Does Medical Marijuana Have to Be Smoked?

Does Medical Marijuana Have to Be Smoked?

Medical marijuana is no doubt healthier for you than many of the prescription pills on the market today. Many people however do not like the idea of smoking anything to take away their pain, or help them feel better.

This brings the question, does medical marijuana have to be smoked, or are there other ways to use marijuana as medicine, without the stigma that comes with smoking?

The truth is, there are many ways to use medical marijuana without smoking it, and some of these methods of using marijuana as medicine – don’t even get you “high”!

Many people still prefer smoking medical marijuana over other methods, for various reasons. The main reason many medical marijuana users like to smoke their medicine is, it is the fastest acting method of use. When you smoke marijuana, the cannabinoids (compounds that contain the medical properties) are absorbed by the lungs and into the bloodstream. The results are felt almost instantaneous.

Also, when smoking marijuana for medical use, it is easy to regulate dose. For example, you first wake up and are in pain. In many cases, a few puffs from a joint (rolled marijuana cigarette), or pipe is enough to get you up and moving, without making you too “medicated” or “high” feeling. Other times, like before bed, may require a patient to use more. In this case they just take a few extra puffs, and get a little more of the “effect”.

Other methods of using medical marijuana include:

  • Using a Vaporizer
  • Medicated Marijuana Capsules
  • Medical Marijuana Edibles
  • Marijuana Infused Oils
  • Medicated Topical Balms/Rubs
  • Marijuana Tinctures

The above methods of using marijuana medically, seem to be the most popular these days.

Vaporizing medical marijuana involves using a vaporizer, to heat your medicine to a point just below combustion and then inhaling those vapors, just like you would if you were smoking. The resulting vapors are much easier to inhale than smoke, and they contain all the healthy-medical properties you want from medical marijuana, without the harmful byproducts that may be contained in smoke of ANY form.

Much like smoking, vaporizing your medical marijuana is also a very fast acting method. This makes vaporizing medical marijuana, the second most preferred method of use, for many patients.

Marijuana Psychological Harms

Psychological Harms

There are clinical reports of some individuals reaching psychosis-like states, like schizophrenia, depression or mania, after using marijuana. However, there is no marijuana-psychosis, more likely marijuana can trigger a person’s predisposed psychosis. That is, marijuana does not cause the psychosis, but an individual may already have a psychological disorder that is dormant and marijuana could possibly awaken the disorder. Marijuana alone does not produce a psychosis lasting past the period of intoxication.


People with psychiatric disorders are more likely to abuse drugs than the general population. Schizophrenics use marijuana in a higher percentage of the general population, but tend to not use alcohol or cocaine as much as the general population. Schizophrenics are at a higher risk for adverse psychiatric effects when using marijuana and heavy use can precipitate a schizophrenic episode. But marijuana does not cause the psychotic disorder.


There was a time that marijuana research made it appear as if there was a structural change in the brain of heavy marijuana users, but modern research has disproved those studies. While a person is intoxicated they tend to perform poorly in auditory functions, and this is due to reduction of blood flow to the temporal lobe of the brain.

Blood flow is actually increased to the frontal lobes and lateral cerebellum. Heavy marijuana users often can continue to have subtle defects in cognitive tasks up to one day of abstinence. There is little evidence that there are any longer term effects in cognitive ability, and little evidence that moderate users have any cognitive defects after the intoxication wears off.

Psychomotor Performance

While a person is under the influence of marijuana they have reduced psychomotor performance. This can include body sway, hand steadiness, rotary pursuit, driving and flying simulation, divided attention, sustained attention, and the digit-symbol substitution test. No one should drive a vehicle or operate dangerous equipment while under the influence of marijuana.
Amotivational Syndrome

Amotivational Syndrome is a broad phrase often used to describe such things as the act of dropping out of social activities, or the lack of interest in school, work, or goal-related activities. While many people who have traits of the so called AS may use marijuana, marijuana is not the cause of their behavior. There is no causal relationship between marijuana smoking and AS.

Marijuana Health Effects

Marijuana does have negative health effects. The marijuana debate is so clouded in group think on both sides of the issue that one side thinks it is the worst thing ever and the other side thinks there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. It is my goal to once again attempt to tell it like it is and let you make your own judgment. I will tell you now that I am going to conclude that while marijuana is bad for the user and that heavy marijuana users are taking unnecessary risks I feel that a moderate user of marijuana is at less risk than a moderate tobacco smoker or a heavy alcohol consumer.

