4 Ways to Dose Your Medical Marijuana
While the cultivation and use of cannabis still remain a crime under federal law, the majority of American states have approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Such states have boards that are set up to monitor the cultivation and use of the different dosage forms of medical marijuana. The board is also responsible for drawing up a list of the medical conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana in the state. Furthermore, the board certifies physicians that can issue a medical marijuana card for people that need to be treated with medical cannabis. If you live in any of the states where the laws allow for the use of medical cannabis, you would need to obtain a medical marijuana card before you can have access to the drug.
On presenting your medical marijuana card at the dispensary, you are certain to see a variety of products. For a first-timer, this might be confusing, to say the least. As you would come to learn, there are different dosage forms of medical marijuana. Studies have shown that different dosage forms may have different therapeutic efficacy and side effect. Thus, it is important to ensure you are taking the right drug in the right manner if you are to derive maximum benefits from medical marijuana use. Having a good knowledge of the available dosage forms allows you to make an informed decision whenever you need to start using. This guide provides all you need to know about the different means via which cannabis can be used.
The Available Dosage Forms of Medical Marijuana
Before the approval of medical marijuana, many people thought smoking is the only available delivery method for cannabis. A quick peek into history points to the contrary. A wide range of marijuana formulations was medically accepted prior to its ban in 1937. The ban, unfortunately, led to the proliferation of illegal smoked forms. Inhaled medical marijuana was already available at the time and records show that it was frequently prescribed for asthma patients. Inhaled medical marijuana has an almost immediate onset of action and the effects tend to last for about 4 hours. Today, marijuana inhalation is achieved via two different means.
When cannabis is wrapped into a ‘joint’ or cigarette form, the active ingredient would be released when the joint is lighted. Smoking is popular among recreational users. You may also see them using a pipe or bong asides the conventional joints. Although smoking cannabis leads to a fast release of the active ingredient, smoking is generally discouraged in the medical world. Most of the active ingredients are lost in smoke (if the user is smoking a joint) and tar or other irritants would be released during combustion. These could be harmful to the user. Currently, smoking of medical marijuana is illegal in Florida although the position of the law on the issue may soon change.
This involves heating cannabis in the presence of a vaporizer. At a certain temperature, the chemicals in the cannabis would be vaporized and the released vapor is then inhaled by the patient. Vaporization is the safest means of inhaling cannabis and it holds clear advantages over smoking. If the temperature is properly controlled, the cannabis oil is vaporized while the plant materials remain intact. This ensures that the patient does not inhale high amounts of tar or other potentially dangerous chemicals. There are numerous brands of modern vaporizers that can help you achieve the desired temperature control.
This involves taking edible cannabis as a pill, capsule, or any other form. The pill and capsule forms ensure the medical marijuana dosing can be appropriately standardized. Ingestion is the safest way to consume medical marijuana. However, the minimal water solubility of cannabinoids makes the absorption slow and erratic. You may have to wait for about 30 minutes to 2 hours before you start feeling the effects of your medication. The slow absorption makes it difficult to determine the appropriate dose, especially for the first-time patient. Oral ingestion further has the potential to increase the psychoactive effects of medical marijuana. This is because the drug undergoes first-pass metabolism by the liver. During this process, THC is converted to potentially more psychoactive forms.
Many patients do well with the ingested forms and it is the widely acceptable method of using medical marijuana. Asides pills and tablets, dispensaries also sell other edible forms of medical marijuana. You may come across cannabis tea, brownies, cookies, butter, and even ice cream. The amount of cannabis in these preparations would also be standardized, as long as you’re purchasing from a registered dispensary.
Sublingual application is a step above oral ingestion because of the faster onset of action. Medical marijuana for sublingual delivery is usually prepared as a tincture with a lipophilic base. The patient uses the tincture with the help of a dropper. The number of drops that would be applied under the tongue would depend on the concentration of the tincture and the requirements of the patient. The effects of medical marijuana taken sublingually should be felt within a few minutes of administration. Asides dropper forms, sublingual tinctures may also come in spray cans. The drug is sprayed into the mouth and absorbed in the oral mucosa.
Asides the systemic dosage forms of medical marijuana, the drug is also available for topical application. Medical marijuana may be prepared as an ointment, poultice, or lotion for local application. This dosage form is usually recommended for people with skin inflammation, muscle pains, arthritis, or other localized medical conditions. The medication is absorbed at the point of application. There is minimal risk of systemic side effects since only a little amount of the drug is absorbed into the systemic circulation. Due to their lipophilic nature, cannabinoids are well absorbed through the skin. However, other water-soluble components of cannabis oil such as flavonoids and terpenoids may be poorly absorbed.
In practical applications, clinicians have discovered that the effective dose varies widely for different patients even when the same medical condition is being treated. This necessitates the ‘start low and go slow’ rule. When a novel patient is about to start medical marijuana therapy, the patient is encouraged to start with a low dose. The dose may be increased gradually until the desired therapeutic effect is achieved.
One of the most desirable qualities of medical marijuana is its wide safety margin. The drug is well tolerated by virtually everyone and there is little to no risk of death even when large doses are ingested. However, this should not be treated as a license to abuse the drug. As mentioned earlier, the route of administration and nature of the formulation exert a significant effect on the therapeutic efficacy of medical marijuana. If the topical application is applicable to your disease condition, it should be the first choice when you want to start using medical marijuana. You might also consider trying a different strain if you do not observe any change in your condition even after increasing the dose of your drug.
If you have further questions about medical marijuana, you can talk to a licensed medical marijuana doctor. The attendant at a licensed dispensary may also be able to provide useful information. Remember, you need to get a medical marijuana card in order to have access to medical marijuana in Florida. At KindHealth, we believe that anyone who needs a card should have a card. Schedule an appointment with us today and we would be glad to provide a comprehensive case evaluation and assist you with getting your medical marijuana card.