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Getting Cannabis into Your System and How it Works

Cannabinoids get into our bodies when we ingest cannabis and, once in our system, they act like a ball being caught into a baseball fielder’s or catcher’s mitt. Every cell in our body has such a system, known as the “Endocannabinoid System” (ECS). For cannabinoids to work effectively, they must enter the bloodstream and be pumped by the heart around the body.

Even people who have never used cannabis before, some of whom were once suspicious of marijuana’s medical applications, are looking for an alternative to prescription medications. This is especially the case with people in their 60s, 70s and 80s, who grew up with the War on Drugs and “Reefer Madness” propaganda.

These patients are not looking to “get high”. They just want to find medicine that helps them with their condition, especially in cases where other treatments haven’t worked. Most of these patients, who have a reasonable fear of smoking anything, tend to want to use oils or edibles. Whilst this is understandable, avoiding vaping and going for oils and edibles is generally a bad idea at first. However, it must be stated that the side-effects of vaping are not fully known yet, and bad-quality vapes have been implicated in lung damage.

“Why?” We hear you ask. Well, it’s quite simple: oils and edibles are often impart significantly stronger than vaping the flowers. This means it is much more difficult to measure the amount of cannabinoids entering your body all at once. Using edibles and oils may also affect how well the cannabinoids are absorbed, as well as the effect they have.

The most efficient way of getting cannabinoids into our system is through our lungs. The effects are usually immediate, and we know that the cannabinoids will be going from our lungs, into the bloodstream and pumped out through to the rest of the body via the heart.

For edibles, this is not the case. First, you must eat it. Then, it must go through your oesophagus and digestive system and processed in the liver (second-pass metabolism). It is at this point that the cannabinoids are absorbed, after which it is released into the bloodstream. This means that it will usually take a minimum of 45 minutes-2 hours for marijuana to take effect when it’s in edible form.

Moreover, when cannabis is digested and released into the bloodstream, all the cannabinoids are absorbed at once. This is the reason why marijuana is so much stronger when eaten, even in smaller doses. One of the most common stories of those taking edibles is “It’s not working, it’s not working, it’s not working … Please take me to the emergency room.” What’s worse is that, when people think it’s not working, they sometimes make the mistake of eating more.

This makes cannabis taken this way to be somewhat unpredictable in its effects. Also, once you’ve eaten an edible, there’s no going back, and you may have just committed yourself to a journey that you may not have wanted to take. For good or bad, you will have to ride any negative experiences out.

In terms of efficiency and the ability to control the dosage, there probably isn’t any better method of consumption than than a high-quality vaporizer. No, we do not now the long-term health effects of vaping so far, but intuitively it seems to make more sense than smoking and inhaling burnt carbon fibers. This is because vaping produces steam rather than smoke.

There is an alternative to both of the above, and that is tinctures and sublingual ingestion. This is where cannabinoids infused in coconut or olive oil are held under the tongue for about 30 seconds. The effects usually set in within 30 minutes (sometimes about an hour), and the effects are stronger than smoking but not necessarily as strong as edibles. There is also a bit more ability to control dosage in this manner. For many people, tinctures are the ideal cannabis consumption method, and is versatile to boot. Tinctures and cannabis-infused oils can be taken as-is, in food or drinks and as a topical.

So, all-in-all, the five simple reasons why we recommend marijuana vaping over eating, at least initially when getting to know your tolerance for cannabis: (1) it’s efficient; (2) its effects are immediate; (3) the results are usually more predictable; (4) you can “test” it to see if marijuana’s the medication for you; and finally (5) you can measure (“titrate”) your dose.

If you’re interested in getting a medical marijuana card get in touch!

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Written by
Dipak Hemraj
Dipak Hemraj - Chief Research Officer

Dipak Hemraj is a published author, grower, product maker, and Leafwell’s resident cannabis expert. From botany & horticulture to culture & economics, he wishes to help educate the public on why cannabis is medicine (or a “pharmacy in a plant”) and how it can be used to treat a plethora of health problems. Dipak wants to unlock the power of the plant, and see if there are specific cannabinoid-terpene-flavonoid profiles suitable for different conditions.

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