By Joan Eberhardt
Stepping into a dispensary for the first time can feel like being overwhelmed with choices. A first-timer, or someone who may not have used cannabis in a while, might feel like a stranger in a strangeland when confronted with the huge array of cannabis products available. Depending on the user’s preference, or the desired outcome, how you choose to administer cannabis can make a huge difference. Someone who uses cannabis to ease stiffness associated with fibromyalgia might find smoking a small amount helps get her out of bed in the morning, and someone with sensitive lungs may prefer edibles instead, but there’s a world of options in between.
When infused in a topical, lotion, ointment, salve or balm, cannabis’ natural antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial properties really shine. Cannabis is an interesting plant, and we need more studies to fully understand its properties, but we do know that cannabis administered to the skin quickly relieves pain from conditions like burns, muscle soreness, insect bites, menstrual cramps, even joint pain. These products have no psychotropic effect and are suitable for everyone from adults to children, at any time of day, during any activity. Even high-end skincare companies, while they haven’t yet dipped their toes into the legal cannabis market, are starting to take notice.
Many medical patients as part of their treatment, use cannabis oil, which is oil that has been derived from the cannabis plant itself, and then highly concentrated. This oil is often administered in a measured dose using a syringe, a few drops are placed under the tongue. By administering the oil directly under the tongue it is able to absorb quickly through sublingual tissue and get directly into the bloodstream. This allows the body to access more of the medical properties associated with cannabis oil than it would if it entered the body through the digestive process. It can also be used as a strong topical.
Tinctures are a little different than oils, but not by much. A cannabis tincture is made when extracted cannabinoids are absorbed into a solution of alcohol, glycerin or coconut oil. They are administered via a measured dropper or syringe, and oftentimes don’t include THC at all (though they can.) Tinctures are ideal for new users, or patients who want to be able to precisely administer medication.
Not just limited to brownies, there are so many types of edibles on the market any consumer should feel comfortable finding something that suits their palate. Cookies, brownies, gummy candy are plentiful, but there are also drinks, and even dried fruit. Dosing can be a concern, but modern packaging and a greater variety of low-dose edible options, are creating a wider variety of options for consumers. They can take some time to begin taking effect, which is a downside.
With all the options available, you would think smoking cannabis would go out of favor, but it remains a popular method of ingesting cannabis. It is one of the fastest ways to administer cannabis, and that can be a very valuable tool for patients seeking quick relief. Dispensaries often sell pre-rolled joints, but a spoon or chillum glass pipe are other simple ways of smoking cannabis. Much like smoking, vaporizing cannabis takes effect quickly, but it also has a reduced smell, is more discreet, and comes with a stylish accessory.