Start Low and Go Slow

The basic principal for dosing medical marijuana is to start with a low dose and to go slow in taking more until the effect of the first dose is fully realized, because the effects of cannabis are not always immediately felt. Starting low and going slow allows patients to accommodate for the different experiences they may have.

Cannabis has a wide margin of safety and there is limited risk of overdose. However, caution is warranted until a patient fully understands the effect that the cannabis may have. Dosage varies greatly among patients, even when treating the same condition.

There are many factors that impact the effect, including:

  • Amount used (dosage)
  • Strain used and method of consumption
  • Environment/setting
  • Experience and history of cannabis use
  • Biochemistry
  • Mindset or mood
  • Nutrition or diet

Administration

Inhalation

Inhalation has the primary advantage of allowing a patient to adjust the dosage easily for maximum benefit because the onset of action is almost immediate. The medical marijuana is taken into the lungs and quickly absorbed through the capillaries into the bloodstream.

Forms

Length of Effect

Smoking versus Vaporization

Oral Administration

Many patients are more comfortable with oral administration of medical marijuana. Patients should consider, however, that absorption is slower when medical marijuana is taken orally, with lower, more delayed peak THC levels and reduced bioavailability of THC and CBD due to extensive metabolism in the digestive tract. While some studies have suggested that 3–5 times the quantity of medical marijuana is required to be taken orally to achieve the same effect as smoking, PharmaCannis recommends each patient start low and goes slow.

Effects of Medical Marijuana

Short-Term Cognitive Effects

Patients should be aware that cannabis use causes short-term impairments in the following brain functions:

  • Memory
  • Sense of time
  • Sensory perception
  • Attention span
  • Problem solving
  • Verbal fluency
  • Reaction time
  • Psychomotor control

Cannabis users may “pull themselves together” to concentrate on simple tasks for brief periods of time. That said, performance impairments may be observed for at least one to two hours following cannabis use, and residual effects have been reported up to 24 hours depending on potency of the cannabis, the method of administration, and the tolerance of the user.

Long-Term Cognitive Effects

Consult the advice of your physician if you are a long-term user of medical cannabis and intend to stop using it, or if you are concerned about dependence on or addiction to cannabis. Your physician can help you manage any withdrawal effects that you may experience. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment with medical cannabis.

Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding your cannabis use. The information and materials provided to you by PharmaCannis should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.