If you are new to the idea of utilizing medical marijuana, you may not realize that there are many different administration methods available to you. Unlike traditional pharmaceuticals, as a patient, you have various options to choose from for your care. Each method can be utilized for different conditions, to address personal preferences, or to achieve the desired effect. 

When discussing your treatment options with your prescribing doctor, you can together determine which of these delivery methods is best for your situation. Remember, there is always the possibility of revisiting your treatment should you feel that another method may be more effective or palatable.

5 Cannabis Administration Methods

From the most traditional to those just gaining in popularity, there are five generally accepted methods by which medical cannabis may be administered to patients. 


By far the most well-known method, smoking medical marijuana results in an almost immediate effect. This is helpful to the patient, as they can better control dosing when they can readily assess how the cannabis is affecting them. There are various strains available which will provide different outcomes, all of which should be discussed with your doctor. Although some patients may be concerned about the respiratory effects of smoking any substance, these fears can be largely alleviated by utilizing high potency products; as high potency cannabis requires less smoking to be effective.

Cannabis Oil and Tinctures

Oils are made of marijuana extract which can be administered alone or consumed with food or drink. If a patient prefers, they can also be presented in capsule form for easy swallowing. Innovations in oil extraction utilize CO2 and have resulted in a pure, clean cannabis oil product. Because capsules can deliver high CBD medication in accurate doses, they are a favorite administration method for many patients. By comparison, alcohol-based tincture concentrations are slightly less potent than oils. Both tinctures and oils offer accurate dosing which rapidly delivers relief via the gastrointestinal tract.


Whether delivered via a cookie, piece of chocolate or gummy bear, edibles are useful for people who have experienced a loss of appetite due to cancer, anorexia or AIDS. They do not come without their challenges, however. Edibles are difficult to dose and often their packaging is misleading, incorrectly identifying THC/CDB amounts. Edibles may be difficult to dose due to variable absorption rates and increased potency after normal metabolism by the liver (First Pass Effect). Although edibles do provide longer-lasting relief than other methods, the effects can take as long as 2 hours to kick in. Therefore, if a patient is not careful, they can consume too many edibles while waiting for the medication to take effect.


Vaporization provides the same rapid relief as smoking, as the medication enters the bloodstream quickly via an inhaler. However, the method is generally considered to be less harmful long-term than smoking, due to lower temperatures and fewer byproducts associated with the process. Vaporization is a good option for those who need instant relief from chronic pain such as fibromyalgia.

Topical Treatments

For patients who suffer from pain due to inflammation, topicals are an effective option. Perhaps the least familiar of the cannabis treatments, topicals are a great choice for first-time users or those who are uncomfortable with the idea of medical marijuana. While lotions or ointments provide relief, they do so without any of the psychoactive properties or overdosing danger of the other methods. Older patients with arthritis and similar conditions are likely to find cannabis topicals to be preferable.

All of the above methods of administration have benefits and drawbacks associated with them. If you live in the Sarasota area and have questions regarding the method which is right for you – or are interested in advice regarding utilizing medical marijuana for your specific condition – call Dr. Daniel Stein today. With more than 26 years of experience in neurology and cannabis research, Dr. Stein is eminently qualified to answer all of your questions and concerns.

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