Methods of ingestion
Smoking marijuana is the most common method of ingestion.
The most common method of ingesting marijuana in the United States is to smoke it in a joint (cigarette), a glass pipe or a type of water pipe known as a bong. Smoking is a quick and efficient way to deliver an optimum therapeutic dose of cannabinoids, because the patient is able to feel the effects almost immediately, and can stop as soon as the desired relief is achieved. The trade off is an increased risk of bronchitis or other respiratory irritation.
Rolling a joint, or making a marijuana cigarette, is a learned skill. Practice makes perfect. Rolling papers are readily available at corner stores and gas stations, and come in a wide range of sizes, composition and flavors. Beginners are advised to start with larger sizes. Inexpensive cigarette rolling machines (~$3 to $5) are also widely available for those with less than nimble fingers.
Glass pipes and bongs are commonly used to smoke marijuana but may be difficult to find for sale in your community, particularly in small towns or rural areas of the state. You may have to order a glass pipe or bong on-line or travel to a larger city where you can visit a smoke shop.
If you do visit a store to purchase a glass pipe or bong, you will see notices posted that these devices are intended for consuming tobacco or legal herbs only. Michigan law prohibits the sale of drug paraphernalia, which is any device intended for use in consuming controlled substances. However, the Michigan Marihuana Act protects not only registered patients and caregivers who possess paraphernalia, but also any vendors who sell it to them.
There are many ways of ingesting medical marijuana besides smoking it.
THC, the most powerful medicinal compound in cannabis, is available by prescription from licensed physicians. But most patients who try Marinol discover that it is far too psychoactive. THC is only one of a handful of cannabis compounds that work together harmoniously. For example, it is known that Cannabidiol (CBD) has sedative effects that offset the stimulative effects of pure THC. That is a part of why pure THC pills are known to overpower the senses. In order to get the optimum medicinal benefits without unwanted side effects, all of the natural cannabis compounds should be taken together as nature intended. Thus these homemade "Mari pills" are far superior to pharmaceutical Marinol. Plus, at a cost of up to $12 per tablet, Marinol is much more expensive than pills made from the natural plant.
Empty medicine capsules can be purchased in some health food vitamin stores, if you are unable to obtain them, simply purchase some inexpensive herbal capsules and empty out the contents.
Additional resources for making marijuana capsules:
CannabisMD Reports — Marijuana in capsule form
by Martin Martinez, author of The New Prescription - Marijuana As Medicine
Lizzie Borden's marijuana capsule recipe
Vaporization is an effective way to deliver the therapeutic components of marijuana without the toxic by products of combustion. The vegetable material is placed in the vaporization device and heated to a temperature of 180° to 200° C (356° to 392° F). This causes the essential oils to volatilize, or evaporate, into a pure vapor, which is then collected and inhaled. The resulting vapors contain no tars, hydrocarbons, benzene, carbon monoxide or other toxic pryolytic gases and by products of combustion. Respiratory risks associated with smoked marijuana are eliminated.
A study examining the safety and efficacy of vaporization as a delivery system and published in the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics — Cannabis Vaporizer Combines Efficient Delivery of THC with Effective Suppression of Pyrolytic Compounds may is located here.
In many cultures people prefer to ingest marijuana by eating or drinking it. Eating medical marijuana is especially recommended for patients since it avoids the risks of bronchitis or lung irritations associated with inhaling smoke.
Two important facts about medical marijuana that must be kept in mind if you plan to eat it.
1) Some cannabinoids must be activated by heat. Eating it raw will not deliver the full therapeutic benefits. Many people however do eat raw marijuana and report they receive benefit from doing so.
2) Cannabinoids are soluble (dissolve) in fats and alcohol, but not water. The cannabinoids, or the therapeutically active components in medical marijuana, cannot be extracted by brewing a tea or soaking in water. They must be either suspended in a fat such as vegetable oil or butter, OR steeped in alcohol.
Medical marijuana can be prepared for cooking in two ways.
1) Pulverized into powder, called marijuana, or canna flour.
2)Extracted into a fat or oil, most commonly butter, called cannabutter.
"Cannabutter" is the common name for a butter that has been infused with the beneficial cannabinoids contained in medical marijuana. Cannabutter is not hard to make and for those who ingest their medicine by eating it, cannabutter is much more palatable than is the whole plant.
To make cannabutter, put a large kettle on to boil. Add a pound of butter. Bring the water-butter mixture to boil. The temperature will never go above 212° F — remember your high school science. This is warm enough to activate the cannabinoids but not so hot as to degrade them. You can boil this mixture all day long without fear, AS LONG AS you don't let it boil dry.
As the water-butter mix gently simmers, stir in one ounce of medical marijuana. Allow the water-butter-medical marijuana mixture to continue to simmer at a gentle boil for two hours. Stir occasionally, washing any residues that accumulate on the sides of your kettle back into the liquid. You don't have to hover over it, just check it occasionally and don't let the pan boil dry.
