With the stigma of medical marijuana fading quickly, more and more patients are starting the journey to natural pain relief, without the use of opioids or traditional pain medication. But for some, the idea of smoking a product for relief can be intimidating and off-putting. We’ve broken down the most common non-smoking medical marijuana delivery systems so you can decide which one is right for you.
Vaping has become one of the more popular ways to consume medical marijuana in recent years. With traditional smoking, the plant gets hot enough for combustion to occur and smoke to form, which can be hard for some people to inhale. When vaping, the plant is heated at a much lower temperature, releasing the medical benefits without the smoke. Vaporizers can range anywhere from large home units, to pocket-friendly pens. While you can find some less expensive start-up kits, vaporizers and accessories usually run anywhere from $100-$300 USD.
- Pros: No combustible smoke. Immediate relief.
- Cons: Expensive start-up costs. Device needs warm-up time. Device needs to be recharged
Oils and Tinctures
Many people opt to use an oil or tincture as their delivery method. Both are usually ingested under the tongue or along the inside of the cheek. Most are available in a dropper or a spray bottle. For both the oil and tincture, THC and CBD are extracted from the plant by either alcohol extraction or approved extraction machines. For making the oil, the extracted cannabinoid is added to a carrier oil (such as coconut oil). For a tincture, the plant is placed in an alcohol and left to cure for a couple of months. After cured, the liquid is strained. Both oils and tinctures should be placed in a dark bottle and stored in a cool, dark place.
Oils and tinctures are some of the highest and most-potent products available but come with the benefit of being able to control your dosage for more consistency. When starting oils or tinctures, it’s best to try one droplet or spray and wait 10 minutes and then add a dose every 10 minutes to achieve the desired effect. Once you know what dosage works for you, you can drop or spray as needed.
- Pros: Easy to control your dose. Easy on the lungs. The preferred method for disabled individuals and children
- Cons: Expensive for those who need a higher dosage
Edibles and Drinks
Edibles go beyond the pot brownies of the 60’s and 70’s. But, the world of edible marijuana has grown more diverse in recent decades, even including world-renowned marijuana food chefs. One of the easiest ways to introduce medical marijuana into your everyday diet is to create a butter or oil and cook your food the way you normally would.
As for drinks, your local medical marijuana dispensary probably sells marijuana-infused juices, smoothies, and teas. You can also make your own at home by steeping a bud, a small piece of wax, or a bit of tincture in hot water and adding it to your beverage of choice.
One thing to remember, the cannabinoids are released through the digestive tract, so it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to kick in. Because of this, it can be hard to ingest the correct dose, so start small and start slow.
- Pros: Great for stress relief. Long-lasting results,
- Cons: Can be difficult to calculate dosage. Longer wait time for relief.
Topicals and Patches
For patients that want localized-pain relief without the effects of feeling “high,” topicals are the way to go. Marijuana-infused topicals can include creams, balms, lotions, patches, and even lubricants. They are absorbed through the skin, and though the topical contains THC, most topicals won’t enter the bloodstream, only your cannabinoid receptors. There is some debate over the efficacy of topicals and patches, though many claim to have almost immediate localized pain relief.
- Pros: Localized pain relief. No “high” feeling.
- Cons: Does not help with cancer symptoms, epilepsy, glaucoma, or PTSD. The efficacy is debatable amongst the medical marijuana community.
For those that want their medicine to look like actual medicine, you can’t get any more traditional than a capsule, or pill. Capsules are able to deliver the most controlled dose on the market and don’t require any preparation or clean up, which is a big plus to new or intimidated consumers.
- Pros: Precise dosing. No prep or cleanup.
- Cons: Takes time to achieve the desired effect.
Suppositories, though not the first choice for the consumers are actually the most efficient way to deliver the benefits of medical marijuana. Because it is administered rectally, it is absorbed into the bloodstream much quicker and delivers around 80% of the medicinal effects. This is due to a lack of interaction with the liver, which metabolizes THC before it reaches your bloodstream. Suppositories will not give you the high of traditional marijuana and have no known side effects. There are also vaginal suppositories meant to relax muscles around the ovaries, cervix, and uterus, without any psychotropic effects.
- Pros: Highest efficacy of product. Immediate and long-lasting effects.
- Cons: Can be difficult or embarrassing to administer. Must be refrigerated.
Are you using a form of non-smoking medical marijuana? Have you noticed a difference in your pain levels, or how you feel after taking your dosage? We’d love to hear from you!
Originally published at www.medicalmarijuana.com on February 15, 2018.