Help the medicine go down

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Multi-colored flowers, exotic waxes, odiferous oils, savory or sweet edibles and milky topical creams are among the several marijuana offerings which line the shelves of the illuminated display cases at your friendly, neighborhood medical marijuana dispensary. Each product provides patients with a diverse method of application, dosage and sensation. The menu at a dispensary usually consists of four major categories of products: flower, concentrates, topicals and edibles. Flowers – consisting of strains with names like “sour diesel” and “purple granddaddy”, wearing different coats of psychedelic green, blue, orange and purple – provide patients with the most traditional means of smokey consumption. Concentrates are available in hash, wax and oil form, and earmarked for patients who require a more potent potion. Topicals provide transdermal applications in the form of shampoos, body washes and creams. Edible products can range from infused treats that are ricey and crispy-like, to chocolate cookies to ornately adorned truffles and dainty petit fours. Marijuana tinctures are yet another option available to dispensary patients. What is a tincture? These alcohol-based medicinal extracts – the alcohol compound actually allows marijuana to be absorbed into the bloodstream more quickly – allow a patient to put a little drop in almost anything for an allegedly more clear-headed, therapeutic feeling. Each of the products offered in dispensaries provide relief to patients in its own unique way.

Despite the variety, cannabis products are scrutinized under a different lens from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. These variances are evident when you look at the emerging mid-Atlantic medical markets. Maryland, which is set to roll out its medical program later this year, prohibits the sale of marijuana-infused edibles, likely because of their saccharin appeal to children’s sweet tooths. Despite this prohibition, Maryland patients will have plenty of medicinal options. So if patients’ preferred method of consumption is dining on infused sundries, they can still whet their appetites by purchasing oils and tinctures which can be taken orally or added to food. And fear not Marylanders, medical marijuana suppositories will also be available if “set it and forget it” is the preferred method of ingestion.

Pennsylvania’s medical program, which is still in its nascent phase and is expected to roll out in 2018, has the most restrictive product offerings. Initially, Pennsylvania dispensaries will not be permitted to sell marijuana flowers or edibles, the two most traditional forms of medicinal marijuana. Pennsylvania patients will be allowed to purchase marijuana pills, oils, gels, creams, ointments, tinctures, liquid and non-whole plant forms for administration through vaporization. Interestingly, smoking medical marijuana will be strictly prohibited. This could change, however, if the PA Department of Health promulgates rules that permit the sale of dried flowers and the opportunity to smoke them.

The District of Columbia has the most comprehensive regional medical marijuana product offering. District dispensaries offer a veritable cornucopia of medical marijuana products. Patients will find brownies, smoothie powder, gummies, tincture, oil, gel, pill, shampoo and even a local strain named after the District’s former mayor, Marion Barry (yes the infamous politician who was caught on film smoking something that was not medical marijuana with a prostitute); as well as their preferred paraphernalia for dosing – glass pipes, vape pens, rolling papers and grinders.

As the medical marijuana industry evolves, patients are bound to see new infused products and methods of application. The variety of products will likely keep pace with the expansion of the industry, creating more effective options for patients to help the medicine go down.

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