Cannabis for chronic pain: Choosing how to take it
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Now that you have found a legal way to find out if cannabis will help relieve your chronic pain, it is time to figure out which way to consume it. The perk of visiting a state that has legalized recreational marijuana is that you will have access to some amazing products. Today I am going to cover several different methods of medicating with cannabis and how you decide which form fits your lifestyle, needs, and budget.
Disclosure: I am NOT a medical professional and I am not issuing medical advice. This post contains some affiliate links. Meaning that, at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission from sales. The proceeds offset the expense of operating this site and fund the giveaways for my Facebook groups.
Edibles were my first choice when I began combatting chronic pain with cannabis six years ago and there were several reasons for this. The first being that I didn’t want to smoke around my family. My daughter was young, I couldn’t risk my husband failing a drug test at work, and my neighbors at the time were not ones who needed to know what I was doing. Thankfully edibles turned out to be the best thing to start out with. Unlike the high from vaping or smoking, the high from edibles lasts much longer. If I smoked a joint before bed, pain would wake up halfway through the night. The high from an edible can last anywhere from 6-10 hours which provided me the best sleep of my life! Edibles are also easier to micro-dose with. It was easy to breakdown an edible and know a close approximation of how much cannabis was in each piece. Another reason I liked edibles is that they are discreet. My favorite reason for loving edibles is the cost! When I first began medicating with cannabis, I didn’t have a large budget. In fact I often only spent $50 a month. I did this by purchasing edibles that could be broken down easily and that wouldn’t go stale before I finished them. Cheeba Chews and FlavrX candies are two of my favorite brands. I currently purchased a 200mg candy bar from LaFamilia that is so strong that I only need half of one square at night. There are 12 squares. That one bar that I purchased for $15 is going to yield me 24 nights of rest!
My average dose for evening is 5-10mgs. This dosage gifts me with the restorative sleep that I had been without for 13 years. When I needed to micro-dose during the day I would only take 1-2mgs. After awhile I rarely needed any to get through the day and was only medicating at night. The thing to remember with edibles is that while the effect lasts longer than other forms, it also can take longer to take effect. You may not feel the effect from an edible for up to three hours after consuming it. This can make it a little tricky to time your nighttime meds. Even if you take the same amount of the same product every night at the same time, when it hits will never be the same. Because of this you will want to make sure that you won’t need to drive or do anything of major importance after taking your meds. They could hit you within 30 minutes or not for several hours. Generally, if I don’t feel something after an hour, I will have a little more. If you have never consumed cannabis, I recommend starting at 2-3mgs and work up from there. While you don’t have to worry about overdosing on cannabis, a lot of first timers are either put off of or become afraid of the high when they consume more than they were ready for. Take it slow, do it on a regular basis, and overtime you will notice your overall pain level reduced. The only real con, besides how long it can take to take effect, I can think of with edibles is that outside of sometimes having the choice between a hybrid, sativa, or indica, most edibles don’t share what strain was used.
One of the perks of smoking is that the high and the relief it brings hits quickly. If I find myself in need of instant relief, but also want a solid night’s sleep, I take a few hits from my pipe after eating an edible. Because I stopped needing the all night relief that edibles bring two years ago, I have been trying other forms of consumption. Some nights I just want to medicate and be done, while other nights I want to savor the smell and flavor of it. Smoking cannabis is something to be enjoyed and not rushed. To be honest, I wasn’t able to appreciate the wonder of flower when I first began medicating with it because I was only focused on relieving my pain and falling asleep.
Pros of medicating with flower is that you can pick strains that have qualities that address your needs. For example you can choose strains that work better for sleep, creativity, nausea, pain, anxiety, etc… Don’t just pick a strain at random and then say that cannabis doesn’t help you. You may have picked a strain that would NOT help you. To get the best results you will have to do some research. My go to sites for strain reviews are Leafly and Weedmaps. Another pro is that the high hits fast.
There are few cons to medicating with flower. The smell, everyone will know what you are doing. The cost, flower, especially quality flower can get quite pricey. Shop around and find a dispensary that gives the best deals. Shopping during sales helps to keep my flower budget from growing out of control. Figuring out your dosage is not as easy with flower, which makes it harder to micro-dose with. Last but not least, you cannot smoke it anywhere you want. Most places that have legalized it for medicinal and recreational use have made it illegal to smoke in vehicles or in public places.
Vaping has quickly become one of my preferred ways to medicate with cannabis. As for as anyone watching all they will assume is that I am vaping nicotine. Vaping does produce vapor when exhaling, most do not have the odor that flower does. Most cartridges come with a 510 thread that will fit most battery pens. Pictured to the left is my combo pack from Bio CBD+. The battery pen also works with the THC cartridges that I purchase from my dispensary.
Just like with smoking flower, the high and relief hits quickly, often within 5-15 minutes. While there are nights when I take anywhere from 6-8 hits from my pen, there are some where I only need two or three. Start slow. Try two hits, then wait a good 20-30 minutes before taking another hit. I love vaping and will be ordering an herb vaporizer later this month. With that I will be able to vape flower and then later use the dried herb to make my own cannabutter. Talk about pulling double duty and saving money!!! The only cons I have found with vaping is that not all brands share what strain was used. That is one of the reasons that I love FlavrX. Knowing which strain I am purchasing helps me find the ones that best address my symptoms. BTW Tropical Trainwreck is fantastic from muscle relaxation!
So you want something discreet, like edibles, but you want something that takes effect quickly like flower…. Tinctures may be for you. With a tincture you just place a few drops of the liquid under your tongue and voila, you should be feeling better within 15 minutes.
Personally, I haven’t really noticed how long the effect of tinctures lasts when compared to flower or edibles, mainly because I don’t use them often. While discreet, it creates a mess in my bag if the cap comes loose, not to mention expensive over the contents that spills out. Most tinctures also taste terrible! I prefer using tinctures for toothaches or to quickly medicate in bed if I wake up to pain that won’t let me fall back to sleep. Tinctures are fairly easy to micro-dose with and unless you are holding a billboard, no one will know that you are medicating.
While there are other ways to medicate with cannabis, these are the top 4 that you should consider for your test run. Just remember that if you are traveling to try cannabis, don’t go crazy purchasing a bunch of products. It is federally illegal to possess cannabis and cross any of the United State’s borders, this includes state borders. You can not visit, purchase, and try cannabis in California and return to Arizona with the remainder of your stash.