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Can You Inject Weed?

IV weed
Written by Sarah Friedman

Come on, if you’re in the world of weed, this must have crossed your mind at least once. As lay-people, we don’t always know why one drug gets injected, and another is given as a pill. Or why research studies use injections when studying compounds, but only release them using other delivery methods. Today we ask the question, can you inject weed? Like, really main-line it? And if you do, what happens?

Is it possible to inject weed, and if so, how to go about it, and what to expect? We are a cannabis and psychedelics platform which covers big stories in these expanding industries, and beyond. We also offer the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter to keep readers updated, and to offer a range of deals on products like vapes, smoking devices, edibles, other cannabis paraphernalia, and cannabinoid compounds including the crazy popular Delta 8 & HHC. You can find offers in our ‘best of’ lists, so head on over, and buy yourself the products you really want to use most.


Delivery methods

The delivery method is the method by way a drug is introduced to your system. Each drug has one, or several, delivery avenues, and often particular compounds cannot be administered in certain ways. Sometimes, a certain method of administration is possible, but frowned on. Take opioids for example. They’re usually given as a pill, but we know they can be injected, put in a patch or cream, or used in a syrup. We also know they can be snorted, but this is never the intended form of delivery.

As another example, mushrooms are usually eaten or made into a tea, though new companies are now making skin patches as well. They don’t work when you inject them, snort them, or smoke them, or to such a minimal degree that using in these ways, is meaningless. Though there is always the errant experimenter, these mushroom-taking principals, seem pretty-well understood. In this case, its just about whether something works or not.

General delivery modes include using pills and capsules; oils and tinctures; creams, salves, and patches; smoking and vaping; through nose or mouth inhalation; as a syrup or other liquid; or through either IV (intravenous) or IM (intramuscular) injection. Some drugs are usable in more ways than others. When looking at modes of delivery, bioavailability and toxicity are important.

Bioavailability relates to how much of a compound your body can realistically use of a medication. Toxicity relates to what point a compound becomes dangerous to your system function. For some drugs, the same amount given two different ways, can elicit two different levels, whereby one method might lead to toxicity, when the other does not. For example, when weed is inhaled, the bioavailability is 10-35%. When eaten, its 4-12%. This according to a 2021 study on cannabis pharmacokinetics and mechanisms of action.

Weed delivery method
Weed delivery method

When it comes to weed, we have tons of ways of getting it in us. Most of us smoke and vape, or swallow down an edible. Plenty are using oils and tinctures, and there are an array of cannabis creams, salves, and skin patches. There are also nasal inhalers. What do we not do? Snort it. We know this doesn’t work since the oil soluble compounds repel our water-soluble mucous membranes. But does that mean weed can’t be injected either? Read on to find out more.

Can you inject weed?

Sometimes weed comes as an oil or tincture, which is in a liquid form. Sometimes this comes in a container that looks like a big ole syringe (even if it’s oversized and not meant for injection). So what’s the deal? Can you inject weed oil or any other form of weed, directly into a vein or muscle? The official answer, is actually yes. It can be done, but is not a standard method, as it comes with some issues.

Cannabis has been used for injections for some 50 years in research settings. In this capacity, IV delta-9 injections provide a major benefit in that it standardizes bioavailability between people. With IV injections, everything is absorbed, and the differences between individuals in their uptake, is less profound.

So, it sounds like it’s possible, right? Yet, no one does it. Except for that small percentage of self-experiments out there. What do they have to say? Well, even they exist in rather minuscule numbers considering how widely used cannabis is. In one place, a person spoke of injecting kief by mixing it with blood, heating to dissolve the kief, filtering, and then injecting. His response to it?:

“I felt extremely baked for about 5-10 minutes before it quickly wore off. This was something i did purely for the sake of being able to say i tried it, having never heard of anyone else doing it. The high was really unique, not in necessarily a good or bad way. I have had no ill effects after several hours, but i would not recommend it to anyone who isn’t VERY confident in what they are doing.”

What we don’t know, is who this guy is, what other compounds he might have been on, what happened in the longer-term, or if this is a true story. How does this story compare to other research into the effects of injecting weed?

Can you inject weed? The research!

It seems the question can you inject weed is popular enough, that the topic was officially looked into by researchers, who put out this study in 2004 entitled The Psychotomimetic Effects of Intravenous Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in Healthy Individuals: Implications for Psychosis. In it, they performed a 3-day, double-blind, randomized, counterbalanced study, on the behavioral, cognitive, and endocrine effects, of injecting 0, 2.5, or 5 mg of delta-9 THC intravenously. However, what the study represents most, is how easily information is outdated, or incorrectly assessed.

