marijuana and CBD products

S2E20: What you need to know before you shop at a legal dispensary

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So you want to utilize cannabis for therapy but find yourself overwhelmed?

Are you wanting to utilize cannabis therapy but find yourself overwhelmed? Dispensaries for medical marijuana can be very intimidating. We’re here to help! Listen to learn how marijuana products affect the body and all about the choices so you can become an informed consumer. Be sure to also check out the linked resources below.

A tangled legal history

The use of marijuana has traditionally been associated with the stigma of addiction and criminality. The legalization of medical marijuana has placed a wide range of people using cannabis products.  Varying state and federal regulations, perceived provider limitations, limited data from research, associated risks, and ethical considerations have all contributed to the challenges associated with access to medical marijuana for symptom management.

In 1850, marijuana was listed in the US Dispensary – an official list of recognized medicinal drugs – and commercial preparations were made available in drugstores, but laws have been progressively passed to criminalized starting in 1937.

Currently there are 18 states plus the District of Columbia that have chosen to make it legal to buy and consume recreational marijuana, as well as the 36 states plus D.C. that have approved medical marijuana. (“States that have legalized marijuana: 18 States, D.C. Legalized Weed U.S. – Where Is Marijuana Legal 2021?” Esquire)

Marijuana and CBD has been, and continues to be, illegal under federal law since 1937. This means even if your state is legal, you are bound to federal regulations on federal property, such as a VA Medical Center.

How marijuana products affect the body

Marijuana is derived from the hemp plant cannabis sativa. It contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (is primarily responsible for the mood-altering effects of marijuana), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabidiol (CBD) (has primarily anti-inflammatory effects).

Cannabinol and cannabidiol are cannabinoids that attach to receptors CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found in the areas of the brain that are responsible for body movement, memory, and vomiting. CB2 receptors are found in the immune system, spleen, and lymph nodes.  Neither CBN nor CBD have mood altering effects but may have a decrease disordered thinking and anxiety.

THC has two forms, Indica and Sativa.  Indica makes you sleepy, think of this as leaving you “in da couch”.  Sativa is more energizing and can help you feel more focused.  Cannabis products can be either of these or hybrid where there is a specific percentage of both types of THC in the product. 

How long to take effect?

You can buy cannabis in many delivery methods.  For example: tinctures and oils, vape pens and “flower” (dried marijuana), mouth sprays and skin patches, fancy chocolate truffles, cookies, baked goods, drinks, gummies, lollipops, creams and lotions.  There are high-strength concentrates, waxes and resins.

Potency varies by strain and delivery method, and it can often be tough to know what your tolerance is going to be. So, before you use cannabis-based medical treatment, consult their doctor and approach with caution; there’s limited scientific research and, as with any medication, the effects vary by user.

How long Cannabis takes to start to be effective will depend on the kind you have purchased and the delivery method. So, you will feel an effect within minutes if you vape, smoke a joint or use some sort of a pipe. Products that you put under your tongue (Sublingual), such as drops of a cannabis tincture or cannabis-infused strips, may start to work within 15 minutes. For edibles and capsules, it may take a half-hour to four hours. Topicals — lotions, balms and oils — may act quickly, while transdermal patches can take an hour or more to be effective.

What you don’t want to do is have alcohol while you are waiting for an effect.  And don’t be impatient thinking the edible is not working and eat more.  Just don’t.

Some of these products are very good tasting, so don’t eat the whole brownie just because you like it.

You will have to experiment with delivery methods and combinations until you find the product that works best for you.

Medical uses for cannabis

Dronabinol (CBD) has been found to help control chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting

Symptoms of abdominal cramping and pain, diarrhea, and weight loss associated with irritable and inflammatory bowel diseases have also responded well to marijuana (Murphy, 2014).  Marijuana works by activating the cannabinoid receptors resulting to decreased gastrointestinal activity, secretions and acid reflux. 

Additionally, marijuana has been found to:

  • reduce intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma.
  • effective for chronic, neuropathic pain but not for acute pain;
  • promotes restful sleep;
  • helpful for people with post-traumatic stress disorder by acting as a modulator of emotional response, and decreasing the severity and frequency of flashback memories to the point that they may even be forgotten

As for side effects, cannabis can potentially cause rapid heart rate, increased cardiac output, postural hypotension, decreased peripheral vascular resistance, and a drop in skin temperature. It can decrease short term memory.

Symptom management and cannabis – more to come!

There are so many aspects to managing symptoms with cannabis, and it’s not as though you can go to your primary health care practitioner who will order exactly what you need to be taking and which delivery method to use.  So, we will be starting an ongoing segment to give you additional information on a specific topic.  So stay tuned for that.


Recipe of the week

This week’s recipe of the week is – you guessed it – brownies! We won’t tell if you just happen to add an additional ingredient. 😉

This recipe is for made-from-scratch brownies that are super fudgy, moist, and chocolaty, with crispy edges and crackly tops, from Love and Lemons.

Brownies and cookbook, from
Head over to Love and Lemons for this made-from-scratch recipe.

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