Putting weed up your butt sounds more like a South Park episode than a doctor’s recommendation, but surprisingly, it has become an increasingly popular method for physicians and medicinal marijuana patients.
This method of consumption was even recently recommended by the Government of Canada, which intends to fully legalize recreational marijuana next year, and is, therefore, scrambling to manage any potential health risks associated with the product.
“We know there’s something in opium that helps pain, and we’re able to pharmaceutically develop morphine and other analgesics, but we wouldn’t say to people, ‘You have pain? Why don’t you smoke opium?’” Said addictions specialist at the University of British Columbia, Paul Farnan, to the CBC.
Suppository drugs are often used for patients who are unable to swallow medicine, or for medicine that doesn’t react well with a patient’s stomach or intestines. Some surgeries may also require that a patient keeps an empty stomach, in which case cannabis suppositories offer the perfect solution. These suppositories are typically made with a combination of coconut oil and cannabis oil.
But suppository cannabis isn’t just for these types of patients. Cannabis suppositories designed to relax menstrual pains are already being used by many women vaginally. And in fact, the benefits to taking cannabis through the rectal suppository method are many.
For starters, you don’t inhale any of the harmful smoke and chemicals that affect your lungs when you smoke marijuana. “Many of the chemicals found in tobacco smoke are also found in cannabis smoke,” reads the Canadian government’s health section of their website.
Obviously, marijuana doesn’t have most of the disgusting, questionable ingredients of cigarettes like rat poison, tar, and formaldehyde. There are over 4,000 ingredients in a cigarette beyond simple tobacco. By way of comparison, marijuana users typically roll their own joints, so any of these “dangerous chemicals” are included in the actual plant and paper you’re smoking. But that doesn’t mean you can coat your lungs with marijuana smoke without any side effects.
Another benefit of suppositories, compared to other consumption methods like edibles, is timing. The major problem with edibles, as any enthusiast can attest, is the awful, drawn out, 1-2 hour waiting period between eating an edible and feeling its effects. In comparison, suppositories only take 10-15 minutes to kick in.
According to Hello MD, suppositories also have a 50-70 percent efficiency rate, compared to the 10-25 percent rate of smoking. This basically means that less marijuana needs to be consumed to achieve the same effects. This is partially due to the intestinal walls “thin lining” which easily absorbs medicines, similar to how one might put a pill under their tongue in order to grant faster access to the bloodstream.
“Rectally is actually a lot more preferred because of the volume of absorption. You can put a lot more and it gets absorbed a lot better, but not everybody is open to this way of administration,” said Mikhail Kogan, medical director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at George Washington University, to the CBC.
Finally, some might decide to take cannabis suppositories simply because, well, it’s enjoyable (reportedly). Rather than harsh smoke on one’s lungs, the result is a “warm, liquid feeling that starts in the pelvis and spreads throughout the rest of the body,” as Pamela Hadfield, co-founder of Hello MD tells High Times.
Overall, doctors have made some convincing arguments about the health benefits of cannabis suppositories. But it’s hard to imagine it will replace smoking as the preferred method of cannabis users. After all, you can’t pass the suppository “to the left-hand side,” and “I insert two cannabis suppositories in the morning, insert two suppositories at night,” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.