The study was performed on 22 people who all had some level of cannabis exposure, though none were diagnosed with cannabis abuse disorder. The researchers found that injected delta-9, at any level used, caused the following results:

Inject weed
Inject weed

“(1) produced schizophrenia-like positive and negative symptoms; (2) altered perception; (3) increased anxiety; (4) produced euphoria; (5) disrupted immediate and delayed word recall, sparing recognition recall; (6) impaired performance on tests of distractibility, verbal fluency, and working memory (7) did not impair orientation; (8) increased plasma cortisol.”

They concluded that “These data indicate that Δ-9-THC produces a broad range of transient symptoms, behaviors, and cognitive deficits in healthy individuals that resemble some aspects of endogenous psychoses. These data warrant further study of whether brain cannabinoid receptor function contributes to the pathophysiology of psychotic disorders.”

What they didn’t account for – despite the title of the study – was the method of delivery. We already know injections provide for very high bioavailability. We also know that delta-9, in high amounts, can temporarily cause the equivalent of a psychedelic ‘bad trip’. In these instances, a user, seemingly responding to over-stimulation, looks to experience an anxiety attack. This is often referred to as some kind of psychosis.

Like psychedelics, cannabis increases the amount of serotonin in the system; that cannabis and psychedelics produce similar bad trips in too-high doses, actually makes a lot of sense. Both compounds are constantly looked at for their connection to psychotic issues, but it seems in both cases, this comes up as a form of overdose, not standard effect. And in neither case has this effect carried on permanently.

The researchers took all this to be the general effects of delta-9, NOT the general effects of injected delta-9. They open the discussion with “The principal finding of the study is that Δ-9-THC produced…” This is very strange, as it calls into question all results, as the results don’t take into account the delivery method, or the increased bioavailability.

Subsequent research into cannabis and intravenous use makes clear how important dosing is with IV usage. In this report from 2012, called Cannabis in the Arm: What Can we Learn from Intravenous Cannabinoid Studies?, researchers reference a Yale study which found “that I.V. administered Δ-9-THC can elicit transient schizophrenia-like positive psychotic symptoms and schizophrenia-like cognitive impairments in a proportion of healthy volunteers.”

They then go on to say, “The more recent I.V. delta-9-THC studies have used doses of 1.25mg, 2.5mg, and 5mg. These doses have been found to be psychotomimetic, anxiogenic, dysphoric and cognitively impairing.” And then that “It may therefore be possible that doses which are considered by participants to be the strongest they have experienced reflect an over-intoxication, which in turn results in such symptoms.”

So basically, injecting by itself doesn’t have to lead to such symptoms, but getting the dose wrong, can. This might help explain why its frowned on for regular people to inject cannabis, as it’s a wildly different thing to dose for injections, and very easy for a person to make themselves sick. As of yet, I haven’t seen appropriate amounts listed anywhere for dosing in this way, indicating it might not be known, even now.

Weed injection
Weed injection

So…can a regular person inject weed?

The answer to the question of can you inject weed, is actually yes, you can. And its regularly done for study purposes. However, even now there seems to be confusion over how to dose for intravenous use, as well as no good way for a standard person to turn their flowery plant into an injectable preparation.

In this article from 2018, a recipe for an IV injection included: “10 mg THC, 10 mg CBD, 150.0 mg polysorbate 80 (Tween 80), 10.0 mg sodium ascorbate, 500 μL absolute ethanol, and 0.9% sodium chloride,” at pH of 7.4, which all together totaled 10 mL. “The IV solutions were freshly prepared and filtrated under sterile conditions after sonication for 30 s.” Specific processing techniques apart from this, were not made clear.

It seems the biggest reasons cannabis is not regularly injected by the masses, are 1) the process needed to make the injection is extensive itself, and not realistic for the majority of users, and 2) the ability to dose, without overdoing, is not well understood. For anyone interested, it’s best to stick with standard delivery options when it comes to weed. And if in the future things change, take advantage of the new information, at that time.

Conclusion

It’s always good to know what makes sense to do, and what doesn’t. We’ve got tons of answers to other mind-boggling questions as well, like can you smoke magic mushrooms? Snort kief? Smoke in space? Or can you smoke a gummy, tincture, or oil? Read up to find out!

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About the author

Sarah Friedman

I look stuff up and and write stuff down, in order to make sense of the world around. And I travel a lot too.

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