Background:

The Benefits of Edible Marijuana


With the public discovering that Cannabis can actually treat many ailments in a more natural fashion more and more states are approving the legal use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Patients now have more options than ever, but real scientific education is still lacking.
Our board of directors includes many marijuana specialized physicians and they have composed a short synopsis of the various methods of administrating medical marijuana.

Cannabis Edibles

Originally cannabis was only used through ingestion. Edible marijuana dates back thousands of years. Today edibles offer a safe alternative to smoking marijuana. But there are certain critical caveats to consuming marijuana to assure a safe, comfortable and effective treatment. Patients should know that they will not notice the effects of edible marijuana for about 45-90 minutes. And the effects are much stronger than when marijuana is smoked. And the effects can last between 6-10 hours.

One of the biggest concerns with edibles is the strength of the dosage. Generally a single dose of an edible should contain about 20 mg of pure THC, but the strength of an edible is determined by both the quality and the quantity of the marijuana used. Personal experimentation is important to develop an understanding of your metabolism and what is the right dosage for you. Always start with a low dose and always wait at least 90 minutes before deciding to dose more. Using precise recipes can help maintain consistency from batch to batch. However, there will be some unpredictability to the quality of the marijuana you start with.

Marijuana concentration has increased throughout the past 40-50 years since the 1960's. Most dispensaries today have marijuana that averages around 15-20% vs. the 2% from marijuana from the 1900's. The amount of CBD has also been slowly bred out of today's plants so marijuana has higher THC and lower CBD levels. Precise reproducible recipes and slow controlled dosing are definitely the right approach.

Health Effects and Cannabis Edibles

Because cannabis edibles are ingested instead of smoked, all of the harmful side effects associated with smoking are eliminated. Though some users have described feeling nauseous or groggy, and on rare occasions, vomiting. There are no known long term negative side affects from ingesting cannabis edibles.

Pros:
  • No health concerns with pulmonary diseases associated with smoking cannabis
  • Long lasting effects make it ideal for illnesses like chronic pain or insomnia
  • Inconspicuous to carry and consume so your privacy is secure

Cons:
  • Require extra consideration to allow for dosing and slow onset of effects
  • Need precise recipes for consistency
  • Patients with severe vomiting may not be able to use an edible
  • Long lasting effects require assessment of each individual situation
  • Need to make sure to protect children, pets, and other adults not on medication

Smoking Cannabis

The concept of smoking marijuana for its effects is relatively new. It has been documented as late as the 16th century. Cannabis can be smoked using a pipe, water pipe (bong) or rolled into a cigarette. Inhaling cannabis is a quick and effective way to introduce the active cannabinols into the bloodstream and allow their effect on the associated cannabinoid receptors in the brain. The effects are usually noticeable within a few minutes and generally last for 2-3 hours. Many medical cannabis patients use the inhalation method because the effects are quickly noticeable and gauging dosage is relatively easy. Furthermore, dispensaries are able to accurately assess marijuana potency and guide patients on use.

However, like smoking tobacco marijuana inhalation can have some very bad long term effects including COPD and lung cancer. When you smoke marijuana the flower burns at approximately 1200 degrees F. This high temperature creates carcinogenic carbon by-products and damages the alveoli of the lungs leading to many potential pulmonary diseases in the future.

Some patients may find this confusing since NIH released a statement that marijuana, THC, and other cannabinoids are not carcinogenic and, in fact, may have anti-cancer properties. This is correct. The other laboratory studies confirm that marijuana and its metabolites are not cancer causing, but the burning creates a smoke that is cancer causing. Fortunately there are other alternative methods of administration available that are much safer.

Pros:
  • Quick to take effect
  • Relatively easy to judge dosage
  • Predictable 2-3 hours of therapeutic effect

Cons:
  • Inhalation of smoke, tar and carbon monoxide
  • Short effects can require continued use throughout the day or night.
  • Possible inhalation of mold or other unwanted toxins
  • Marijuana odor draws attention and limits the places you can medicate
  • Dangerous or cumbersome to travel with by car or plane
  • May result in inhalation of butane from lighters or chemicals from burning matches

Vaporizing

One simple method of decreasing the amount of inhaled carcinogenic smoke is to use a vaporizer. Vaporizers burn marijuana at 300 degrees F which releases more THC but reduces the potential cancer causing smoke. You save money because you need less medicine and you are protecting your lungs. Additionally, the vapor is cooler than smoke so there is less damage to the lungs.

Pros:
  • Quick to take effect
  • Relatively easy to judge dosage
  • Predictable 2-3 hours of therapeutic effect
  • Require less medical marijuana for same effect

Cons:
  • Need to buy a vaporizer which can range from $80-$600
  • Require regular maintenance of vaporizer
  • Can be costly since eventually you may have to purchase another one
  • Short effects can require continued use throughout the day or night.
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