Smoking is bad for your lungs, vaping requires expensive equipment, and marijuana edibles are hard to dose. That leaves one option: the back door. The prudish among us may cringe at the idea of slipping cannabis into our anuses to achieve relief from Crohn’s disease, chronic pain, or epilepsy, but doctors and the marijuana industry are increasingly advocating for cannabis extract suppositories. After all, despite the US’s increasing acceptance of medical marijuana, the practical fact remains that medical prescriptions should be standardized — not “hit a fat dab as needed.”
In a pun-heavy article published Sunday in Forbes, contributor Mike Adams describes how he coerced an intern into trying CBD suppositories, which are cocoa butter-encased bullets filled with the non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana and hemp. The young man, loathe to slip the products up his butt, finally caved to a $200 bribe. The whole thing is played for laughs, and the idea of cannabis suppositories is all but dimissed.
But the sense of squeamishness underlying the article belies the fact that rectal cannabis is actually a pretty good idea. There’s a reason that CBD companies are investing in the products, and there’s a reason that doctors advocate for them.
A THC-infused suppository, for sale in Colorado in 2018, can be inserted anally or vaginally.
In March 2017, Inverse reported that human lungs aren’t very efficient at absorbing the cannabinoids from pot smoke, and the stomach’s acidic environment can destroy a lot of the active chemicals in an edible before it gets a chance to work. At that time, University of British Columbia addictions specialist Dr. Paul Farnan told The Canadian Press that, along with other medications like laxatives and opioids that are given to patients in suppository form, marijuana suppositories are a logical next step.
“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?’” he said.
Suppositories, on the other hand, have a long and well-accepted history of medical use, owing to the superior absorption properties of the human rectum.
Mucous membranes, which form the wet linings of your mouth, nose, rectum, and many other tissues, are excellent surfaces for drugs to absorb into the bloodstream — with much higher efficiency than smoking or eating, Plus, there’s the added benefit of forgoing the potentially harmful health effects of inhaling smoke.
And sure, there is something a little comical and a little cringey about sticking weed up your butt. But especially for cancer patients who have trouble eating, let alone smoking, a cannabis suppository could be a godsend.
A major benefit for those who worry medical marijuana users are getting too high from their medicine, THC is absorbed less efficiently through the rectum than CBD is, and some patients report that they achieve the therapeutic benefits of CBD without the intense high that can come from THC.
Research has shown that rectal CBD can actually have some unique therapeutic benefits over oral CBD, too. A 2012 study in the journal Pharmacology showed that mice with colitis who received rectal CBD experienced greater relief from symptoms than mice who received the drug orally.
So yeah, the average stoner or medicinal CBD user might not have much use for a weed suppository, but for some people, it could offer a lot of relief without some of the worrisome side effects of the traditional routes. So don’t pooh-pooh it if you haven’t tried it.