Which of the 5 most popular ways to medicate with Medical Marijuana is best for you?
Recreational and Medical marijuana differ in ways other than the characteristics of the marijuana. As a quick summary, you may recall that the stark differences between recreational and medical marijuana center around the differences between the types of plant (indica vs sativa), the levels and effects of CBD vs THC, and each state’s regulations and legislation.
While each state has its own legislation and regulations, all states that have legalized medical marijuana and recreational marijuana have regulations specifically for how, how much, where, and by whom legalized medical marijuana is provided to customers or patients.
In Michigan, Medical Marijuana Provisioning Centers began receiving their licenses in early 2018. This is a closely monitored process which involves many considerations; among them are the applicants’ moral character, prior business success, criminal record, and viability of their business plan and financing.
Without an official state license, dispensaries that were allowed to operate prior to the formal application and approval process, must shut down. Those Medical Marijuana Provisioning Centers that are successful in obtaining Michigan’s, their county’s, and their city’s approval will be well positioned to receive a recreational marijuana retail license, being issued throughout 2019, as well.
So, now that your city or county in Michigan has a state-licensed Medical Marijuana Provisioning Center, what marijuana products can you purchase from them and how do you go about “administering” or “medicating” to treat your aliment, disease, or illness that you’ve heard is responsive to medical marijuana?
There are essentially 10 different forms, styles, or methods of “medicating” with Medical Marijuana; this discussion focuses on the 5 most common or popular.
Since “smoking a joint” or “hitting a bong” are the first images conjured in most people’s minds when they hear the word “marijuana”, let’s start this discussion by dissolving a couple decades-old paradigms.
Granted, smoking marijuana for medicinal purposes is the same as smoking for recreational purposes – the patient puts dried cannabis flower into a rolling paper, a water pipe, or a regular pipe, holds a flame to it until it combusts and then inhales the smoke. Contrary to what’s most often shown in movies, holding the smoke in the lungs is not necessary or recommended.
It’s a simple process of inhaling, exhaling, then waiting a few minutes. The process is repeated if or when a desired effect isn’t felt or there’s a desire to enhance the initial effect.
With all the evidence regarding how harmful smoke can be to the lungs, why is smoking marijuana popular among medical marijuana patients?
First of all, smoking marijuana delivers immediate relief and it’s quite easy to manage your dosage. Not a lot of guesswork or trust in packaging is required. Furthermore, it’s inexpensive and processed only minimally.
But, perhaps its greatest advantage over the other methods of medicating is that it appeals to those who are partial to a particular strain or prefer the widest selection of marijuana strains to discover the strain that most effectively treats their condition. For more insight on this aspect, please read 10 of the 1000’s of Cannabis Strains used by Medical Marijuana Patients.
Similar to smoking marijuana, “vaping” is a popular choice primarily because of the wide range of strains that are available for vaping. But what exactly is vaping?
Basically, vaporizers (“vapes”) are devices – costing from $15.00 – $150.00 on average – for inhaling marijuana vapor. Available in various shapes and sizes, the cost of the vaporizer reflects whether it’s the size and dimensions of a pen or a full-scale, plug-in home unit.
Marijuana vapor is created by heating the device which in turn heats a small amount of hand-inserted cured marijuana extract or flower to a temperature lower than its combustion point but high enough to emit its medical effects.
Or, marijuana oil can be vaped when using what is called a portable oil vape that contains a cylinder for cannabis oil. Some of these vaping devices have a sealed oil cylinder in which cannabis oil is preloaded, making them especially convenient for “mobile users” and those who are conscientious about their intake.
With these vapes, dosage is pre-managed by how many “hits” have been loaded into the cartridge; i.e., the amount of marijuana (active cannabinoids) it contains – on average, 150 mg, 200 mg, or 300 mg. Divide the total amount of mgs by the number of “hits” and you can get a pretty good idea of the individual dosage.
In both methods, by pressing a button the vapor is released and inhaled, then blown out immediately; not held in the mouth or lungs. This is what’s known as “taking a hit”.
Obviously, it’s recommended for those just starting to medicate with marijuana to keep their individual dosage of active cannabinoids low. Conservatively, “low” is considered around 4-6 mg; after reaching a moderate level of tolerance, dosage increases to 10-20 mg. It has been reported that for those who consume marijuana daily, their daily doses range from 30-100 mg.
