Now legal in 33 states, more and more Americans are familiar with medical marijuana, which can offer relief to people struggling with everything from multiple sclerosis to inflammatory bowel disease. Research on the endocannabinoid system вЂ” a system of receptors present throughout the body which plays a key role in the central nervous system and other bodily processes, helping the body maintain homeostasis вЂ” has helped scientists and medical professionals develop a whole new array of ways to utilize cannabis; a trip to a dispensary today would give you access not just to medical marijuana to be smoked, but topical cannabis solutions, edibles, and other new methods designed specifically with medical users in mind. Because of all this, more people are looking to medical marijuana to treat their ailments. But how do you choose the best way for you to consume medical cannabis?
Ultimately, that's a decision you can only make for yourself (ideally with the help of a respectful medical professional). Shannen Barnett, a nurse and the founder of medical cannabis company Sana Sana Formulas, tells Bustle that everyone's endocannabinoid system "is individual and everyone has different responses to cannabis, period, regardless of age, sex, weight, or diagnosis" вЂ” so it's tough to make any across-the-board recommendations for how much cannabis a person should use to treat their ailment, or how they should take it. Potential cannabis users should also stay aware of dosing guidelines or suggested doses on packaging. "When you go to the doctor and you're getting prescribed a medication, you're not getting prescribed a. dose that is for you as an individual," says Barnett. Rather, "this is a dose based off of generalized dosing guidelines for a population." The same is true in medical cannabis doses вЂ” so know that going in. With this in mind, Barnett suggests that new users might want to experiment with micro-dosing, in order to get a true understanding of their medical cannabis needs, and maintain a journal tracking their results: note the size of the doses you're taking, what times of day you're taking them, and how they make you feel.
This kind of measured approach, says Barnett, is "the only way to really know how it's going to work for you. And it allows you to do it without having any negative experience вЂ” I call it the 'I wish I could un-take it moment' many people have had, when they come to cannabis." To get your research started, here is an overview of a few of the medical cannabis methods available. A 2007 University of California study found that vaporizing marijuana, rather than smoking, minimized the amount of harmful toxins consumed. While Barnett feels that inhaled cannabis makes more sense as a recreational rather than medicinal option, she notes that you can still micro-dose when using inhaled cannabis вЂ” "you can just take smaller hits." 2. Edibles вЂ” candies, baked goods, or other foods infused with marijuana. appeal to many new medical marijuana users, as they seem familiar and non-threatening (who doesn't love a cookie?). But Barnett urges caution: users "need to be careful, because everyone metabolizes it differently. Edibles aren't going to kick in at the same time for everyone. Some people, they kick in right away, other people, it doesn't happen until they go to dinner and all of a sudden they're high." Typically, it takes more time for the THC in edibles to hit the bloodstream compared to smoked marijuana, so giving your dose time to be fully metabolized before you try any more is key. And be aware that even though they contain medical cannabis, edibles also contain food ingredients вЂ” so if you have a food allergy, or should not consume sugar or artificial sweeteners, make sure to look out for them while choosing edibles. According to some research, topical ointments and creams can potentially help relieve the symptoms of ailments like arthritis and eczema without any of the psychoactive components one might experience with smoking or edibles. In fact, they're a favorite way to use cannabis to decrease inflammation. "The best way to consume the anti-inflammatories properties of cannabis is not going to be inhaling them," says Barnett. "It is probably going to be better if it's ingested or used topically." 4. One of the newest medical cannabis products on the market, cannabis capsules typically contain oils of varying levels of potency. Users can swallow them, or cut them open to apply topically. Barnett's main advice for beginners has less to do with utilizing any particular method than it does doing your own research to ensure product quality: "A lot of [companies producing medical cannabis products] will boast that their lab testing and the third party tested, [but] just saying it doesn't make it true." Rather than just trusting branding, "you want to actually see those results," and check for more than just potency вЂ” Barnett recommends checking for tests to make sure that the batch is not full of pesticides or heavy metals. "You want to actually see that it's been tested for multiple things and that it has a date and a batch number." She also notes that when it comes to medical cannabis, "there's different strains вЂ” that's like different brand names for medications. And the strain is like its own profile." She recommends keeping notes on which strains you have used in your journal as well, so that you can keep on top of your specific reactions to them. And in the end, the best way to find what works for you is with slow, controlled experimentation. "For the general person," says Barnett, "the best course is to start with one thing, implement it in the smallest dose possible and adjust the frequency of dosing before [you are] adjusting the dose size." It will allow you to gauge your response, and "be able to continue living [your] life without really any interruption. This post was originally published on September 21, 2015. By The Fresh Toast's Brendan Bures, provided exclusively to Benzinga Cannabis. If you’d rather limit the amount of smoke you inhale, try one of these popular ways to ingest marijuana without filling your lungs.
No matter how safe cannabis vaping and smoking may be, there will always be people who either err on the side of caution or who don’t like the sensation of smoke or vape in their lungs. This doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the effects of cannabis, though. There are many ways to get lifted — some take longer than others, but also often last longer as well. Pick the method that best suits your cannabis fueled lifestyle. THC or CBD laden tinctures come in many different strengths, so ask your local budtender how much of the liquid should be ingested on your first go. Some of the many beauties of using tincture is that it kicks in pretty fast, so you know where your headspace is landing and when and how much more (or less next time) to take, that it’s highly portable and discrete, it often comes in flavors that are either mild or pleasant and it typically comes with a dropper for measured dosages.
If you’re a wiz in the kitchen and like a full body high, making your own cannabis infused foods is a rewarding enterprise. You can make something as basic as pot brownies or use clarified ghee butter to really up your savory game. Use about a gram of ground cannabis flower per serving size and don’t forget to decarboxylate first. If you live near a dispensary, you can leave it to the professionals and get exact measures of cannabinoids, ratios of THC and CBD as well as a variety of flavors and textures to choose from. Though for many the idea of inserting cannabis into the buttock is, well, not high on their list, cannabis suppositories are miracle workers for many, especially the very ill.