After 2 hours, remove kettle from heat. The cannabinoids are now dissolved out of the plant material and into the butter. Strain the mixture, while still very hot through a strainer, a nylon stocking or a similar fine meshed filter. Set liquid aside.
To recover as much of the butter as possible, return the plant material to the kettle and refill with water. Bring to boil. Stir briskly and then pour second batch of liquid through the filter. Add the resulting liquid to the first pot of filtered water. You may now discard the plant material; it no longer contains the beneficial cannabinoids.
Allow liquid to cool. As it does, the butter will float to the top and form a solid layer on top of the water. Once fully cooled and the butter has solidified it may be gently skimmed off. The butter will most likely be greenish in color, that's OK. Actually that's good because it makes the cannabutter immediately recognizable which lessens the chances of accidental ingestion.
Store your cannabutter in a closed container in your refrigerator. It must be kept refrigerated to keep it from going rancid.
To test the strength of your cannabutter, spread a half teaspoon full on a cracker and try it out. It takes about an hour to reach its full effect. Be careful, it can sneak up on you. Do not attempt any complex, challenging or potentially dangerous tasks until you know how it will effect you.
Cannabutter may be substituted for regular butter in any recipe. It is especially good for making candy, cookies and brownies. The amount to use in any particular recipe comes down to a matter of learning from experience. The best approach is to start small and then use a steadily increasing amount in each subsequent recipe until you find the dosage that is most beneficial for relieving your particular complex of symptoms.
Fortunately, it is literally impossible to overdose on marijuana. It is estimated that an adult would have to consume over 65 pounds of marijuana in less than an hour to take in a lethal dose.
The same techniques, same principals, may be used to infuse any vegetable oil with cannabinoids. However, many people find butter the most convenient and versatile.
Medical Marijuana Flour
Marijuana can be cooked into any favorite recipe. However most people do not care for the taste so it's important to chose recipes that will mask the flavor. Chocolate and tomato sauce are often used for that reason.
To prepare medical marijuana for cooking, the stems and seeds should be removed with a sift or kitchen strainer and the resulting powder ground to a flour like consistency. Only grind as much as you will use at any one time as the cannabinoids will quickly degrade and be lost once the medical marijuana has been finely ground up. Grinding does not make medical marijuana any more effective but it does make it more palatable. Save the stems to make cannabutter.
Add a cup or so of the medical marijuana flour to any recipe. Because of the great variability in cannabinoid ratios, potency and quality among the various cannabis strains, it will take some experimentation to determine the optimum amount of medical marijuana flour to add or portion size to consume.
Remember that it can take anywhere for one to three hours for eaten medical marijuana to deliver it's active ingredients to the bloodstream of the patient. Give the first portion time before consuming additional portions.
An excellent option for the novice medical marijuana cook is to use a pre-packaged brownie mix. Simply follow the directions on the box and add your medical marijuana to the batter. You may also wish to add an extra table spoon of margarine or oil and an 1/8 cup of water.
More information about eating or cooking with marijuana:
Cooking with Marijuana
Medical marijuana can be easily converted into suppository form. Here’s how.
Begin with medical marijuana flour. For maximum efficacy in suppository form, medical marijuana needs to be pulverized to dust. Suppository kits, beeswax and molds are available in health food stores and online.
Caution, beeswax is flammable. And hot wax is hot. The safest way to melt the beeswax is in a double boiler. If you must use a microwave use a low power setting, stop when the wax is half melted and then carefully stir to finish liquefying.
Once the beeswax has melted, gently stir in an equal measure of medical marijuana flour. The resulting 50:50 mixture should then be molded into shape while still warm. Roll into cylinders or pour into a mold and when cool wrap and store suppositories in waxed paper. Suppositories should be kept in a separate, clearly marked container inside your refrigerator.
Medical marijuana suppositories are well suited for patients who are unable to eat or smoke medical marijuana.
The active ingredients in medical marijuana can be infused into various liquids and made into drinks. Because cannabinoids are not water soluble, making drinkable medical marijuana is not a simple matter of brewing up a tea. Medical marijuana drinks are most commonly alcohol & milk based.
Cannabinoids may be extracted into alcohol by steeping the plant material in a high proof alcohol for several days. Seriously ill patients should be very cautious about consuming alcoholic beverages. Please consult with your doctor about possible side effects when mixing alcohol and other medications you may be currently prescribed.
Medical marijuana milk is known as, bhang. To make bhang, warm a quart of milk over low heat, gently stirring. After the milk comes to a slow boil, slowly mix in a 1/4 ounce of medical marijuana. Immediately reduce heat and gently simmer, stirring occasionally and making sure the milk does not scorch.
After 30 minutes remove from heat and pour through strainer. Discard plant material and, after cooling, store your bhang in the refrigerator. Add your bhang to any recipe calling for milk or drink it straight.