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Rolling Paper: The Right Way to Take Your Medicine 

Wednesday, Jul 20 2011

You're a human being. That makes you a unique snowflake. You're also a cannabis patient, which means you have a medical condition that's unique to you. Just as you wouldn't easily fit into your neighbor's jeans or your grandmother's robe, the ways in which others ingest cannabis won't necessarily be right for you — and in fact, in the wrong situation, the wrong way to medicate could be downright detrimental. Finding the best path into your system goes well beyond taking a puff on the pipe (which, in some cases, may be perfectly all right). Take a peek at our handy guide to help find the best way for you to take your medicine.

For the seriously ill
Smoked cannabis can be medicine at its filthiest, and even vaporizing isn't the best way to medicate if you have throat, neck, or lung cancers. And edibles are out if you experience nausea with chemotherapy or retroviral treatment. For very sick patients, a few drops of tincture or sublingual drops are ways to achieve long-lasting relief with minimal intrusiveness, says Steve DeAngelo, CEO of Oakland's Harborside Health Center. "There's no need to swallow," he says. If you have enough fortitude to keep something down but need to medicate before you can eat, a cannabis capsule's effects will be felt within 45 minutes and can last for hours.

Examples: EatMe! Cannabis Capsules, $30, the Divinity Tree; sublingual drops, Harborside Health Center (ask for variety); Grape Drop lozenges, $8, SPARC.

For the discreet office worker
The working world won't wait for you to start feeling good in the morning, and the last thing you want to bring with you into the office is the distinct aroma of a Ziggy Marley concert. And if a 9 a.m. meeting is the first thing on your Monday menu, you want to be pain-free as well as at the top of your game. Using a few drops of tincture will allow you to feel the effects within 10 minutes without a day's worth of psychoactivity, but for mild doses throughout the day, reach for a cup of THC-infused tea or a sip from Irish Moss elixir or a similar discreetly packaged drink product.

Examples: THC-infused herbal tea, $7 for a pack of two, Green Cross; Irish Moss elixir, $8, Divinity Tree.

For the athlete
With bench-pressing weights and running marathons come aches, pains, and time lost recovering. Sore muscles need to heal, and we don't recommend human growth hormone. But athletes may get back on their feet more quickly without involving Big Pharma with a topical application of medical cannabis, a sort of holistic herbal Bengay. Most dispensaries offer a variety of creams, oils, sprays, and salves where marijuana is the active ingredient. Nonpsychoactive, nonstinky, and in myriad other ways far removed from marijuana in its flower form, these are good types of medical cannabis to travel with, too.

Examples: Xternal topical spray, $20, Igzactly 420; Rx Body Balm, $15 for a one-ounce tin, Green Cross.

For seniors
Your 91-year-old grandmother may not have been much of a toker in her day, but her hip replacement surgery makes her medical-marijuana-patient-worthy. More and more retired and elderly folk are turning to medical cannabis as a pharmaceutical alternative, says Green Cross CEO Kevin Reed, "and they seem to prefer food-based products." Here, the key is baby steps: Too much medicine means increased heart rate that can be unpleasant for first-timers, so start small — bites of cookie, morsels of cake, a candy or two — and work upward to discover the optimum dose.

Examples: THC-infused olive oil, $25 for 7 ounces, Green Cross; hard candies, $5 each, HopeNet; Chica Chica Boom Hot Sauce, $25, Medithrive.

For discretion on the go
Summer means baseball games, beaches, and barbecues. Summer also means going out in public, in front of young kids, John Law, and marijuana-resistant in-laws. Stow the joint and pick up instead on the wide variety of family-friendly medicated savory snacks. Think of Chex Mix on cannabis, except without nasty hydrogenated oils and other Food, Inc. impurities. If you have a sweet tooth, chew on candy or granola bars with a not-so-secret ingredient. Don't forget to lick your fingers.

Examples: Savory mix, Vapor Room, $6; Bhang Chocolate Bars, $14, Igzactly 420; chili lime peanuts, $10, SPARC.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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