Cannabis may be inhaled or ingested. Most patients prefer to inhale their medication but approximately 15%of patients prefer ingestion. A smaller number of patients use both methods.
Inhaled cannabis is rapidly absorbed into the blood via lungs. Its therapeutic effects are experienced almost immediately and can last several hours. The “high effect” can last up to two hours but one hour is common. It is during this period that the patients are cautioned not to drive, operate machinery, or perform any physical or mental dexterity.
Cannabis may be inhaled by smoking it in rolled paper (a Joint) or through a pipe. The smoke from a pipe may be cooled by passing it through water (a bong). All these techniques have the disadvantage of having to burn the cannabis to release the active cannabinoids.
This produces unwanted smoke which has been shown to have an irritating effect on the lungs and bronchial structures. For this reason it is strongly recommended that all the cannabis users who prefer to inhale their medication use a vaporizer. There are several models available.
Vaporizers use heat instead of combustion to release the active cannabinoids by producing a fume or vapor of pure medication without the hazardous smoke. The residue left over after vaporization which would have otherwise burned and produced smoke, is simply discarded.
Using a vaporizer eliminates one of the main objections to cannabis use. Since cannabis is fat soluble, it can be melted into butter or cooking oil which can in turn be used in variety of foods: brownies and cookies being the most popular. Ingested cannabis must pass through the liver where it is metabolized is delayed about thirty minutes and lasts several hours. The effects of ingested cannabis differ from inhaled due to the liver bypass.
Some patients find it more effective while others less so. Because of the delayed onset and longer effect, patients are advised to use ingested cannabis only after work, at night, or only when they will not be faced with driving or similar activities. Cannabis may also be used as a topical liniment or cream.
It may also be dissolves in alcohol and delivered as a sub-lingual tincture. There is no “best” way to use cannabis. What is best is what works most for a given individual. New users are encouraged to use different, methods to determine what is best for them.