A Beginners Guide to Medical Marijuana
So here you are, you have received your state ID for Medical Marijuana (card, certificate, etc.) and have your doctors recommendation in hand, but now what? Things can get very confusing pretty fast if you either have no experience with cannabis or have not used it in years, or even decades. There are plenty of things on the internet and most information is helpful but there is still the occasional article/video that truly isn’t in your best interests. If you have anyone that you can discuss this with then you are fortunate and definitely a step ahead of most. Do of course try to discuss Medical Marijuana with your doctor. Though do not be alarmed if they have very little info or are not terribly willing to discuss this. You must remember that for now this is a touchy subject, but this is changing rapidly.
Find A Good Dispensary
The most obvious but still maybe even somewhat overlooked first thing is that you will need to find a legal, secure source for your cannabis needs. I use the model of the industry; Harborside Clinic, if close by go to their Oakland or San Jose store fronts or check out their web site. This will give you a good role model for what to look for at your local dispensary. Harborside has you, as a patient at the forefront of their service, they will discuss your needs and requirements, which is exactly what you want in a trusted cannabis dispensary. You also need to know that your cannabis has been lab tested to ensure that it is free of anything that could harm you. This includes any types of molds or lingering chemicals from either improper handling/storing or incorrect grow methods which can be detrimental particularly if you already have poor health. Also proper testing will ensure that you are getting exactly what you need; whether it be high concentrations of THC or CBD to ensure your best path towards healing.
Indica or Sativa, so what is it all about?
There are lots of discussions within the cannabis world as to strains and cannabis types. It can be confusing and sometimes misleading for the medical cannabis user who is new to cannabis or has been away from cannabis for a long time. But there are some very easy ways to understand the differences so that can benefit from the the best strains!
To keep it easy there is an mnemonic to help remember what Indica is. For Indica think; “smoke the indica and find yourself in da couch”. This type of cannabis will be most useful for resting (so that’s why the couch rhyme), pain relief and many more conditions. The second type, Sativa is used to find relief from pain but without the need to rest that Indica will induce. Sativa can stimulate creativity and is a much more nergetic high. Sativa and Indica aren’t mutually exclusive as there are now many hybrid strains to give a blend of effects. The strain can be either dominant in one or the other which leads to the kind of effect the medical cannabis user needs dependent on their health condition(s). So the best thing is of course to take the time to discuss just what it is that you are looking for with your dispensaries Wellness Caregiver.
Now you have your Medical Marijuana
Now you have your product. Hopefully you have discussed what you have and its use with your dispensaries Wellness Caregiver. Things can still get confusing for the new or just returning individual and that is nothing to be shy about. So no matter what you might have: bud/flower to smoke, types of edibles to consume, tinctures or oils to place under your tongue (sublingual) or even juices or sodas to drink, the one and most important thing to keep in mind is GO LOW AND GO SLOW! No matter what you’re doing if you start either with low amounts/doses or just take your time as you inhale/consume and be patient to wait and see how you feel. This is how you can educate yourself on how much you need to control your medical condition, tolerance levels are different from person to person and this method can be far more beneficial than most advice others will give.
Consider if you want to medicate for the first time with someone that either is experienced or understands and is willing to be there with you. Don’t be afraid, if this is new to you, just like anything else trying something new is always better with a friend. Finally, hydrate, water is your friend don’t be afraid to drink at least a glass even before you consume your cannabis as well as during and after (remember the old jokes about cotton mouth?). Most importantly relax and take the experience you have with your cannabis as the journey of wellness that it is!
Vaping your MMJ
As a medical cannabis consumer you will have so many choices to make when it comes to consuming your medication. Of course there is the traditional method of smoking cannabis. No matter if you smoke a joint, pipe, bong it is still an act of combustion and this is something that some people in the medical cannabis field have questioned; ‘will this be to benefit a patient/consumer of medical cannabis?’ So one has to think it through as combustion, burning your cannabis can produce other by products that you are going to inhale besides what your are looking to receive as a medical benefit from your cannabis. This can have some very obvious negative effects on you depending on what your medical condition might be. It could even be that what is going on for any individual medically could prevent them from even smoking at all.
Now one of the important things to know and keep in mind when wanting to use medical cannabis is that in order to receive the benefit of the compound THC a chemical reaction actually has to take place. This is the reaction of decarboxylation. So without having to have some chemistry degree the easy way to understand this process is that the THC in your cannabis needs to get to a certain temperature so that it can give you the psychoactive effects that you are looking for. This is thought to be from around 245 degrees Fahrenheit up through 390 F which would be the act of vaporization of the essences of the cannabis material. After somewhere around 400 or 450 degrees it becomes the act of combustion.
So this is where the term to vape or vaporization comes from. That band of temperatures where you are benefitting from your cannabis THC without actually burning it. There is now a vast industry with many different items for you the medical cannabis patient to choose from. There are vaporizers which can take your cannabis plant material and vaporize the essential oils and compounds and either direct this to you immediately. Or even dispense this into a bag or balloon that you can then inhale from. There are even pre-made cartridges that are sold with vaping oils that will contain either the THC or CBD that you benefit from. The options are many and will most likely increase as more states legalize and further research is completed. You should be able to have a discussion with your dispensaries wellness caregiver about which will be the right way for you personally.