Safe use of cannabis, as with any medication, is one of the most important part of your treatment. No, you can’t overdose, but there are other lines to avoid crossing as a responsible cannabis consumer. There are five key areas: your suitability, the law, your workplace, children, and of course, safe treatment.
Once you’ve decided to try medical cannabis, the logical first step is making sure it’s right for your health needs. Talking to a cannabis doctor before applying for your med card can shed light on consumption methods, strains, how cannabis fits into your existing treatment plan, your tolerance, and the conditions cannabis can treat. Medical cannabis is effective for a wide variety of physical and mental conditions, from back pain to anxiety, but it’s up to individual states to decide which conditions and circumstances qualify for treatment.
In each of the 28 states that permit medical use of cannabis, the law dictates more than qualifying conditions. Massachusetts enforces its own guidelines for patients and caregivers, factoring in things like usira, cultivation, and testing. State legislature also approves a select number of cannabis distributors, known as dispensaries. Certified, reputable dispensaries are the only places you can legally buy cannabis products. Their budtenders or patient advocates (in-store experts) are also a great source of advice on strains and delivery methods.
Even if state law says you’re good to go, you need to be aware of workplace regulations. Despite being legal, many employers still bar employees from cannabis use as a condition of employment and test employees regularly for use. That's because cannabis use and the implications of drug use are a concern in some industries, especially safety-sensitive or government-regulated fields. Side effects such as slower reaction times are problematic for some patients, while others feel more productive at work. Everyone experiences different effects and evidence of work-related accidents is inconclusive, but some employers have no choice but to impose blanket bans on cannabis use.
Parents: We’re looking at you. Kids have a mysterious gift for finding strategically hidden items and cannabis, like other medications, jeopardizes their safety, too. Take stock of how you store both cannabis and paraphernalia. For example, dabbing requires the use of a small torch, which can cause injuries in the wrong hands. If you have edibles, label them clearly and store them separately – perhaps in a discrete location or even locked away. And remember: No second-hand smoke.
Here are a few final tips to take away:
- Follow the correct dosira. Using your cannabis exactly as prescribed helps to control treatment, ensuring the best outcome and reducing chances of unwanted side effects.
- Be aware of the effects. Effects and tolerances vary widely from person to person. Again, dosira can help doctors assess your reactions and adjust your treatment plan accordingly.
- Don’t share. When it comes to medication, sharing is not caring – and more importantly, it’s not legal. Don’t be tempted to share yours with others or accept cannabis from someone else.
- Work with a caregiver. Trusted caregivers are a good form of support for first-time users. Find out how caregivers work and comply with the law on the Medical Use of Marijuana Program’s website.
- Communicate with your doctor. If you notice any adverse reactions, unwanted effects, or overwhelming potency, report problems to your doctor. You can always try a new dosira, strain, or consumption method.
Because of the stigma around cannabis consumption, talking to healthcare providers about cannabis treatment can be uncomfortable – but remember, medical experts are your go-to if you have other concerns about safety. Failing that, you always have dispensary staff. We’re quite friendly, really.