What is Medical Cannabis Flower?
Medical cannabis flower is the dried and cured female flower of the cannabis plant, which contains various cannabinoids and terpenes. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates various bodily functions, including mood, appetite, sleep, and pain. The two most well-known cannabinoids in cannabis are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, responsible for the “high” or euphoric sensation that many people associate with cannabis use. THC also has various therapeutic properties, including pain relief, appetite stimulation, and nausea reduction.
CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive and does not produce a high. It has therapeutic benefits including reducing inflammation, anxiety, and seizures.
Medical cannabis flower also contains other cannabinoids and terpenes, which can work together to produce what is known as the “entourage effect.” This effect occurs when multiple cannabinoids and terpenes work together to produce a more significant therapeutic effect than any one of them could produce alone.
How is Medical Cannabis Flower Consumed?
To ‘activate’ the cannabinoids in Medical Cannabis, the flower needs heat.
Medical cannabis flower in Australia can only be prescribed for consumption through a vaporiser. This is to allow consistency in dosage for the patient.
Vaporising involves heating the flower to a temperature that releases the cannabinoids and terpenes into a vapour that is then inhaled. It is considered a less-harmful form of inhalation relative to other inhalation methods, as it does not produce harmful byproducts.
There are a variety of dry flower cannabis vapes available online, but currently the Mighty Medic and Volcano Medic 2 (ARTG 319028) are the only vaporisers approved for Medical use in Australia. It is recommended to avoid purchasing vapes from online websites, where variation in quality can result in flower wastage and inconsistency in dosing. To avoid purchasing a low-quality vaporiser, it is recommended to purchase your vaporiser through a pharmacy.
What is the Correct Vaporiser Heat?
Vaporiser heat is often misunderstood by patients, especially those who have experience with burning cannabis at high temperatures through a joint or a bong.
The ideal temperature for vaporising medical cannabis can vary depending on the strain and cannabinoid content of the flower. As a general guideline, a vaporiser should be heated to a minimum of 175°C (the temperature required to activate THC) and a maximum of 205°C (the temperature which creates smoke and toxins).
At lower temperatures between 175-190°C, a patient is likely to experience more of the terpenes, which are responsible for the flavour and aroma of the cannabis. This temperature range can produce a more clear-headed effect.
At higher temperatures between 190-205°C, a patient is likely to experience more of the cannabinoids, including THC and CBD. This enhances the psychoactive effect of the flower. A higher temperature range can produce more sedative effects, but it also increases the risk of undesired intoxication.
Beyond 205°C the flower begins to burn, creating smoke. This is where harmful toxins are released. It is generally recommended to avoid heating a vaporiser to a heat beyond 205°C.
Below is a useful heating chart for cannabis flower, illustrating the temperature at which different cannabinoids are activated.
The TGA guidance for Medical Cannabis medicine is always to start low and go slow. This could be as little as 1-2 inhalations of the vape every 30 minutes, until the desired effect is achieved.
Flower is prescribed PRN, which is a medical term for “as the circumstances require”. This means that it isn’t prescribed for consistent daily dosing, unlike other dosage forms.
Every patient is different, and you should always follow the practitioner’s guidance when it comes to dosing Medical Cannabis products.
3 Benefits of Medical Cannabis Flower
Vaping cannabis flower has an immediate effect, making it an effective option for those who need rapid relief.
Greater control over dosing:
Patients can control the dosage precisely by adjusting the amount they consume, making it easy to identify their optimal dose.
Wide variety of strains:
There is a wide variety of strains available, each with different cannabinoid content. This empowers patients with different options within the broader category of flower.
3 Risks of Medical Cannabis Flower
Smoking or vaping cannabis flower can expose patients to potential respiratory risks which are not prevalent in other dosage forms.
Though Medical Cannabis flower is produced to the highest pharmaceutical standards (known as GMP), it is still a naturally forming plant. There is invariably deviation in quality and potency from batch to batch.
Vaporisation of Medical Cannabis flower creates an odour which is less noticeable than burning the flower, but it still is noticeable. This can make it difficult to use discreetly, which may not be desirable in certain social or public situations.
Is Medical Cannabis Flower right for me?
The best way to find out if flower is suitable for you is to discuss a personalised treatment plan with a medical professional who has expertise in Medical Cannabis prescription. They’ll hold your hand through the journey, and assist you in finding out what works best for you.