Edit: This is a non comprehensive list. I will be working on a series of instructional videos to better demonstrate different methods.
One of the daunting aspects for new medical marijuana users is deciding how best to consume their new medication. I missed out on the learning experiences of youth weed experimentation, so I got to be that awkward adult asking the guy at the head shop to show her how a bong worked.
It was sitting in a park with my friend Rachael that I learned how to use a pipe. Foolishly, I thought you just lit the herb and inhaled right? We sat there in the park for a while, and I barely felt any of what we were smoking. Finally, Rachael looked at me sideways and asked “You’re blocking the holes while you inhale right!?” The resulting puff ended with me hacking out a lung and my friend rolling down the hill laughing at me.
In reality, patients are sent a bottle filled with dried buds of a pungent herb, and given no instructions on what to do with it. The Health Canada insert warns you to avoid smoking, but doesn’t give options. Someone new to marijuana is given no direction on how to proceed. For all that I was clueless in many ways, I am not alone:
Different methods have different benefits and disadvantages, but they seem to fall into two major categories: Inhaling and Ingesting. This may not be a comprehensive list. People who take marijuana are a creative bunch as I have come to learn.
Scientists confirm that marijuana, whether medical or recreational, is safer than both alcohol and tobacco. One of the considerations that went into this statement has to do with the lethal dose determinations.
When it comes to determining the danger of various drugs, there is a need to compare the lethal dose to the standard dose. How much do you need to get high, versus how much will kill you. One of the dangers of addiction with a chemical tolerance component, has to do with the fact that a higher tolerance means a higher consumption. In the case of drugs with a low ration of needed to get high to lethal dose, increased consumption can mean higher fatalities due to what people call overdose.
Whenever I bring up the topic of medical marijuana, whether openly asking people to bring up myths and questions, or discussing it with someone who knows about my own use, the first topic to come up is invariably the one of addiction. People are concerned about the addictive properties, and like anytime a patient takes treatment for pain, there are the inevitable questions about whether we are worried about becoming addicted.
I’ve addressed some aspects of addiction and addictive properties in the first MMJ 101 post. Most importantly I discussed the fact that no one pauses to consider the importance of ending pain. It is such an important point that it bears stressing again. Chronic pain has severe long term consequences, and causes long term changes to the body. Treating it is a high priority. To question whether we are sure we have to treat pain, is to underestimate its importance, and this is something that most people, unless they’ve experienced it themselves, can have a hard time comprehending. To them, it’s just pain.
To have an honest discussion of addiction, we must first understand what it is. The social perception of addiction is that it is a series of bad decisions that lead to a chemical dependency. Some views stop there and collapse addiction entirely into chemical dependency, often joking of being “addicted” to caffeine or sugar. At some point one becomes physically dependant on the chemical, creating a driving need, and ultimately the addicted person has to make another choice, this time to give up their addiction and begin the long hard road to recovery. This view often fails to distinguish between addiction and any craving or yearning for something that one enjoys, and thus regards addiction as an act of irresponsibility. There are some variations on this perception, ranging between people believing that addiction is wholly the result of some internal flaw within a person, and others believing that it is entirely the result of a chemical dependency. Neither view grasps the true nature of this phenomenon.