How to Use Medical Marijuana
The following information regarding medical marijuana use has been drawn from personal experience reported by patients. We hope you find it useful and of benefit. Please feel free to contact us with your feedback, it may be useful to another patient.
When using Medical Marijuana, every individual will experience different effects, just as is true with any medication. Temper your use and consider marijuana another medicine that may serve to alleviate some of your symptoms and may enhance other aspects. How it works for you and the manner in which it is of benefit is what is important. Tell your doctor that you use medical marijuana and make sure this fact is entered into your medical records. Patient/Physician Confidentiality and HIPAA are your safeguards. An informed doctor will better serve your health (for more information on the laws that protect your doctor, please visit our legal section).
The most expedient method of using medical marijuana is to smoke or vaporize. The effects are more controllable and easier to gauge in these forms. Always smoke the female buds and only use medicine that is organically grown and free of molds, chemicals, pesticides, and additives. If you use a water pipe (or any pipe), keep it clean by soaking it in alcohol and salt. If inhaling smoke is a concern, use a vaporizer. Moderation appears to be a key to successful relief. Use a small amount at first, 1-3 puffs, wait before inhaling more. Onset is fairly quick and can happen instantly to 5 minutes. Wait then use more if necessary to achieve desired relief.
Another method of using medical marijuana is ingestion, which can be an effective approach. However, cooking marijuana produces a significantly stronger effect. Use caution when you eat! It can be baked directly into foods or made into butter that is used to prepare foodstuffs. You must be aware that it takes considerably longer to experience the effects; sometimes the result will “come-on” rather suddenly. Very occasionally, this may cause uneasiness, which might lead to nausea (refer to section on Uneasiness). It may also affect a patient’s stomach if the leaf material itself is eaten. Another feeling may be of weight or heaviness, or perhaps even grogginess. It is appropriate to allow time to rest in order to assess how you will respond. Use cold water or slow breathing if this occurs. Don’t panic. Just relax and it will end. Remember that every batch of baked goods will vary with the potency of the marijuana that is used and how it is prepared.
Duration of the Effects – Ingesting Vs. Smoking
Many people often ask how long the effects of Medical Marijuana last. This is an EXCELLENT and important question without an excellent (or consistent) answer. Like with any other medicine, its effects are dependant on potency, strain, your specific medical condition, and the way it is ingested. As a general rule of thumb, with all else being equal, if smoking a particular strain of medical marijuana lasted 1 1/2 hours for you, ingesting it as an edible might last 4 hours. This is just an example to indicate that smoking it would act more quickly but have a shorter duration of effect than eating the medical marijuana.
Tincture: Preparation and Use
Preparing a tincture with vodka can be used topically, sublingually or internally. Use one part Everclear 180 proof to five parts fresh marijuana or cover the marijuana completely. If you have dried marijuana then use one part Everclear 180 proof to ten parts dried marijuana. Use glass or earthenware to store your preparation. You can let the mixture stand for two months to one year depending on the results you desire. Shaking daily will activate the mixture.Tincture
Begin by using three drops to several droppers full, adding to warm pure water or to tea (of your choice). You may choose to use as much as three or more droppers full at a time, but always begin judiciously, with a small portion, increasing accordingly until you reach the desired effect. Patients may experience pain relief by using this medicine, but most report no “high” effect. Dilute in warm tea, water, or juice.
Using as a Compress
Make the preparation as you would tea made with water, or the tincture made with vodka. Thoroughly soak a compress in the mixture and apply directly to affected area. Allow the compress to remain for at least a half hour. Compresses are often used to alleviate the pain caused from bursitis and arthritis or sore and aching joints.
Make Rub-A-Dub the same way you would a tincture, only prepare by using ISO alcohol instead. Apply topically (only on your skin). Use this liberally and as often as you want. DO NOT DRINK. May stain clothes.
Prepare a salve by using coconut oil and plant material and cooking in the same fashion as the butter. Adding other medicinal plants like Aloe, Comfrey, Yarrow, etc, will greatly help with the healing qualities. The more plant material the better. After separating the oil from the water by allowing cooling overnight, heat the oil one more time to boil off any additional water. From there, pour the oil into a glass jar (wide mouth, half pint jars work great).
