Ways to Consume Medical Marijuana


Ways to Consume Medical Cannabis


Medical cannabis is a very effective medicine used by patients across the globe to treat and alleviate symptoms of many serious medical conditions that do not respond to traditional interventions. Studies have proven that cannabis has therapeutic properties that cannot be replicated by any other currently prescribed medications, and it induces far fewer and much less severe side effects than many commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals and over the counter drugs.




One of the first questions patients often ask us is:

What are the best and healthiest ways to consume medical cannabis?

First, unless you live in a state like Colorado, Washington or Oregon that allow recreational marijuana purchases and use, and depending on your state's laws, you will need to get a medical marijuana recommendation letter and/or medical cannabis card from a doctor. This step usually requires an in-person appointment and screening process so that the doctor can determine if cannabis is a good choice for you.

Once you have obtained your recommendation and/or card, you will be able to enter and purchase different types of cannabis from a local marijuana dispensary or collective. Smoking marijuana flowers is a well-known method of administration (or “medicating), but there are numerous alternative ways to gain the benefits of medicinal cannabis—each possessing certain benefits and drawbacks. This easy guide is intended to help patients and caregivers understand the different method of administration of medical marijuana, so that they can make educated decision about the products they purchase and try.



Smoking Medical Cannabis

How it works: Pack a small amount of dried (cured) cannabis flower into a pipe, water pipe (bong), or rolling paper (to create a “joint”). Then hold a flame to the cannabis flower until it combusts as you inhale the smoke from the mouthpiece or other end of the joint.





 Delivers instant relief

Fairly easy to regulate dosage


Minimally processed


Smoke may be harmful to lungs. Studies have reached contradictory conclusions about whether and to what extent cannabis may cause lung damage, but combustion of any substance makes it harder to breathe.                          

In many cases, not a good option for anyone with pulmonary damage (lung cancer, emphysema) or asthma

Will make you smell like cannabis smoke

Dosage: Start small! Inhale lightly (i.e. “take a small hit.”). There is no need to hold the smoke in your lungs…exhale. Wait a few minutes. If you don’t feel the desired effect, or you want to feel a greater effect, take another hit.



Vaporizing "Vaping" Medical Marijuana

How it works: Preheat the vaporizer to the recommended temperature. Insert a small amount of dried (cured) cannabis flower or extract into a vaporizer. Press the button and inhale. The cannabis will be heated to a temperature below its combustion point, but still hot enough to release the medicinal compounds.

Vaporizers are available in a wide array of shapes and sizes, from fancy home units to pocket-friendly pens.



For more on vaporizing, read these blog articles:

5 Benefits of Vaporizing Marijuana

Portable Vaporizers … Which One Is Best for Me?



Delivers instant relief

Less harsh on lungs than smoking

Doesn’t make you smell as much as smoking

Fairly easy to regulate dosage


Wall-plug powered vaping units can be very expensive

Battery powered units must be recharged regularly

Dosage: As with smoking, start with one small hit and see how you feel. If you want more after a few minutes, take another hit.


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Medical Marijuana Edibles

How it works: Once upon a time, edibles were limited to homemade brownies that tasted pretty awful and contained a mystery dose of THC. Nowadays you can find medicated cookies, popcorn, crackers, nut mixes, lollipops, ice cream, gummy bears, chocolate bars, chews, and many other kinds of food. The culinary science has evolved enough that most products are yummy—you can hardly tell they contain cannabis.




Provides long-lasting relief

Good alternative for people averse to inhaling their medicine

You get to eat a delicious treat

Dosage can be very precise if you get it from a reliable source and know how much you need


Can take anywhere from half an hour to several hours to kick in            

Dosage can be difficult if the manufacturer doesn’t list medicinal content or if medicine is not equally distributed throughout the edible

Causes a different “high” than smoking, which some patients prefer and others do not like. The only way to find out if you like it is to try it

Must be locked up to avoid accidental ingestion by children and pets

Dosage: Only use edibles under the supervision of a doctor. Dosages vary widely depending on your weight, metabolism, experience level, and other factors. Doctors we know have suggested starting with a small amount—2 mg or less—and waiting at least an hour before eating more.



Medical Marijuana Tinctures or Sub-Lingual Sprays

How it works: Extracted cannabinoids are mixed into an alcohol, glycerin solution or MCT Oil (Medium-Chain Triglyceride), which in many cases is coconut oil.  These sublingual products usually come in a small bottle. Just squirt or spray it under your tongue and let it absorb through the thin tissue of the mouth.



Doesn’t hurt lungs like inhaling cannabis

Easy to control dosage, especially for those who want a very low dose

Mild taste

Preferred method for high-CBD medicine, especially for children


Can be expensive for people who require a high dosage of cannabinoids                               

Takes effect faster than edibles, but still not as fast as inhalation

Dosage: Start with just a few drops and wait ten minutes. If you don’t feel relief, try a few more drops. Eventually you’ll figure out your ideal dosage—for most people, it’s between half a dropper and a couple of droppers at a time.



Medical Cannabis Transdermal Patches

How it works: Apply patch to a clean, dry and hairless skin surface.  Many medical professionals recommend adhering the patch on the inner-wrist area, top of foot or ankle. 






Read this blog post to learn more:


No Smoking Required

Comes in different formulations

Patch medications can be utilized without complications in patients who are unable to take medications orally.

Administration of medication could last up to 8 hours as opposed to many drugs requiring that many dosages per day.


