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  • D.H. Reilly

What to Know Before Using Medical Marijuana for the First Time

Now that residents can finally apply for their own Mississippi Marijuana Card, many people are going to be trying cannabis for the first time. But like any medication, if taken incorrectly medical marijuana will at best be less effective and at worst possibly be dangerous.

For all the soon-to-be cannabis patients out there, here is your handy guide to what to expect when you get to try medical marijuana!

Sativa vs. Indica: Do You Want to be Energized or Relaxed?

There are two basic categories of cannabis strains: sativa and indica.

Both kinds contain THC, CBD, and cannabinoids, the chemicals and compounds found in marijuana and associated with its medicinal effects.

Scientists believe these various ingredients work best in concert with each other, a theory known as the entourage effect, which is why medical marijuana is so much more effective than just using CBD or other isolated parts of cannabis.

The main difference between sativa and indica has nothing to do with how effective they are, but rather how they make patients feel.

According to Healthline, sativa strains often “produce a ‘mind high,’ or an energizing, anxiety-reducing effect.” Consequently, most patients find they want to avoid using sativas at night or near bedtime, as they can have what Healthline calls a “stimulating impact.”

Indica strains, on the other hand, often have what Healthline describes as “intensely relaxing effects.”

Indica strains are especially effective at treating nausea and anxiety, and because of their relaxing influence most patients prefer to dose indica strains at night.

A helpful memory device my doctor gave me when he was preparing me for my first experience with medical marijuana: Think indica when you want to be “in da couch” relaxing.

The two types of strains can also differ in levels of THC and CBD. Healthline notes that sativa often has lower levels of CBD and higher levels of THC, whereas indica strains often have higher CBD levels but not necessarily lower THC levels.

So which is right for you, more CBD or more THC?

For Best Results With Medical Marijuana, Consider What Results You Want

As Healthline puts it, “Rather than just going for an indica or a sativa, think about how you want to feel: Energetic and creative? Relaxed and introspective? Are there therapeutic effects you’re looking for, like pain relief or appetite stimulation?”

Your doctor can make recommendations based on how best to treat your qualifying conditions. In some cases, they may make a specific recommendation not only as far as indica vs. sativa, but as far as specific strains of each.

What kind of other benefits do you want to experience while you’re treating your qualifying condition? If you can let your dispensary staff know the state of mind and the sensations you’d prefer while medicating, they can guide you to the exact right strains for you.

Otherwise, you can expect to experiment with trying many different strains over time. This can become rather frustrating if it takes you a while to find the strains that are right for you.

As the University of Colorado puts it, as a newcomer to cannabis you should “think through the experiences you want to have as well as those you’d rather avoid.” The University also provides some examples of the kinds of experiences you might want to have or avoid.

Start With Low Doses and Be Patient Before Deciding Your Dose Isn’t Working

According to Wired, the number one rule neophyte cannabis users should remember is “Start low and go slow.”

If your doctor prescribes a specific dosage for each use, then you know exactly what to do. But newcomers who are uncertain of how cannabis will affect them often redose before their first dose has taken effect, assuming that because they don’t yet feel anything, they must not have taken enough.

This is especially common if you dose with edibles, which tend to take longer to kick in, but also tend to have more intense effects for longer periods of time.

For edibles, Wired suggests starting with two or three milligrams, then wait at least an hour before dosing again. “You might not feel anything from (that first dose,” Wired says, “but you’re going to prefer that to overdoing it and descending into paranoia.”

When smoking or vaping, the effects tend to be quicker and milder, which makes it easier for new patients to figure out the right dose for them. Wired suggests that “Newbies might want to take a hit and wait 10 minutes or so and repeat as needed. Again, this isn’t a race.”

Know Which Dosing Methods Seem Most Appealing to You

Speaking of edibles versus smoking and vaping, before you try medical marijuana for the first time, you should consider which dosing methods might work for you.

Again, if your doctor has suggested a specific method, you know what to try. But if you’re a newbie without that guidance, the different options at your local dispensaries may seem overwhelming. Here’s the basics to help you get started.

Both smoking and vaping flower deliver effects more quickly than other methods, such as edibles or pills. Both also can be done with flower marijuana, which has the advantage of being the cheapest form of marijuana. However, vaping is generally considered to be a healthier option than smoking.

Topical solutions have the advantage of being easy on the lungs, unlike smoking and vaping, and easy on the stomach, unlike some edibles.

Topical applications also offer targeted relief.

Furthermore, the medicinal effects of topicals often last longer than those of smoking and vaping. And with topicals, there are few to no mental effects, perfect for patients who don’t enjoy the high that comes from other medical marijuana products.

It’s important to note, however, that topicals only offer relief to the areas where they’re applied, they may have a strong odor, and they can leave your skin feeling greasy.

Finally, medical marijuana taken orally via edibles, beverages, and tinctures can be convenient (there is no flower to grind or vaporizers to maintain) and help maximize the duration of your medication.

Oral delivery has the added advantage of offering more precise dosing than other methods.

For more on how the various forms of medical marijuana allowed in Mississippi’s program differ, check out this article.

Don’t Be Intimidated by All of the Options; Let the Experts Help You Decide!

Although all of this can be overwhelming to newbies, don’t be intimidated by all of the options for dosing your medical marijuana.

Instead, let your doctor, the employees at your dispensary, and the informative articles here at the blog help you make informed decisions.

Reserve an evaluation online today, and we’ll book an appointment for you with one of our knowledgeable, compassionate doctors just as we’re cleared to.

You’ll meet with your new doctor virtually, using your smartphone or computer, for a telemedicine appointment, and you will discuss your conditions.

Then, they’ll determine whether you qualify for a Mississippi Marijuana Card, all without even leaving your home. And by reserving an evaluation online today, you can save $25 off the cost of the evaluation!


Doctors Who Care.

Relief You Can Trust.

Helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-6635, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

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