Best Practices for Using Cannabis Products – Cannabis Basics: Part 5

rolling a joint Thought Catalog
Photo Credit: Thought Catalog
It’s been my pleasure guiding you through the basics of cannabis and the current legal climate here in north county San Diego. In this conclusion to the basics, I’ll be sharing best practices for achieving desired results when using cannabis products.
Once you decide where you will buy your cannabis products, the next step is to decide how you want to use it.  The good news is that smoking isn’t the only option. In fact, less than 20%of the people I’ve worked with over the past decade choose inhalation.
Each of these delivery methods brings their own unique benefits and ultimate results. The nice thing about all the options is that there is something for everyone. It’s your individual comfort zone that defines which method you should start with to discover what is best for you. Below is an overview of the various therapies.
Inhalation
Enters bloodstream in 5-10 minutes
Duration of effects1-2 hours
Method: Smoking or vaporization of the buds/herb/flower or hash oil. Requires a pipe, bong, rolling papers, dry herb vaporizer or personal vaporizer device.
If inhalation is in your comfort zone and you are new to cannabis, this is a good place to begin as it is easy to access, measure and the duration of effects is the shortest, meaning if you are using a product rich in THC, you’ll be back to a normal state fastest.
Always take a very small inhale and wait 5-10 minutes to assess your results. The biggest mistake people make with inhalation is taking too much too quickly.
Sublingual
Enters bloodstream 20-30 minutes
Duration of effect 2-4 hours
Method: Taken under the tongue as a tincture or allowing an edible product to melt slowly in the mouth, sublingual administration increases activation and absorption. This is an ideal starting place for most, especially if inhalation is not in your comfort zone.
Edibles–USE EXTREME CAUTION
Can take 1-3 hours or longer to enter blood streamDuration of effects can last up to 8 hours
Method:  Anything chewed, and swallowed will take longer to activate as the compounds must process through the digestive tract. Edibles are the most potent method for using cannabis, and I always caution those new to use, to tread carefully with these products.
Topical
Relief in 5-10 minutes
Duration of effect1-3 hours
Delivers topical analgesic relief, especially effective for joint, muscle & nerve pain. Topical applications generally do not enter the bloodstream
Transdermal
Relief in 15-60 minutes
Duration of effects can last up to 8 hours
Allows for quick entry to the bloodstream. Be cautious of transdermal patches containing THC, using chemical solutions or in-organic ingredients.
Suppository
Relief in 1-3 hours
Duration of effects can last up to8 hours
Anal insertion bypasses the liver which has been shown to reduce intoxication and studies have shown suppositories improve efficacy by as much as 70%.
The three cardinal rules of product selection:
  1. Purchase from a state-licensed dispensary. How will you know? Ask.
  2. Purchase products that display the California Universal Symbol for cannabis and batch #. The batch # will be tied to the certificate of analysis (COA), which you can request to see if you want further details about the safety and actual cannabinoids levels in the product.
  3. Pick the product type that is most comfortable to you.
 If you select more than one product, always try one product at a time.  Ensure you are back to a ‘normal’ state before trying the next one. For example, if you take a tincture, don’t take an edible or smoke something an hour later.
The industry mantra is “go low and go slow.” This means that whatever you try, take the smallest dose and wait the recommended time. Before taking more, assess whether you are getting the desired results. The optimal dose is the least amount for the maximum desired effect. I call it the entering the Cannabis S.E.A. (select, experiment, adjust). There is no one size fits all with cannabis. With a little experimentation, you can find what works best for your body.
Products rich in Cannabidiol (CBD) on its own have unique circumstances, keep an eye on this column for more on that topic alone in a future article.
________________________________________________________________________
Be sure to read part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4!
Robbin LynnRobbin Lynn has spent the past decade specializing in helping people understand and navigate all the latest methods for realizing the maximum benefits cannabis has to offer. She is a Certified Cannabis Specialist (CCS) and completes annual coursework in clinical cannabinoid medicine from the Society of Cannabis Clinicians. Robbin’s main expertise of the cannabis plant is from a biochemical point of view: what compounds are present and how they interact with the human endocannabinoid system. She is an expert in CBD and highly skilled in cannabinoid therapies and products, their safe use and proper dosing and she is passionate about sharing that knowledge. Through helping more than 5,000 people (most over the age of 50), she imparts cannabis knowledge in a simple to understand terms to facilitate safe use for maximizing desired results. An educator at heart, Robbin challenges herself to learn something new every single day. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, International Association for Cannabis as Medicine, American Cannabis Nurses Association, Association of Cannabis Professionals, Americans for Safe Access, NORML and Oceanside Advocates for Safe Access. Prior to 2008, Robbin spent her career as a marketing executive building start-up technology businesses in San Diego County. In her spare time, she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, flying with her son and curling up with her cat Joe to reading her favorite science fiction stories or the latest cannabinoid research.