BEYOND DRY CANNABIS — WHAT’S AVAILABLE?
All you can get from most Licensed Producers (LP's) at this time is is dry cannabis. At the moment they are allowed to make oils but Health Canada Restricts their potency. That will change in time but LP's will probably never carry the range of cannabis products that are carried at a good Dispensary. Dispensaries have great variety of cannabis, lots of strains, lots of info. The GOLD STANDARD for consistent cannabinoid dosing is a good sublingual tincture. This same tincture can be swallowed for longer duration overnight. Problem is good tinctures are almost impossible to find in Ontario Dispensaries in 2017. Next to a good tincture, vaporization is probably the most medically useful way to ingest cannabis medicine. Here is a quick run-down of the various ingestion methods listed in order of effectiveness for the consistent delivery of cannabinoids to the body.
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The reason you had to send the original of your Authorization to the Licensed Provider was to eliminate people signing up with more than one LP. Another restriction imposed for no good reason. Theoretically it's to ensure you don't get more than your license allows.
For now, if you need cannabis in a form that is NOT dry herb, you need to check out your local Dispensaries to find those you like. Remember this if there is a legal issue with a Dispensary: you are legal, there is no issue with you. You would never be charged in relation to using a Dispensary raid etc. A copy of the medical authorization that your doctor signed, along with scanned copies of government issued photo ID is all you will need to join via email if the dispensary is online not local. Dispensaries will happily take these scanned copies of your Authorization and ID so you can apply, fill-out an order and have it in your hands within a week. This is a lot faster than you can get your first shipment of cannabis from an LP considering that you have to use the mail to send your LP's application and the original of your Authorization. From the time you apply, it will probably take at least 2 weeks to have your first order from an LP in your hands. If you are lucky enough to live in a City with a dispensary already in operation, you can join with that copy of your authorization, buy medicine and walk out with it in your hand. Tweed Main Street is another option that's very fast.
I cannot find a good Rick Simpson type of full extract cannabis oil for sale in any Dispensary Local to me. As Rick Simpson himself says, the only oil you can trust is the oil you make yourself. If your life is on the line with a serious disease like cancer you must be very careful how you buy any cannabis oil that you have not made yourself or that a trusted other has not made for you. All commercially sold oils that I know of are processed from trim, shake and other plant material. RSO is produced from 100% flower, it's full plant extract from an alcohol solvent and at least 80% THC. If it doesn't meet that minimum standard then it is NOT RSO. If it's cut 50% with MCT Oil or other, you need to take twice as much and hope for the best. So if your dose is 1 ml per day, using a good but cut oil, it will need to be at least 2 ml or more as appropriate for the final strength of the oil. You can't know so back to Rick Simpson's rule.
Dealing with a technically illegal Dispensary is of course, technically illegal but - if you're a legal cannabis user, shopping at a Dispensary for a product you cannot get from a Licensed Producer, no judge is going to convict you of illegal possession after the recent Supreme Court Decision on concentrates coupled with the dropping of charges in Jan/16 against a Dispensary in Saskatchewan for selling concentrates. We must be thankful to the Courts in Canada, without them, medical cannabis would simply not be available to us at all.
There is a growing consensus that sublingual ingestion of cannabis tincture is currently the Gold Standard for consistent cannabinoid dosing because the pathway is so short and reliable; under the tongue, into the blood, almost as direct as injection! Tinctures are a 'coming' thing in terms of availability and consistency in processing. They are, at this time, inaccessible in what I consider a medicinal strength, whereas vaporization is easily accessible by anyone. Tinctures you find in a Dispensary are typically 3% THC by volume, what I consider a medicinal tincture is 30%. If you are able, tinctures are not hard to make at home, in your own kitchen. There are plenty of instructions for doing so in the internet with a simple search. There are lots of variations on recipes for The Green Dragon, here's the one I use: http://www.weedist.com/2012/08/how-to-make-green-dragon-cannabis-tincture/ It's a simple recipe but read it and follow it carefully you will not be disappointed. You will produce a more potent tincture than you will find anywhere for sale. High potency is good because you don't need much to get an effect but when you need a big effect, you can get that also without drinking whole bottles at one sitting. This is a great way to deal with 'breakthrough pain' because it takes effect so quickly if you take it sublingually. If it's too hard on your tongue, water it down with distilled water but still take it slowly and sublingually.
