May 2017 - Volume 13 - Issue 11 | Saturday May 27, 2017
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Medical Marijuana - Forms of Administration

On November 8, 2016, the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization initiative went into effect, acknowledging medical cannabis as a treatment option for qualifying patients, under the care of a physician. Treatment plans should be specifically tailored with the patient’s illness, lifestyle and health history in mind, which may include administering less traditional forms of cannabis.

Our dispensary, Midwest Compassion Center, operates in Illinois but we believe that our government’s heavily regulated program is like that of Amendment 2, and our practices and information can act as a framework for Florida’s similar rules and regulations. A good understanding of how medical cannabis can be administered, and when each form is commonly used can better aid physicians in maximizing their patient’s quality of life.
 
The information presented is primarily for physicians who wish to incorporate cannabis into their patient’s treatment plan, and is meant for educational purposes only.
 
Flowers
Many of our patients choose to inhale cannabis for its convenient dosage method, which is why the flower is one of our bestselling products. Kief and hashish, also known as hash, are two cannabis products that come from the flower. Kief is a powder that is made from the resin glands of cannabis plants. Once compressed, kief makes hash, which has a texture that’s like paste. Both Kief and hash can be inhaled. The convenience of inhaling cannabis cannot be discounted, but by no means is it the primary benefit, which is its rapid relief. Smoking medical cannabis is a viable option for patients who suffer from chronic pain and need simple, fast relief that cannot be found in some other forms of administering cannabis.
 
Edibles
Medical cannabis can be added to many food and drink recipes because of its secreted chemical compound called cannabinoids. Heat is necessary in creating active THC and CBD, both responsible for marijuana’s medical benefits and psychological effects. Edibles are not as fast acting as smoking or vaping cannabis, but patients will experience stronger and longer lasting effects once ingested. For those who must take multiple pills a day, such as HIV/Aids patients, administering edible cannabis is a compassionate form of treatment in lieu of more pills. Edibles do not have to come in cakes, brownies or other foods that are attractive to children. It only needs to easily ingested by the patient.
 
Tinctures
Patients and physicians can turn to another form of ingesting medical cannabis via cannabis tinctures. Tinctures are cannabis liquids that are usually made by soaking the dried flower of a female hemp plant in ethanol. The process turns the plant into a concentrated cannabis liquid, which is very easy for patients to ingest. If HB 1397 goes into effect, it will restrict some patients from using edible products. For these suffering patients, tinctures can be a viable treatment option. Unlike edibles, cannabis tinctures take effect quickly, ranging between 5-30 minutes, depending on the patient. The fastest way patients can introduce cannabis into their system is by holding a few drops under the tongue for one minute before swallowing. Effects can last between 1-6 hours.
 
Topicals
The cannabis plant and its oil extracts can be used as topical treatments when added to lotions, salves, balms and oils. Topicals must be infused with active cannabinoids to be absorbed directly into the skin once applied to the affected area. This yields faster and more concentrated relief. Topical cannabis is non-psychoactive. It’s never absorbed into the blood stream, but instead, binds to the CB2 receptors near the skin. Ailments that can be treated with topicals include allergic skin reactions, inflammation, muscle strains, post-herpetic neuralgia and swelling. It is recommended that dose and coverage be very liberally when applying topicals onto the afflicted area because human skin has a low absorption rate for cannabinoids.
 
Vapor Pens
The cannabis plant has several cannabinoids secreted inside of the glands. Two primary cannabinoids are THC and CBD. Once extracted from mature cannabis foliage, THC and CBD is turned into an oil which patients can then vape. THC is responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects, whereas CBD is non-psychoactive. Patients who may benefit from vapor pens are those who need fast relief, such as a cancer patient enduring bouts of nausea from chemotherapy. CBD, while non-psychoactive, can be therapeutic for patients who suffer from chronic pain, arthritis and panic attacks.
 
Keep in mind that the rules and regulations of Amendment 2 are still being initiated, and physicians may not be allowed to prescribe all the forms of medical cannabis. It is strongly advised that caregivers and physicians stay up-to-date with Amendment 2, as more restrictive rules may be enacted down the road.

Ria Rankine is the Director of Digital Education for Midwest Compassion Center. Her role is to educate prospective patients and the general public about the medicinal benefits of cannabis. For more educational material, visit www.midwestcompassion.org.

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