Much like a lot of other substances, there are a few ways to consume cannabis, the main three being through inhalation, through the digestive system and through the skin.
Each of these administration methods has many associated products. For example, inhalation may refer to joints, spliffs and bongs, but also to vaping. And ingestion may be achieved with products such as edibles, oils, tinctures and pills.
Choosing the right method is crucial both for your wellbeing and for the success of your cannabis experience or treatment.
The main factors that influence how you should take cannabis includes
- Onset- how fast would you like the cannabis to take effect? Inhalation has the fastest onset, and ingestion the slowest.
- Duration- How long would you like the effect to last? Inhalation has the shortest duration and ingestion the longest.
- Contraindications- If you suffer from problems in the digestive system, ingestion may not be a good option for you, whereas if you have pulmonary problems such as asthma, inhalation should be avoided.
- Dosing– by and large, edibles are easier to use when looking for precise dosing as they have a fixed amount of THC and you know exactly how much you take, but this is slowly changing with new technologies that allow precise dosing when inhaling.
- Personal and social constraints- some people prefer not to smoke, or are concerned about other social implications – in which case ingestion is a better choice than inhalation as it’s more discreet.
FDA-approved pharmaceutical drugs come with precise guidelines as to the form of the medication (usually pills, syrops, sprays, etc), and the dosage regimen. With cannabis it’s a bit more complicated. There’s one cannabis spray that is approved internationally (but not in the US) – Sativex – and a lot of scientific knowledge that has been accumulated about cannabis pharmacology is based on rigorous research on this preparation.
But other than that, there’s not enough extensive clinical studies on cannabis. As a plant, it can’t be patented, and so – unlike pharmaceutical research that is funded by pharmaceutical companies – it’s much harder to fund clinical trials on cannabis.
This is why we developed this simple tool, based both on the existing scientific literature and observations from clinical experience.
Of course this should only serve as general guidance, and you should consult with your physician before starting any type of cannabis treatment.