Medical cannabis patients often expect different effects from products with different cannabinoid contents (active compounds in cannabis, such as THC and CBD). They may not realize that the format of the product also has an impact on its effects.
A product that’s inhaled through smoking or vaporizing, will have different effects from a product format that’s ingested, such as cannabis oil products. Patients may find these differences beneficial depending on the type of symptoms they are treating, or the desired length of the effects. Before using any new product, it’s always important to first speak with your health care practitioner so that an appropriate treatment plan can be established.
When patients inhale smoked or vaporized cannabis, the effects are felt rapidly (less than 30 minutes) . This is because the cannabinoids (such as THC and CBD) are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream through the lungs. Once there, the cannabinoids can travel through the body to produce their varying effects [2,3].
The fast effects of inhaled cannabis are beneficial for patients looking to treat symptoms that have a sudden onset, such as nausea and vomiting [4,5] or breakthrough pain.
For patients looking to inhale their medical cannabis products, vaporizing cannabis is a more cost-effective method of administration compared to smoking, that does not result in by-products created by the burning of plant matter. Aphria patients can select from a range of dried vaporizer options for purchase.
The effects from ingesting cannabis through the mouth, such as when taking cannabis oil products, are much slower (30 to 90 minutes) and can last up to 6-8 hours, depending on the amount that is consumed . The effects are slower because swallowed cannabis oil needs to be absorbed through the stomach [2,3] before the THC and other cannabinoids can be metabolized by the liver, and then enter the bloodstream [2,3].
Aphria’s bottled cannabis oils include a graduated syringe for precise dosing. It’s recommended that the oil is applied under the tongue – this can allow some of the cannabinoids to be absorbed into the bloodstream through the thin skin under the tongue before the cannabis oil is swallowed, possibly allowing some effects to be felt faster.
The effects of ingesting cannabis oils will typically last much longer than the effects of cannabis that is inhaled . For this reason, cannabis oils may be better for treating chronic conditions (symptoms that develop over time and are persistent), such as chronic pain and arthritis because of its long-lasting effects [5,6].
The format of your medical cannabis product can contribute different effects and serve your medical needs in different ways. If a patient needs fast relief, inhaling cannabis will lead to a faster onset of effects, whereas ingesting cannabis products can provide longer-lasting effects for chronic ailments. It’s important to remember that the therapeutic effects of cannabis are highly individualized, meaning what works for one person may have different effects for another. Talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine what is the most appropriate method of cannabis consumption for you.
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 Weber et al. (2009) Tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta 9-THC) treatment in chronic central neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia patients: Results of a multicenter survey. Anesthesiology Research and Practice. Doi:10.1155/2009/827290
 Tetrault, JM et al. (2007). Effects of marijuana smoking on pulmonary function and respiratory complications: A systematic review. Arch Intern Med:221-228.
 Smith et al. (2015). Release of toxic ammonia and volatile organic compounds by heated cannabis and their relation to tetrahydrocannabinol content. Anal. Methods 7: 4104-4110.