How Can I Use Cannabis Safely?
With the widespread legalization of medical marijuana, the number of patients that rely on the therapeutic powers of cannabis is on the increase. For many, safety is a paramount concern. Extensive studies have shown that cannabis is well tolerated by most patients. There is little to low risk of death due to overdose, a clear advantage over opioids. Furthermore, the side effects of cannabis are minimal and there is little risk of dependence.
Even with all this information, many patients with a medical marijuana card remain inquisitive about how to use cannabis more safely. Perhaps, the inquisitiveness is triggered by the overwhelming types of medical marijuana plants, number of strains and dosage forms available in medical marijuana dispensaries. Or it could be due to the fact that people are simply more conscious about their health and well-being. Whatever the reason, such inquisitiveness is always a good thing. This comprehensive guide provides all you need to know about the safe use of medical marijuana.
Using your Medical Marijuana Safely
The safe use of medical marijuana covers every aspect of cannabis use; right from the cultivation to processing, to selecting a dosage form and every other step along the way. Below is a list of the important factors you need to consider if you wish to use your marijuana more safely
- Strain of cannabis
- Cultivation environment and processing of the drug
- Method of consumption or dosage form
- Dose used
- Consider drug interactions
The Strain of Cannabis
There are at least three distinct species of the cannabis plant and the percentage of active ingredients in these strains may vary greatly. You’ll hardly come across the pure strain of cannabis in any medical marijuana dispensary. Breeders combine the major strains to produce hybrid strains that retain properties of the individual breeds to varying extents. There are thousands of strains that have been developed using this method.
It cannot be argued that some strains work better than the other for certain conditions. For example strains with more CBD are known to work well for muscle spasticity and relief of pain. On the other hand, strains with higher THC content are better for treating insomnia.
The strain you are using would also affect the side effects of the drug. Strains with a high THC content, for example, may impair mental functioning in some patients. If you wish to use your cannabis more safely, it is important to identify the strain that works best for you and stick with it.
Cultivation Environment and Processing
The cultivation environment exerts a significant effect on the constituents of cannabis. Even within the same strain, there could be marked differences between cannabis cultivated indoors and the outdoor strains. Many people already know that the indoor species usually look more impressive on the eye; the differences could also extend to their chemical constituents. When comparing cannabis plants grown in different geographical locations, the effect of the cultivation environment could become more pronounced.
The method and conditions of processing could also affect the constituents of medical marijuana. In the United States, the dried flower bud from the female plant is extensively used in making marijuana preparations. If you travel to other parts of the world, you might find out that extracts from the trichomes are more common. Naturally, you would expect variations in therapeutic efficacy when different plant parts are used to make your medical marijuana preparation. To encourage safe use of medical marijuana, patients are encouraged to stick with the preparation that works well for them. Trying out different preparations from different sources may lead to unwanted effects.
Method of Consumption or Dosage Form
There are about 4 distinct methods of using medical marijuana. They are
- Inhalation: smoking or vaporization
- Oral ingestion
- Sublingual application
- Topical application
Safety Concerns with Different Dosage Forms
The topical application is considered the safest method of using cannabis as only a small amount of the drug is absorbed into the systemic circulation. However, it is only effective in a limited number of conditions. You should check the excipients (things like coloring agents, preservatives, and fillers) present in the topical cannabis preparation before purchasing.
Smoking is considered the least safe method of using medical marijuana. The materials used in packaging the smoked forms of marijuana could release carcinogenic substances upon consumption. This could increase your risk of lung cancer. Studies have also shown that when smoked, marijuana could lead to the development of air-filled cavities within the lungs. These could lead to respiratory distress, characterized by symptoms such as chest pressure and difficulty breathing. Due to the reasons stated above, smoking medical marijuana is currently illegal in Florida although that may change soon.
Vaping is safer when compared with smoking. There is minimal risk of cancer because combustion does not occur while vaping. Vaporizers also have the advantage of reducing environmental pollution. To make vaping even more safe and effective, you should invest in a vaporizer that allows you to regulate the vaping temperature.
Sublingual application is generally considered safe. Whether you’re using a spray or tincture, you should be fastidious about the number of sprays or drops because sublingual preparations are usually highly concentrated. Before buying a spray or tincture, you should check the vehicle of the formulation to ensure it’s a substance that’s well tolerated by your body.
Medical marijuana for oral ingestion may come in form of pills and capsules or as ‘medibles’. Essentially, ‘medibles’ refer to cannabis mixed with foods such as cake, cookies, tea, etc. Some medibles need to be heated in order to be effective. The onset of action of oral cannabis is slow. When you factor in the fact that absorption of ingested cannabis is erratic, it could become very difficult to get an effective dose for a patient. The potency of edible marijuana depends on the plant part that was used in making the drug. Invariable, the side effects would also vary with the plant parts used.
Needless to say, you should pay attention to the dose of cannabis you’re using if you wish to use cannabis more safely. The general rule is that you should use a preparation with high potency as this would reduce the overall amount of cannabis you’re using. Concentrates could prove very useful if you need a high dose for your condition.
Consider Drug Interactions
There is limited information about the specific interaction of cannabis with most medicines. Available evidence suggests that cannabis may potentiate the analgesic and respiratory depressing effects of opioid painkillers. It is better to stay off medical marijuana if you are on prescription opioids. As a general rule, you should inform your doctor if you are about to add another medication to your regular drugs. You would be better off if you can follow this rule with medical marijuana. Potentially dangerous interactions may occur if you take cannabis with other medications that act on the central nervous system.
A Summary of the Key Points to Consider
- Take note of the variety you’re taking and the effects on you; both wanted and unwanted
- Use a variety or preparation with higher potency so you can use less amount of medical marijuana
- If you must inhale marijuana, vaping is a safer method of inhalation
- Take a break from taking cannabis occasionally. Excessive consumption could lead to tolerance
- Once you observe a particular variety is no longer doing the job, consider switching to another variety. This could be better than increasing the dose
- Organic cannabis products are the best.
Cannabis could also impair your ability to drive or operate heavy machinery. We recommend no driving while stoned in Florida. To ensure your safety and the safety of others, you should stay off tasks that require a high level of concentration whenever you ingest or inhale cannabis. These effects only last for a few hours so you can resume your regular activities about 2 - 3 hours after using medical marijuana.
We hope you would find these safe cannabis use guidelines beneficial when you start taking medical marijuana. Remember, you need to obtain a medical marijuana card before you are legally allowed to use medical marijuana in Florida. At Kinda Health, we believe everyone that needs medical marijuana should have access to the drug. You can get in touch with us to schedule an appointment. We promise to make your application easy and hassle-free.
Would you like to dive further into cannabis dosage forms in the Sunshine State? Read our article CBD Oil: Ins & Outs of Nature’s Cure-All to discover more.
For more info:
Beginner’s Guideline to Cannabis Edibles
The Wild (Yet Resilient) History of Cannabis Use in America
Side Effects of THC: the Good, High, and Ugly
Marijuana Facts OR Myths? The Truth About Cannabis Use
Can Medical Marijuana Help Senior Citizens?
Comprehensive Guide to Medical Marijuana for Seniors