SMOKING

The most common way to consume medical cannabis is to smoke the dried flower. The effects are felt quickly and provide almost immediate relief for many symptoms. Smoking marijuana is generally done by packing a small amount of the dried flower into a pipe, water pipe, or rolling paper to create what is commonly referred to as a “joint”.[1] You then light the “joint” and inhale the mouthpiece or opposite end of the joint. Consuming medical cannabis by smoking allows for minimal processing and an easily regulated dosage.

Cannabis is able to take full effect with small inhalations. Holding the smoke in your lungs is not necessary and has not been shown to provide any additional benefits over small inhalations.[2] It is recommended that you begin by taking one or two inhales and waiting 10-15 minutes before inhaling again. This allows your body to begin to react to the cannabis and for you to determine how much is needed for your medical condition.

Smoking cannabis is not recommended for those with pulmonary damage such as lung cancer, emphysema, or asthma.

OIL

Vaporizing is becoming a more common way to consume medical cannabis because it can be safer and emit less odor. Vaporizing involves heating up the cannabis in a vaping unit to a point that releases the medicinal compounds, but does not exceed the combustion point that is required for smoking.[1] While this method of consumption can be easier on the lungs and emits less odor, vaping units can be expensive and it takes more time to heat up the cannabis oil.

Cannabis is able to take full effect with small inhalations. Holding the smoke in your lungs in not necessary and has not been shown to provide any additional benefits over small inhalations.[1] It is recommended that you begin by taking one or two inhales and waiting 10-15 minutes before inhaling again. This allows your body to begin to react to the cannabis and for you to determine how much is needed for your medical condition.

TOPICALS

Medical cannabis can be made into many topical treatments such as ointment and lotion in order to be applied topically. This treatment allows for relief of joint pain, burns, muscle spasms, and many other skin issues without causing the psychoactive effects that comes from smoking.[1] Topical treatments can provide localized pain relief for many patients.

While some patients have found great relief from using topical ointments and lotions, otherwise found little to no relief. It is important to find a treatment that will work for your condition. Topical treatments do not affect the bloodstream, and therefore, are not beneficial for conditions such as glaucoma, PTSD, cachexia, or nausea.[1]

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TINCTURE

Tinctures are created by mixing cannabinoids with an alcohol, glycerin solution, or medium-chain triglyceride oil such as coconut oil. This method is commonly used with children as it is an easy way to control the dosage and ensure a small dose. A small drop or spray is applied under the touch so that the body can absorb the cannabinoids naturally. While tinctures can take a slightly longer time to take effect than smoking cannabis, it is easier on the lungs and still gets absorbed into the bloodstream.[1]

TIPS FOR CONSUMING SAFELY

Before you begin to consume medical cannabis, we recommend you do some research about using the product safely. Here are a few tips for new patients:

  1. Start with a low dose to see how your body reacts
    • 1-5mg is a generally the recommended amount to use for a new patient
  2. Plan ahead the first few times you consume cannabis
    • Take your first dose in the evening when you have no plans to allow your body time to adjust to cannabis use
    • Be sure to drink water to avoid dehydration
  3. Do not mix cannabis with any other medications or substances without prior approval from your primary physician
  4. Know the laws related to cannabis for Maryland:
    • It is illegal to smoke cannabis in public places
    • It is illegal to drive or operate machinery while under the influence of cannabis
    • Patients cannot travel outside the state of Maryland or onto any government property while in possession of cannabis
    • Without special authorization from a physician, a patient may not possess more than 120 grams, approximately 4 ounces, of cannabis at any one time
    • A patient may receive a maximum of 36 grams of THC concentrate in a month
  5. In the case of overconsumption, contact the Maryland Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222

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