you to get the relief you are looking for by using MMJ products.

 

[1] https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1513/AnnalsATS.201212-127FR

[2] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/1104848

[3] https://knowthefactsmmj.com/patients/

[4] https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-39462-1

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5260817/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5064247/