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  • Jennifer Betz

Which Medical Marijuana Products Should You Start With? Intro to Cannabis Formats at VA Dispensaries

smoking, vaping, &tinctures: which is the best way to use medical marijuana for symptom relief

The variety at Virginia cannabis dispensaries is overwhelming. This intro to medical marijuana products may help.

Getting a Virginia marijuana card is straightforward and simple enough when you choose a trusted and competent cannabis recommendation provider, but that’s just step one toward taking charge of your symptom relief. The confusing part of the journey starts when you shop at a medical marijuana dispensary and have to decide which cannabis product to try first.

There are so many different types of cannabis products, some that you’ve likely never tried before, and each format often comes in multiple strain and dosing variations. However, a little research and preparation—along with an open mind and willingness to experiment—can lead to relief beyond your expectations.

We’ve shared insights on the best ways to get started with some of the most popular products at Virginia dispensaries, including edibles and tinctures. But in our eagerness to help patients get started, we may have skipped a step: Deciding which medical marijuana products to start with in the first place.

So, today, we are going back to basics to help you understand the differences between formats, how to start with something new, and what to look for when you’re new to medical marijuana.

Important Note: You Need a Medical Marijuana Card in Order to Legally Purchase Marijuana in Virginia

First thing’s first. You need to have a recommendation from a healthcare professional, then register with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy in order to purchase marijuana in Virginia. At Virginia Marijuana Card, we make the process easy, helping you with every step along the way.

Give us a call at (888) 633-5808 to talk to our patient support experts, or visit us online to schedule an appointment for a Virginia marijuana evaluation today! Once you have your card, you can shop at any dispensary in the state, and you can even get cannabis products delivered right to your home.

Some (Mostly) Universal Truths in Medical Marijuana

Before we get into the differences, we wanted to examine a few essential-to-know facts that are (mostly) universal to medical marijuana.

1. It’s always best to start low and go slow.

If you take too much marijuana at once, you can’t undo it. The only thing you can do is wait for the effects to wear off. However, you can always take more if a smaller dose doesn’t do it for you.

2. It’s Probably Impossible to Overdose on Marijuana

Despite sensational headlines, no one has ever had “cannabis overdose” as a cause of death. The substances in cannabis do not work on the brainstem in the same way alcohol and opioids do, so it is unlikely that anyone can actually die (or even come close) from an “overdose” of marijuana.

3. Products Higher in CBD Are Milder

Products that have a high CBD concentration are generally milder than products with a higher THC concentration. Most people do not feel impaired when they take CBD, with the most common side effect being drowsiness. CBD may also counteract the effects of THC, so finding a product with a good balance may be beneficial for beginners.

Smoking, Vaping, Edibles, Tinctures or Extracts?

Most of the decision of which medical marijuana product to try first will depend on your personal preferences and your treatment goals. If you are brand new to cannabis, or if you’ve only ever tried smokable flower, you probably have no idea what your personal preferences are.

To complicate matters, results are incredibly subjective depending on your health, treatment objectives, genetics, state of mind, what you ate before and after your dose, how much sleep you got, even the weather.

Though we can’t give you a definitive answer about what to start with, we can help you understand how each product works, which will help inform your decisions. Once you get started, the rest is up to you.

As of the first week in August, 2021, there are no smokable medical marijuana products available at Virginia dispensaries. However, that is going to change soon enough. Back in February, lawmakers approved the sale of smokable marijuana flower, and the first buds should be hitting Virginia shelves by sometime in September.

With that in mind, we are going to include smoking marijuana in our list of therapeutic options to consider on your first trip to the dispensary.

Smoking Marijuana - The Pros and Cons of Therapeutic Use

Smoking dry herb is the most common way to try marijuana for the first time, so you might already be familiar with how it makes you feel. This may be the easiest way to refamiliarize yourself with the effects of cannabis if you’ve been away for a while.

