Medical Cannabis Safety + Side Effects | A Beginner’s Guide

Medical cannabis legalization has been sweeping the nation. Claims about the benefits of medical cannabis are growing exponentially and many people are curious about whether or not it could help relieve their symptoms.

Cannabinoids are the components of cannabis most responsible for its effects. The two most commonly known cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Both THC and CBD interact with the human body’s endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system helps control and maintain homeostasis in the human body. This system also produces cannabinoids and has cannabinoid receptors throughout the body’s nervous system. THC and CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system in different ways. 

THC binds with receptors in the body, while CBD interacts with the receptors without binding. Conditions such as epilepsy and neurologically-rooted chronic pain can be eased by CBD, as it acts on the nervous system directly.

The endocannabinoid system was only recently discovered and more research is needed to understand how cannabinoids affect this system. Unfortunately, past stigmas continue to cause some people to be reluctant about trying medical cannabis. Thankfully, current research is showing promising results and more research continues to be conducted.

Common Uses for Medical Cannabis

As research continues, the uses for medical cannabis grows. The following conditions are the most common medical uses for cannabis:

  • Anorexia: Many people report that cannabis increases their desire to eat. Whether you’re suffering from anorexia due to an eating disorder or from other causes, cannabis may be able to help you eat.
  • Anxiety: Cannabis strains low in THC and high in CBD may be effective at relieving anxiety and other mental health disorders. Tropicana Haze is recommended for patients seeking relief from stress and anxiety.
  • ADD and ADHD: Many people are trading their ADD and ADHD medication in for medical cannabis because some strains may help these patients focus better without the side effects that come with other types of medications.
  • Cancer: Some research suggests cannabis may help slow certain cancers or prevent them. This research is still in its infancy and will take years before there are any conclusive studies.
  • Chronic Pain: Chronic pain can be caused from a plethora of conditions. Depending on the state you live in, you may need a more specific diagnosis to get a medical cannabis condition. Once you’ve been approved, strains such as Breath Mintz might be able to help relieve the pain.
  • Depression: Many people report some strains of cannabis, such as SB Champagne Breakfast, can make you feel happy and help relieve depression.
  • Digestive disorders: The CBD cannabinoid has anti-inflammatory properties which may help relieve various digestive problems including irritable bowel syndrome and acid reflux.
  • Epilepsy and seizure disorders: Seizure disorders is one of the primary conditions that led to the legalization of medical cannabis in many states. Many neurologists are recommending strains of cannabis oils high in CBD to help prevent and treat seizure disorders.
  • Nausea: Nausea can be debilitating and cause other health problems. Cannabis may help relax the stomach muscles and allow you to eat and keep the food down.

This list of conditions medical cannabis may be prescribed for is not comprehensive. You should always consult a doctor before trying to use cannabis as a form of treatment for any condition.

Cannabis Safety and Side Effects

In the past, cannabis was believed to be a dangerous drug that caused extreme psychosis. This belief swept the nation in the 1930s due to the “Reefer Madness” propaganda. Soon after, cannabis was outlawed and classified as a schedule 1 drug by the federal government. However, newer studies are finding cannabis to be a very safe herbal remedy for many conditions but may come with some side effects. The following list contains possible cannabis side effects:

  • Dry mouth
  • Paranoia
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Intoxication
  • Drowsiness

Long term use or consuming cannabis containing high amounts of THC could cause cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. Also, smoking and vaping cannabis long term can cause lung and breathing problems.

How to Qualify for Medical Cannabis

Cannabis containing THC is still a schedule 1 drug on a federal level. Today, however, the federal government has legalized cannabis hemp plants which contain very little THC and high CBD. Since CBD doesn’t create an intoxicating effect, it has been legalized most everywhere. On the other hand, cannabis plants containing high amounts of THC are being legalized in many states and legislation has been introduced to legalize it federally.

Obtaining a prescription for medical cannabis will depend on the laws where you live. Every state and county has their own regulations. Each state also has specific conditions that qualify for medical cannabis. You will need to speak to a medical professional in your area for information about qualifying for medical cannabis.

Where to Find Medical Cannabis

Once you qualify for medical cannabis, you can search your area for dispensaries. Companies such as VidaCann employ professional budtenders to help you select the best strain for your condition.

Most dispensaries have their products listed online so you can get an idea of what you may want. If you already know what you want to buy, then many dispensaries have online ordering. Depending on where you live, you might be able to have your order delivered. If delivery isn’t available, you can ask about curbside pickup.

Types of Medical Cannabis

Purchasing cannabis for the first time can be a little overwhelming due to the amount of options. There are many different strains and product options. Product options include:

  • Edibles
  • Flower
  • Concentrates
  • Vapes
  • Topicals

The first time you try cannabis you might want to stay away from concentrates and get something lower in THC. Also, make sure to start slow. If you’re trying an edible, it can take an hour or more to kick in so be patient. 

For Additional Information

Your medical professional should be able to give you some recommendations about which strains and products of medical cannabis will work best for you. They may also provide you with a list of dispensaries and advise you which dispensary has the most knowledgable budtenders. 

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