Medical Cannabis 101Consumption Methods

Products Available to Medical Cannabis Patients – Medical Cannabis Now: Ep 16

By June 16, 2021 No Comments
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Since cannabis legalization 2.0, there has been an influx of cannabis products available to Canadians.  Although all products have a set amount of cannabinoids, CBD & THC they interact with every individual uniquely. Today, we are sharing all of the options you have available to you as a medical cannabis patient. You can choose what products are right for you and how to use them to manage your symptoms while following your dosing strategy and personalized treatment plan from Apollo.  Please note this video was recorded in May 2021 and the types of products available are subject to change depending on when you are watching this video. 

How Do I Know What Products Are Right For Me?

There are two main things to consider when choosing  which medical cannabis product to use:

  1. The amount of THC or CBD, you need to manage your symptoms
  2. When and how you want to consume the products. 

All of this is largely related to the condition and symptoms you are trying to treat. Some things to take into consideration include:

  • Integrating different products according to your dosing strategy
  • New medical products are all regulated by Health Canada
  • How different products interact differently in our bodies
  • Metabolization vs. Inhalation vs. Absorption

Infused confectionary items and food products

One of the main methods of use is ingestion of medical cannabis, and it can be consumed in a variety of forms. When you ingest cannabis, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours to take effect and can last anywhere from 4 hours up to 24 hours (although most are between 8-12 hrs). This can provide therapeutic benefits to the patient throughout the day so they do not need to consume cannabis as often. Overall, it can be ingested as an oil, soft gel, capsule, or as an edible. It is important to recognize that cannabis in a food product, an edible, could act differently from cannabis that has been suspended in an oil or pill form, depending on how the LP makes their edibles.

Starting with some new products that have been introduced since Legalization 2.0, Licensed Producers (LP for short) now offer chocolates and gummies with just CBD, a combination of THC and CBD, or just THC. Some LPs have teamed up with renowned chocolate makers and companies to ensure that the highest quality products are available for patients. The introduction of edibles has been great not only for patients but local economies as LPs begin to bring old chocolate factories back to life in smaller communities. Some of the benefits patients are finding using edibles include:

  • Ease of use
  • Good taste/Flavour
  • Discreteness and portability 
  • No risk to the respiratory system  (unlike smoking cannabis)
  • It’s simply a great addition to their oils, capsules, and flower products

Legal edibles that are available to both medical and recreational consumers have been capped at 10mg per package or dose by Health Canada, which allows those that are new to cannabis to start with smaller doses. Making sure the products you’re purchasing come from the legal market is important for the safety of our patients and those around them. Packaging is child-resistant and visually plain. As per Health Canada’s regulations, to keep cannabis away from youths, the gummies aren’t in the typical worm or gummy bear shapes but still taste just as great.

Oils & Softgels

The easiest way for our patients to accurately dose their medication is through an ingestible oil or softgel. The medical cannabinoids are usually suspended in an MCT oil or ingestible food oil at a set ratio. Because the product is accurately extracted and distributed in the oil, you know the exact amount of milligrams of CBD or THC you are receiving with each dose. The oil comes in a bottle and is administered orally with a syringe that has exact measurements for precise dosing.  

Softgels are very similar to the oils, as they are the exact same product, but in pre-dosed amounts.  For example, if a patient knows the dose that works for them is 2.5 milligrams, they can opt to use softgels of that dosage since they are more discreet and can be easier to administer. Start low and go slow with all edibles. Edibles that are infused are digested and metabolized similarly to oils or gel caps, so if you don’t know your dose, read the label and make sure to start slowly and wait a few hours before consuming more. Remember, everyone is different and it may affect you faster or slower, so be patient and don’t take more than you need.

Another new product that is available are sublingual strips – similar to Listerine strips. These strips are the perfect mix between ingesting cannabis and inhaling. They are water soluble and dissolve under your tongue.

Beverages & Teas

Patients have access to teas with small amounts of caffeine or caffeine-free options, which come in a variety of flavours. Each pouch comes with one or a few tea bags, and each LP offers different doses per tea bag. Always read the packaging to know what you’re taking and ensure to dose appropriately. It is suggested by most LPs to steep the tea for 3-5 minutes. These teas are infused with cannabis oil, CBD isolates or cannabis infused sugar in each bag.

There are other edible products as well such as emulsified decarboxylated powders. Decarboxylation is a heating process that activates the cannabinoids in a cannabis plant. These powders can be mixed into your own beverages and teas for ease of consumption or can be placed into your own capsules. 

This ingestion method differs in our bodies from food (or fat-based) edibles as they are water soluble. This is why it has a quicker onset time. The effects may be felt in as little as 30 minutes and could last as long as 24 hours (although it is typically 4-12 hours) – so remember to always start low and go slow. 

