The most common method patients use is inhalation. When inhaled, cannabinoids enter into the lungs where they are then pass directly into your blood stream. This enables quick onset, making proper dosing easier than other methods.
Vaporizers are devices that heat cannabis to a specific temperature, below its ignition or combustion point. Due to the fact that there is no combustion occurring, vaping is a much safer alternative to smoking. The temperature range used is 338-390 degrees Fahrenheit. This releases cannabinoids as a vapor without producing smoke. Vaporizing also causes little to no irritation to the throat or lungs.
Vaporizing may require up to twice as much dry cannabis flower to deliver the same effect as other delivery methods. However vaping can be more efficient that smoking so some patients may actually use less.
If using a concentrate, much less is required. Concentrates provide a higher dosage. For example, 0.1g of wax might provide 65mg of cannabinoids.
Smoking is the classic method of cannabis delivery. This is done by smoking cannabis in rolled paper, pipes, or water pipes. Smoking provides patients with controllable and readily available effects which means that many patients can slowly increase their dose to achieve symptom relief.
The amount used while smoking varies. The average joint contains 0.5g to 1 gram of cannabis. The average amount used daily also varies from 0.5g-7g or more. Smoking is done frequently throughout the day as the duration is 2-4 hours.
Onset: 5 – 10 minutes
Duration: 2 – 4 hours
Another popular way to consume cannabis is through ingesting it in edible form. When
cannabis is ingested, cannabinoids are metabolized by the liver, which strengthens both the effects and duration of the medicine. Eating or ingesting cannabis usually leads to a longer, stronger, and much more physical effects than smoking. Due to the longer and slower release of cannabinoids, ingestions may be a better choice for chronic conditions that require a maximum dose. The ability to control the effects (titrate) is more difficult than inhalation because of the variability of digestion and product.
Start low and go slow!
Wait at least an two hours to assess the effects before increasing the amount of cannabis consumed, and remember that an empty stomach can significantly affect the time it can take for the cannabis to take effect.
If the effects are too strong, drink water and find a safe and comfortable place to rest. It may take some time but the effects will pass.
Onset: 1 – 2 hours
Duration: 6 – 8 hours
Some cannabis products are designed for sublingual consumption, including tinctures. “Sublingual” refers to the tissue under the tongue, an area where cannabinoids can enter directly into the bloodstream. Dosing can be easily managed through this discreet, and very effective delivery method.
The amount needed will depend on the tincture. Patients should start with a few drops and increase it as needed. Typically one dropper full is considered a dose. One dropper is equal to 1mL.
Onset: 5 – 30 minutes
Duration: 1 – 6 hours
Topicals consist mostly of non-psychoactive, cannabis-infused salves, oils, and transdermal patches. Patients apply these products directly onto their skin to treat localized pain, muscle soreness, and inflammation. Patients with skin disorders or peripheral pain disorders do well with topical cannabis. Cannabinoids are absorbed through the skin and do not result in psychoactive effects.
Dose is a function of an area to be covered. Topicals can be used as needed.