Just how it sounds, edibles are marijuana infused food products. Attractive and appealing, marijuana infused food products come in a variety of shapes and flavors – from multi-colored gummies, taffy, and cookies, to nut mixes, popcorn, and chocolate covered blueberries and espresso beans. But edibles are not limited to only these few, “friendly” options. It’s widely held that – somewhere out there – there’s probably a marijuana infused version of every type of food in existence.
Quite possibly the most popular type of medical marijuana – especially for children, the elderly, and the beginner – edibles offer a range of cost-effective options and (for the most part) take the dosing challenge out of the equation. You can purchase edibles per your specific dose; it’s recommended to start small – 2 mg or less. And, if you’re prudently CBD vs THC conscious, some edible forms are available in combinations of CBD and TCH or solely CBD.
Edibles produce a type of “high” that’s different from smoking. Feeling the effects of edibles takes a longer time than any other form – from a half hour to a couple hours. During this “wait time”, it’s tempting to eat more. This mistake is the reason many people first using Medical Marijuana have unfavorable experiences with edibles.
Edibles are not guaranteed to be consistent in dosage. Manufacturers have not yet perfected quality control. So, it’s advised to only use edibles in conjunction with a doctor’s supervision. Furthermore, it’s important that you read the packaging, then discuss and confirm the dosage with a Medical Marijuana Provisioning Center professional.
And, never forget that the gummy, taffy, or chocolate bar you’re about to eat is NOT candy.
Tinctures are considered a form of edible because you take them orally. Cannabis tinctures are cannabis extracts that have been mixed into an alcohol, glycerine type of solution (coconut oil being the most common). This liquid form of medical marijuana can be taken by putting a few drops under the tongue, in food, or in a drink.
Getting the full benefit from tinctures takes a bit of a trial period. It’s recommended to only try a few drops at first. Then, after about ten minutes, if the desired effect or relief hasn’t been felt, take a few more drops. In a relatively short period of time, patients eventually discover the dosage amount – from a half-dropper to one or two full droppers – that’s best for them.
While their initial appeal is because they’re an alternative to smoking, vaping, or eating marijuana, tinctures are easy to transport, easy to take, and ensure accurate dosing. Tinctures are recognized for their healing benefits and have a long shelf-life which is especially beneficial to those who aren’t daily or even weekly users.
Those who have pain in a specific area of the body are best suited for using topicals; sometimes referred to as topical wax or balms, topicals are also available as sprays, lotions, and ointments.
Fairly self-explanatory, topicals are rubbed or sprayed on your skin creating a localized method of treatment. Many medical marijuana patients suffering from the more serious treatable conditions like epilepsy, glaucoma, chronic pain, or nausea, etc. do not find topicals effective.
However, many, many people with arthritis, eczema, minor burns, sunburn, tendonitis, swelling, joint pain, and migraines, among others, benefit from the effects of topicals. While topicals address skin issues and relieve pain in localized areas, they don’t prompt any type of “high” effect. They work great for some patients and others report that they simply have no effect at all.
But, since over-dosing on topicals is not an issue, many patients find them worth exploring as a treatment option for those conditions they are most popularly associated with.
Topicals can emit a marijuana-like odor and – like any skin medication – can cause irritations.
The five other methods for administering Medical Marijuana are:
Patches (Transdermal); Suppositories; Beverages; Dabbing; Ingesting the raw plant (leaves and buds). Like the 5 most common methods discussed in this article, each of these also has pros and cons and cautions, which will be expanded upon in a future article.
This article is presented as a brief, general introduction to the various ways to administer or medicate with Medical Marijuana. It is by no means to be accepted as your definitive guide. Future articles will delve deeper into the nuances of each of these ways to medicate with Medical Marijuana – and further address their benefits and cautions.
The only way you’ll really know which form of medical marijuana works for you is to try each option – more than once. There are so many variables within each type that it’s not recommended to approach each in a “one and done” fashion.
In addition, the quality of the cannabis that is used in marijuana infused products – especially edibles – is nearly impossible to determine just from its packaging. Some companies infuse edibles with marijuana that otherwise couldn’t be sold because of its substandard quality. For this reason alone, it’s imperative that edibles, in particular, are researched and purchased from a fully compliant responsible Medical Marijuana Provisioning Center.
Allied Wellness Center is such a facility; we stake our reputation on the quality of our service, compassion, and products that we offer our patients.