Would you like to book a free, virtual appointment with one of Apollo’s healthcare practitioners? You can do so here or by calling us at 1-877-560-9195.

Dried Flower, Vape Pens, & Vaporizers

The other main method of consumption is through inhalation of dried cannabis flower or oil extracts through vape pens. Cannabis flower is where all cannabis medication comes from, and houses all the cannabinoids within microscopic trichomes on the outsides of the flower.  When you inhale cannabis, you feel the effects within 5-10 minutes if not sooner, however, the effects do not last as long, usually up to 4-5 hours. We typically recommend this on an as-need basis. 

Since Apollo is a medical clinic we advise that patients choose to vaporize dried flower versus smoking. When you vaporize you get more out of the cannabis plant and it is safer on the lungs.

Vaporization has grown in popularity in the last few years, especially since legalization 2.0. To be clear, we are discussing medical cannabis devices and not any vaporizers with nicotine or those that are sold in places such as convenience stores. Currently, there are two different types of medical cannabis vaporizers – dry oven flower devices, and pre-filled cartridges that are attached to battery packs. Having been around for many years prior to legalization, dry flower or “oven” vaporizers are used with either the cannabis flower or a concentrate to produce a warm mist that contains the cannabinoids and does not burn the product or create carcinogens. There are a wide variety of options when it comes to dry flower vaporizers, with a few of them being recognized by Health Canada as medically approved devices. This inhalation method can be beneficial to patients who are looking for immediate relief from quick onset conditions and symptoms such as migraines, PTSD, chronic pain, anxiety, and more. Apollo carries a wide variety of these medical devices and can provide you with assistance on how to use your device and how to dose properly. 

The second type of vaporizers are pre-filled cartridges, sold by Licensed Producers. These cartridges (also called carts or vape pens) come pre-filled, containing an amount of pure cannabis extract that is easy to use and great for those on the go. While the carts are disposable, you will need your own battery pack to operate them. Before purchasing, ensure that your battery and cartridge contain the same attachment mechanism such as the popular 510 thread. Licensed Producers may also sell batteries to go alongside the cartridges if you need one. To use, attach or screw on the cartridge to the battery, make sure the battery is charged, and slowly pull or breathe in on the device. Similar to all other medical cannabis products, each cartridge is labeled by the Licensed Producer and contains information such as strain type, and mg’s of CBD and or THC. 

The dry oven vaporizers often have more options in terms of heat settings and the ability to use different strains or even mix them when needed, offering more flexibility for your medication needs.

Cannabis Hash / Resin 

Concentrates are what they sound like, a concentrated form of cannabis that is higher in strength. It is extracted from cannabis flowers, and a little goes a long way.

Patients living with certain medical conditions may benefit from the immediate onset time with inhalation of concentrates, as well as the strength and concentration of the products. 

Resin can be consumed using a vaporizer that is compatible with concentrates, such as the Utillian 722 or PAX 3 which we carry at Apollo. There’s also a method called “dabbing”, which involves the use of high heat and a contraption called a dab rig. With resin or hash, like all cannabis products, start low and go slow. Always start with a small amount and wait to see how you feel before consuming more.  These highly concentrated products are not suitable for cannabis-naive patients.

Topicals, Creams, & Bath Bombs

Topicals, or infused creams, have grown in popularity among patients with skin related issues, and those with inflammation close to the skin (ie. arthritis in the hands). Topicals are cannabis infused creams, lotions, lubes, and other products intended to be applied to one’s skin and absorbed through skin. Recently,  we also saw the introduction of bath bombs. 

One of the features of topical products that many favour is that you typically do not feel any intoxication due to the THC not being able to enter the bloodstream. Because of this, these products may contain a much higher level of THC than some of the other options we previously mentioned. There is a limit set by Health Canada of 1000mg per package. 

Patients may use topicals for conditions such as arthritis, pain relief, eczema, and psoriasis. Some patients opt to make their own cream, creating homemade remedies or products, however, there is more research needed around the effectiveness of using topical creams. 

These creams and products may contain other chemicals and ingredients often found in other creams, and it is always best to check the ingredient list before purchasing. When looking for relief from inflammation, beneficial ingredients can include aloe vera, ginger, and turmeric. It’s always important to wash your hands well after applying a topical in order to not accidentally touch your mouth and ingest any of the cannabinoids.

At Apollo Clinics, topical creams may be recommended for patients who cannot consume any cannabis and cannot inhale it either.

Summary

There are many ways to tackle your symptoms. We hope we were able to share some new knowledge with you on all the options available to you as a medical patient. One of our goals at Apollo is to educate our patients so that they are able to make informed decisions when it comes to their healthcare and medicinal cannabis options. Our support team can help you choose the right products, get you started on dosing and guide you along the way.  If you have any questions about what we discussed today, please feel free to send them to us at Support@apolloresearch.ca. We offer free virtual appointments across Canada and hope to see you soon!

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