Smoking Marijuana Alternatives
There are good and effective alternatives to smoking or vaping marijuana. This is not to say that smoking or vaping cannabis is inherently dangerous or risky, but some people just don’t want to inhale.

Tinctures are an excellent route of cannabis administration. You can expect all the benefits of inhaling and the effects should last about 3 to 5 hours, just as with inhaling. The only disadvantage of tinctures is that it will take 20 to 30 minutes to obtain the full effect. The drops should stay under your tongue for about 2 minutes, then swallow. I recommend using tinctures that are not alcohol based, they usually taste awful and who wants another drug.

Another alternative to inhaling is edibles and capsules. In Florida, edibles were approved recently and should arrive in most dispensaries shortly. A capsule or edible can take up to 2 hours to achieve full potency and the beneficial effects can last 6 to 12 hours, depending on dose. The effects of edibles feel different than other routes of administration which is due to G.I. absorption and a pass through the liver which converts delta 9 – THC (which is what gets into the bloodstream when cannabis is inhaled or used sublingually) to 11 hydroxy – THC before it enters the bloodstream. So edibles/capsules have a prolonged effect and a different feeling which is often referred to as a “body high” as opposed to the “head high” of inhaling and tinctures. Some patients believe that the “body high” of edibles/capsules is therapeutically superior to the “head high.” It is certainly worth a try to see if this route of administration is for you.

Another alternative to inhaling is topicals. A potent topical can give quick relief to those suffering from joint/tendon/ligament pain, muscle spasms and nerve pain. Topicals with at least 300 mg of THC or 30 mg of THC + CBD (no more than 50% CBD) can give pain relief in about 2 minutes and should last for several hours. Cannabis is a strong anti-inflammatory and routine use on an inflamed joint can over time reduce the baseline pain in that joint. Topicals can be used alone or in conjunction with edibles/capsules or a tincture.

In sum, one can obtain all the benefits of marijuana without inhaling.

David G. Balter MD
Medical Marijuana Doctor