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Can I replace smoking cannabis with transdermal patches?

Can I replace smoking cannabis with transdermal patches?

Getting the right answers in your cannabis journey can be tricky. But with The Cannigma’s Ask the Expert, you can find questions from readers like you, answered by a real cannabis pharmacist. 

Question: Hi, I’ve recently had my scan results from my lungs tests and they weren’t so good. I’ve been told to stop smoking cannabis, which I’m struggling to do as I’ve smoked it all my life. Are the patches available with my doctors??


Talk about a bummer – to learn about a lung problem AND giving up your favorite pastime sounds stressful. While I can’t speculate on your lung health or the scans and must defer to your doctors, I can verify that there are some known negative lung effects from smoking cannabis.

While not as cancerous as tobacco smoke, cannabis smoke is still rich in many of the same harmful components of cigarette smoke. These small particles can cause irritation and inflammation, which over time may have negative effects on the lungs.

Vaping cannabis produces less of these harmful particles, but it’s still new technology that is not without its own lung concerns. There was even a serious incident where tainted (illegal) vapes killed many Americans. For these reasons, your doctor would likely not want you vaping either, but if you do decide to give it a go, consider a dry herb vape and keeping temperatures low to reduce the production of those harmful molecules.

The good news is that just because you can’t smoke or vape doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the benefits of cannabis. 

You specifically asked about transdermal cannabis patches, and while this is an increasingly popular product type, unfortunately most doctors around the world still do not have access to cannabis patches. Additionally there is very little research on the effects of these products, so it may be a while before patches become readily available. But if you can get your hands on them, I say try ’em.

As a seasoned cannabis user, I assume you’ve tried edibles, but if not this might be a good option for you. They can be made easily at home from flower and can deliver a longer, often more intense experience than smoking.

If you can’t feel edibles (some people can’t), then you can try leaving cannabis oil (tincture) in your mouth for as long as possible (a few minutes) to allow some of the cannabinoids to absorb through your mouth, potentially hitting you a bit faster. An empty stomach may also make the cannabinoids work faster.

Don’t forget that you can buy or make your own topical products at home. It’s not a patch, but topicals can still have effects locally.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out.

Be well, 

Codi Peterson, PharmD
Scientific advisor, The Cannigma
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