Some individuals may develop an allergic contact at the site of the patch administration, either from the medication itself or from components of the skin adherence system.

Must be applied on a clean and dry skin surface, minus any lotions or body oils which might decrease the adherence of the patch.

Should not be applied where a great deal of body hair or perspiration occurs.

Dosage: Most transdermal patches come in 10mg dosed patches. They can be cut in half for smaller doses.



Medical Marijuana Suppositories

How it works: You insert a small cone-shaped mass of cannabis extract into the rectum, where it absorbs through the colon. This method is somewhat controversial and rather less dignified than other ways to medicate, but some patients swear by it.

Put on protective gloves, lie on your side, and insert the suppository about 1.5 inches. Squeeze your sphincter muscles and stay in place for at least a few minutes. When you’re ready, get up, throw away the gloves, and thoroughly wash your hands.


There are also companies who make pre-made ratios of medicine for rectal use which are in 1 mg non-injectable syringes. 

Read this blog post to learn more:


Can help patients who are to nauseated to hold down edibles and too sick to smoke

Kicks in quickly and lasts a long time

More efficient—up to 70 percent of cannabinoids are bioavailable


Difficult and embarrassing to administer                         

Must be kept refrigerated so suppositories don’t melt

Risk of slippage

Dosage: Most suppositories come in two sizes: 2g for adults and 1g for children. They can be cut in half for smaller doses.



Medical Marijuana Topicals

How it works: Medical cannabis tinctures are a great way to medicate without any psychoactive effects. Salves, ointments, lotions, and sprays are great for arthritis, chapped skin, eczema, minor burns, muscle soreness, sunburns, swellings, joint pain, and tendonitis, to name just a few.





Topicals don’t get you “high”

The only form of cannabis medicine that really addresses skin issues

Localized pain relief


Not particularly helpful with more serious ailments such as cancer, PTSD, epilepsy, or glaucoma                       

Don’t provide a euphoric feeling                    

Patients report some products simply don’t work

Dosage: You’re unlikely to cause any real harm with topicals, but do try to find ones that are aimed at your specific ailment. Use salves and ointments as much as you want as often as you want, keeping in mind that they can get greasy. If you experience skin irritation, discontinue use. Consult your doctor about using transdermal patches.



Ingesting Fresh Medical Cannabis

How it works: Raw cannabis has developed quite a following. Patients claim that the raw plant has medicinal properties that are lost when the plant is dried or heated. You ingest the raw leaves and buds straight from the plant, usually by mixing them into a juice or smoothie.




Review this blog post for more information:



Raw cannabis is packed with THC-A, the acid form of THC, which is not psychoactive. Some patients and doctors believe THC-A has unique medicinal properties.

Some patients whose chronic diseases never responded to other treatment (including dried cannabis) say that juicing raw marijuana has been their miracle cure


Requires large amounts of fresh cannabis, which is expensive and hard to obtain if you don’t grow your own                         

Scientific studies of raw cannabis have been few and far between, but researchers are generally not convinced that it’s superior

Has an unpleasant vegetal taste

Dosage: Dr. William Courtney, the leading advocate of juicing, recommends ingesting fifteen leaves and one or two big buds (2–4″) daily.



Medical Marijuana Beverages

How it works: Your local dispensary probably sells bottles of cannabis-infused teas, juices, smoothies, and sodas. You can also make your own cannabis tea by steeping a bud, piece of wax, or tincture in hot water. Adding a bag of your favorite tea can improve its flavor.



Provides long-lasting relief

Good alternative for people averse to inhaling their medicine

Many beverages are medicated to give a specific feeling, such as stress relief or energy


Can take anywhere from half an hour to several hours to kick in                         

Dosage can be difficult unless you pre-measure your sips

Causes a different “high” than smoking, which some patients prefer and others do not like. The only way to find out if you like it is to try it

Dosage: Consult with your doctor before drinking marijuana beverages. Start with one small sip and wait at least an hour before deciding whether or not to drink more.



Dabbing Medical Marijuana

How it works: A “dab” is a cannabis concentrate (hash oil, budder, shatter, wax, etc.) that you heat to a high temperature and inhale. The delivery devices vary, but they tend to be complicated and usually involve the use of a butane torch. Also, concentrates can contain as much as 90 percent THC, so you will get a very high dose of psychoactive compounds. This method is NOT recommended for patients with a low THC tolerance or those new to cannabis medications!


Read some success stories about dabbing in this blog article:


Useful for urgent medication of acute illnesses, such as to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea in cancer patients or acute pain in palliative patients.

May be more cost-efficient for patients who need high THC levels

Provides instant relief


In addition to the pulmonary concerns caused by smoking cannabis flowers, concentrates are at higher risk of containing harmful chemicals

Solvents are used to extract the medicinal chemicals, and they may not be properly removed                 

May cause overdose that, while never fatal, can be very unpleasant and uncomfortable

Devices are difficult to use; accidental burns are more likely

Dosage: Consult with your doctor prior to trying dabbing—it’s probably more than you need. If you do choose to try it, start with just one ‘small’ hit, but know that it will have extremely strong psychoactive effects.



United Patients Group is dedicated to improving the lives of patients suffering from serious medical conditions. Bringing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information about medical marijuana to those who are suffering. We invite you to come back to our site and blog frequently as we keep it constantly updated with the most comprehensive and reliably sourced information, and please contact us if you have any further questions or comments.



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