Other pros of smoking marijuana flower include the fact that results usually start within 5 - 10 minutes, you have a reasonable amount of control over your dose, dispensaries typically have a wide variety of strains once they start selling flower, and you may really enjoy the flavor and smell.

The cons of smoking marijuana flower for symptom relief include the fact that some people don’t like the odor, it’s unclear how damaging inhaled marijuana smoke is on the lungs, it wears off rapidly, and it can be inconvenient and messy.

Vaping Medical Marijuana - Similar to Smoking … But Different

When you vape medical marijuana, your body processes it in the same way as it does when you smoke. You’re inhaling the terpenes and cannabinoids into your lungs, and they immediately enter your bloodstream just like the oxygen you breathe.

Vaping is a little different from smoking, however, both by mechanism and results. Vaping heats the dry herb or concentrate just enough to create vapors, essentially steaming it. This leads to less heat being sucked into your lungs than when you smoke, and lower temperatures may be conducive to more efficient cannabinoid and terpene delivery.

In other words, you might get more of a buzz if you vape, but there will be other differences as well. The balance of CBD, THC, and other terpenes in your buds or concentrate will change the effects, and you should be prepared for the possibility of a more intense experience.

Edibles: A Great Product for Pain … If You’re Careful

If you’ve ever picked chunks of bud out of your teeth after eating someone’s special brownies, then didn’t feel much of anything, it’s probably because the person who made them was not versed THC extraction techniques. Edibles sold at medical marijuana dispensaries are much more potent, with precise measurements of THC in each serving.

Edibles get processed through your liver, so their effects take longer to feel, they last longer, and they are usually felt more in the body than in the head. They are one of the more discreet options, they are easy to toss into your bag and take with you when you’re on the go, and they come in a variety of flavors and even chocolates!

Just be careful! One of the biggest mistakes new users make when they try edibles for the first time is taking more when they don’t feel anything after an hour. Edibles may take two to three hours in order for their full effects to be felt. This means that if you take more when you don’t feel anything after an hour, you may be doubling the effects that you will feel in a couple of hours.

Remember the first mostly universal truth about medical marijuana: It’s best to start low and go slow. This is especially the case with edibles.

Tinctures: Mild, Smooth and Generally Lower in THC

Tinctures are one of the best products for patients who are just getting started with medical marijuana. Because of the standard method of dosing, they are generally felt more in the body, so they are a favored format for pain relief.

Taking tinctures sublingually gets the active substances right into your bloodstream, and you will most likely start feeling the effects within 20 minutes to an hour.

Products that are lower in THC and higher in CBD are popular among people who just need something to help take the edge off their pain, anxiety, or insomnia. You can also easily find tinctures that are vegan and free of sugars, making them a great choice for people with restricted diets as well.

Extracts - Probably (Definitely) Not For Beginners

Extracts usually show up in Virginia dispensaries as live rosin, but the selection may grow as medical marijuana production ramps up. Basically, these are known as dabs, and they are messy and super potent. Standard THC concentration is 60 percent or more.

If you are still ready to dive into the land of dabs before getting your feet wet with other formats, GLeaf makes live rosin in a strain called RNTZ, and it is only 38.46 percent THC. But don’t say we didn’t warn you! Even a dab with a lower THC concentration can pack a powerful punch.

Get a Virginia Marijuana Card to Start Enjoying the Natural Relief You Deserve!

You can browse online all you want, but you need a Virginia marijuana card in order to actually purchase anything at a Virginia dispensary. Once you get your card, you can visit any dispensary in the Commonwealth. And don’t be discouraged if you live far away from the nearest dispensary! Three of them have a wide home cannabis delivery zone, covering most of Virginia when combined.

Give Virginia Marijuana Card a call today at (888) 633-5808, or schedule an appointment to see one of our marijuana referral providers today, and you could be getting natural relief before you know it!


Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.

At Virginia Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to MMJ. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

Call us at (888) 633-5808, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

Check out Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Virginia!

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