Cannabis Creams and Topicals
Many people find relief with cannabis creams by rubbing them directly on sore areas, joints etc. These are something that should be tried by those with joint or Osteoarthritiss as an example.
Vaporization is easy, anyone can master it and it's now recognized through scientific study as a reliable way to ensure consistent dosing of cannabinoids, going to your blood through your lungs with little intervention. This and smoking are the easiest methods to self-titrate because you simply keep puffing until you find relief.
The downside of Vaporization is cost. Currently, you need to be willing to spend a couple of hundred dollars to get a good unit that’s worth buying and that you will be happy with for any length of time. Think of it as an investment because most people find they get 25 - 30% more out of their cannabis because vaping is more efficient, nothing burns and much less material escapees into the air. In cases of respiratory, lung, chest etc diseases it will be the preferred method because it's delivering the cannabis constituents closer to the disease site. If you're not going to vaporize your cannabis, it needs to be processed into a concentrate (see below) or edible and that's just one of the places where we can help. A full range of cannabis products are available to you at Bright Moments.
Button-ess Pen Vaporizers
This is the way of the future: a whole new class of vaporizer is just coming onto the scene at the beginning of 2016 in Canada. These are buttonless pens that automatically turn on and off as you breath through them or stop. They use a cannabis/glycol mix similar to the current e-cigs. These are slowly becoming available through dispensaries but will not be available anytime soon through Legal Producers.
Cannabis Oil, Rick Simpson Oil, Phoenix Tears
Ingesting a heavy, full plant extract cannabis oil, like Rick Simpson Oil, through the stomach used to be considered the Gold Standard in medical cannabinoid delivery however there is a growing countervailing view. This view sees the gut as an unreliable way to achieve consistent dosing of cannabinoids because many things along the route can affect ingestion. When ingesting through your stomach, finding the dose that works will be harder because the same dose will work better on some days than others and it takes a much longer to judge full onset than with any other method.
Ingestion through the stomach maximizes both the psychoactivity of cannabis and the length of time that it’s influence is felt, which is not something many sick people want. However if the choice comes down to taking a course of chemo or a course of RSO this won't stop cannabis aware people from choosing cannabis.
RSO is a lot more trouble to deal with on an ongoing basis, especially if you have to make your own. The RSO method deals with the troubled ingestion route through the consumption of massive doses of medicine and this brings its own set of problems, high psychoactivity being prime among them. If you are interested in Rick Simpson, see the documentary that tells his story AND see how to make oil safely in your own kitchen.
For rectal/colon/bowel diseases, rectal suppository is thought to be the preferred method of RSO delivery in because it delivers the cannabinoids closer to the site of disease. Rectal suppository is also an excellent way to ingest RSO for minimal psychoactivity and high consistency due to quick absorption through the colon wall and into the bloodstream.
For melanoma or just about any skin condition, RSO applied directly and held it place with a light dressing is the ONLY recommended delivery method. Many skin cancers have been cured this way anecdotally.
NOTE: LP’s are slowly beginning to provide weak cannabis oils which is all Health Canada is allowing them to produce, in addition to the dry herb strains they have always had. I say weak because the oils that Health Canada is now allowing are very low in cannabinoid content compared to what you can buy in a Dispensary. Theses oils are NOT Rick Simpson Oil, don’t be confused on that! They still have lots of usefulness, as a health supplement to an otherwise healthy person, they would be a very good choice.
