How Weed Flower Changes Patient Experience
The ability to consume sticky dry leaf or weed flower for medicinal use is on the horizon in Florida and many other states. So what does this mean for patients? How will access to medical marijuana herb, or the flower part of the plant, alter patient experience when visiting cannabis recommending doctors and dispensaries? And how does smoking buds in the flower part of the cannabis plant impact patients differently than the other cannabis consumption methods and pharmaceutical drugs?
Legal Access to Weed Flower: What to Expect
The availability of weed flower will bring Sativa-dominant strains for the daytime and Indica-dominant, relaxation-promoting strains for the evenings. Hybrid flower from a crossbred of Sativa and Hybrid strains will also be available for any time of the day.
But whatever the strain(s) may be, legal flower is less potent than in the concentrates already available to patients for vaping. Concentrates may have 50% to 80% cannabinoids (e.g. THC and CBD) while weed flower may only have 15% to 30% of cannabinoids. The other components in legal flower include healthy oils, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, terpenes, and flavonoids.
Does Weed Flower for Medical Use Benefit or Hurt Patients?
Having a choice is everything, particularly when it comes to healthcare because people have different preferences and health needs. The additional choices that medical marijuana patients have with the highly anticipated legalization of weed flower is a source of empowerment for patients. It’s a way to take control of your healthcare in the way you and your doctor deem fit.
Most medical marijuana patients that smoke weed flower do so to relieve their symptoms, not to try to get high or a “body buzz”. Whether folks are struggling from stress, anxiety, pain or illness, most just want to have a chance to experience a healthy, mindful and productive life.
With the legalization of weed flower, dispensaries will begin offering smaller quantities of the medication, such as grams and eighths, so you can try different strains and see what work best for your specific condition. But when there are too many choices set in front of us, it’s human nature for some people to just shut down. That’s because there’s a cap on the average number of things we can process and remember at once.
So when we walk into a dispensary, visit an ordering physician for a recommendation for weed flower, and/or browse product offerings online, having too many unorganized or uncategorized cannabis products and too many different prices can be overwhelming. Instead, keep your eye out for dispensaries and cannabis ordering physicians that have some sort of hierarchy to their products and order to their pricing.
Why is Variety of Weed Flower So Important?
All cannabis consumption methods and extraction forms are designed for specific conditions. Medical marijuana patients today have access to everything from tinctures, capsules, and concentrates to ointments, creams, and transdermal patches. Each of these is strategically formulated with different percentages of cannabinoids (including THC and CBD) and ingredients in the nutritious cannabis plant to treat specific symptoms, underlying diseases, and/or contributors to pain, anxieties, and ailments. Now sticky dry leaf is poised to become available soon.
Growers are actively working to cultivate quality weed flower to ameliorate and possibly even cure specific conditions. Whether to promote the natural and holistic benefits of marijuana herb, or to keep marijuana flower medications on the markets, legal bud will bring with it expectations of quality, precision, and marijuana flower designed with purpose.
Some patients see relief from smoking Sativa strains of legal flower because it doesn’t make them feel “sleepy high.” But many other medical marijuana patients experience better therapeutic results when vaping or smoking Indica strains of dry leaf.
Oftentimes, doctors prefer recommending specific strains of weed flower over other marijuana medications and pharmaceuticals to people with Parkinson’s, epilepsy and anxiety because of the “entourage effect.” This is the notion that the synergy amongst the active components produced when you smoke or vape weed flower strengthens the therapeutic benefits.
What’s the “Entourage Effect”?
Have you ever heard of the “entourage effect” that’s produced when you smoke or vape dry leaf? The entourage effect refers to the increased potency and healing capability of the different cannabinoids and terpenes in activated cannabis flower. When burning and inhaling weed flower, a synergistic effect happens with the range of cannabinoids (most notably CBD, THC, and CBN) and terpenes that doesn’t occur in other extraction forms.
This entourage effect enhances or alters the psychoactive and medicinal properties in cannabis flower. The entourage effect may be particularly pronounced when smoking or vaping weed flower that has been crossbred with different strains in order to treat certain needs. But greater research efforts are needed examining this synergistic characterization.
As of now, the scientific and medical community hold differing perspectives and conclusions. But this inconclusiveness largely stems from a lack of research and funding because of the federal illegality of smokable weed flower. Double-blind clinical trials would help researchers and medical experts dig down into the mechanisms, variables, and scientific validity of the entourage effect.
Inhaling Weed Flower vs. Taking or Applying Cannabis Products
Consuming weed flower, whether with a vaporizer, joint, bong, or any other form of smoking weed, is much more efficient AND potent than other cannabis delivery methods. The effects of inhaling marijuana flower can be felt almost instantaneously because the medication doesn’t have to pass through the liver or skin.
The cannabinoids and the full spectrum of nutrients in the weed flower go straight to the bloodstream via the lungs. The calming effect, euphoria or “high” from THC in cannabis flower typically climaxes at about 30 minutes and then slowly tapers off after about 1 to 4 hours. This is great news for people experiencing severe anxiety or an epileptic episode that need immediate relief.
