Tips for Patients Interested in Using Medical Marijuana
1) What is medical marijuana?
Medical marijuana (also known as MMJ or cannabis) refers to the use of the marijuana plan or chemicals extracted from this plant (also referred to as cannabinoids) for medical purposes. Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two best known cannabinoids.
2) What symptoms can medical marijuana help with?
Medical marijuana may be helpful for pain, insomnia, anxiety, nausea, appetite, restless legs syndrome, muscle cramps or spasms, REM behavior disorder (acting out dreams) and agitation. There is not great evidence that it helps with most Parkinson’s motor symptoms although some patients report it may help smooth out on/off periods or dyskinesias.
3) Does medical marijuana have any side effects?
Yes – potential side effects include dizziness, low blood pressure, imbalance, falls, apathy (loss of motivation), abdominal pain (rare), memory loss, dry mouth and confusion. THC may be more likely to cause side effects such as paranoia, anxiety and confusion.
4) How should I take medical marijuana?
It depends on the symptom you are trying to treat. For focal pain or muscle soreness, you can start with creams or patches. For other symptoms, oral formulations like drops or candies work well. Smoking can produce a more rapid and reliable onset of effects but can also be associated with breathing issues. A vaporizer may reduce risk for pulmonary problems.
5) What kind of marijuana should I get?
For most symptoms we recommend starting with a pure CBD product as CBD has less potential side effects. THC is more helpful for nausea and appetite. Many patients report better effects for products containing both CBD and THC so you may want to experiment with gradually adding more THC if you are not getting desired effects.
6) How will I know what dose to use?
As with any other medication, we recommend starting with a low dose (half of whatever dispensary recommends) and going up slowly (e.g. try it at one dose for a week and then go up).
7) Do I need a prescription?
No – there is no such thing as a prescription. You should also know that medical marijuana is not strictly regulated so the dose listed on a product (e.g. 10 mg CBD) may not be accurate.
8) Where do I get medical marijuana?
You can get medical marijuana at both medical and recreational dispensaries.
9) Do I need a license?
No, but there are some advantages to having a license including not having to pay an extra 40% tax on products and having access to medical dispensaries.
Medical dispensaries generally have more medical products, more knowledgeable staff, and better service.
10) How do I get a license?
In the state of Colorado, you will need a physician registered with the Department of Regulations to enter you into the state’s online system. You can then log in as a patient at the Medical Marijuana Registry. They will require proof of Colorado citizenship and $15. You can then print your license.
11) Is there a resource I can use for more information on CBD and CBD products?
Bill Arnold of Entourage Hemp runs a company specializing in CBD products. He can help you choose appropriate products and suggest dosages. He can be reached at 303-514-5148.