Methods for Ingesting Medical Marijuana: It’s More Than Just Smoking

By Mark S.
Published: May 5, 2017 | Last updated: April 23, 2021 01:00:47
Key Takeaways

Medical marijuana use is growing across North America. For those patients who are relatively new to using cannabis as medicine, here is a roundup of ways you can go about using medical marijuana to help relieve your symptoms.

In the United States, the most common method of using marijuana remains to smoke. Smoking a joint or a spliff is a viable and highly effective option of getting the benefits of the plant’s chemicals directly into the body. There is little doubt that when smoking cannabis, the user almost immediately starts to feel the euphoric effects of the cannabis shortly after inhaling the potent smoke.


However, as the use of medical marijuana becomes more widespread from state to state, users have a variety of alternatives that may be more beneficial or enjoyable than the steadfast method of smoking a bong, joint, or pipe.

Vaporizing or Vaping

Vaporization of medical marijuana is one of the easiest ways to reap the therapeutic components of the cannabis. A special vaporizer is used to vape marijuana. A dried bit of the plant or marijuana extract is placed directly into the vaporizer. It is then heated to a temperature of 180 to 200 degrees Celsius (356 to 392 degrees Fahrenheit).


The excessively high temperatures cause the weed’s essential oils to instantly evaporate and turn into vapor. The vapors can then be quickly inhaled by the user.

Vaping units come in a variety of sizes. Users can opt to purchase a large home unit (a desktop vaporizer) or a simple pocket vaporizer (vape pen) that is highly discreet and can be carried in a purse or shirt pocket.

The benefits of vaporizing are that the user is not exposed to tar, benzene, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, or any other byproducts of combustion. This is helpful for anyone who might be suffering from a pulmonary condition that is made worse by the inhalation of smoke.


With vaping, the user does not hold the mist in their lungs for an extended amount of time like they do with cannabis smoke. They simply inhale and exhale with no adverse throat burning or other symptoms that are often associated with smoking marijuana.

Vaporizing or vaping is every bit as effective at delivering all the health benefits of marijuana as smoking. However, it is far easier on the user’s respiratory system. Vaporizing is virtually odor-free so the user does not have to worry about the smell of the cannabis permeating the home, their clothes, or any other area.


Unfortunately, high-quality vaping units are expensive. Battery-powered ones go through an excessive number of batteries with frequent use, which becomes costly over time.

Vaping units do not instantly warm up, so the user must wait to utilize the cannabis. When someone is sick and miserable, often the last thing they want to do is wait around for the unit to become ready for effective vaping. In such a situation, many cannabis users become impatient and turn to smoking the marijuana via a pipe, bong, or old-fashioned rolling papers.

Edibles & Oral Consumption

For thousands of years, humankind has consumed cannabis orally as a natural medicinal supplement to treat a variety of health conditions and ailments. Today, the world of culinary medicinal marijuana alternatives has never been so diverse or yummy.

You can buy cannabis-laced popcorn, candy bars, chocolates, gummy chews, energy drinks, teas, lollipops, ice cream, gourmet nut mixes, trail mixes, and even marijuana-laced butter to spread on your morning toast. The options are endless. Cannabis has become a staple seasoning, flour, and butter in virtually all user’s kitchens. The uses are endless and really only limited by the cook’s imagination.

The major drawback to oral consumption of medical marijuana (edibles) is that the dosage is difficult to control. Everyone’s metabolism is different and overall physical weight is also a factor. The amount that works for one person might not help another.

Generally, it is suggested that first-time users only consume a small amount of marijuana, such as two grams, to see how effective it is. After consumption, it is suggested that the user waits at least an hour to see what results they experience. Once the user becomes familiar with their own physical requirements, the dosage can be better configured.

When taking medical marijuana orally, the user must remember that certain cannabinoids require heat to become active. However, some strains can be consumed raw and also render physical benefits.

Generally, the cannabinoids of marijuana must be dissolved in fat or alcohol, not water. However, commercially available marijuana beverages, teas, foods, and other products have already gone through the necessary process to activate the plant’s cannabinoids for medicinal purposes.

Sprays and Tinctures

Cannabinoids are extracted from the plant and mixed with either a glycerin solution, alcohol, or MCT oil (medium-chain triglyceride). One of the more popular oils to mix with cannabis is all-natural coconut oil. The spray or tincture can then be sprayed or several dropped placed into the mouth and under the tongue when needed.

The sensitive tissues of the mouth quickly absorb the mixture. It takes effect quickly. It is one of the preferred methods used for children who require medicinal marijuana. Usually, only a few drops or sprays are required.


Users who are too sick to hold down other forms of medical marijuana or who are too weak to smoke might want to consider using cannabis-laced suppositories. The suppository is easily and quickly inserted directly into the rectum where it is quickly absorbed by the colon. It is often considered the quickest and most efficient way to ingest medical marijuana.

The suppository method is highly beneficial for individuals undergoing chemotherapy who are experiencing extreme nausea and vomiting. Commercially prepared medical marijuana suppositories are usually available in two sizes: two grams for adults and one gram for children. The suppositories are can also be cut in half for smaller doses.


Cannabis-laced topicals are widely available in the form of creams and sprays to treat a variety of physical conditions such as arthritis, muscle soreness, burns, joint pain, burns, sunburns, chapped skin, eczema, and swellings. They are easy to apply and quickly target troubled areas.

Transdermal Patches

Cannabis transdermal patches are an ideal way for an individual to reap the benefits of medicinal marijuana without having to inhale or consume the product. This is a fast and effective way to use medicinal marijuana and is ideal for individuals who are undergoing chemotherapy or who are too weak to utilize marijuana in other forms. A ten-gram patch is normally placed directly on the skin of the inner wrist, foot, or ankle. The patches can also be cut in half to control the dosage.


Dabbing involves heating a cannabis concentrate such as hash oil, shatter, glass, or budder to extreme temperatures using a butane torch and specialized dabbing device. The concentrate is called a ‘dab’. The method delivers a high concentration of THC quickly into the user’s system. Some dabbing mixtures contain a 90 per cent level of THC. It generally provides instant relief.

However, such a method has extremely strong psychoactive effects and should be used with caution. It is not recommended for new or inexperienced marijuana users. In some situations, the user can use too much of the dab substance and suffer unpleasant physical side effects. Dabbing is usually only recommended for individuals who suffer from extreme pain or nausea.

Read More: The Best Gear for Dabbing: An Excerpt From Beyond Buds

Medicinal marijuana users have never had so many options to effectively and safely take advantage of the plant’s boundless health benefits. There are now viable options for all users to utilize the drug safely and effectively.

With mainstream health care professionals, scientists, and researchers around the world studying the wonders of cannabis, even better and more effective avenues of usage are on the horizon. Many are just now discovering the medicinal wonders of marijuana and there is very little doubt the need and options for drug’s application will continue to grow in the near future.


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