4 Ways To Consume Medical Cannabis
Medical cannabis is cannabis used for the purpose of treating a medical condition. Healthcare practitioners can recommend and prescribe cannabis through a medical order for a variety of health conditions. Research that shows the benefits of cannabis in treating numerous health conditions is mounting, although it’s still in its infancy and there is much more work to be done on this front.
Medical cannabis users come from all walks of life and, as such, have many different needs to consider when using cannabis. There are many ways to use medical cannabis, including smoking and vaporizing, and orally through oils and capsules, and each has its benefits and drawbacks.
Here, we’ll go over four of the most common ways to use medical cannabis.
Oils and capsules
Health Canada and the provincial governments allow medical cannabis in the form of oils and capsules, which are produced in a regulated environment and are lab-tested for potency. This makes dosing easier and more reliable. Oils and capsules are a very popular option for medical cannabis users because they are convenient, discreet, and offer consistent dosing.
Cannabis oils are suspensions of cannabinoids and other active compounds from cannabis in edible oils. They are often packaged into gel capsules for easy dosing. The familiar experience of taking a pill can help make cannabis medicine accessible to a wider group of patients, including elderly patients. They’re also extremely discreet, as they do not produce any cannabis odor and can be taken without drawing attention. Oils can alternatively be taken orally using a spray bottle or mixed into food and drinks using a dropper.
The dosage in cannabis capsules and oils can vary between products and producers. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about how to dose these products. You may also be able to talk to the patient support team at the licensed producer through which you are ordering your medical cannabis. In general, cannabis oil users should “start low and go slow” while discovering the effects, as they tend to vary by individual.
Smoking cannabis is one of the most well-known methods of use. Smoking cannabis includes smoking a joint, using a water bong, or using a pipe. In each method of smoking, the user combusts (burns) dried cannabis flowers using a flame.
Smoking cannabis tends to have more of a stigma associated with it, likely because of the associations with recreational and illegal cannabis use. However, it remains an accessible means of consuming cannabis, as no external devices are required.
Smoking cannabis produces a distinct odor, especially if done indoors. It is illegal to smoke cannabis indoors in most public places in Canada, and it may be prohibited by the terms of some leases. Smoking cannabis is not a discreet method of consumption because of the strong smell.
There are some risks associated with smoking cannabis, according to Health Canada. These include bronchitis, lung infections, chronic (long-term) cough, and increased mucus buildup in the chest. These risks are similar to the risks associated with tobacco smoking, although a link between smoking cannabis and lung cancer is not proven.
If you are experiencing breathing problems or similar symptoms after smoking cannabis, it’s a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider. He or she may recommend you switch to another method of use.
Vaporizing, or “vaping”, is a method of cannabis use which heats—but does not burn—cannabis. Vaporizing is thought to be a healthier option than smoking. Many of the irritating and potentially harmful chemicals in cannabis smoke are caused by incomplete combustion, meaning they are byproducts of burning the plant matter. Vaporizing avoids this problem completely, because it only heats the cannabis hot enough to release its active compounds, including cannabinoids and terpenes (molecules responsible for the scent and flavour of cannabis).
Many users describe cannabis vapor as flavourful and mild compared to the harsh experience of smoking the plant. Some of the other benefits of vaping are that can be more discreet, partly because it produces less of an odor. The drawbacks of vaporizing are that it can be expensive to purchase a vaporizer, and certain vaporizers known as tabletop or desktop vaporizers cannot be used on the go.
Edibles are not currently legal to produce nor sell in Canada. Cannabis edibles (as well as on cannabis extracts and topicals) will be permitted for legal sale under the Cannabis Act by provincial and territorial retailers as well as federally licensed sellers of cannabis no later than October 17, 2019. Strict regulations will be imposed that relate to ingredients, packaging, as well as the THC content per package/serving.
How to Obtain Medical Cannabis
Many people are interested in the possibility of using medical cannabis, but don’t know how to obtain it legally.
Canadians who are interested in using medical cannabis should speak to their healthcare provider about their options. In Canada, a medical order from a healthcare practitioner is required in order to obtain medical cannabis, although recreational cannabis is available without a prescription. Doctors and nurse practitioners can legally prescribe cannabis to patients.
You may also want to do a bit of research on your own to prepare for the conversation. The Health Canada website is an excellent resource. There is a lot of misinformation surrounding cannabis on the internet, so it is a good idea to use a reputable source.
Medical cannabis products can be sourced from a licensed producer online. The licensed producer selected by your and your healthcare practitioner will give you more information on how to fulfill your medical order once they receive your prescription. Usually, your healthcare practitioner will securely e-fax the medical order directly to the licensed producer. Your cannabis prescription may or may not specify the percentage of THC and CBD your medical cannabis must contain. In cases where it does not, we recommend reaching out to the patient support centre offered by your chosen licensed producer to speak with them about how to select the product that will work for you. Your healthcare provider may be able to make a recommendation about which licensed producer and/or which products would be best for your situation.
- Oils and capsules are the most popular option for medical cannabis users. They contain cannabinoids suspended in oil. They are easier to dose and are a discreet way to use cannabis as medicine.
- Smoking is a well-known way to use cannabis, and it includes the use of joints, pipes, and bongs. Smoking cannabis produces a strong odor and is not considered discreet.
- Vaporizing involves heating cannabis to the point where its active compounds are released, but it does not burn, which may be preferred by the user
- Edibles are not currently legal to produce and sell in Canada. Cannabis edibles (as well as on cannabis extracts and topicals) will be permitted for legal sale by provincial and territorial retailers as well as federally licensed sellers of cannabis no later than October 17, 2019.
Laura Tennant is a Toronto freelance health writer. She holds an Honours B.Sc. in Neuroscience from the University of Toronto. She loves using her writing to help others make better-informed choices about their health and lifestyle. When she’s not writing, she’s tending her houseplants, working out at the gym, and finding reasons to laugh.