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How to use marijuana for pain relief
Cannabis Is Unpredictable at First
Figuring out how to use marijuana for pain relief requires a little trial and error. Start small. Be patient. Keep trying, because, in the end, many patients find it better than prescription alternatives.
Cannabinoids – The Active Components in Cannabis
Most people know that THC is the cannabinoid in marijuana that makes you feel high. Others may have heard about CBD, another cannabinoid in marijuana demonstrating significant health benefits. There are a variety of other cannabinoids with specific medical properties. Here’s a 3 min, 30 sec explanation.
Marijuana Strains (aka Subspecies)
There are thousands of different strains or subspecies of marijuana.
- Everyone responds differently to different strains. Sour Diesel gives me anxiety; for you, it may be blissful.
- Each strain contains different types and varying amounts of cannabinoids, terpenes and other components that have a collective medicinal effect.
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There are two “kinds” of marijuana strains: Indica and Sativa.
- Sativas are invigorating. Personally, sativas do not relieve my pain or spasms alone.
- Indicas are usually more sedative. Most indicas zap my pain and muscle spasms but leave me feeling tired and cognitively slowed.
- There are also hybrids. Combinations of the two in varying percentages. Example, Sour Willie is 50% Sativa and 50% Indica. (Remember everyone reacts to strains differently.)
- High CBD strains are also available that have little to no THC.
Read more about the differences between sativa vs indica.
If you’re looking for information about a specific marijuana strain, Leafly is a great resource. Their database contains thousands of strain reviews from users around the world.
But remember, strain reactions are individualized. Also, keep in mind that there’s no regulations for cannabis strains. A strain available in CA named “Bubba Kush” does not mean it’s the same exact strain as the “Bubba Kush” being sold in NJ.
I have MMJ, now what?
The NJ dispensary recommends patients who’ve never used cannabis before, start with high CBD strains. The theory is that the CBD counteracts some of the TCH mitigating the stoned feeling and reducing the risk of anxiety.
CBD strains were not effective at eliminating my pain and gave me headaches when I use them alone. Some patients do very well high CBD strains. I do mix a high CBD strain into my daily vaping routine for the anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD.
I do mix a high CBD strain into my daily vaping routine for the anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD.
The dispensary is likely your best resource for determining effective strains for your specific condition because they have access to local patient feedback.
Whichever strains you choose, start slowly.
One hit and wait 20 minutes, or eat a very small dose and wait an hour. Medical marijuana as a pain treatment is not about getting high, it’s about eliminating pain.
You do not have to get high to reduce the pain. AND being high does not necessarily eliminate the pain.
Don’t give up after one try. If your first attempt with medical marijuana doesn’t help, consider trying a different strain or a different method of consumption.
How to use marijuana for pain relief – Mix Strains.
In NJ, dispensaries are only allowed to sell what they grow. This means they often run out of strains and you have to wait for more to grow – it sucks. In a perfect weed world, I would have a variety of strains on hand every day.
I manage my symptoms by mixing multiple strains together.
Currently, I’m using FLO, Nigerian Haze, and Death Star.
Methods of Administration:
If you’re in a legal state, you have access to a wealth of guidance from experienced practitioners. You’ll also have access to a variety of edibles and concentrates which can work wonders for pain management. The rest of the country’s access has limited access to medical marijuana.
In a perfect weed world, I could pop a cannabis pill every 8 hours and my symptoms would all magically disappear. Real life is much different,
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The most common ways to administer medical marijuana:
- Vaporize – I like the Pax
- Smoke – not recommended. Smoke contains carcinogens and wastes expensive medication
- Oral – Make your own edibles.
Watch how I Make ABV Coconut Oil in the Crockpot [VIDEO]
Remember: Reactions to marijuana are unique. Everyone experiences something slightly different. This info is based on my experience.
I make AVB coconut oil. That means my cannabis coconut oil is made with already been vaporized plant material.
My goal using medical marijuana is to relieve the pain and muscle spasms while inducing minimal side effects. I don’t like feeling high.
Vaporizers - Pros & Cons
|Works almost immediately||Short acting|
|Eases nerve pain||Has a notable smell of weed (dissipates)|
|Economical – Vaporized bud can be cooked||Expensive device|
|Makes me cough|
Edibles (Homemade) - Pros & Cons
|No smell||Doesn’t help my nerve pain|
|Longer lasting||Takes 30-90 minutes to be effective|
|More discreet||Dosages difficult to determine – You need to test every batch. For me this can kill 3-4 days.|
|Portable||Easy to ruin your weed|
|More intense high – For some this may be a benefit|
Teacher, I’m a patient, not a pothead!
My son’s 3rd-grade class learned about drugs last week. Unfortunately, their health books are outdated. As the teacher reviewed marijuana’s status as an illegal and dangerous drug, my son interjected, “Hey – my mom uses marijuana! Marijuana is ALSO a medicine.”
I’m proud. He’s a quiet boy who shrinks into the background. It’s not easy for him to speak up. But he bravely helped fight a stigma by teaching his entire class.
I contacted his teacher to tell her I was proud. And (ok – let’s be honest) to make sure she knew that I’m a patient, not just a pothead. She sent me a lovely response promising to reiterate the medical applications during the next health lesson.
The negative stigma nearly prevented me from trying medical marijuana. That would have been tragic because my results are fantastic. It’s not an easy medication to get or to figure out.
In NJ, the dispensary hands you a container of dried flowers and sends you on your way. Can you imagine a hospital handing you a poppy bouquet and telling you to whip up your own analgesic?
About Marijuana Cards in NJ
Getting a medical marijuana card in NJ is more complicated than getting morphine. As a hospice nurse, I could walk into any pharmacy and walk out with bottles of morphine and OxyContin. All within 20 minutes and without ever showing ID or making a payment. When a patient passed away at home, I disposed of the medications. I can’t tell you how many liters of morphine I dumped during my career. Dangerous, addictive pharmaceuticals with minimal regulation. Yet, getting a medical marijuana card was a crazy, expensive, and time-consuming process.
Here’s a step-by-step guide: How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in NJ
When I finally received admittance to the Medical Marijuana Program, I went to the dispensary (with my parents – yes that’s weird). In NJ, only those with an MMP card may enter the sales area to purchase medication. The sales area is located behind a locked door; you need to be buzzed in to enter. Only one customer per staff member is allowed at a time. A security guard stands at the entrance.
After finally purchasing medical marijuana, I had to figure out how to use marijuana for pain relief on a routine around the clock basis. Medical marijuana doesn’t come with an instruction pamphlet that says that take two puffs every three hours. It’s very individualized.
My goal was to eliminate as many daily pharmaceuticals as possible. Starting with opioids and valium.
Success! I haven’t needed an opiate or valium since I started MMJ in November 2015.
How to make AVB Coconut Oil.
How to make CannaButter.
How to make CannaCake.
Pain is like a tiny snowball tumbling down a mountain. Stop it immediately or it will quickly grow unmanageable.
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