What’s the Safest Way to Consume Marijuana?
When it comes to consuming your medical marijuana (MMJ) products, what usually comes to mind? Many people associate smoking joints or packing a bowl or pipe when you consume Cannabis. But smoking Cannabis is not the only option, and it isn’t a safe choice if you have lung disease or cardiovascular problems like COPD.
Depending on your medical conditions, some methods of using marijuana may pose an increased risk of adverse events or side effects. You may wonder, “What is the safest way to consume marijuana?”
Choosing which consumption method works best for you can be an overwhelming experience for some. But there are many different routes to choose from that can provide therapeutic benefits.
Inhalation Methods for Smoking Cannabis
Inhaled Cannabis, whether smoked or vaped, allows the gases to enter the lungs for fast-acting absorption into the bloodstream. When you smoke Cannabis, the cannabinoids are absorbed through the lungs quickly.
More people smoke Cannabis compared to other types of routes available for medical marijuana. If you plan on using Cannabis in smokable forms, here is what you need to know.
Onset: You will begin to feel physical and psychoactive effects after 1-3 minutes after you inhale cannabis smoke. Some people may feel the effects of smoking Cannabis within the first few seconds.
Duration: Effects will generally peak within 30 minutes and last up to four hours. Eating dietary foods that are high in terpenes may prolong the effects of cannabis use.
Is it Safe to Smoke Cannabis?
While smoking marijuana is the most well-known method of consumption, some patients worry about the overall safety of inhaling the smoke. While smoking marijuana is not as toxic as cigarettes (which have over 5,000 chemicals and carcinogens), you can still incur lung injury from smokable cannabis use.
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.”
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.
Nonetheless, inhaling any substance can cause lung damage and create inflammation in the respiratory system. If you are concerned about the risks of using cannabis concentrates or flower by inhalable routes, talk to your doctor.
There are many reasons why people prefer vaping cannabis products, and one of them is convenience. Vaporizers are easy and inexpensive to use. 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.
Onset: You may begin to feel the effects of cannabis vape in less than a minute. It depends on how much Cannabis you inhale and the density of vape you ingest.
Duration: Effects will generally peak within 30 minutes and lasts for up to four hours. Some people may experience longer effects if they are not regular cannabis users. Individuals who have developed some tolerance to Cannabis may find the psychoactive effects wear off sooner.
What are the Benefits of Vaping Cannabis?
Vaporizers are a healthy alternative for 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.
Vaporizers vary in price, size, and technology, which can determine the level of effects experienced after consuming Cannabis. This comes with an equally significant reduction in odor, which is generally the first acknowledgment of first-time vaporizer users.
Oral delivery includes all products that are administered through the mouth. This includes tinctures, capsules, and edibles.
Onset: Approximately 15-30 minutes is the average time to begin to feel the effects of a cannabis tincture. That is because it must be absorbed orally (sublingual uptake) and enter the bloodstream.
Duration: 4-6 hours
This method was the first method available as medicine in the early 1900s, well before the stigma against the medicinal use of Cannabis began. 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.
Onset: Around 1 hour
Duration: 4-6 hours
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 individual’s liver metabolism is unique, which is why capsules and edibles can produce different effects on 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 them on a daily basis.
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.
Patients who have inhalation issues 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 may last much longer, making them a great option for chronic pain sufferers.
Do You Qualify for a Medical Card?
Medical marijuana is being used to treat chronic conditions that can develop from a variety of health conditions. Each state has a list of qualifying health conditions that can make you eligible to get a medical card.
Some examples of qualifying chronic conditions are:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- AParkinson’slateral 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 provide expert advice about strains, THC content, and different routes you may want to explore.
Remember, if you do not qualify for a medical card, DocMJ provides a full refund of your appointment fee. Start today.
With over 25 years of specialty training in Internal Medicine, as well as fellowship training in Functional and Sexual medicine, Dr. Maginso added Plant Medicine (Medical Marijuana) to her niche practice as of 2017. She is licensed in the State of Florida and attended the University of the East (UERM) in Quezon City, Philippines as well as the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, NJ.
She joined DocMJ in 2019 to align with a known group of compassionate physicians that empower their patients to be better versions of themselves. Her favorite hashtag is #powerpassionperformance, using the combination of optimized bioidentical hormones, medical marijuana, plasma therapies, and sexual wellness.
She is an author, speaker and community advocate for Medical Marijuana, Sexual Health, and the empowerment of mature women.