How to Use Medical Marijuana
Start Low and Go Slow
The basic principal for dosing medical marijuana is to start with low dose and go up slowly in order to achieve the desired effect. The benefits of cannabis are not always immediately felt. Starting low and going slow allows patients to become familiar with the beneficial effects of the medication and, at the same time, minimizes any potential side effects.
Medical marijuana is increadibily safe. However, starting low and going up slowly is important as dosage varies greatly among patients, even when treating the same condition.
THERE ARE MANY FACTORS THAT IMPACT THE EFFECT INCLUDING:
- Amount used (dosage)
- Strain used (Indica, Sativa, hybrid)
- Delivery method (vaping, oral, topical, rectal)
- Individual's own metabolism
Routes of Administration
Inhalation has the primary advantage of allowing a patient to adjust the dosage easily for maximum benefit because the onset of action occurs within minutes. Medical marijuana is taken into the lungs and quickly absorbed through the capillaries into the bloodstream. It is recommended to take a 1-2 second inhalation and wait 5-10 minutes to assess the effect. If more effect is desired, repeating the 1-2 second inhalation is recommended and, again, reassess the effect in 5-10 minutes. Repeat this until the desired effect is achieved (pain relief, elimination of nausea, etc). It usually does not take long for a patient to become familiar with their dosing needs. The effects of vaping can last from 1-5 hours. Vaping does not last as long as oral dosing.
Many patients are more comfortable with oral administration of medical marijuana. Absorption is slower when medical marijuana is taken orally. The usual dose of THC for a patient new to medical marijuana is 2-5 mg per dose. While patients vary widely, this is a good starting point. With oral administration, it may take 1-2 hours for the medicine to start working, however, the effects last longer than inhalation--generally around 6-10 hours. Dosing adjustment of oral medical marijuana should be done every few days.
This mode of administration is very useful for localized problems such as pain in a single joint or skin conditions with a small, limited area. Typically, it takes 1-2 hours to achieve the effect and the duration of benefit is variable. This mode of administration is preferred by many because of its lack of psychoactive effects.
While not the most popular mode of administration, it is useful for patients with difficulties in swallowing or severe nausea and vomiting.