What are the current and most frequently used methods of administration of medicinal cannabis?


The forms of administration for medicinal cannabis are,the following:


  • Inhalation method (evaporation of the plant material using a vaporizer)
  • Cannabis oil (sublingual and oral administration)
  • cannabis Ointment



The patient can pick up his cannabis plant material or cannabis oil with a legal prescription in countries where medicinal cannabis has been legalized such as the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.


To inhale, the raw cannabis plant material is used. The flower tops or granules are then accurately weighed according to the prescribed dosage and placed in the evaporator. Inhalation is a safe and proper way of administration to obtain a rapid effect.The active substances enter the bloodstream immediately via the lungs. After a few minutes, the first effect is felt. The maximum effect is after about 5 to 10 minutes. The effect will gradually disappear from 2 to 4 hours. This form of administration is especially suitable for acute complaints such as upsetting pains, spasms, nausea and vomiting.


Certain patients make a form of cannabis tea with the plant material. This is a decoction; a balanced amount of cannabis plant material is boiled in milk. However, this form of administration is a less suitable form of administration and is practically not prescribed by the physician because the medical dosage is very difficult to determine. 


The most commonly used form of administration is the cannabis oil. This is made on prescription in the pharmacy. Medicinal cannabis oil is an easy and effective method of administration. It works less quickly than when inhaling, but it works much longer. That is why it is a good form of administration for chronic complaints that last for a long time or for sleep problems (can usually last all night). The first effects occur after about 30 to 90 minutes. The peak is reached after 2 to 3 hours. The total duration of action is 4 to 8 hours. The prescribed dose is administered by mouth in the form of drops (vial with dropper pipette) or in milliliters (vial with dosing syringe). The oil is kept under the tongue for a short time (minute) and then swallowed. In this way one obtains a sublingual (under the tongue) administration and an oral (swallowing) administration. The sublingual administration ensures a faster absorption into the bloodstream, this via the small blood vessels under the tongue.


Furthermore, the Dutch pharmacies also have cannabis ointment. This is a local form of administration and is little prescribed. It is used locally in certain dermatological conditions (eg certain forms of psoriasis or eczema) or in local pains due to arthritis.


Cannabis oil



 Cannabis granulate or flower buds

Evaporation (via inhalation)

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