Dosing cannabis and CBD oil from dropper bottle into cup of coffee on wooden table

Timing Your Dose: How Different Cannabis Products Reduce Pain

by Katherine Golden, RN – Founder and CEO of Leaf411

You have options when it comes to cannabis dosing

Whether you’re looking at CBD hemp or cannabis containing higher levels of THC, you have several different routes of administration to choose between:

  • Inhalation (smoking, vaping): Takes effect immediately and lasts 2-4 hours. This is a great choice for instant relief and for treating breakthrough pain (a flare-up in pain). You can also layer inhaled cannabis with a longer-acting method to help get you through the night.
  • Transdermal (patches, gels): Extended release option that takes effect quickly, since the cannabinoids are absorbed directly into your bloodstream. The time of onset is rapid, sometimes within 20 minutes. Transdermal products provide a consistent dose of medicine for up to 12 hours. The transdermal patch or gel is used on an area where the veins are near the skin’s surface—like the inside of your wrist or on your ankle.
  • Sublingual (placed under the tongue): Sublingual administration can provide rapid relief, however, there are few true oromucosal (sublingual) products on the market. Cannabinoids are fat-soluble and, in their natural state, do not absorb well into the oral mucosa. Moreover, cannabis products are often extracted into oils, and these products are not water-soluble. Patients often expect rapid onset when using tinctures, only to wait 1-3 hours for the dose to take effect. Many products marketed as tinctures will end up being swallowed and absorbed via the digestive system, regardless of how long they are held under the tongue. A true sublingual (a product in which the cannabinoids are formulated to be more water-soluble) absorbs rapidly into the mouth. The effects can be perceived in 15-20 minutes and can last 4-6 hours.
  • Edibles (gummies, capsules): Edibles take effect in between 30 minutes and 2 hours. You’ll feel their effects between 5-8 hours. They provide a discreet, portable long-acting option.
  • Topicals (creams, salves): Topicals provide short-term localized relief. They can take effect within minutes, and may last for up to an hour.

It may take some trial-and-error to determine just which type of product works for you. In fact, you may discover that there are different routes of administration for different symptoms you are experiencing. For assistance identifying what works for you, contact a cannabis-trained nurse at Leaf411

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline, chat and scheduled nurse guidance call services provide education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.

Rocks balanced on wood

Cannabis oil in jars with cannabis oil capsules next to cannabis leaf on dark background

How to Dose Cannabis: Start Low and Go Slow

Dose sizing can be complicated

by Katherine Golden, RN – Founder and CEO of Leaf411

You may remember when the U.S. government sought to simplify food labeling. This was done to make the connection between serving sizes and calories more clear. Confusion around serving size was causing many people to eat or drink a lot more calories than they realized.

Today, we are at a similar spot when it comes to cannabis products, especially edibles. Some manufacturers put the per-dose strength on the product label and some do not. For example, the package might say “10mg CBD/5mg THC.” However, other manufacturers may put the total amount of THC and/or CBD for the entire package instead. 

Also, laws restricting the amount of THC per edible vary between states that have legalized cannabis. Limits may also be different depending on whether the product is designed for recreational or medical consumer sales. For example, Colorado’s suggested serving size for an edible is 10mg which would be far too much THC to consume for a first time user.

Silver cannabis vape pen on wooden table with sparks flying around the background

Cannabis Vaping Update: Are Vapes Safe in 2022?

Three years following the vape lung disease outbreak, consumers should still use caution when selecting a cannabis vaping product

By Katherine Golden, RN

Understanding the Vape Crisis

Our mission at Leaf411 is to provide balanced information and guidance for the safe and effective use of cannabis. When thousands of U.S. citizens became ill and hospitalized with a lung injury associated with vaping in 2019, consumer concern about cannabis vaping increased dramatically. The illness, which became known as “e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury” (or EVALI) resulted in 68 reported deaths by February 2020. Researchers determined the likely cause of the illness was additives in the vape cartridges. This included additives like vitamin E acetate, MCT oil and others that were being used in some THC-containing vape cartridges, primarily in the illicit market. Leaf411 wrote about the issue at the height of the crisis to give consumers the best information on how to use vape products safely. 

Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that emergency room visits due to EVALI have sharply declined. They cite increased public awareness of the issue, the removal of vitamin E acetate and other additives from products and a law enforcement crackdown on illicit products. However, that does not mean the risk to consumers has disappeared completely. 

Tips for choosing a safe cannabis vape

Leaf411 wants to remind consumers to use vigilance and common sense when purchasing cannabis vape products to ensure they are only utilizing safe, legal products. The following are tips you should consider when purchasing a vape product:

  • Purchase vape products only sold through state-licensed cannabis retailers or licensed delivery services–never from the illicit market. Licensed retailers are required by the state to have their products lab tested to ensure safety.
  • Do not consume cartridge concentrates that contain additives such as Vitamin E acetate, polyethylene glycol (PEG), propylene glycol (PG), MCT oil, coconut oil or any other emulsifiers or synthetic agents. While some of these ingredients are safe to eat, they are not safe to vaporize and inhale.
  • Only consume concentrates that are third-party lab tested and designed specifically for vaping.
  • Ask the dispensary retailer or product manufacturer to provide the certificates of analysis (COA) for the products purchased. The lab results on a COA include the cannabinoid profile, pesticide testing and other critical information about the contents of the cartridge. Budtenders, clinicians and Leaf411 nurses can help answer your questions about the COA.

Remember that the vast majority of products implicated in vape-related illnesses and deaths were purchased from illegal vendors. In addition to problematic additives, many illicit vape pods and cartridges were found to contain dangerous synthetic marijuana instead of actual CBD or THC. So never buy vape products sold through illegal market sources or from non-licensed dispensaries. These products are likely not tested and can be easily counterfeited. To find a trusted manufacturer or dispensary, please review the Leaf411 member directory.

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline, chat and scheduled nurse guidance call services provide education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of legal cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.

Cupped hands holding green cannabis flower

How to Use Cannabis

From Edibles to Vapes, Leaf411 Has Your Questions Covered

by Katherine Golden, RN – Founder and CEO of Leaf411

You have options when using cannabis

When we first started taking calls on the hotline, one of the biggest surprises was hearing how many people thought cannabis has to be smoked to be effective. In fact, we even featured this misconception as our first Question of the Month back in 2019!

Many different types of cannabis and CBD hemp products are available today. These different products are designed to fit a wide variety of needs. You should consider factors such as how quickly a product will take effect, how long the effect will last, and what issues you’re targeting.

Our cannabis-trained registered nurses are always happy to answer your questions. Give us a call at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) or schedule a one on one call through our scheduling link

In our guide below, we provide information on different options for using cannabis and CBD products. You’ll also find tips for getting the right dose of this plant-based medicine.