You have decided to get your medical marijuana documents, and are finally walking into a dispensary to try your luck! You have been nauseated, have serious joint pain, and haven’t had a good night sleep in years! YAY! You open the door, walk up to the counter, and order….WHAT?! Suddenly you are looking at cases filled with things like Sour Diesel, Blue Dream, and Granddaddy Purple. Uh, what is the difference?
First you need to understand that there are a couple different subspecies to the Cannabis sativa group. For the sake of shopping medically, there are 2 types you will see (indica and sativa) and a mixture of both called hybrids. Sativas are more cerebral. Many people medicate with sativas during the day where they report energy, euphoria, pain relief, and muscle relaxation. Indicas are more body oriented. Usually, indicas are enjoyed at night where they provide pain relief, insomnia relief, and deep muscle relaxation. Hybrids are just that. They take on the traits of what ever they are dominant in.
Okay that explains a bit, but how do you find a great strain for joint pain? The same way you would find a pharmaceutical. This is going to be trial and error, but just like pharma has specific uses, so do types of ganga. The good thing is that you can try it to see if it works. You don’t have to purchase a whole months worth at a time. You can buy a gram and see if it is for you. Here are some tips to help you begin your journey with medical marijuana.
- Ask your budtender. While many dispensaries have somewhat counter-culture budtenders, they are very familiar with the product. Let them know what you are looking for and they will recommend a strain.
- If you can, do some research ahead of time. Leafly, Medical Marijuana Strains, and Medical Jane all have databases with reviews of each strain. Yes, most of these are counter-culture too, but you can get a good idea of the average results. Keep in mind, you don’t have to use so much that you get incapacitated. Know that small doses and large doses (of the same strain) can have different results too.
- Everyone reacts differently, so don’t rule anything out. Just as we all react differently to medicines, the same is true for cannabis. Also, keep in mind you will react to various strains differently as well. There are thousands of varieties, so keep an open mind.
- There is an adjustment time. Marijuana is known for its buzz, but like with opiates, over time the buzz gets to be less and less. While taking opiates, one doesn’t function very well at first – but that changes. After you adjust, you resume functioning as if you weren’t on pain killers. Cannabis is the same way, so know you will get high the first couple times if you over do it. Start with one draw/hit/dose and work up. With edibles, the standard dose is 10mg THC, but most people take between 10 and 40mg. Unlike opiates, if you over do it won’t kill you.
- Use a strain 3 times to gauge your reaction. Especially if you are not a cannabis user, the first time you use a strain does not fully realize the reaction. Generally, after the third time, you will be able to see if a strain is a possibility.
- Different types of strains have different effects. For instance, anything with “purple” genetics is better suited for pain relief and insomnia, than for depression. Likewise, Blue Cheese and any offspring are great for depression, but not for insomnia. Some strains are more like ibuprophen and some are like zoldipam. It is a good idea to have an idea of what you are looking for, but also to know if something else may be appropriate.
- Keep an arsenal of different strains. Don’t always rely on the same strain for insomnia. Keep several options available, again for several reasons. The first is that you may not always be able to find the specific strain you are looking for. Because we are still dealing with an underground market, many dispensaries are limited in where/what/how much they find and can keep on hand. Having already found several strains to help with insomnia, you won’t have as much of an issue. Also, you want your body to not build a tolerance to your “go-to” strain, so supplement it with another one to help keep your body on its toes!
- Cannabinoids aren’t the only chemicals that contribute to the effects of cannabis strains. The effect on you is a combination of cannabinoid profiles, your body chemistry, and substances called terpenes. Terpenes and terpenoids are chemicals in the plant mostly responsible for the various aromas that strains have. Terpenes are present in many plant foods like fruits and wine. When you use aromatherapy, it is a terpene based treatment. You are inhaling those easily evaporated, oily chemicals. Terpenes are known to be quite beneficial to our health and have several antioxidant effects! When you get each strain, focus on its smell. This is how you find multiple strains with similar effects! When I went to find another good insomnia strain, I memorized the smell of Alien OG. That led me to Granddaddy Purple and Plushberry. Those had more of a pungent black tea smell and I know those are good for pain and insomnia. So prepare the sniffer and treat it like sniffing wine!
- Keep a notebook about all the different strains/edibles you try. You will get to the point that you won’t remember all the different things you have tried and their effects. This will be very handy when you need to get different strains than you have been using. You can always point out which strains are most helpful for your needs and the budtender can recommend similar strains. I have discovered many strains this way! In my notebook, I keep a list of strains, uses, effects, smell (so I can find similar ones), and thoughts.
- Know you won’t react well to every strain. Some of the first strains I tried, I didn’t react well too. I got headaches and actually could feel more bone pain. (I believe it relieved my muscle pain which brought to attention by bone on bone pain.) I really didn’t think medical marijuana was going to be for me. Thankfully, I found some strains that allowed me to sleep, and that is why I pursued this into daytime pain management and disease management. The different strains in the dispensary are the same thing as different medicines in the pharmacy. Some are for you while others are not. This is okay. Just keep swimming!
Hopefully this helps you go forth and find some medicine! It isn’t easy at first and can be very overwhelming, but I think once you adjust and get into a groove – you will find this is exponentially better. While it won’t be for everyone, once you discover the clarity of not being on medicines that are just as life threatening as the diseases we have! Ultimately, CBD is known to help regulate the immune system and have anti-inflammatory properties, so you may find that it helps to halt the progression of your autoimmune arthritis or any autoimmune disease!