Cultures around the world have long reaped the benefits of marijuana. The Chinese used it for medical purposes for thousands of years, as did the Greeks and Egyptians. In fact, prior to the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, the US recognized cannabis as an acceptable medical product.

Of course, more recently marijuana has been cast in a negative light, with laws prohibiting its use and distribution. But with Canada on the verge of nationwide legalization and many states in the US legalizing the substance, the stigma surrounding it has melted away once again.


This growing freedom has allowed companies to create innovative products to treat a wide variety of ailments like epilepsy. Here’s a look at the different ways to consume and use medical cannabis.

 

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Smoking medical cannabis

The most common way to ingest medical cannabis is by smoking the dried buds or leaves of a marijuana plant. This method acts the fastest, and most patients will feel the effects almost immediately. Smoking marijuana also allows users to more easily regulate the amount they take. That said, it is always recommended to start out with a small dose.

There are two main species of cannabis: indica and sativa. The two have varying effects — sativa is known to be more uplifting, which makes it ideal for daytime use, while indica is more relaxing and provides a body buzz, making it better suited for night use.

While smoking medical cannabis is both easy and effective, inhaling smoke on a regular basis can have a negative impact. Harborside Health Center recommends that patients use vaporizers or edible forms of medicinal cannabis whenever possible.

Medical cannabis extracts and concentrates

While using cannabis flower is the most common way to smoke cannabis, many people smoke concentrated THC, also known as shatter. Shatter is one of the many cannabis concentrates available. These concentrates are typically extracted by using a solvent like CO2 or butane to strip the THC and other cannabinoids off the plant; the solvent is then cooked off to get a wax, an oil or a hard product.

Making concentrates at home can be dangerous, as solvents are flammable and can cause explosions if the correct procedures are not followed.

Smoking a concentrate is often called a dab, likely because of the small quantity required to get high — just a dab. To do a dab, users generally apply a small amount of shatter to a ceramic bowl or ring nail on a bong that has been heated with a small kitchen torch.

Keep in mind that “[w]hile bud tends to test between 10 to 25% THC, concentrates typically range between 50 to 80% THC, depending on the extract type and quality,” according to Leafly. This creates a more intense high that is better suited to regular medical cannabis users who have a high THC tolerance.

Medical cannabis tinctures and tonics

Also under the umbrella of concentrates are tinctures and tonics. A tincture is a concentrated form of medical cannabis that is made in an alcohol solution. Cannabis buds and leaves are soaked in alcohol and then put through a fine strainer to create a potent liquid infused with THC and other cannabinoids. Tinctures can be added to food or drinks, applied to the skin or even consumed by placing drops directly under the tongue.

 

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There are also tonics and drinks that are infused with cannabis. As the substance becomes legal in more and more places, many market watchers are seeing marijuana-infused beverages as an area of great potential. Major Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth (TSX:WEED,NYSE:CGC) has discussed the idea, suggesting that it may move into that arena in the future.

Vaporizing medical cannabis

Vaporizers are a great way to access the medical properties of cannabis without the detrimental effects of inhaling smoke. To use a vaporizer, patients must first place cannabis into the device’s cartridge; the vaporizer then heats the material to a temperature of 180 to 200 degrees Celsius, causing the plant’s oils to evaporate for the user to inhale.

This method removes all the tars, hydrocarbons, benzene, carbon monoxide and other toxic pryolytic gases and by-products of combustion, meaning that they do not enter the lungs.

Edible medical cannabis

Another popular option for consuming medical cannabis is to ingest it. Cannabis is usually infused into butter or oil, known as cannabutter, and used to make baked goods. Another way to use cannabis in baking is to grind the dried leaves into a powder and mix it with other ingredients prior to baking.

While consuming cannabis in edible forms is a great option for those concerned about respiratory issues, it takes longer to feel the effects of edibles compared to smoking or vaporizing. It is also difficult to judge their strength. As a result, it is a lot easier to consume too much, and it is recommended that patients only eat small portions and gauge how they feel after an hour or two. Another thing to bear in mind is sugar content, which has some calling for sugar-free edibles.

Topical medical cannabis

For those looking to utilize the healing and pain-relieving effects of medical cannabis without having to smoke or ingest it, topical products are a good option.

They come in the form of balms, salves, lotions, sprays and ointments and are effective in the relief of inflammatory diseases, roughened skin, eczema, minor burns, muscle soreness, sunburns, swelling, joint pain and tendinitis — they can even relieve the painful symptoms of shingles.

This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in 2015.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Cannabis for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Amanda Kay, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

 

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Cannabis Market Update: Q3 2020 in Review

Click here to read the previous cannabis update.

During the first few months of investment time in 2021, cannabis faced some volatility alongside optimism about federal changes in the most important market for the drug.

The cannabis business found its stride during Q1 thanks to policy change signals and consolidation.

To find out more, the Investing News Network (INN) asked experts about progress in the market during the first major period of the new year, and which developments investors should watch out for.

 

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Cannabis market update: New York and US potential boost operations

New York state’s legalization of recreational cannabis was a huge Q1 announcement that added pressure to the federal government when it comes to cannabis policy, said George Mancheril, co-founder and CEO of Bespoke Financial, a debt financing business with a particular focus on servicing cannabis businesses.

