What’s the easiest, gentlest method of using medical marijuana for an older person? As our bodies age we are not as resilient as when we were in our 20’s and 30’s, or even our 40s and 50’s! A lifetime of wear and tear takes its toll on us, and our immune systems and organs aren’t what they once were. What follows is a simple guide to the most popular and efficient methods of ingestion, and the pros and cons of each for older users. (The photo below is not me, by the way.)
Senior Marijuana Smokers
For sure, they are out there, and a lot of seniors enjoy a good toke now and then. Joints and pipes are what we all remember from our youths when we dabbled with weed. But it can be smelly and messy, can trigger a coughing fit and make your throat sore and your eyes water. It can also give you a wicked case of dry mouth which is not fun especially if you have dental issues or dentures.
But, if you’re going to smoke the best methods are simply rolling a joint, old school, or my favorite, a small pipe. I have a nice Sherlock pipe that is simple and does the job. I just grind a bit of high CBD MMJ and tamp it in the bowl, fire it up and take a puff or two (depending on how much my back is bothering me), and voila! Done. I also have a small bong that is just the right size for a couple of good puffs. When you inhale through a bong it passes the smoke through a small amount of water and takes some of the harshness out of it. There are even bongs with room for an ice cube to cool off the smoke. Aren’t they clever.
The other way to smoke is to vape, and it’s probably a more senior-friendly method. Vape pipes can vaporize ground flower or oil and there are specific pipes for each. You wouldn’t vape oil in a flower vaporizer or vice versa. These pipes use a small, powerful battery to heat up the flower or oil and literally create vapors to inhale. It doesn’t combust the leaf and create smoke or burn the oil. It heats it up just enough to allow you to inhale the vapors. Vaping is much kinder to your throat and lungs and I definitely recommend it instead of joints or pipes.
Edibles – Easy Does It!
Marijuana edibles dosing should be no more than 10 mg, and I recommend 5 mg to start just to see how it affects you. Edibles are one of the easiest ways to ingest medical marijuana, and dispensaries have everything from gummy bears, cookies, and brownies, to drinks and infused honeys and chocolates. I’ve made my own marijuana honey and it’s great in a cup of afternoon tea. Very smooth and mellow.
Also, there are tinctures which are highly concentrated and you just use them a few drops at a time under your tongue. One of my favorite products was Drift sublingual spray because it was very easy to micro dose. One spray under my tongue was only 1.5 mg of THC so it was super easy to control dosing. I would usually do 3 or 4 little spritzes after dinner and I was set for the evening and had a good night’s rest. Unfortunately, the company that made this spray has quit producing it, and I think it’s for the very reason I liked it – it just wasn’t that strong. Oh well. Medical marijuana products come and they go. The medical marijuana business seems to be in a very experimental stage right now as far as products go.
The problem with edibles – and I do like them, don’t get me wrong – is that they take a while to work, up to an hour or an hour and a half. Many people have made the mistake of eating a brownie or cookie, then think nothing is happening or the edible was not strong enough, and they’ll eat another brownie or cookie. Or they’ll smoke some while they’re waiting for the edible to kick in. That’s a mistake you usually don’t make twice because it can make for an over the top experience that’s not entirely pleasant. Oh, it’s fun when it starts but then it builds and builds and you begin to suffer some of the affects of an overdose.
So enjoy an edible but exercise great caution here because it’s easy to over-do. With edibles the companies who produce them are required by state law to label the product with its THC content in milligrams. Usually a dose is 10 mg to start, but I will start with 5 mg myself because I’m a lightweight and I don’t like to get too high. I want just enough to stop my back from aching without disrupting my day, and getting too high does kind of make the day go off the rails, so to speak.
A quick warning: The THCs in edibles have to metabolized by your liver just like any other drug you put into your digestive system. If you have any issues with your liver or pancreas you will not want to experiment with edibles. Also, too much THC has been linked to hypoglycemia so if you are diabetic or have issues with blood sugar you may want to avoid edibles.
Pros and Cons of Each Method
Smoking: Pro – Quick results and easy to dose. Con – Harsh on the throat, lungs, and mouth. Smoky and smelly.
Vaping: Pro – This is also easy to dose and you get quick results, and it’s much kinder to your throat and lungs. Con – A good vape pipe can be expensive (a Volcano vaporizor costs around $600, but you can get a good pipe for $200 or so) and some people have the view that you’re wasting the flower, but I think they’re full of beans.
Edibles: Pro – They are yummy and easy to eat, and if you’re careful, easy to dose. Con – You can easily overdose on them if you’re not careful and grand kids will want to eat them, so hide them well! Also, if you are diabetic or have liver and/or pancreas issues it’s probably best to stay away from these.
Overdosing is Not the End of the World
An overdose won’t kill you. There’s been no documented instances of that happening at all. But it can be distressing and very uncomfortable, and could turn you off to the possibilities of using a very helpful plant for your illnesses. Like anything, you can over do it – so don’t! Ha, easy for me to say, right?
In Amsterdam, they have “Weed Tourists” who go there to get just as high as they can, and the authorities have to deal with them on a daily basis. They actually have tourists showing up at their emergency rooms thinking they are dying when in reality they’ve just gotten way too much THC in their system. I imagine this is happening in recreational states in the U.S. as well, but I don’t know that for sure.
What the authorities and medical personnel in Amsterdam usually do with these people is give them a sugar rich soda and tell them to go find something to eat (the blood sugar thing) and send them on their way. Or, if the person is really freaking out they will give them a Valium and let them sleep it off there if they have an empty bed. All this could be avoided with a little bit of common sense, but they’ve found that young tourists in their 20s showing off to their buddies how much they can smoke rarely use common sense.
One thing you should not do is drink some alcohol to try and get your head into a different place. It really won’t help and then you’ll just be drunk on top of being too high. Drinking alcohol can magnify the unwanted effects and give you the “swirlies,” make your head spin and make you nauseated, and that’s really no fun.
If you can, go to bed and try to sleep. If you can’t do that, try and distract yourself with some TV and sip on some diluted juice or some water, eat something you really like (you’ll probably have the munchies anyway), and just try and chill and remember that no one’s died from a THC overdose.
If you have any anti-anxiety meds like Valium you could take one of those, but don’t over do it. That kind of goes without saying. Especially if you’ve been drinking alcohol, don’t go down this route at all – Valium will just make it worse.
There’s a supplement by the name of Citicoline (CDP Choline) that supports brain function and reduces the psychoactive affects of THC, and it knocks back anxiety and paranoia, two things that can happen with an overdose. The dose of Citicoline is 3:1, so if you ingested 50 mg of THC (and 10 mg is considered a conservative dose) take at least 150 mg Citicoline. You can take 250 mg and be okay; that’s the usual single dose when you buy it over the counter. I believe the brand is Jarrow Formulas and you can buy this from Amazon if you can’t find it at your local pharmacy.
The best thing to do is just don’t do too much smoke or edibles. The term they use in the medical world is titrate. Start with the smallest dose and increase if the results are not satisfactory. You are trying to help yourself, not hurt yourself. Moderation is the way to go.
This is Overly Simple – I Agree
My goal was not to cover this topic exhaustively but just give a brief overview of methods of ingestion. There is so much info out there on the Interwebs that you can read about it for hours, but that’s up to you. Have fun exploring!
In my next post I will talk about CBD only for the folks who live in a state that have neither medical or recreational marijuana, but they do have access to CBD. You can even order that online!