What are Medical Marijuana Side Effects? (& How to Avoid Them!)

Marijuana is a unique medicine, which has been beneficial to a multitude of different people with a multitude of different ailments. However, like most medicines, cannabis is capable of causing unwanted side effects. While it is not possible to fatally overdose on marijuana, it is possible to consume more than intended or react poorly to a specific strain. With that in mind, there are a number of ways to curb and treat these uncomfortable side effects, as well as things you can do to prevent them.

Overconsumption, Negative Reactions, and How to Prevent Them

Due to the wide range of products, consumption methods, strains, and combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes that are available with medical marijuana, finding what’s right for an individual patient is often a trial and error process. Although with guidance, it is less likely to accidentally over-consume, certain products may cause raciness, which can lead to anxiety or paranoia in some individuals. The good news is this isn’t life threatening, and there are some easy ways to avoid it.

One way to possibly avoid this discomfort is to ask your dispensary technicians what may be right for you or have a consultation with a dispensary medical professional when choosing your products. Technicians and medpros are able to give you some great product recommendations based on your conditions, what you are looking to treat, and what you are hoping to avoid. While there is never an absolute guarantee that a patient will react to the product exactly as described (because each individual body reacts to marijuana differently), having products that professionals feel can be more helpful to you is always a good idea.

Once you have selected your products, it is important to consider how to consume them so to avoid over consumption. The most common and effective way to make sure you have a positive experience with the medication is a classic saying in the world of marijuana: start low and go slow. It is a safe choice to start with a lower dose of your product and to take it slowly, especially for individuals new to medical marijuana. For vaporizable products, start by taking just a one to two inhales of your product at a time. The onset time for vaporizable products is between 0-10 minutes, so you can quickly get a sense of how you are reacting to a product, and you can always inhale more if need be. For sublingual and orally ingested products, the onset time is longer (15-30 minutes for sublinguals, 1-4 hours for oral ingestion), so it does require a bit more patience. However, it is very important to wait the full onset time before taking more, as doing so can result in taking too much at once. Remember, you can always take more if you need, but patience is key!

Some other helpful ways to avoid over consumption are by making sure you are hydrated (drink plenty of water) and have a snack before medicating to help curb any unwanted effects. Additionally, keeping a patient journal of your experience with the different products you try can help you understand your experiences with different kinds of products and prove very helpful as you explore the different forms and strains of medication. Understanding your body and its limits with medical marijuana is one of the best things you can do in this program! Lastly, and this can be especially helpful for patients who are wary of trying different medical marijuana products because they may be more prone to anxiety, get some CBD in your regimen. 1:1 and other high CBD products can be especially helpful in avoiding overconsumption and discomfort. CBD can not only curb the negative effects associated with THC, it also works synergistically with THC to enhance the overall effectiveness of the medication.

If You Over Consume

On the chance that a patient does end up over consuming or feeling uncomfortable from a product, the most important thing to remember is to remain calm and these feelings will pass. Take a deep breath and if needed, use a gentle distraction. Some easy things to try include breathing exercises, having a snack with a glass of water or lemonade, or taking a bath or shower. Additionally, doing hobbies you enjoy doing can be helpful, like taking a walk, watching TV or a movie, reading a book, doing some drawing, or whatever else makes you happy.

CBD can be very helpful in curbing the negative effects of THC. If used in addition with your products, it can lower THC psychoactivity levels and promote feelings of calm and relaxation. This effect is seen even when used after over consuming.

Another easy tip to try? Peppercorn! Some individuals find that chewing or sniffing peppercorns can help diminish marijuana associated feelings of anxiety and paranoia!

While certainly no one wants to deal with any unpleasant side effects from their medication, it can be very avoidable and manageable if it happens! Medical marijuana is all about helping you, but on the off chance you find a strain or product that just isn’t the right match, there are always ways to help. Our suggestions? Listen to the advice given to you from professionals, go low and slow, and remember that any bad feelings will always pass. 

Special thanks to Fawn LaHaise for contributing to this blog!

Disclaimer: These statements have not been reviewed for accuracy by the FDA. As always, seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider when considering trying a new treatment. Do not start or stop taking any medications without speaking to your doctor first.

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