As we’ve written previously, one of the most interesting side effects of the “Green Revolution” is the change in the ways we access the health benefits of medical marijuana.
Starting in Fall 2019, we’re going to be carrying cannabis softgels, and we’re truly excited to offer this simple, convenient and discreet way to take cannabis medicine. But they’re hardly the only option available these days. We’ll take a quick survey of all the cannabis delivery methods currently available, and discuss why some might be a better choice than others given your specific needs and goals.
Cannabis Delivery Methods: Smoking and Vaping
Most of us are familiar with the “normal” way of accessing cannabis: By smoking it. But only a few years from now, that might not be the case.
While smoking cannabis remains popular, there are upsides and downsides to the practice. Let’s start with the positives: Smoking is reasonably easy, simple and effective. The cannabis medicine takes effect quickly—typically within a few minutes.
But smoking introduces potentially irritating materials into your lungs and airways, plus not all states allow smoking cannabis. In these cases, vaping may be better.
Vaping releases the cannabinoids in a carefully refined cannabis concentrate as a cool mist, using a vaporizer—like those offered in the Vireo Spectrum™ line—you can still access the important components of the flower.
As with smoking, the onset time with vaping is very rapid, and the cannabis medicine typically lasts about two to three hours. But sometimes, we want the opposite effect: A slower onset coupled with a longer-lasting duration.
Cannabis Delivery Methods: Capsules and Oils
In the last few years, the technology around cannabis extraction and refinement has advanced by leaps and bounds. Increasingly, all the cannabinoids and terpenes present in the cannabis plant—the “active ingredients”—can be concentrated into potent, pure and shelf-stable oils.
These oils can be used in vaporizers, as we discussed earlier, or they can be consumed on their own, in tinctures or increasingly in softgels or capsules. But while they all contain the same cannabis medicine, they affect our bodies in different ways. When these medicines are consumed orally, it’s metabolized through the GI system, rather than through the lungs.
On a practical level, this means the onset time for softgels and capsules is far slower than with smoking or vaping. It’s quite common for the effects to take an hour or more to appear; once they do, they last longer—in some cases twice as long—and they often feel more intense than with smoking or vaping.
That’s why we advise patients to wait at least three hours before taking another dose of cannabis softgels or capsules. Remember: You can always take more cannabis medicine, but you can’t take less.
What’s the best choice for you? It depends on your situation and your comfort level. Sometimes we want fast relief from pain, muscle spasms or anxiety. At other times, a rapid onset might feel uncomfortable or inconvenient.
As with all medicines, some adjustment may be necessary to find the best product, consumption method, and dose to meet your particular needs. If you have questions or concerns about cannabis delivery methods, don’t hesitate to get in touch.