Background: Although most patients consume medical cannabis by smoking it, several other methods of ingestion are available. For example, in the early 20th century, pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly were selling medical cannabis extracts in tincture form. Since that time, medical cannabis extracts have been further developed into an array of alternative forms that aim to meet the varying needs of patients. These include concentrates made from rinsing flowers in cold water, pressing resin into blocks, or dissolving active ingredients in butter or oil. Unfortunately, law enforcement has often erroneously regarded concentrated forms of medical cannabis to be illegal.

Findings: Medical cannabis can be processed and extracted into many different concentrated forms, including hashish, resin of cannabis, oils and tinctures. Medical cannabis can also be extracted and processed into food-based medicine. Most extracted medical cannabis is digested, but some forms can be applied topically. Medical cannabis can also be vaporized, which heats the medicine below its combustion temperature so that the therapeutic components of the drug are released from the plant without the undesirable carbon compounds that come from combustion. Most patients, because of the ease of delivery and ease of titration, favor the smoked form of medical cannabis. But for those with respiratory issues or a bias against smoking, vaporized and extracted cannabis may be preferred. Because it is ingested, extracted forms of cannabis take longer to react with the body and doses are more difficult to regulate. Also, patients that use medical cannabis to address nausea often cannot ingest it and must resort to smoking or vaporization.

Position: Patients must be allowed to consume their medicine in whatever form is safe and effective for treating their illness or condition.