- Medical marijuana is different from recreational marijuana in that it is designed to treat certain medical conditions.
- Medical marijuana can be used to treat symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and nausea.
- To get a medical marijuana card, see a physician or medical marijuana specialist.
- Visit the Insider Health Reference for more tips.
As long as the marijuana remains federally illegal, an increasing number of states have legalized medical marijuana to relieve conditions such as Crohn’s disease, insomnia, and glaucoma.
In fact, millions of Americans across 36 states and 4 territories are legally registered to use medical marijuana.
If you are interested in using medical marijuana, here is your in-depth guide.
What is Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana refers to cannabis products that are specially formulated or marketed to relieve the symptoms of various diseases.
The formula is usually a special combination of CBD, THC and other natural pain relievers found in marijuana, says Laszlo Mechtler, MD, medical director Dent Neurological Institute and medical advisor in Jushi Holdings, Inc.
Here’s what separates medical marijuana from recreational marijuana: Recreational marijuana usually contains more THC, a chemical that causes highs. In addition, Mechtler says foods purchased through your state’s medical program are more likely than recreational marijuana to be tested for contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, and fungi.
How to use medical marijuana
If your doctor determines you might benefit from medical marijuana, Mechtler says they will work with your pharmacist to determine the ideal product, formula, and dosage based on your symptoms and needs.
Mechtler says there are several important questions to consider when deciding which marijuana products a patient should consume:
- How fast is the product?
- What side effects and drug interactions can you take?
- How long does it take?
Answering the above questions will help you and your doctor figure out what form of cannabis you should be taking, whether it’s edible products with long shelf life or fast-acting flowers. Here are some of the most common medical marijuana products and how they work:
- Dried flower: Dried flowers, eaten by vaping or smoking, are quick-acting and beneficial for people who need a quick relief from anxiety or panic attacks, Mechtler said.
- Oil: The petroleum products are also fast-acting and are suitable for people who need quick relief, but who may not want to smoke, Mechtler said.
- Edible products (sweets, drinks, lozenges): Edibles take longer to last and can be stored for 4 to 6 hours, making them a good option for people with chronic pain, Mechtler says.
- Tinctures: Tinctures are highly concentrated extracts that are quickly absorbed under the tongue, making them a good option for people looking for quick relief.
- Topical products (balms, ointments, creams): These treatments are applied directly to the skin to relieve pain associated with the skin or nerves.
- Capsules: Capsules, like food, take a while to work, but can be stored for many hours, Mechtler says.
Aside from how quickly the effects appear and how long they last, it’s also important to consider how taking medical marijuana will fit into your daily life.
“Sometimes patients don’t want to smoke because they don’t want their children, parents or neighbors to see them smoke,” says Eric Smith, MD, a practitioner at a cannabis technology company. Veriheal… “When it comes to choosing a vehicle, it really depends on the individual needs of the patient in their family, work and social life.”
Medical marijuana use
Medical marijuana is most commonly used to treat chronic pain, and there are studies to support this. In fact, large 2015 Overview Cannabis use was found to increase the patient’s chances of pain relief by 40% compared to control groups. Patients included patients with nerve pain or pain associated with cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, musculoskeletal problems, and pain caused by chemotherapy.
Medical marijuana may also relieve some of the symptoms:
- Relief of symptoms of HIV / AIDS
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Ulcerative colitis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Tourette’s syndrome
How to get a medical marijuana card
In states with medical marijuana programs, you need to obtain a cannabis medical card in order to visit a medical dispensary.
Different states have different sets conditions you must meet to be eligible for a medical marijuana card. In some states like New York, you also need to register with your state health department, which usually involves online paperwork.
To get your cannabis health card, first talk to your PCP. “Most doctors believe it or not, but openly use medical marijuana,” says Mechtler. “Your PCP can advise you on the steps to take.”
If you’re uncomfortable reaching out to your PCP, Mechtler and Smith are encouraging patients to research medical marijuana specialists in their communities and in virtual practices on the Internet. These are healthcare providers who are registered to certify patients for medical marijuana cards. Sites like Leafly provide Database it can help you find a specialist.
But, different states there are other laws on medical cannabis, so you may not always be able to get a card. For example, five states – Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, Tennessee and South Carolina – do not have medical cannabis programs.
Additionally, some states have medical programs that allow CBD-only cannabis products, while others allow combinations of THC and CBD. You can read the rules of your state here.
More and more patients are turning to medical marijuana to relieve pain and chronic symptoms. However, when you start taking any new medications, it can take a while to find the right dose and formula that works for you.
“One of the big problems with cannabis is that everyone reacts differently,” says Smith. “It’s a process of trial and error, and it can take patients four to six weeks to really find their footing and feel the results.”