It is going to appear as if I am describing a very dangerous drug at times, but if I was writing a similar article on alcohol or tobacco I believe that it would look just as bad if not worse. This is because I want to avoid oversimplifying the issue or ignoring facts. I am going to start by discussing general conclusions of medical researchers in terms of marijuana’s health effects and then I will go into a detailed examination using the 1999 Institute of Medicine’s Marijuana as Medicine: Assessing the Scientific Base.

Marijuana Health Effects (Hazards)

We currently know more about marijuana and its health hazards than most prescription drugs. According to Dr. Lester Grinspoon, in 5,000 years of medical and non-medical use marijuana has not caused a single overdose death. In general it has much less side effects than most prescription.

Dr. Grinspoon is careful to point out that the most hazardous aspect of marijuana usage is the smoke inhaled by the user. This is an interesting point because most marijuana users are not exposed to as much smoke as a tobacco user, and only smoke as much marijuana as necessary to reach their desired effects. Because of that fact, marijuana that is engineered to have a higher level of THC will be safer to the user since less volume of smoke will be required to reach the same desired “high.” Using devices like a water bong or a vaporizer can decrease the associated health.

Dr Lynn Zimmer and Dr. John Morgan in their book Marijuana Myths Marijuana Facts state that after decades of research there is still little evidence of significant hazards for the moderate marijuana user. The most serious health risk that a heavy user of marijuana faces is probably.

Even the World Health Organization allegedly slanted a report they made on marijuana and health risks. Robin Room and Susan Bondy of the Addiction Research Foundation of Toronto and an Australian Wayne Hall presented their scientific research to the WHO that suggested that marijuana might pose fewer health risks than tobacco or alcohol. The WHO chose to not include this research in their report. Room said that he and his fellow researchers concluded that even if the use of marijuana increased substantially in the future, the drug’s health impact was

Recreational Marijuana

Marijuana as a medicine; Marijuana has a long history of being used as a medicine, even dating as far back as 2737 BCE. Cannabis offers medical benefits to an extremely wide variety of conditions.

From providing relief from nausea and vomiting as well as many different types of chronic pain, to stimulation of appetite amongst chemo and Aids patients, to decreasing pressure in the eye (beneficial to glaucoma patients), to relieving gastrointestinal illness, and even reducing or calming many different types of muscle spasms and seizures, it is a very diverse product that has helped a countless number of patients.

It has also been known to help those with mental disorders such as anxiety, PTSD, anorexia, and sleep disorders. Since marijuana has been illegal under federal law in the U.S., along with most other countries all over the world, sadly there has been very little research on the impact of medical cannabis and how truly effective (or ineffective) it can be for certain conditions.

While we are not medical experts and recommend you consult your physician before trying any new medications, we honestly believe that the healing benefits of medical marijuana are not only there but abundant.

Cannabis should not be suppressed by our government and should be widely available to patients as an alternative option to many deadly over the counter drugs and treatments. We are thrilled to be apart of this movement as marijuana breaks out of the black market and evolves into a legal, transparent, beneficial industry to the patients and community alike.

Medical marijuana in Colorado:

In November 2000, Coloradans passed Amendment 20 establishing the Medical Marijuana Registry. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment maintains a confidential database of patients who have applied for a registry identification card for the medical use of marijuana. Registry identification cards are available to Colorado residents and valid only in Colorado.

Per the Colorado constitution, medical marijuana may be recommended for the following:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV or AIDS positive
  • Cachexia
  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe pain

Since the Medical Marijuana Registry Program began in 2001, no new conditions have been added.

A colorado medical marijuana license protects patients in not only allowing them legal access to medical marijuana, but in allowing them to grow up to 6 plants at home for personal use (half of which can be in flower), and have up to 2 ounces in their possession at any given time. The license is valid for 1 year after the issue date, afterwords a patient would have to renew their license by visiting a physician and obtaining a new recommendation. There are physicians all over the state who issue medical marijuana licenses, and there are a few in our area we happily recommend to residents seeking to obtain their medical marijuana license.

Please check out the Colorado Department of Health and Environments page on medical marijuana for more information and commonly asked questions.