There’s a hundred and one ways to skin a cat (but don’t, please) and, it seems, just as many to ingest cannabis. Smoking or eating it are the most common routes, for now, at least. But transdermal patches as a method of cannabis delivery are quickly gaining in popularity too. Move over nicotine patches – you’re so 1980s. The future belongs to the weed.
Mary’s Medicinals: The Trailblazers of the Patch
Mary’s Medicinals opened in 2013 and offers medicinal marijuana products to people in Washington, Colorado, Arizona, California, and Oregon; it was the first company to market a cannabis patch and, as a result, it received the award for “Most Innovative Product” at the CannAwards in 2015.
These patches were originally designed for anyone with medical maladies, but they’re also sold recreationally in states where the law allows it.
How Does a Cannabis Patch Work?
A cannabis patch is an adhesive patch capable of attaching to any area on your body with skin. Most people place them somewhere discreet – their arm instead of their forehead, for instance. They’re designed to offer a steady, constant flow of cannabis over a long period of time. They won’t get you as high as smoking a joint (or eating an edible) and the high is very different: it’s more about maintenance, than peaking. Some people don’t notice much of anything other than that they’re no longer in pain, or anxious, or nauseous, or whatever they were feeling before cannabis
swooped in to help.
A patch is longer lasting than a toke too – most cannabis patches provide relief for eight hours or more and that relief is steady: there’s no abrupt coming up and going down.
The rule of the patch is simple: slow delivery over a long period of time
If it was a character from Aesop’s fables, it’d be the tortoise.
A cannabis patch should be placed in an area of the skin rich with blood vessels. This helps assure proper absorption as the THC is delivered directly into your blood stream. Your wrist or foot are good options. The route of delivery makes the patch a more effective way to get the drugs into your system; unlike eating an edible, none of the THC is broken down by the acids in your stomach.
Patches aren’t the same as topical creams: they work a little differently than lotions. Most creams are absorbed in the first few layers of your skin. This makes them effective for surface injuries, like a bee sting, and local relief, like a bad knee or a sore lower back. A cannabis patch delivers systematic relief; doing its own seven-layer dip, it goes through all seven layers of the skin until it reaches your blood.
The Benefits of Using a Patch
Relief – from pain or anxiety or neurological symptoms (or anything else) – is the biggest benefit of the patch: it’s more medicine, delivered more effectively, over more hours. But it has other perks as well. For one thing, it’s not as psychoactive as other types of ingesting – this leaves you high functioning and able to remain productive: no pain and lots of gain. This dulls the side effects as well: a patch might stimulate your appetite, but it won’t leave you convinced you’re starving and make you willing to eat something crazy, like Hamburger Helper. It won’t leave you paranoid either, hiding behind your couch as you convince yourself that the man knocking on your front door is a serial killer. And it’s super strange that he’s dressed up as a UPS man.
While the jury is still out on whether or not smoking marijuana is bad for your lungs, using a patch eliminates any risk, theoretical and otherwise
Another benefit to a patch is the accuracy of the dosing. Edibles are wonderful at providing long-lasting relief, but, as we’ve discussed in previous articles, the dosing varies, regardless if you make it yourself or your purchase one commercially. It’s difficult to make an entire batch of cupcakes or brownies uniform: one cupcake might get you higher than you’d like while another does nothing except ruin your diet.
Of course, if a patch isn’t working for you, taking it off is easy: peel away and the effects will dwindle. It’s much easier to undo a patch than it is un-eat an edible or un-smoke a bowl.
How Long Does it Take to Work?
A cannabis patch doesn’t work as quickly as smoking but it doesn’t take as long as oral ingestion: on average, it takes about twenty minutes before you’ll start feeling the effects. Patches come in different dosages, typically 10 milligrams and 20 milligrams. People who want lower doses can cut a patch in half while those who want higher doses can use more than one at a time. Wearing a patch consistently (as you might for something like multiple sclerosis) may require two or three patches as tolerance tends to build.
The Types of Patches
The patches available through Mary’s Medicinals come in different ratios and cannabinoids. The variations offered include: THCa, THC Indica, THC Sativa, CBN, CBD, and CBD: THC with a 1:1 ratio.
The THCa option is an extract of Tetrahydrocannobinolic Acid. It has no psychotropic effects and is particularly good at relieving muscular diseases and inflammation. There’s also a good amount of speculation surrounding its ability to curb malignancy.
The Sativa and Indica patches are good for reducing nausea and treating glaucoma. The difference between the two is similar to what you would usually find: the sativa is more uplifting while the indica is more calming.
The CBN patch involves the cannabinoid cannabinol and it’s useful for pain, insomnia, inflammation, convulsions, and as an appetite stimulant.
The CBD patch is anti-psychotropic and well known for its ability to treat epilepsy (similar to CBD oil). It’s good for depression, chronic pain, and things like ADD
The CBD: THC patch uses the powers of both THC and CBD cannabinoids: it’s an ideal choice for people who have a myriad of symptoms rather than just one or two.