How to Use Medicinal Cannabis & Possible Side Effects

September 08, 2018

How to Use Medical Cannabis

While the overwhelming assumption concerning cannabis ingestion is that one must smoke it, there are actually many different ways of consuming medical cannabis. It can be taken orally in the form of a capsule or oil; topically, also in the form of an oil; and as edibles. Medical cannabis is not often smoked, due to the long-term health effects of doing so. Instead, medical cannabis can be inhaled by heating it up using a vaporizer.

Cannabis that was ingested orally (food/capsules) may take between 30 minutes -1.5 hours to take effect, and effects could last up to 12 hours. Effects could begin 5 – 30 minutes following being administered under the tongue, lasting up to 12 hours.  Inhaled medical cannabis (smoking/vaporizing) can begin its work in a few seconds, and could last up to 6 hours, but will wear off within 2-4 hours. In all cases, some effects could last as long as 24 hours.

The actual dosage of medical cannabis will be different depending on the physicality of the individual; it is recommended to start with low amounts and allow for some time (specific times vary depending on the manner of ingestion) to pass in order to determine the potency in relation to the amount consumed. This is also known as titration.

Due to the effects of cannabis use (impairment can last up to 24 hours after use), it is against the law to drive or operate machinery after consuming cannabis. Impaired driving may result in a fine, criminal charges, or jail time. Additional rules surrounding medical cannabis use include not going to work/working impaired, buying only from legal sources, knowing and following the rules about where cannabis can be used publicly and, carrying no more than 30g in public unless specifically authorized.

Possible Side Effects

There have been no documented deaths from cannabis toxicity; in fact, it is almost physically impossible to overdose on the drug, since a person would have to consume 1,500 pounds in a span of 15 minutes to lethally overdose. Despite the lack of lethality, there are some side effects, although this will vary from person to person depending on how much was ingested.

Two main categories, cerebral (mental) and body (physical), can be used to describe the effects of cannabis.  Also referred to as psychoactivity, cerebral effects are mainly induced by THC and can be lessened by a lower THC percentage or combining with CBD.

Short-term side effects of medical cannabis can include: feeling high (euphoria), relaxation, and heightened sensory experiences, confusion, sleepiness, dry mouth, red eyes, increased appetite, dizziness and anxiety. Any negative symptoms of medical cannabis use must, of course, be discussed with the user’s medical practitioner. Everyone’s mind and body will react differently to medical cannabis, and users may have to try different strains to find the right fit for them. Much like any other drug or medication, users who are pregnant must consult with their medical practitioner before using medical cannabis.

While addiction rates have been reported in studies of regular users, medicinal cannabis is less addictive than prescription opioids. The pain relieving properties of cannabis allows for patients to better manage their pain, reduce reliance on opioids, and even eventually stop the use of opioids sooner than if they had not combined their treatment with medical cannabis.

Long-term side effects of medical cannabis can appear gradually after a period of frequent use. This time period can vary depending on the individual; for some, it may be weeks, months or years. Long-term effects may include harm to memory, concentration, and intelligence, and may also negatively impact the ability to make judgements and decisions (especially for youths, in which the effects may not be fully reversible). Physical effects can be similar to the effects of smoking tobacco and include the increased risk of: bronchitis, lung health, lung infections, chronic cough, and increased mucus buildup. These effects can last months or longer even after the patient ceases their use of cannabis.

 

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