Eating Medical Cannabis for Health and Wellness

It’s easy to forget amid the newly legalized recreational cannabis market that medical cannabis has been legal in Canada for two decades. However, the surge in interest in cannabis is helping to push for more research and the creation of new products.

Perhaps no vertical of cannabis has evolved in recent years so much as edibles, which are available in different strengths and cultivars, but also different styles of products. Gone are the days when cannabis edibles mean merely brownies.

Medical cannabis can be used to treat many conditions effectively, from insomnia, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more. However, medical cannabis must be authorized by a healthcare practitioner whose guidance directs consumption. If you want to learn about the medical uses for cannabis and more about the range of medical cannabis edibles on the market today, please keep reading.

What is a Medical Cannabis Edible?

Health Canada classifies as an edible any food or beverage infused with any form of cannabis, from plant material, oils, extracts or distillates. Edibles provide medical patients with an alternative form of consuming cannabis than vaping or smoking, which are perfectly acceptable options for some people, but not everyone.

There are crucial distinctions between recreational and medical cannabis edibles, even if they are both made from the same plant. Medical cannabis edibles adhere to strict federal standards for testing and labelling.

You need to get legal medical cannabis edibles from a government-approved location, and the packaging confirms that it’s medical cannabis. Here are the signs to look for:

  • Yellow health warning label issued by Health Canada in both English and French
  • Red and black standardized cannabis symbol (resembling a stop sign with a cannabis leaf and the letters “THC”
  • Excise stamp from your province for edibles containing over 0.3% THC content

Once these signs are in place, you can be confident that you’re dealing with a legal medical cannabis edible.

What Types of Medical Cannabis Edibles Are There?

Medical cannabis edibles fall into four categories: foods, drinks, dissolvable powders, and oils. The Canadian cannabis edibles market is still dominated by chocolate and gummies, but innovations like mints, cookies, and caramels are changing up the game.

Medical cannabis beverages come in the form of cannabis-infused tea and appeal to patients who prefer to avoid the sugar found in chocolate or gummies. There are also sweet drinks available like infused sodas, juices, and even moderately sweetened sparkling water. 

Onset from cannabis beverages tends to be much faster than when eating food, as quick as 15 minutes versus an hour or so and last for six hours. The number of blood vessels in the mouth helps your body absorb cannabinoids before they reach the intestinal tract, speeding up the onset process.

New, flavourless cannabis-infused powders can be infused into nearly any food or drink, even in water. Like with cannabis-infused beverages, onset can be as fast as 15 minutes and lasts up to four hours. 

Finally, oils work by delivering cannabis medicine by ingestion using titrated or built-in droppers to add the dose to your favourite foods. You can also put the cannabis oil directly under your tongue. When added to food, onset can take only 15 minutes, versus taking about 90 minutes.

Why Take Medical Cannabis Edibles?

Medical cannabis edibles have a few unique characteristics that may better suit some patients’ lifestyles. They can be taken discreetly and quickly, without causing any second-hand smoke or causing the patient to inhale any smoke.

When taking medical cannabis edibles, it’s easy to know how much you’re taking. There’s a set amount of THC inside each edible so that you can be precise about the dosage level. 

Some patients don’t know how to roll a joint, and they want an easy way to take this medicine. More than anything, medical cannabis edibles are perfect for patients who need a very powerful dosage because of the level of experience or the way their bodies respond to cannabinoids.

The effect of edibles lasts longer than with other forms of cannabis consumption. Speak to your healthcare practitioner or cannabis-trained pharmacist to align your symptoms and needs to the right type of edible. They’ll pick a suitable cultivar and dosage level.

What to Know Before Taking Edibles

Edibles have the potential to pack a very strong punch, so there are a few things to know before you begin taking them. Make sure you understand how much THC you’re meant to take, and don’t veer from the amount authorized by your healthcare practitioner or cannabis-trained pharmacist.

A potent cannabis edible looks indistinguishable from a weaker one, so you need to be very careful. Once you take the edible, wait patiently for the onset to begin. Even if it takes an hour and a half, be careful and patient and wait at least another full day before taking more.

If you take a second dose before the first one has kicked in, you’re liable to take too much and become uncomfortable. If this should happen, don’t worry! Just breathe, relax, and wait it out in a comfortable place in your home. If possible, fall asleep. You’ll wake up totally fine.

It’s better to err on the side of caution and take the lesser amount. If you decide the next day that the dosage level wasn’t high enough, you can talk with your healthcare practitioner and increase it. 

Finally, be careful when storing edibles in your home. Just like when keeping alcohol in the home, it needs to be out of reach of children. Some recreational cannabis edibles resemble the packaging of children’s candy, and this can be deceptive and dangerous. 

Medical cannabis edibles have their own distinct look but still, keep them away from kids. Most cannabis edibles come in child-proof containers for this reason, like Tylenol. 

Medical cannabis edibles are an important way for many patients to get the medication they need in the way they prefer it. So long as you understand the difference between dosage levels and product types and always take them in consultation with a healthcare practitioner, medical cannabis edibles might be perfect for treating what’s ailing you.

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