Tools & Resources

We want the best for our clients, and that means providing the support and resources that allow physicians to prescribe with confidence. If you are new to medical cannabis, check out our Resource Centre, or register with us to access the tools you need to get started.

Resource Center

From terminology to strain types to ingestion options... there is a lot to know about medical cannabis. Here, you'll find the most important information to get you started.

What is Medical Cannabis?

Medical marijuana refers to the dried flowers of the Cannabis plant, used to treat or relieve a specific symptom or condition. The Cannabis plant contains over 80 different cannabinoids along with terpenes and flavonoids.

Overview of Terminology

The following overview of terminology can be helpful for patients that are inexperienced or new to medical cannabis.

Dosing and Strain Selection

When it comes to developing a dosing schedule, marijuana has many variables that do not fit in immediately with the typical pharmaceutical drug model.

Routes of Delivery

There are several routes of delivery available for patients to safely and effectively consume their medical cannabis. The amount of cannabinoids such as THC received by the patient depends on the route of administration taken.

What is Medical Cannabis?

Medical cannabis refers to the dried flowers of the cannabis plant, used to treat or relieve a specific symptom or condition. The cannabis plant contains over 80 different cannabinoids along with terpenes and flavonoids. More recently, the synergistic contributions of cannabidiol to cannabis pharmacology and analgesia have been scientifically demonstrated. Other phytocannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabivarin, cannabigerol and cannabichromene, exert additional effects of therapeutic interest. Of these compounds, the two most researched and well-documented are Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).

THC

THC is the primary psychoactive constituent, commonly related to the euphoric effects or “high” from cannabis.

THC has relatively low toxicity, and lethal doses in humans have not been described. THC can also cause rapid heart rate, dry mouth and time distortion. Different strains of cannabis have different levels of THC as well as different ratios of THC to CBD. In general, the higher the THC percentage and the THC:CBD ratio, the more likely you are to experience heightened psychoactive effects.

CBD

CBD is not a psychoactive constituent itself and has been documented to mediate the psychoactive effects of THC as well as reduce negative effects such as rapid heart rate and anxiety.

At Organigram, all of our products are manufactured under strict controls and in conformance with the Good Production Practices of the Cannabis Act as well as the security directives as defined by the Office of Controlled Substances. Prior to packaging, we ensure all products meet stringent quality assurance criteria and are lab tested by an independent laboratory. Under the Cannabis Act, registered patients are permitted to buy cannabis in dried flower and edible oil formats. 

Overview of Terminology

The following overview of terminology can be helpful for patients who are inexperienced or new to medical cannabis:

Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds unique to cannabis that act upon the human body’s cannabinoid receptors. There are over 80 known cannabinoids present in the Cannabis plant, each with varying effects.

Terpenes

Terpenes are a class of organic compounds present in a variety of plants, including Cannabis. Different strains can be distinguished by the variety of terpenes they produce, which contributes to differences in aroma, flavour and effects. Terpenes and terpenoids are the primary constituents of the essential oils of many types of plants and flowers.

Trichomes

Trichomes are the resin production glands of the cannabis plant. They contain the highest concentration of cannabinoids in the plant.

THC

THC is the primary psychoactive constituent present in medical cannabis, commonly related to the euphoric effects or “high” from cannabis.

CBD

CBD is the second-most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis after THC. Research has shown that CBD provides a therapeutic effect without contributing to the psychoactive “high."

Hybrid

Hybrid cannabis plants are a genetic cross between two or more separate strains of cannabis, exhibiting characteristics of both. Plants can be balanced or sativa-dominant and indica-dominant hybrids.

Strain

A strain is a specific variety of medical cannabis, with a unique cannabinoid and terpene profile that contributes to its specific effects.

Vaporizer

A vaporizer is a device used to inhale cannabis without combusting it. Vaporizers work by heating the dried cannabis matter to a temperature below the burning point that produces a cannabinoid-rich vapour that can be inhaled directly.

