Whether you are brand new to cannabis or you’ve been using it for years, you may not realize how many options there are until you walk into a dispensary. If you are like many first-time visitors, you might take one look around and find yourself asking, “Where do I even start?”
Among many questions that new cannabis patients have, a top one is about how to take medical cannabis. The truth is, the answer to this question is not a one-size-fits-all. To figure out which kinds of products may be best for you, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with some general background on the tools and types involved in cannabis consumption.
The Tools: Medical Marijuana Accessories
Before you can consume any type of cannabis, you first need to know how you’re going to do it. While traditional tools include papers, bowls and pipes, technology has introduced more advanced cannabis-consuming devices in the form of vape pens, electric dab rigs and vaporizers. Each method comes with its own pros and cons, and the tool that individuals choose often depends on several personal factors including budget, setting and convenience.
One of the most traditional ways for smoking cannabis is through the use of papers. With this method, patients usually put 0.3 to 1.5 grams of ground flower onto a paper sheet and roll it tightly (but not too tightly) into what is commonly called a joint and commonly sold as a pre-roll in many Missouri cannabis dispensaries.
In more recent years, several manufacturers have also created pre-made cones to make paper use more convenient. With pre-made cones, patients don’t have to worry about rolling. Instead, papers come pre-rolled into empty cones. Patients only need to pack them with flower.
Another traditional method for smoking cannabis is with the use of a small hand pipe called a bowl. Typically made from glass (but sometimes made from other materials like clay), pipes can still be convenient because of their small size. To use, patients pack ground flower into the bowl. As with joints, you don’t want to pack bowls too tight.
For a more modern way to consume cannabis, vape pens can be a cleaner alternative to traditional smoking. Flameless and battery-operated, these handheld pen vaporizers are available in numerous brands, sizes and colors. Available in lower-dose 510 thread options as well as more powerful pod varieties, many patients report satisfaction with this convenient technology.
If your medical needs require a more potent effect, you may be interested in consuming concentrate extracts like crumble or shatter. One of the most common ways to do so is by using a dab rig. Thanks to technology, patients now have a choice between traditional dab rigs and modern E-rig solutions. E-rigs offer added convenience, but some patients prefer the classic method of using a heated nail and a torch while carefully timing dab concentrates.
For patients who are considering how to take medical cannabis, a top concern is often the cleanliness of the process. For this reason, dozens of companies now offer a wide selection of vaporizer products. By definition, a vaporizer is any tool that uses heat to vaporize cannabis molecules. This definition includes the aforementioned vape pens, but traditional vaporizers are also available in a larger desktop version.
Types of Medical Marijuana
When people talk about the types of cannabis products out there, there are a number of factors to consider, but they are usually talking about one of two things: the form or the strain. Upon walking into one of the Bloom Medicinals locations, you will quickly realize there are numerous products to choose from. To begin, consider the form.
In this article, the form of cannabis refers to its physical structure. With the legalization of medicinal use, a wide variety of forms are now available. Consider some of these options:
- Flower – The purest cannabis form and one of the most popular product choices, flower is literally the dried flower directly from the cannabis plant. It is what you grind in a grinder to put in a joint, bowl or vaporizer.
- Edibles – Available in a variety of products you can eat, you can find gummies, mints, chocolates, lozenges, capsules and other edibles in many Missouri cannabis dispensaries.
- Oils and Tinctures – Forms of cannabis that many patients prefer for their smokeless convenience, oils and tinctures are becoming increasingly popular. They look similar but differ in their base. While tinctures have an alcohol base that can be helpful for those sensitive to ingesting oil, other patients prefer oil because the alcohol taste can be off-putting to some.
- Topical – As an alternative to consumption routes via ingestion, topical products also exist. From balms, lotions, suppositories, lubes and bath soaks, numerous options may fit your needs.
- Concentrates and Extracts – Made by distilling down the THC-containing parts of the plant, cannabis concentrates and extracts are other potent therapy options. While people sometimes use the terms interchangeably, not all concentrates are extracts.
The subtle difference is that extracts involve the use of a solvent like alcohol or oil and are commonly referred to as “dabs.” Tinctures and oils fall into this category by definition, but they are often separated on dispensary menus. Other extracts include:
- Live resin
Examples of non-extract concentrates include:
- Dry sift
While this list covers most common terms, there may be others you know that are not listed. Feel encouraged to ask an employee your specific product questions during your next dispensary visit if you are still unsure how to take medical cannabis.
The Medical Marijuana Strains
A major way that some cannabis products stand apart from others is by strain. Traditionally, cannabis enthusiasts embraced the umbrella terms “Sativa” and “Indica” to describe whether a strain’s effects are more uplifting or relaxing. Although this terminology still works as a general reference point, most recent research indicates that strain effects ultimately depend on more micro factors such as the cannabinoids and terpenes.
One thing that makes cannabis particularly interesting and unique is the way that it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. In a nutshell, this is a system that is responsible for regulating many physiological, emotional and immune system needs. From hunger to temperature, alertness, reproduction and stress, the endocannabinoid system uses little chemical messengers called endocannabinoids to communicate between your body and brain to control various functions. To receive these messages, the brain has cannabinoid (CB1 and CB2) receptors that endocannabinoids attach to in order to essentially “release” this chemical information.
Amazingly, cannabis is made up of thousands of tiny compounds called cannabinoids that closely resemble endocannabinoids and appear to bind to brain’s natural CB1 and CB2 receptors. While THC and CBD are the two mostly widely known cannabinoids, cannabis plants contain countless others, including more recently explored compounds like CBN and THCA. THC is the compound that is responsible for causing the “high” feeling that is often associated with consuming cannabis. With that said, there are also many other possible effects of THC, as reported by numerous medical patients.
Other critical compounds found in the cannabis plant are the terpenes. Responsible for the tastes and aromas of various strains, terpenes may also have an impact on the variances in effects. Despite research revealing some of the neurological capabilities of cannabinoids, the relationship between terpenes and the brain is less clear. However, at least one terpene, caryophyllene, appears to interact with the body’s natural cannabinoid receptors, according to scientists. Stay tuned to see what future research has to say in this area.
At the end of the day, figuring out how to take medical cannabis does not have to be overwhelming. There are many options available, but thinking about your needs and asking questions can help you learn everything you need to know. Use this information as a guide; however, don’t hesitate to take any additional questions with you on your next dispensary visit.