Apply to area with pain, spasm, or damage. Use a nice amount but don’t try to over-saturate area. Your clothes may absorb some of the salve. For best results, apply after a hot shower. WAMM’s salve has helped with poison oak, neuropathy, spasms, skin conditions, and other external (and internal) conditions.
Marinol: What is it?
This ‘synthetic petrochemical analog’ is only one of the over 400 components found in the whole marijuana plant. Some patients said this costly synthetic form aids in the relief of nausea. It is said to take up to an hour to be made available for use by the body. Marinol has potential for overdose and must be used under the supervision of a physician.
Marijuana is one of the oldest natural herbs known to human beings. It is also one of the safest, as it is impossible to consume enough to produce a toxic effect in the body. However, if you are unfamiliar with it, there are some effects which you should be aware of so that you can use it more effectively.
Marijuana usually has a soothing and comforting effect on the mind. Sometimes, however, people do experience feelings of anxiety. If this happens to you, there are several things you can do. Try to stay in environments where you feel naturally comfortable. You may want to avoid busy, noisy, or unattractive places. If your environment is safe and comfortable, and you still have some anxiousness, sit or lay down, breathe deeply, and relax. Think loving thoughts. If you have a pet, hold or stroke it. Eating will often quickly reduce the feeling of anxiety. Then, the next time you use it, try reducing your dosage. Because of our social training, you may have feelings of guilt. Know that you have a right to your medicine.
Many people become hungry after using marijuana, and those who need their appetite stimulated use it for this very reason. If you are not using it for this purpose, drink water or juice. If you do wish to eat, eat good nourishing food rather than sweets.
Marijuana often makes people feel thirsty. Because of this, it helps those who need it to rehydrate themselves. Drink all the water you wish. Fruit juices are better than coffee, tea, or soft drinks.
Redness in the eyes
This will not hurt you. You do not need to use any of the commercial preparations that “get the red out” for cosmetic reasons. If you must go out in public and are concerned about others’ reaction to the redness, wear sunglasses.
Some people find that marijuana makes them sleepy. If you can and wish to, go ahead and take a nap. As with all medicines that can produce drowsiness, don’t drive or operate heavy machinery.
Some people find that they can’t sleep for a while after using marijuana. If this happens to you, try reducing your dosage, and avoid using it for about two hours or so before you want to sleep.
Short-term memory loss
Sometimes people find it difficult to carry on a complicated conversation, keep track of details, or perform complex tasks. If this happens to you, schedule your time so that you don’t have to do these things when using your medicine. Long-term memory is not affected.
Many people find that things which normally don’t seem funny become quite amusing when they use marijuana. Most people enjoy this effect. A good laugh helps the healing power of your body and mind. If you must go to the bank or deal with other situations where humor would be inappropriate in your judgment, schedule your time so that you don’t have to deal with them when you are taking your medicine. Don’t worry, this will pass.
Patients Speak on How to Use Marijuana
I put about 1/8 of a gram into a water pipe and inhale slowly, holding my breath approximately ten seconds, then exhale. Relief is nearly immediate. My muscles relax and I feel more in control. This lasts for about two and a half hours.
There was a time in my illness that I was unable to smoke marijuana. During that time, I ate two cookies per day containing approximately one and a half grams of leaf marijuana. It helped restore my appetite, allowing me to regain my health.
Because of my HIV, I am taking many drugs; all with severe side effects. Marijuana is the only drug that helps with the nauseous feelings I so often have. A typical dose of marijuana for me is a small bong hit (approximately 1/10 of a gram) inhaled deeply and held in for about five seconds. It takes about ten minutes to work. The “munchies” take about one and a half hours.
San Francisco, CA
I use marijuana for my arthritis and rheumatism. It seems to relieve the pain at the joints, which most affects me. I’m seventy-one years old and marijuana helps me relax. I know many senior citizens who could use this medicine greatly. I eat one brownie per day, containing approximately two grams each of high-grade leaf marijuana.
SF General Hospital
San Francisco, CA
My joints hurt and the doctor has prescribed pain pills, but they make me drowsy. I use a warm compress, filled with leaf marijuana, placed directly on my knees. I leave it there for about three hours, taking away the pain.
75 years of age