Dosing and Strain Selection

When it comes to developing a dosing schedule, cannabis has many variables that do not fit in immediately with the typical pharmaceutical drug model. There are a variety of strains of marijuana available, with different effects due to different cannabinoid levels and terpene profiles. Individual patients can also have vastly different tolerance levels, with new users requiring much lower doses to reach the same effect as compared to experienced users. Although it is a potent drug that produces psychoactive effects, THC has very low toxicity, and lethal doses in humans have not been described. Evidence from animal studies and human case reports appears to indicate that the ratio of lethal dose to effective dose is quite large. The theoretical LD50 value is estimated to be 1 to 20,000, using a single cannabis joint as a unit of dose.

Keeping these factors in mind, it is imperative that the dosing model to be used be highly individualized, determined in consultation with the patient and self-titrated. Whether smoking, using a vaporizer or edible items, the general guideline is to start at a low dose, gauge the effects and go slowly. Various surveys published in peer-reviewed journals and medical literature have suggested that the majority of people reported using approximately 1 to 3 grams of dried cannabis per day.

Patients may need to try multiple strains and gauge their relative effects when it comes to symptom relief before deciding on the best choice. Furthermore, some patients may find it useful to use multiple strains throughout the day, switching between them based on time of day. Sativa strains tend to be more energizing and suitable for the daytime, whereas Indica strains are more sedative and helpful with sleeping disorders.

The first time a patient is using medical cannabis, ensure they adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Consume their medical cannabis in a safe and comfortable environment
  • Have at least 3 hours available to discern the full effects
  • Do not have to drive a vehicle or operate any heavy machinery
  • Start with a low dose

To provide some perspective, we can look at data from several other clinical trials and studies

  • In a randomized controlled trial testing smoked cannabis for chronic neuropathic pain, it was found that inhalation of a single 25mg dose of cannabis four to five times daily resulted in lower levels of pain and improved sleep, which corresponds to 100 – 125mg of THC per day.
  • In HIV patients with nausea and vomiting, a study found that regardless of the clinical setting in which it is prescribed, the total recommended dose of dronabinol, a synthetic THC formulation, was 100 to 120 mg/day.
  • In a study exploring THC as an antiemetic in cancer patients, it was found that an equivalent of 87.5 mg/day of THC for an average-sized person had a significant reduction in nausea and vomiting.

Routes of Delivery

There are several routes of delivery available for patients to safely and effectively consume their medical cannabis. The amount of cannabinoids such as THC received by the patient depends on the route of administration taken.

Combustion

Combustion can be in a variety of forms, such as a pipe, water bong or cannabis pre-roll.

  • Up to 30% of the active ingredients are lost in sidestream smoke and combustion
  • Effects are usually felt within 30 to 60 seconds and fully develop within 10 to 15 minutes
  • Effects typically last between 2 to 3 hours

Vaporization

A vaporizer is a device that heats the dried cannabis matter without causing combustion, producing a vapour rich in cannabinoids that can be inhaled directly. Several models of vaporizers are available and can be chosen based on the preferences of the patient.

  • Much more efficient than smoking as there is no loss of cannabinoids due to pyrolysis
  • Effects are usually felt within 30 to 60 seconds and fully develop within 10 to 15 minutes
  • Effects typically last between 2 to 3 hours
  • Does not produce undesirable compounds that can cause lung irritation

Edible Oil

Cannabis oil can be taken directly or mixed into smoothies, yogurt and your favourite recipes.

  • Effects are usually felt within 30 to 60 minutes of ingesting an edible item
  • Effects typically last between 4 to 6 hours but can be longer for patients with a lower cannabinoid tolerance level
  • Provides a long-lasting steady dose, similar to extended release medication
  • More intense effect than inhalation, requiring caution when dosing

Whereas effects occur within minutes when smoking or vaporizing cannabis, these effects have a slower onset and a longer duration in the case of oral ingestion. For orally administered cannabinoids, data shows that a maximum of 20% of the administered dose enters the systemic circulation, indicating extensive first-pass metabolism. Hence, this typically requires more dried cannabis to be used when preparing orally ingestible items to achieve comparable effects to vaporizing or smoking.

Note that when ingested orally, THC is primarily metabolized to 11-hydroxy-THC, a metabolite that can be 3 to 4 times more potent and result in a much more intense effect as compared to smoking or vaporizing. This makes it essential to manage oral doses carefully, with a rule of thumb being beginning with half or a quarter of a piece of an edible containing 1 gram of cannabis and waiting at least 60 minutes before ingesting higher amounts of edible items.