“It’s going to add to the chorus of voices in the federal scene to basically move sooner rather than later,” he explained to INN.

Following the US election in 2020, the momentum for cannabis businesses went on the upswing, as did company valuations, with the idea of expansion at the heart of it all, according to Mancheril.

Before starting Bespoke Financial, Mancheril learned from traditional investment banks, where he worked on lending, fixed income and debt markets with Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and Guggenheim Partners.

Nawan Butt, portfolio manager with Purpose Investments, agrees with Mancheril. The financial expert told INN the ongoing legalization process seen in the US market is leading to expansion.

“It’s becoming more of a national move, then small pockets of proliferation. That’s very exciting about cannabis right now,” said Butt, who co-manages the Purpose Marijuana Opportunities Fund (NEO:MJJ).

This proliferation effect is causing a change in valuations and enthusiasm for US-based operations. Mancheril told INN that by the end of Q1, multi-state operators (MSOs) had raised approximately US$3.3 billion.

The cannabis lender said he sees the industry as having grown from the woes of 2019; it is now seeing a return to form by way of the excitement for an ongoing opening process in the US.

The expert explained that there is likely to be a windfall of capital in the wake of major federal changes for cannabis policy, although the timeline for these changes is becoming increasingly hard to predict.

Leading up to that capital influx, Mancheril said he wants to see operators really drill down on the value of desired assets and whether they make sense.

 

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“What I’d hope is that we continue to see bullish sentiment, but with some measure of responsibility, and let’s not just get over ahead of ourselves,” Mancheril told INN. “The idea is let’s minimize the volatility and continue growing responsibly.”

As far as struggles go, Butt explained that the cannabis industry has cemented itself as a growth-type sector, and as such there are macro environment pressures affecting the way these assets operate.

“We’ve seen this preference for cash flows at growth in the current or in the near future, rather than in the far future, and that’s what we’re seeing as far as valuations go in the broad market,” Butt said.

Cannabis market update: Volatility continues to rule as industry foundations build

Despite the industry’s current potential and the growing pains it has gone through as a whole in both the US and Canada, volatility remains a key factor in the cannabis investment scene.

Butt explained that the current shareholder base, which is dominated by hedge funds and retail investors, still lacks enough institutional support to avoid the day-to-day volatility cannabis has come to be known for.

These two investor groups, Butt said, can be easily spooked and excited by the news of the day when it comes to their investments.

“A lot of these institutions’ strategies are not about short-term profits, but they’re about long-term sustainability of the businesses themselves,” Butt said.

“That’s why you see a lot of volatility in the space, and that’s essentially what we’ve seen over the past, I’d say, three to two months as well,” he added.

That means investors shouldn’t expect an end to volatility anytime soon.

“It’s not about whether we continue to expect volatility, because we do,” Butt said. “We really think that the volatility will be taken out when the shareholder base becomes more institutional, but it’s really about understanding why there is volatility in the first place.”

Cannabis market update: Canadians talk up US business potential, but questions remain

A surge of mergers and acquisitions has taken over the Canadian cannabis sector recently as more producers see potential in America.

One of the biggest announcements in this regard came when Organigram Holdings (NASDAQ:OGI,TSX:OGI) secured a C$221 million investment deal from British American Tobacco (NYSE:BTI,LSE:BATS).

Using the funds, the two will work in tandem to develop new branded products designed to work on the international stage, including in the US. Organigram CEO Greg Engel previously told INN that the US represents a critical opportunity for Canadian companies, but the entry point isn’t as clean as it could be at the moment.

 

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While the long-term potential may be exciting for investors, Butt told INN he’s still unsure how the approach will work for Canadian companies.

The Purpose Investments expert said there will be plenty of space for the biggest Canadian names to pursue US market entries, beyond the initial hemp-derived CBD moves some operators have mde, since the US represents the biggest market in the world.

“But there’s just way too many unknowns right now to say exactly what that participation is going to look like, or when that participation will happen,” he said.

“What we do know is that currently the US MSOs are in a wonderful sort of position to expand on their market leadership that they have. And it will be tough for Canadians to come in and compete with them,” Butt said.

Canadian players still retain the upper hand at times in terms of valuation, which is confusing for both Butt and Dan Ahrens, chief operating officer and portfolio manager at AdvisorShares.

“The performance in quarterly earnings of US companies has been rather spectacular. They’ve knocked it out of the park in most instances,” Ahrens told INN.

Butt praised the recent performance reports from MSOs across the board, pointing to year-over-year growth lines and projections for continued positive performance.

In his view, share prices still don’t reflect company value. “Those are really being discounted at this point,” Butt told INN.

“We’ve seen the Canadian licensed producers be really hot stock performance-wise, outpacing the US (MSOs), and I’ll say it’s rather nonsensical to me,” said Ahrens, who oversees the AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (ARCA:YOLO) and the recently launched AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF (ARCA:MSOS).

Cannabis market update: Investor takeaway

The cannabis investment proposition finds itself at an interesting moment in time, as the entire sector eagerly awaits confirmation in the US at the federal level.

While for the Canadians waiting on the sidelines, this development may feel like a major necessity to address current financial struggles, for US-based operators, the heat around the corner could represent an increase to their already thriving operations.

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