If you are thinking about using medical cannabis, you probably have a lot of questions. After all, even if you used less-than-legal cannabis recreationally when you were younger, using cannabis for a medical purpose can feel like a serious decision. We will take two parts here to address some of the frequently asked questions people have before trying out medical cannabis.
What is medical cannabis?Medical cannabis is any cannabis product that is used under a doctor’s recommendation to treat certain ailments and symptoms.
Is medical cannabis different from recreational cannabis?Technically speaking, they’re the same plant, but medical cannabis has more restrictions placed on it. Some states only allow medical cannabis with a medical cannabis card, whereas other states allow medical cannabis and recreational cannabis without a cannabis card.
Is medical cannabis available everywhere?That’s a tricky question to answer because each state is different. Some states allow you to purchase medical cannabis from other states’ dispensaries, and other states only let you purchase medical cannabis from that state’s certified dispensary or pharmacy. Additionally, some states recognize other states’ medical cannabis cards and allow purchases within their state, while other states don’t.
What kinds of conditions does medical cannabis help?Each state varies in what they define as a qualifying condition. While cannabis can help other conditions even if the particular state doesn’t approve it, you will only be able to acquire a medical cannabis card from a qualified physician if you meet your particular state’s requirements. That said, some of the conditions that cannabis can help include:
- Terminal illness
- Chronic pain that is unmanageable
- Multiple sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Condition resulting in hospice care
- Cachexia (loss of skeletal muscle mass)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Muscle spasms
How do you get a prescription?Depending on your location, you may need to get either a recommendation or prescription from a qualified medical doctor, physician assistant, osteopathic physician, podiatrist, advanced practice nurse practitioner, or another qualified physician. In some states, it’s enough to get this recommendation, but other states, such as Utah, require a prescription and specified hours of continuing education to get and maintain a medical cannabis card. Additionally, other states may require multiple physicians to give a recommendation before a patient can purchase medical cannabis. Check out this page for more information.
How do you take medical cannabis?Medical cannabis comes in as many forms as you can think of, but you should still check with local laws to ensure you are using legally. Some of the ways you can take medical cannabis include:
- Topical cream
- Unprocessed flower
- Gelatinous cube
- Viscous oil
- Dry herb vaporizer or vape juice
Can you have as much medical cannabis as you want?Again, this will depend on your state’s particular laws. Some ways that states limit the amount of medical cannabis you can have include:
- Restricting the total amount (in grams) you can carry on your person at a time
- Monitoring the total percentage of THC present in a dose
- Requiring you to purchase only within the state’s cannabis inventory system or from specific pharmacies or nurseries
- Regulating how quickly you have to use each dose and keeping track using a barcode system
- Allowing or not allowing you to grow your own/specifying how many plants you can grow
Are there any risks associated with taking medical cannabis?There are risks associated with taking any drug, and medical cannabis is no exception. While the risk of overdosing is almost nonexistent, you could have a bad reaction or experience. How your body responds to CBD or THC depends on several factors including your age, metabolism, gender, prior usage, the particular strain, and other medications you are taking. Sometimes people get jittery, overly anxious, or even paranoid when using cannabis, so you should seek friends or family to help monitor your reaction if you are new to using. Additionally, some common side effects include:
- Increased appetite
- Delayed reaction time
- Impaired memory or concentration
- Increased heart rate
- Increased risk of heart attack or stroke