Edibles are most useful in cases where other ingestion methods aren't practical or as a way to supplement a dosing regime. Eating cannabis in this way is probably the least predictable and consistent method of cannabinoid delivery. There are product consistency issues and issues within you, how you're feeling, what you've eaten, what's going on in your stomach, the general health of your gut biota. Mostly edibles should to be left for recreational or supplemental use. As an alternative to a break-through opiate, anything is preferable but other alternatives are MUCH faster acting, like tincture, vapour or even smoke! When oral dosing you need to err on the side of too much to insure that you get an adequate dose. The problem with high dosing is heightened psychoactivity, which is often an undesirable side-effect for patients. Taking Cannabis through your stomach is the way to maximize the potency and the length of time before the psychoactivity wears off.
Wax, Shatter, Rosintech
First you have dry cannabis, you process that into oil and then you further process it into budder, wax, shatter. These are all called “concentrates” because they are made by concentrating the THC to the point where high-end shatter is over 90% THC. Consequently you get a very large psychoactive effect using a very small amount of shatter.
There is a very real use for these in cases of extreme pain or for palliative comfort. If you suffer serious ‘breakthrough’ pain, there might no better friend to you than a quick dab of shatter because it will just shut it down. The first time I ever did shatter I was suffering severe lower back pain from an accident. After two hits (dabs) of shatter at a dispensary, I was walking down the street giggling, feeling like I was 18 again, not even thinking about the pain. For many, like me that day, this is a godsend, likewise for a sudden onset of nausea or any condition that can benefit from a quick heavy hit of THC.
Concentrates however are MOSTLY for recreational or supplemental use especially as they produce incredible psychoactive results. ‘Hard concentrates' such as wax and shatter have lost most of the whole plant value, the other cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids etc. through the processing. There are some shatters that are said to be ‘medicinal’ because they have not had the wax washed out of them, so they are deeper in colour and still contain some of the other plant components but you don’t get much of the ‘whole plant benefit’. If you can point me to information to the contrary please do. Even without the whole plant benefit, shatter definitely has an honoured place in my cannabis medicine chest.
The newest and by far the cleanest development is solvent less concentrates. Known as Rosintech and "Live Shatter" these techniques are developing rapidly and they vastly improve the medical applicability of concentrates.
HOWEVER the greatest attribute of concentrates is fast and powerful action which makes them the Gold Standard for controlling break-through pain.
As a medical user you should understand that smoking your cannabis severely reduces it's medical usefulness. There are over 100 identified cannabinoids, over 200 terpenoids and 30 flavonoids in cannabis. We understand very few of those components however those we do are understood to be tremendously healthful. When cannabis is burned, as in a pipe, bong or joint, most of the beneficial cannabinoids, terpenoids and flavonoids are destroyed. They do not survive the burning process, the temperature of combustion is simply too high. So you are throwing away much of the healthfulness of cannabis by smoking it.
Smoking your cannabis can increase the negative characteristics of the components such as anxiety induction. This is because THC alone can cause anxiety but there are other, anxiety counter-acting cannabinoids that are in the plant but get lost in the heat. So if you're susceptible to an anxiety attack, smoking pot may be a sure way to induce or aggravate anxiety whereas choosing another method of ingestion will help reduce your anxiety level. THC does survive the burn and has its uses, for pain control, appetite building, etc. but it also brings psychoactivity and this is something medical users often want to avoid; especially those who have never used cannabis recreationally. For some conditions, like AIDS, smoking cannabis is a recommended part of the treatment regimen. For the rest of us it’s best to limit smoking to recreational use or not use it as a method of ingestion.
No question about it, old timers like me will never stop smoking cannabis, it simply holds too much benefit. Like self-titration, there is no easier method, you just smoke until your symptoms are gone or at least bearable, then you stop, or you go one to make use of the ‘shamanic’ potential of cannabis. It’s all ok, just make it the exception in your ingestion, not the rule, if you need to, work on that. Maybe try a different vaporizer, etc. Vape lounges are good for trying new things.