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Cannabis Forms of Administration: What’s Legal, What’s Not, And What Forms To Consider for Treating Your Condition

Whether you’re new to using cannabis to treat your condition or have held your medical marijuana card for years now, you may have noticed an influx of new products on your dispensary’s menu. Versatility in dosing can help more patients find relief from cannabis. It’s important to review these methods to assure that your condition is being treated optimally with cannabis products that support your lifestyle. 

When Ohio’s medical marijuana program began in early 2019, flower was the first to hit dispensaries. Often referred to as “bud” or “nug”, flower refers to the trichome-covered part of a female cannabis plant that gets dried, cured, and packaged for sale. 

Vaporizing Flower/Concentrates

For some time after the Ohio program started in many parts of the state, vaporizing flower was the only form of administration available for patients. Smoking flower is prohibited by Ohio law and only certain portable vaporizers are approved to use. Patients in Ohio are not permitted to smoke cannabis in a bowl, bong, joints or blunts, or any other combustible method. Vaporizers heat cannabis to temperatures that release cannabinoids in a fine mist without creating the toxins associated with combustion. 

Cannabis concentrates are preferred for some patients who require more potent THC levels. Concentrates can contain 50 to 90 percent THC, while traditional flower ranges between 10 and 35 percent THC. 

Concentrates often provide quicker pain relief for patients than flower. But another benefit appears to be that concentrates preserve the 200 or so terpenes that are extracted from the  plant, producing common aromas like berry, citrus, mint, and pine and offering a roadmap for the types of terpenes that might best treat your condition. 

Tinctures, Topicals, Transdermal Patches

By mid-2019, additional commercial products began to enter the Ohio market as cannabis flower became more widely available to cultivators and processors. Dispensary menu options expanded to products such as tinctures, topicals, and edibles. This was helpful for many patients who didn’t find vaporizing to be a useful form of administration. 

Tinctures are made by using alcohol as a solvent to extract the cannabis flower into an infused oil. These can be taken sublingually or mixed into a beverage. Tinctures pull both water and oil-soluble substances from the cannabis plant, so they have a lot of versatile uses. Many patients prefer tinctures because they can provide a discreet way to consume cannabis, without the strong odor caused by vaping it. 

Topicals are a great way for patients new to cannabis to try it out without the risks of THC intoxication. According to Leafly, even if a topical contains active THC, it still won’t induce that intense “high” you’d get from vaping or ingesting cannabis. With most topicals, cannabinoids can’t breach the bloodstream to make you high. However, patients who use topicals have reported relief from localized pain, muscle soreness, tension, and inflammation. New evidence also shows some patients use THC topicals to treat psoriasis, dermatitis, and itching.

Unlike topicals, transdermal patches deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream and could have intoxicating effects if they contain a lot of THC. Other transdermal innovations include long-lasting patches and tingly lubricants.

Edibles and Beverages

Cannabis-infused foods and drinks have been consumed throughout history, as far back as 1000 B.C. and are widely available in Ohio dispensaries today. Gummies, candies, chocolates, and baked goods are just a few of the edible cannabis products you’ll find in dispensaries throughout the state. 

Edibles provide a very different experience than vaporizing for most cannabis users. The effects of vaping will peak at around 20–30 minutes after using and begin to wear off within 2–3 hours. On the other hand, edibles typically take 30–90 minutes to begin working. The effects last much longer and typically peak at about 2–4 hours after ingestion. 

Beverages can be a great way for patients who respond well to edibles to ingest cannabis, especially if they have digestion issues that make it difficult to consume solid food. Some patients prefer drinks over edibles because they can deliver the full effects in approximately 15 minutes. Whether they contain THC, CBD, or a combination of both, the cannabinoids are sublingually absorbed while drinking, so they are digested faster than edibles.

Patients Can’t Make Their Own Products

While many cannabis enthusiasts make their own cannabis products by infusing butter or oil with cannabis for recipes, this is also illegal to do in Ohio, per the state board. There are several products available that can be used in baking, but Ohioans with medical marijuana cards are not permitted to decarboxylate their own flower for the purpose of making edibles. 

The main issue with decarboxylating flower or concentrates to make edible products is that it can be very difficult to determine an appropriate dosage. Because of this, the state wants patients to buy appropriately-dosed edibles from state dispensaries instead of trying to do the guesswork themselves. 

Similarly, Ohio patients cannot make their own concentrates or tinctures. If you have any questions about what’s legal and what isn’t in the Ohio Medical Marijuana Program, check out the rules at https://medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov.

Want to learn more about the products available in Ohio dispensaries? Check out some of our recent stories on Cake Strains, Strains for Women, and Unlocking the Mysteries of RSO

If you’d like more information about Ohio’s medical marijuana program, it’s products, or how to get your card, schedule an appointment today with a DocMJ physician. 

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Author: 

Gabrielle Dion Visca

Gabrielle has been writing and editing professionally for the medical and wellness industries for more than 20 years. She’s held positions with The Journal of Pediatrics, Livestrong, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and Patient Pop. She currently writes articles about medical marijuana for DocMJ and is the founder of the Ohio cannabis journalism non-profit, MedicateOH.