Note: some states may have passed laws but still may be in the process of finalizing procedures and rules surrounding distribution.
It is important to note that the federal government still considers cannabis an illegal drug and the distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime. Under the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), marijuana is still considered by the federal government a Schedule 1 drug.
Which states / territories have legalized medical marijuana?
Cities, municipalities, employers, landlords, and universities may have special policies about the use of marijuana. Use on any federal land, national park or monument is illegal. Be sure to check all rules before use.
Specific city and county laws have been enacted to regulate how citizens and tourists may possess and consume marijuana. Penalties exist for driving while under the influence of marijuana.
Medical marijuana comes in various forms for use, including oil, tablet or capsule, liquid that can be vaporized, nasal spray, and the traditional dried leaves and buds thay can be smoked or taken as edibles.
THC, known scientifically as tetrahydrocannabinol, is a naturally occurring component within the cannabis plant. In a broad sense, there are two distinct cultivars of cannabis: marijuana and hemp. Apart from appearance, a key difference between these two plants is that marijuana often contains high amounts of THC. Hemp, on the other hand, contains a negligible THC content of 0.3% or less by dry weight.
The medical benefit of cannabis should not overshadow the potential side effects of THC. Users always have alternative options to high-THC products.
Before We Discuss the Side Effects of THC, Let’s Discuss What Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Even Is
Each cannabis strain is different in terms of its THC content and specific cannabinoid profile. As medical marijuana continues to gain traction across the U.S., many states are adopting a list of specific medical conditions that patients can use to determine whether they qualify for an MMJ card. Some of the common qualifying conditions for medical marijuana include:
Aside from THC, marijuana also includes other cannabinoids. In fact, over 80 unique cannabinoids exist in the Cannabis sativa L. plant. Each strain will vary in terms of its specific cannabinoid profile and THC percentage. The two most popular and most discussed cannabinoids, of course, are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).
Strong marijuana strains typically will contain around 15-25% THC. Concentrated oils and extracts (i.e. things like shatters, wax, etc) can contain robust THC levels of 90% or more. There are even some types of shatter that claim to contain a 98% THC content. Of course, products like these are not often available on the market.
When cannabis of unknown, often illegal, origin is used, there is always a chance the product is contaminated with pesticides, growth enhancers, heavy metals or microbes. These contaminants are very damaging to the health of a patient. Bedrocan’s medicinal cannabis is quality controlled by an external, internationally certified laboratory. The results of the analysis of every batch are presented in a Certificate of Analysis (CoA). This level of quality assurance shows our products to be free of harmful contaminants. Moreover, using standardised medicinal cannabis products is critical to ensuring the same dose is taken each time. This reduces the risk of overdosing and consequently that of unwanted side effects.
Occasionally, new scientific reports appear on the effects of cannabis on risk of psychosis. However, a direct link between cannabis and psychosis has not yet been established. The discourse surrounds the question: does cannabis induce psychosis in otherwise totally healthy individuals, or does pre-existing genetic vulnerability for psychosis result in adverse outcomes from cannabis use?
Side effects and risks: quality is vital
There are suggestions that in a small number of cases THC is capable of precipitating psychosis, involving delusions and hallucinations. If these side effects occur, they seem to be rare, because they most likely require very high doses of THC administered over a prolonged period of time, or a pre-existing genetic vulnerability. However, there is enough reason to be cautious and communicate these risks in a fair and balanced way.
In general, patients seem to tolerate medicinal cannabis well. However, medicinal cannabis use comes with side effects and risks. Typical side effects last a short time, are mostly benign, and resolve as tolerance builds. Side effects and risks mainly occur after the intake of high doses, or when medicinal cannabis is used in combination with other substances like alcohol or particular medications.
On rare occasions, cannabis use can induce a state of psychosis in individuals with a genetic predisposition. As a result, patients with a (family) history of psychotic disorders, particularly schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, should be under careful psychiatric monitoring when using medicinal cannabis. Moreover, a short, acute psychotic like episode (involving anxiety and catastrophic thinking) is possible in the case of non-predisposed individuals, especially when very high doses of THC is taken.