Most other cannabis delivery methods, such as oral, transdermal and topical applications, have to either pass through the digestive system, penetrate the skin or be absorbed by the skin, which takes a lot longer to hit your system. Topicals are also a lot less potent but longer lasting than weed flower because they don’t enter the bloodstream. So the “high” from THC not only manifests much more quickly and potently when you inhale weed flower. But the psychoactive experience of smoking dry leaf also lasts a whole lot shorter than the other ways to take medical marijuana.
How Does Smokable Weed Flower Impact Addiction Pathways?
As we’ve mentioned before in this blog, although some people may develop some level of dependence or habituation to weed flower, “cannabis addiction” isn’t an issue. And according to research published by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, cannabis flower has the lowest risk of dependency compared to recreational substances such as alcohol and tobacco. States that have legalized the medical use of cannabis have also seen a 30% reduction in opioid-related deaths.
Weed flower may also be beneficial in the difficult battle to quit smoking tobacco. Because CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system, which is pivotal in self-regulatory processes, CBD may help bring the body back to a state of homeostasis (i.e. the optimal state of balance).
Smoking or vaping cannabis flower can help with sleeping, anxiety, nervousness, tremors, seizures, and improving serenity and calmness in the body, mind, and soul. These are some of the fundamental reasons why people start smoking cigarettes and tobacco-related product in the first place. So replacing tobacco with weed flower is a much better outlet with a lot less immediate and future side effects.
CBD in weed flower may also play a role in modulating our brain’s addiction pathways according to a recent study published in the journal Addiction. The mechanisms that allow for this modulation is a reduction in attentional bias, salience, and pleasantness to cigarette- and tobacco-related stimuli and cues. But the use of marijuana flower didn’t have an impact on tobacco cravings, withdrawal, or other subjective side effects. Based on the scientific validity of these finding, however, it’s apparent that smokable weed flower may be imperative in influencing neurocognitive components of addition pathways related to tobacco use.
Pharmaceuticals vs. Medical Marijuana Flower
Smoking cannabis flower is a powerful therapeutic remedy and source of symptomatic relief that’s much safer and cleaner than the vast majority of easily accessible pharmaceutical drugs that are made in a laboratory and on the market today. Weed flower is oftentimes also cheaper than pharmaceuticals in terms of both net and out-of-pocket costs.
What are the reasons patients and prescribing medical doctors may determine that weed flower is a better course of action than a pharmaceutical drug? Often it’s to:
- Achieve better treatment outcomes by taking advantage of the synergy between CBD, THC, and terpenes when you smoke legal bud.
- Avoid harmful warning disclaimers.
- Reduce side effects in terms of capacity, intensity and potential harm.
Many veterans are also strong advocates of legal flower and claim to relate to its therapeutic use on a spiritual level. Many vets are quite vocal about the harm of over-prescribing pain medication, anti-psychotics, and other pharmaceuticals. Certain strains of dry leaf are bred to cure the same symptoms as these Big Pharma drugs, but with a whole lots less detrimental short-term and long-term side effects.
Cannabis flower is now available for medical use. Florida guidelines require the following physician statement “As the qualified physician, it is my opinion that the benefits of smoking marijuana for medical use outweigh the risks for the qualified patient” to officially recommend flower for their patients. Flower availability provides several options for methods of consumption. Smoking dried marijuana flower from a joint, pipe or bong are common. These are efficient methods of ingestion as the effects of inhaled cannabinoids occur within seconds. These effects typically peak within thirty minutes and gradually diminish over the next 1-3 hours.
- Joints and Blunts
Both are commonly utilized ways of smoking cannabis flower. Rolling papers are generally needed to make joints or blunts. ‘Joints’ are dried cannabis plant material rolled into paper made of hemp, bamboo, rice or other components. Cannabis ‘blunts’ are rolled from cigar paper. While they contain both nicotine and tobacco they carry a higher medical risk.
- Pipes and Bongs
Hand pipes and bongs may be made of glass, ceramic, metal, wood, or silicone, bamboo or plastic. They are convenient, portable, small and simple to use. Commonly available in a myriad of decorative forms and artistic styles, users inhale smoke captured from burning cannabis. They both function similarly in that users only need to grind their cannabis, pack the bowl, light and enjoy. Bongs need to be filled with water or ice.
Vaporization of CBD/low thc oils is one of the most commonly used methods for medical marijuana in Florida. Either loose leaf or cannabis extraction is set at a temperature high enough to release its key ingredients in vapor form. Using either conductive or convective heat, THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids are extracted. The temperature is too low to release the potentially harmful toxins created during the hotter combustion of smoking. Vaporization activated cannabinoids are therefore widely considered a less harsh method of consumption that minimizes the health risks associated with smoking. Vaporizers, also associated with much less odor than smokable flower, are a good choice for health-conscious cannabis users.
So...Does Weed Flower Create More Patient Choices or Problems?
Based on trends around the country, the legalization of weed flower brings with it a better-managed industry in terms of product quality and safety, enhancements in public education about how to and how not to smoke flower, and decreases in illegal sales and expensive incarceration.
Access to legal flower also gives patients more choices. And many would argue that supporting health and human rights means supporting health and human choices. When a certified medical marijuana doctor prescribes smokable weed flower and their patient is able to access that natural source of therapeutic medicine, it empowers people to take control over their health care and sense of well-being.
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