Did you know that different ingestion methods have different pharmacokinetics? That means that consuming the same amount of cannabis in a brownie, a joint or a vaporizer can result in measurably different blood THC concentrations. Jointly has collected some early data from our users indicating that the ingestion method you choose might affect your cannabis experience in some surprising ways. Depending on your wellness goals, you may have better success with some product types rather than others. If you aren’t already using it, Jointly is a new smartphone app that enables consumers to enjoy their ideal cannabis experience every time by taking control of the 15 factors that can impact their results. Look up legal, licensed cannabis and CBD products in Jointly's comprehensive cannabis and CBD catalog. Filter products by wellness goals, product type, flavor and more. When you look up a cannabis product on Jointly, you see how other users like you rated the product, based on how well it helped them achieve their wellness goals. We like to think of Jointly as a cannabis social network where we all benefit from the wisdom of the crowd. Read on to find out what our data says about how your ingestion method affects your cannabis experience!
Let’s take a look at the five different product types that you will find at your local cannabis dispensary—edibles, flower, vape oil, tinctures, and topicals—and how they are ingested. Edibles are consumed orally and processed through the digestive tract, which produces distinct pharmacokinetics from inhaled cannabis. Consuming cannabis through the digestive tract produces lower peak blood THC concentrations, over a longer time frame (1-5 hours) than inhalation. Additionally, orally ingesting cannabis “produces psychoactive metabolites,” which could exert different subjective effects compared to other administration routes. Inhalation of cannabis smoke or vaporized cannabis oil rapidly produces “intensely pleasurable and strongly reinforcing effects…due to almost immediate drug exposure to the central nervous system.” Inhalation produces a higher peak blood concentration of THC in a much shorter time than orally ingesting cannabis. Vaporizers “heat the entire plant without igniting it, releasing the cannabinoids in a vapor that is relatively free from the byproducts of combustion.” In our dataset, the vape oil group refers to vape pens, or disposable cartridges filled with an oil extract of cannabis. Tinctures are typically sublingually dosed and are thus absorbed through the oromucosal layer. However, any portion of the tincture that is swallowed would enter the digestive tract and would be processed similarly to an edible. Oromucosal absorption allows for cannabinoids to “avoid first pass metabolism by the liver.” Topical salves are absorbed transcutaneously, which “bypasses first-pass metabolism of cannabinoids.” Topicals allow for a “steady infusion of a drug to be delivered over a long period of time,” while minimizing adverse effects due to slow delivery of THC to the brain. A 2016 study on the effect of CBD gel on knee inflammation in rats found that dermally applied CBD exerted a therapeutic anti-inflammatory effect.
You can look at the table of average ratings for each product type compared across wellness goals and note some interesting trends. Due to federal prohibition on cannabis, there is a lack of scientifically rigorous research into the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of different cannabis products, so we can’t state any firm conclusions on why we are seeing these data, but we can speculate based on what cannabis researchers have discovered. But first, a disclaimer: Our dataset is small, but growing! Many of our findings are not yet statistically significant. Keep that in mind as you read the first edition of this report. As more users contribute data and our dataset grows, we will begin to state firmer conclusions. For Relax, our data indicates people found the best success when consuming tinctures (9.4/10) and edibles (8.5/10). When people ingest cannabis through the digestive tract, they typically have lower peak blood concentrations of THC and the effects are spread out over a longer time. Perhaps that leads to less adverse side effects and increased feelings of relaxation. However, the average rating for Relax across all product types was 7.9/10 or higher, which means that Jointly users are finding success when using cannabis to relax regardless of the product type. For Reduce Anxiety, on average people rated tinctures (9.6/10), but edibles only (6.5/10). Perhaps it is easier to control the dose with a tincture, or these data may be the result of a difference between oromucosal and oral ingestion routes. After tinctures, people found the most success with topicals (8/10). Perhaps people are experiencing direct anxiolytic effects from dermal ingestion of cannabinoids, but it also could be due to secondary factors. For example, topicals are often manufactured with therapeutic aromas, which could potentially reduce anxiety in some individuals. Additionally, the act of applying topicals involves a brief massage, which might help reduce anxiety in individuals consuming topicals for that purpose. For Relieve Stress, on average people found the best success with tinctures (9.4/10) followed by edibles (8/10). The explanation for these findings is likely to be similar to Relax. For Improve Sleep, on average people rated tinctures and edibles equally well (8/10) for soothing them into a slumber. It seems that ingesting cannabis through the digestive tract or the oromucosal layer may be best for sleep. For Focus or Create, people found the most success with edibles (8.6/10) and tinctures (8.5/10) and the least success with smoking flower (6.1/10). Perhaps the acute psychoactive effects of smoking flower limit how useful this ingestion method is for cognitive enhancement, thus people find better results with the slower effects of edibles and tinctures. For Manage Pain, people found the best success with topicals (9.3/10) and edibles (7.6/10), followed by smoking flower (6.7/10). Cannabis has a long history as a natural pain reliever, so it is unsurprising that people are finding success with a variety of ingestion methods for this wellness goal. For example, topicals exert a therapeutic effect on joint inflammation, while edibles allow a longer duration of analgesic effects, and smoking flower leads to rapid and acute pain relief. For Escape, on average people rated edibles highest (8.1/10), followed by oil cartridges (7.3/10). People found roughly equivalent success when using flower or tinctures to escape. For Enjoy Social Experiences, people found the most success with vape pens (9.5/10) and flower (9/10). Perhaps there is a cultural explanation here. Joints, pipes and vape pens can be easily integrated into social interactions and shared with a group of friends. Additionally, the acute intoxication provided by both vape pens and flower may be better suited for social experiences than ingestion methods that take a significant amount of time to take effect.
We can use this data to draw some tentative connections between product types and wellness goals. For several wellness goals, people seem to find better success when consuming tinctures over more traditional ingestion routes like smoking flower. For example, on average Jointly users rate tinctures (8/10) when consuming them with the goal of Physical Recovery. But they rate flower (4.4/10) when smoking with the goal of Physical Recovery. When you rate a product on Jointly, you are actually rating how well a product helped you achieve your wellness goal. That means when Jointly users consume cannabis as a tincture instead of smoking cannabis flower, on average they rate tinctures 80% higher than flower for helping them achieve the goal of Physical Recovery. The graph below represents the percentage difference in rating if you use a tincture instead of smoking flower, for each wellness goal. For Relax, Jointly users on average rated tinctures 19% higher than flower. For Reduce Anxiety, people rated tinctures 23% higher than flower. For Relieve Stress, it was a 24% increase. For Improve Sleep, it was a 17% increase. For Focus and Create, it was a 39% increase. For Manage Pain, Jointly users rated tinctures 18% lower than flower. Perhaps the acute analgesic effects of smoked cannabis create a marked form of pain relief, and thus on average people perceive their pain relief to be greater when smoking rather than consuming tinctures. For Escape, tinctures were only rated 2% higher than flower. Uniquely for the goal of escape, people found nearly equal success when consuming tinctures or smoking flower. For Enjoy Social Experiences, tinctures were rated 11% lower than flower. In future editions of this report when we have more data, we will explore trends related to cannabinoid profile, age, gender, and more. We will also dive into each product type and look at the results for different strains, as well indica vs. sativa, in order to find out which products, strains and brands people are using achieve their wellness goals. In general, it seems people find better success with tinctures and edibles for most wellness goals, other than Enjoy Social Experiences, where it might be best to use an ingestion method that is easy to share. But is that true for you? Use Jointly to find out! Download the Jointly app today and start accomplishing your wellness goals with cannabis and CBD!