Group 5 Are you considering using medical marijuana? Perhaps a friend or doctor has suggested it, but you’re worried that people might view you differently or you won’t know what type to get, or where to get it. This article will help to put your mind at ease. After all, medical marijuana is exactly that – medicine. This is the second part of our ‘cannabis concerns’ articles. This week we’re looking at the social and cultural concerns you might have. If you are interested in finding out more about how cannabis mixes with other medication and conditions check out our last article here. If you still have any questions or want to know more get in touch. 1. Families and social life The fact is, cannabis use faces a lot of stigmas, even if it’s for medical use. Whilst many find that they feared “coming out of the cannabis closet” more than they should have, this is not the case for everyone. Now, we would love to throw you a coming out party with streamers, cake, the works – that’s just not a service we offer. However, it’s worth noting that most judgement comes from a place of naiveté on the topic. Why not include your loved ones on the journey, help to educate them and yourself along the way? By not shying away from the subject you might dispel some of the dark, judging clouds that hang over it. 2. What about my job and insurance? Another factor to consider when it comes to medical cannabis use is, “will it affect my job prospects and insurance claims?” Now, while some jobs and insurance companies may be lenient towards cannabis use for medical reasons, this is not always the case. People working in government departments, for example, may be working under contracts that prohibit the use of any federally illegal controlled substance, as seen in this police mandate. In some instances, using cannabis – even for a proven medical problem – may also mean that your insurance is invalidated. So the unfortunate answer for now is, “yes, cannabis may indeed affect your job prospects and insurance cover.” Though laws are changing, this is a major area where much work still needs to be done. 3. Will I get arrested? Unfortunately, this is a possibility, especially if you’re growing a significant number of plants. Different jurisdictions also have different rules regarding cannabis, sometimes even within the same state. Those worried about getting arrested can do the following in order to reduce their chances of trouble: never carry cannabis across state lines; keep use to within their own home; grow several plants of their own, on their own property (not too many, though); do not hold any equipment that a police officer may use to accuse you of “dealing” (e.g. scales); do not drive or use heavy machinery under the use of cannabis; and most importantly, hold a valid medical card and recommendation letter. 4. What’s the best method of consumption? This is dependant on what ‘works’ best for you. We say that for first-time users, smoking is a good place to start as you can control the dosage more easily, you are getting the full range of cannabinoids if using flowers and they are often easier and generally less “smelly” to carry around than contraptions like pipes and volcanoes. However, we appreciate not everyone likes the idea of smoking. As such you may want to try vaporisers or edibles. Vaporizers are efficient, easy to dose and smoke-free and again you will have a full range of cannabinoids when using flowers. Be careful, though: if they are poorly made plastic ones, they can we worse for your health than smoking. People have also reported having little to no effects from vaporizing. It’s unclear why. Edibles are efficient and long-lasting. However, it’s very difficult to control the dose, which means the effects can be overwhelming. We recommending micro dosing and taking it slowly when it comes to edibles. 5. Sativa or Indica? THC or CBD? When it comes to THC and CBD, most people looking for pain relief seem to get by best on a 1:1 ratio – i.e. equal amounts of CBD to THC. Do not be tempted into thinking that the CBD is the “medical” part of cannabis and THC the “recreational”. Cannabinoids need each other in order to be properly effective, in what is known as the “entourage effect”. Other cannabinoids like CBC (cannabichromene) and CBG (cannabigerol) ought to be looked at properly, too, as should terpenes like myrcene and alpha-pinene. As for sativa vs indica, much of this can be down to personal preference and the condition suffered from, although there seem to be some trends with regards to strains for certain conditions. Both sativas and indicas tend to be high in THC, but indicas tend to have higher CBD as well. Sativas tend to have a more “up” high, whereas indicas are noted for their “couchlock” effect. The only way to know whether a strain is right for you is by reading reviews, asking others, getting your cannabis mapped genetically, getting the cannabis lab-tested for cannabinoids and terpenes and good old-fashioned experimentation 6. Finding the right dispensary Dispensaries are all different. Some have a more social vibe, whereas others are more like “takeaways”. They are also likely to attract a different clientele, depending on the area and the sorts of programmes they run. However, for some general advice on finding a good one, it is worth looking at various aspects of the dispensary. Does the dispensary hold “cannabis education” classes, including classes on health positives/negatives and how to grow? Do they run other health and wellbeing programmes? Do the budtenders know about the products and strains? Are they appropriately licensed? Do they have quality controls on the cannabis that comes into their store? How do others feel about the dispensary? Once you know the basics, it’s just a matter of finding the right dispensary for you. Hopefully this article with have given you a little further guidance on medical marijuana. If you are still curious and want to know more please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.