Where to Start with Medical Marijuana

So you have decided to give medical marijuana a try and you received your medical card so all you need to do is head to your local dispensary. But what do you look for when you get there? To save you from being overwhelmed when you arrive or the stress of asking someone else what would be best, I have gathered some of the most common forms that you might find medical marijuana can take and some of the benefits and setbacks of each. 

There are no right answers when it comes to medical marijuana delivery or strain because it all comes down to you and your preferences so having an idea of what your preferences are before you get to a dispensary will be highly beneficial.

Some of the Benefits of Medical Marijuana

As medical marijuana begins to become more widely adopted in the United States, there is increased research as to the benefits that it can give to consumers. We are learning new things all the time but there are some things that we are pretty sure about at this point. 

Ease anxiety- Medical marijuana’s effects on relieving anxiety are fairly well documented at this point. In a report by the University of Washington in 2017, the effect of THC was reported to lower anxiety in low doses but increase anxiety at higher doses. CBD was reported to only lower anxiety. What this means is that you should take your time consuming the type of medical marijuana that you have but we will cover more of that in a little bit.

Help with depression- Appropriately prescribed doses of medical marijuana can also help ease the symptoms of depression, but the aid of medical marijuana should always be in conjunction with regular therapy and other self help exercises as there can be adverse effects if abused like any other drug.

Pain control- Medical marijuana is best for pain symptoms that are not severe like chronic pains or nerve pain. According to an article from Peter Grinspoon out of Harvard Health, marijuana can also be “a fantastic muscle relaxant” and might be able to “less tremors in Parkinson’s disease.”  

Other less reported benefits- Might help reduce nausea, stimulate appetite, reduce seizures, reduce cancer cells. Note that some of these are not backed by hard evidence so please take them with a grain of salt.

Types of Medical Marijuana

The method in which you are taking medical cannabis will dictate the duration and control with which you have in feeling its effects. Depending on your lifestyle, there may be methods that you will want to avoid or that you will more naturally gravitate towards.

Flower- Highly controllable since you decide how much to smoke but can leave a lingering smell that depending on your comfortability might not be best. The effect on your lungs isn’t great in the long term so depending on your frequency it might be best to avoid if you are an athlete. The harsh effects on your lungs can be mitigated if using a vape or bong. A vape will also leave less of a lingering smell on clothes and furniture.

Edibles- Edibles can be intense with how much of a wallop they can pack and since many edibles are different and so are the metabolism rates of people, edibles can be a bit of a gamble. Edibles come in dozens of varieties from candy to chocolate to cookies so there is a lot to explore in terms of flavor.

Topicals- Lotions that have cannabis-infused properties. These lotions help to ease pain in a direct area on the skin. Often chosen for the less harsh psychological effects experienced with other delivery methods.

Strains to Consider

So you have your preferred method of application but now you have to consider the strain with which that edible or topical is created with. The strain will have more effect on what you feel than any other factor but there are so many strains that there is no way we can cover them all in this one article.

However, here are some of the more popular strains that you are more likely to run into when you visit your local dispensary. Remember that all people are different so some experimenting might be needed to get the exact relief you need. Note that the strains below can cross to other categories so don’t assume that Blue Dream can’t help with happiness because it might very well. The lists below are just a starting point for you.

Reported to help patients with insomnia and stress

  • Purple Kush
  • Afghan Kush
  • Bubba Kush
  • Granddaddy Purple

Reported to help patients with pain and relaxation

  • Northern Lights
  • Fruity Pebbles
  • Blue Dream
  • Acapulco Gold

Reported to help patients with happiness and fatigue

  • Maui Wowie
  • Durban Poison
  • Harlequi

A Warning Regarding Strains

Don’t put too much faith into the specific strain labels. Strains are the mainstream way to generalize what a particular product is like from a dispensary but the kicker is that Afghan Kush from your local dispensary might be different from the Afghan Kush a state over or even a few blocks over. What this means is that relying too much on the above reports for strains can be a flawed system since there is no standardization for the strains’ chemical makeup. 

Cannabinoids are the chemicals that make up cannabis. You’re probably familiar with THC and CBD, well those are only two of the dozens of cannabinoids that cannabis can produce. The general makeup of the strain might have different levels of cannabinoids and this is what helps to influence the different effects across strains. 

A Quick Word on Terpenes in Cannabis

Terpenes are compounds in cannabis that help to provide some of its color and aroma and they work in conjunction with cannabinoids to create that specific strain’s effects. What this means is that the way that terpenes react will also depend on the makeup of cannabinoids in the strain and this only goes to show that you can’t (at the current moment in the industry) slap a label across a flower and assume you know its effects. 

However, you can use terpenes to your advantage as you begin to explore the world of medical marijuana. Pay attention to color and smell as you explore different strains at your local dispensary because the terpenes could very well be leading you to your preference in medical cannabis. 

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, now you have a better idea of where to begin your search to find the right medical marijuana that’s best for you. You want to be inquisitive about your strains and try to figure out what the contents of their makeup might be. If you are still unsure how to take those first steps in research, the consultants at Cannacist should be able to assist you in figuring out what might be the best strain makeup to look into for your needs.

Remember everyone is different in how they will specifically react to different strains and deliveries. For some people, it takes time to find exactly what works best for them and that’s okay. Keep that in mind and do some of your own research to make the most out of your medical marijuana experience.

Photo: “Platinum Punch”, courtesy of Kanopya Springs