Canada’s cannabis legalization this summer will grant millions of adults access to dried flower and oils for recreational and medicinal use. However, it will be another year before other products like edibles will be available in legal retailers. In a similar category as edibles are suppositories, cannabis oil-filled capsules that are absorbed through the rectum or vagina.
How Cannabis Suppositories Work
Bullet-shaped rectal suppositories are inserted into the rectum, where it dissolves and is absorbed through the lining of the intestinal wall, and into the bloodstream.
Suppositories are known to have a high efficiency rate, which is the measurement used for calculating how the medicinal effects of cannabis are absorbed. For suppositories, the efficiency rate is between 50–70%. Comparatively, inhaling cannabis is said to be 10–25% efficient, while edibles are said to be about 20% efficient.
Some suppositories are meant to be inserted into the vagina, where they’re absorbed through the many cannabinoid receptors in the pelvis area. These types of marijuana suppositories are made to help women during their period, helping ease menstrual cramps and associated back pain.
Generally, suppositories take about 10–15 minutes for the effects to be noticeable, and can last between four to eight hours.
Marijuana Suppositories Are Currently Unregulated
In Canada, suppositories are unregulated, which means they’re technically illegal. Yet, they can be found at some dispensaries, although they aren’t prominently displayed. In one Toronto dispensary, a gel capsule of 100 mg sells for $5.
An employee, who didn’t want to be named and didn’t want the store’s details revealed, said suppositories are different than edibles because the patient isn’t metabolizing the product. He recommends rectal marijuana suppositories for people with Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer patients or anyone who has pain in that area. He said some patients freeze the capsule so it can be inserted easier.
Suppositories are a good option for people who have localized pain either in the pelvis, abdomen, rectum or lower back, and find that high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) help their pain. Since the cannabis isn’t ingested, consumers feel relaxed, but rarely high—another plus for those interested in trying cannabis suppositories but who don’t want any psychoactive effects.
Photo credit: Evren Aydin