Marijuana, also commonly referred to as cannabis, has been used medicinally for more than a millennium. The versatile healing plant has many applications and methods of consumption. It’s important to note that the efficacy and effects of medical marijuana (including onset and duration) vary depending on how it is administered to the body. The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP) has issued strict guidelines on the qualifying conditions and consumption methods for patients in Ohio. Currently, OMMCP-approved methods are inhalation through vaporization, oral, and topical administrations.
The most common form of marijuana consumption is inhalation. THC, CBD, and other medicinal cannabinoids are delivered to the bloodstream via the lungs and produce a near-instant onset of effects that can last for a few hours. Vaporization, which is smokeless, is the only approved form of inhalation in Ohio and requires vaporizing technology to heat plant material and oils to a temperature that releases cannabinoids and terpenes in vapor form without burning. Vaporizable products include flower, oils, and concentrates.
Flower- known also as bud and plant material, among dozens of other well-known monikers, is the dried flower of the cannabis plant. Cannabis flowers are covered in rich trichomes that produce the plant’s full spectrum of medicinal cannabinoids and terpenes. OMMCP currently caps flower THC content at 35% but does not limit other cannabinoids like CBD.
Oils and Concentrates- produced by processing cannabis flower down to its essential oils which are full of cannabinoids and terpenes. Products can have consistencies that range from a thick liquid similar to honey to a hard and brittle solid that shatters like glass. As a concentrate, these products are potent with THC content typically ranging from 60-70% (the state maximum.) Commonly purchased in a cartridge or luster pod, syringes, waxes, and resin.
Popular combustion methods which burn the product and produce smoke, such as cannabis cigarettes (joints/blunts), pipes, and bongs, are prohibited by the OMMCP.
Another patient-favored method is oral administration. Medicinal cannabinoids are delivered to the bloodstream by two separate routes depending on if the product is eaten or absorbed under the tongue. Cannabinoids including THC and CBD are processed differently by the body when they are consumed orally than when they are inhaled. Many patients report feeling stronger effects after oral administration compared to similar inhaled doses. It is advised to “start low and go slow” when first trying to find an effective oral dose. Oral products include edibles, tinctures, and oils.
Edibles- produced by mixing cannabinoid and terpene-rich cannabis oil with a medium like butter or coconut oil. Cannabinoids are absorbed by the digestive tract and introduced to the bloodstream after being processed by the liver. This process can take some time, the onset of effects is usually 30-60 minutes after eating and can last a few hours or longer. Edibles available to Ohio patients include delicious treats like candies, cookies, gummies, and drinks, as well as capsules and lozenges.
Tinctures and Oils- produced by processing cannabis down to its essential oils, tinctures are additionally infused in a liquid base like alcohol. Tinctures and oils are typically administered sublingually, although they can be swallowed and digested. Cannabinoids are absorbed by the mucous membrane under the tongue and instantly enter the bloodstream. This creates effects that onset within 20 minutes and can last a few hours or longer.
Topicals are applied to the skin in medical marijuana-infused products such as lotions, salves, and transdermal patches. Cannabinoids in topicals that are rubbed or sprayed onto the body are absorbed by skin tissue, however, they do not reach the bloodstream. This largely prevents any intoxicating effects of THC but offers powerful localized symptom relief. Transdermal patches are applied to the body and deliver cannabinoids past the layers of skin and into the bloodstream. This allows for full cannabis effects in a slow-release form.
Is your preferred consumption method not listed? The state of Ohio periodically accepts petitions to add approved methods to the program. You can find more information at medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov/Petitions.
While we hope this information is helpful to you on your medical marijuana journey, this article is not a recommendation for best personal practice(s). Instead, we hope this information will help you as you discuss your dosing and method questions with your recommending physician and the professionals at your nearest Backroads Wellness location. OMMCP patients have access to a wide variety of effective products with different doses and effects for you to explore as you search for your preferred treatment.
Our mission is to welcome and educate our local community and give you a fresh choice for your medical cannabis experience!