Medical cannabis can be taken in a number of forms, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right product. Medical marijuana, in addition to being a versatile treatment for a number of health conditions, can be taken in many different ways. This great variety can be a little intimidating for new patients when they visit a dispensary for the first time. From vaporizers to edibles to tinctures, many patients aren’t sure where to start. In this guide, we’ll touch on the most common marijuana delivery methods and product types, as well as the pros and cons of each. Cannabis flower The most commonly recognized form of marijuana is the dried flower buds of the Cannabis sativa plant. These can be ground up and smoked or used to create other medical marijuana products. There are a few advantages to smoking cannabis flower. For one, the delivery method has a quick onset, which makes it pretty easy for patients to regulate their dosage. Flower is also minimally processed and relatively inexpensive, and the variety of sativa, indica, and hybrid strains available allow patients plenty of options to find what best suits their needs. On the other hand, smoking presents the risk of harm for patients’ lungs. Studies over the years have reached contradictory or inconclusive results about the extent to which cannabis smoke can lead to lung damage, but combusting and inhaling any substance is potentially harmful. Vaporizer pens are another convenient option for inhaling marijuana for fast-acting relief, but concerns over the ingredients in the oil cartridges — not to mention last year’s spike in vaping-related illnesses and deaths — may be a deterrent. Either way, smoking medical marijuana is likely not the best option for patients with pulmonary conditions like asthma, emphysema, or lung cancer. Edibles THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids bind with fats, which allows them to be absorbed into butters and oils for culinary use. Edibles are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes, including cookies, bars, chews, gummy snacks, candies, and more. While edibles don’t take effect as quickly — onset times vary from half an hour to two or more, depending on a patient’s body chemistry — they also provide much longer-lasting relief and present an effective alternative to inhaling smoke. Edibles allow for very precise dosages, but the high caused by THC-rich edibles can be more intense than that induced by smoking, so patients who are new to ingesting medical marijuana need to be a little careful and proceed gradually. Edibles also need to be securely stored to prevent pets or children from accidentally ingesting them. Sublingual sprays and tinctures are another form of edible, one that mixes extracted cannabinoids into an oil-, alcohol-, or glycerin-based solution. When deposited under the tongue, the solution is quickly absorbed into the sublingual artery. Tinctures and sprays won’t irritate the lungs, make it extremely easy for patients to control their dosages, and are far more discreet than other delivery methods. They take effect in less time than other edibles (between 30 and 90 minutes), but can become expensive for patients who need high dosages to manage their symptoms. Topicals These lotions, ointments, and salves are an excellent means of providing localized relief for conditions like joint pain, arthritis, eczema, sore muscles, and inflammation — all without the psychoactive high associated with THC. However, topicals are typically more expensive due to production costs. Finding the Right Medical Marijuana Product for You To learn more about the different medical cannabis products that are available in Ohio — or to discuss which options are best suited for you — contact Lakewood Medical Center today. No question or concern is too small for our team of physicians and specialists, and we’re determined to help you find the course of treatment that fits your needs.