There are several ways to take your medical cannabis, and your choice can impact how quickly it works, how long it lasts and other factors.

Combustion

Combustion refers to a few different options, such as a pipe, water bong or rolled cannabis joint. It is generally not recommended as smoking can contribute to COPD and produces undesirable compounds that can be irritating to the lungs. Some things to consider related to combustion:

  • Up to 30% of the active ingredients are lost in sidestream smoke and combustion
  • Effects are usually felt within 30 to 60 seconds and fully develop within 10 to 15 minutes
  • Effects typically last between 2 to 3 hours
  • A typical cannabis joint contains between 0.5 to 1 gram

Vaporization

A vaporizer is a device that heats the dried medical cannabis matter without causing combustion, producing a vapour rich in cannabinoids that can be inhaled directly. There are several different models of vaporizers, and you can explore your options to see which one works best for you. Some points on vaporization:

  • Much more efficient than smoking
  • Effects are usually felt within 30 to 60 seconds and fully develop within 10 to 15 minutes
  • Effects typically last between 2 to 3 hours
  • Does not produce undesirable compounds that can cause lung irritation
  • A typical vaporizer bowl contains between 0.1 to 0.25 grams

Edible Items (Currently not legal in Canada)

Although edible products are not currently available, they likely will be in the future. Cannabis can be infused into a variety of food products such as brownies and butters. This will be an easy way to take your cannabis, but the effect does differ a bit from smoking or vaporization. Some things to keep in mind.

  • Effects are usually felt within 30 to 60 minutes of ingesting an edible item
  • Effects typically last between 4 to 6 hours but can be longer for patients with a lower cannabinoid tolerance level
  • Provides a long-lasting steady dose, similar to extended release medication
  • More intense effect than inhalation, requiring caution when dosing

Whereas effects occur within minutes when smoking or vaporizing medical marijuana, they have a slower onset and a longer duration in the case of oral ingestion. The effects can also be 3 to 4 times more potent as compared to smoking or vaporizing. This makes it essential to manage oral doses carefully, with a rule of thumb being beginning with half or a quarter of a piece of an edible containing 1 gram of medical marijuana and waiting at least 60 minutes before ingesting higher amounts of edible items.

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