Comparing Delivery Methods for Medical Marijuana

hand holding tablets, capsules and pills to illustrate delivery methods for medical marijuana
February 14, 2023 0 Comments

You cannot have failed to notice that medical marijuana has grown in popularity and been proven to offer countless benefits in treating many medical conditions. Today we’re going to compare various delivery methods you might choose for medical marijuana. We’ll explore

  • the different medical cannabis delivery methods,
  • what the bioavailability of each delivery method is, and
  • how to choose the best option for your individual needs and medical condition.

You can read more detail about cannabis strains here, but let’s do a quick revision first so you can dive straight in to comparing delivery methods.

The Two Most Common Strains of Medical Marijuana

The two most commonly used strains are:

  • Cannabis Indica
  • Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis Indica is known for its relaxing and sedative effects, whereas Cannabis Sativa is known for its energizing and uplifting effects.

But what determines the effects is not the strain but the chemical composition of the product you use – which brings us to three types of medical cannabis:

  • THC dominant: used for treating pain, anxiety, depression, and insomnia, this offers a feeling of euphoria
  • CBD dominant: used for patients sensitive to THC, this helps with pain, nausea, seizures, and migraines
  • THC-CBD balance: offers relief accompanied by mild euphoria

What is the Bioavailability of Different Delivery Methods?

Bioavailability refers to the amount of active ingredients of medical cannabis that reach your systemic circulation and thus have a therapeutic effect.

You’ll see that the bioavailability of the specific delivery method varies greatly, which can impact your treatment’s effectiveness and duration.

The most common delivery methods are:

  • Inhalation
  • Ingestion
  • Oral absorption
  • Absorption through the skin

1 Inhalation

This can be done in two different ways, and they both have immediate effects:

Smoking is the most traditional way of consuming medical marijuana and is still one of the most popular options. However, it may not be suitable for you, especially if you have respiratory issues.

When you smoke medical marijuana, the active ingredients are released into your lungs, where they’re absorbed into your bloodstream and rapidly transported to your brain and body.

Vaporizing is similar to smoking, but involves heating the cannabis to release the active ingredients without burning it, making it a more health-friendly option.

When you vaporize medical marijuana, the active ingredients become hot and escape as a vapor that you inhale. This can deliver you a fast-acting and potent effect.

Bioavailability: This averages at 31% but varies considerably (2% – 56%) depending on the method used (smoking vs. vaporizing) and the dosage you take.

2 Ingestion

Ingesting cannabis is a popular delivery method if you’re looking for a smoke-free delivery method. When you think of ingesting cannabis, you probably think of brownies or gummies. But medicinal marijuana is administered as:

  • Pills
  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Tinctures

Just like with traditional medication, taking cannabis this way allows for better dosage and frequency control. Compared to inhalation, ingesting is also easy to incorporate into your daily routine!

Bioavailability: Ranges from 4% to 20%.

3 Oral Absorption

For these delivery methods, cannabis comes in the form of spray or tincture and is directly applied in certain areas of the mouth where absorption is fast:

  • Sublingually (under the tongue)
  • Oromucosally (between the gum and the cheek)

One benefit of oral absorption is that it goes directly into your blood circulation. This produces effects more quickly for you than ingesting the marijuana – because ingestion means the product passes through your digestive system first.

Bioavailability: Ranges from 20% to 50%

4 Absorption Through the Skin

If you can’t – or don’t wish to – ingest or inhale, absorption through your skin is an alternative. Depending on your needs, you may choose:

  • Transdermal absorption via transdermal patches that allow the cannabinoids to reach your bloodstream through the skin.
  • Topical absorption that doesn’t go into your bloodstream but offers you localized relief from pain or inflammation. This product comes in various forms (creams, patches, lotions).

Bioavailability: Ranges from 5% to 10%

Maximize Medical Marijuana Benefits: Choose the Right Delivery Method

When selecting a delivery method, it’s essential to seek medical advice and consider your lifestyle needs.

Here are seven questions to help you narrow down your choices so you receive maximum benefits of the marijuana within your lifestyle.

1 What type of condition do you want to treat?

This is the first question you want to ask yourself and the first topic of discussion with your healthcare provider. Medical marijuana is used in the treatment of a wide range of conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • ALS
  • cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • epilepsy
  • hepatitis C
  • AIDS
  • glaucoma
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • chronic pain,
  • severe nausea
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • anxiety

Your healthcare provider can help you decide which delivery method is best for a particular need you have.

2 Are you suffering from conditions or taking medications that might interact with medical marijuana?

For example, inhaling might not be best for you if you have breathing problems, and topical application might cause rashes if you have sensitive skin.

3 Do you already have experience with marijuana?

If you’re a first-timer, our best advice is to start slow with low dosages.

4 Do you have a fast or slow pace of lifestyle?

We ask because inhaling requires time to prepare and consume, whereas ingestion and oral absorption take less time. It’s worth a thought!

5 Are you looking for fast-acting and potent effects?

Then you might opt for ingesting or oral absorption, as explained above.

6 Or do you prefer gradual, sustained effects?

If so, inhaling, topical application, or transdermal patches are for you.

7 Which of the delivery methods are you most comfortable with?

If you don’t enjoy smoking, inhaling might not be for you. Why be uncomfortable while trying to benefit from the treatment? In addition, inhaling methods are less discrete than ingestion and oral absorption. Your lifestyle then comes into play!

A Personalized Approach to Medical Marijuana Treatment

At Emerald Medical, we understand these are big choices with lots of considerations when you start taking medical marijuana.

We want you to find the perfect delivery method for your medical needs and lifestyle.

Because of that, we listen carefully to you and create a care plan that also includes your Florida Medical Marijuana Registration Card.

So – don’t miss out on the chance to take control of your health and wellness! Contact us today for an appointment to discuss marijuana delivery methods

Image attribution

Article Name
Comparing Delivery Methods for Medical Marijuana
Delivery methods for medical marijuana vary in type and how much bioavailability they offer. Learn what you need to know to compare and make your best choice.