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Health Conditions in Montana
Cannabis, when ingested safely, is one of the most useful medicines for a wide range of conditions including:
- chronic pain
- premenstrual tension
Cannabis will have variable effects when used by different people and under different circumstances. You must discuss indications and side effects with your doctor. We cannot offer medical advice and makes no claims as to the efficacy of medication obtained here. Please read the “Sensible Cannabis Use” section of this handbook.
Sensible Cannabis Use
The information below is reprinted from the Cannabis Action Network
Like any medicine, cannabis can be misused. Excessive or inappropriate use can contribute to problems including sleepiness, overeating, and time management issues. Due to the political climate surrounding cannabis use research, clinical studies have produced widely conflicting conclusions about the true benefits and potential side effects of cannabis use. Always listen to the advice of your doctor and use good judgment when using medical cannabis. These guidelines help identify ways of using medical cannabis in a positive way.
- Adults should use cannabis as part of a healthy, balanced, and responsible lifestyle.
- The decision to use cannabis should be made freely, and not as a result of social pressure.
- Cannabis users should be well informed about its effects on themselves and others. These effects include both legal and health risks and personal consequences.
- Never use cannabis as an excuse for antisocial or irresponsible behavior.
- Cannabis users should model and reward responsible use, particularly with new users.
- Develop sensible cannabis use limits for your self based on personal, health, situational, and cultural factors. It is important to be objective about your personal cannabis use and listen to the constructive advice of others.
- Avoid cannabis use that puts you or others at risk, such as when driving, at work, or in public places. Remember, personal use of cannabis is still illegal under federal law, and penalties are stiff.
- Use of cannabis by children is inappropriate and should be discouraged.
Methods of Consumption
Medical Cannabis can be consumed in many different ways. Effects may vary slightly with different methods of consumption. The length of time it takes for the medicine to take effect, and the length of time that the medicine remains effective, can vary greatly with different methods of consumption.
The most common ingestion method has traditionally been to smoke the dried flowers and/or leaves of the cannabis plant. Dried cannabis can be smoked in a pipe, rolled into a cigarette (or ‘joint’), or smoked using a water pipe (commonly called a ‘bong’). Water pipes were once thought to filter out some of the carcinogens in cannabis smoke, but studies suggest that there is no significant health benefit to smoking from a water pipe over other smoking methods. Regularly smoking any plant material can have a negative impact on pulmonary health, and therefore THC recommends patients use vaporizers or edible forms of medicine whenever possible.
A vaporizer is a device that allows the patient to separate the cannabinoids (the therapeutically effective chemicals in cannabis) from the plant material without burning. This is possible because cannabinoids vaporize (turn to a gaseous form that can be inhaled) at a temperature lower than that required for burning. As a result, the patient can inhale without taking in the burned plant material that constitutes “smoke”. While scientific studies are lacking, it is commonly believed that vaporizing is a healthier form of ingestion than smoking cannabis. Vaporizing is believed to mitigate many if not all of the negative effects of smoking. It tastes better as well. If you are used to smoking your medicine, you may think that you aren’t “getting anything” at first when you vaporize, because vapor does not burn the throat. Even though the vapor doesn’t burn, it is still quite effective. Use caution and wait a few minutes to feel the full effects before taking more.
Edibles are foods cooked with butter or oil that has been infused with cannabis. Edible cannabis usually takes longer to take effect (20 minutes to an hour or more) and the effects generally last longer than smoking or vaporizing. Edibles taken on an empty stomach will take effect significantly faster than if taken immediately following a meal. It is difficult to know how strong an edible medicine will be, and because it can take an hour or more to feel the full effects, it is easy to over-medicate. Use caution! If you have taken your medicine in an edible form, wait at least an hour to be sure you know how strongly it will affect you before taking more.
Any food that contains butter or oil can be made with cannabis-infused butter or oil, but the most common edibles are cookies, brownies, cakes, or candies.
Oils and Honeys
Cannabis infused oils can be used directly in foods, consumed in capsules, or mixed with honey to be used in tea or on other foods.
A tincture is a concentrated form of cannabis in an glycrin solution. Tinctures can be taken under the tongue or mixed into water or other beverages.
Types of Cannabis Medicine
Cannabis Flowers and Leaves
Commonly referred to as ‘buds’, the flowers of the cannabis plant are the most potent for medicinal properties. The leaves of the cannabis plant also contain some cannabinoids, but in much lower concentration. The flowers and leaves of the plant can be smoked, vaporized, or used to prepare edibles.
Hash or Hashish is manufactured by separating the trichomes from the cannabis flowers, to create a concentrated dose of this specific part of the cannabis plant. (The trichomes are the reddish ‘hairs’ that you see on dried cannabis flowers.) The trichomes are then processed into a relatively solid paste or block. Hash can be somewhat powdery or more solid and sticky, depending on exactly how it was processed.
Kief is also made from the trichome part of the cannabis flower. Kief is just the dried trichomes, without any further processing. It comes as a dry powder. It can be smoked or vaporized or used to make edibles. It is often sprinkled on the top of cannabis before smoking or vaporizing, to augment the trichome content in the flowers. Some grinders (used to evenly cut up the cannabis flowers before vaporizing or smoking) have a small-mesh screen at the bottom for the purpose of collecting kief over time.
Sativa vs. Indica
Cannabis is the botanical name of a genus of annual flowering plants in the Cannabaceae family. There are over 150 species and 10 genera included in the Cannabaceae family. Besides cannabis, the hop plant (often used in the production of beer) is also part of the Cannabaceae family. Some species of cannabis (indica and sativa) produce fairly large amounts of a chemical known as Tetrahydrocannabinol (a cannabinoid commonly called THC). Cannabis plants that are grown for their THC content are referred to as marijuana plants. Plants in the cannabis genus are commonly referred to as hemp plants, but the term hemp is more appropriately used to describe cannabis plants that are cultivated for commercial purposes (like clothing, fuel, etcetera) rather than THC content. Medical cannabis comes in two basic types: sativa and indica. Each type has its own distinct set of characteristics. Medical cannabis types are available from pure sativa strains to pure indica strains, and include every combination in between.
Cannabis Sativa is a tall, slower growing and maturing plant that typically has long thin leaves which may vary in color from light green to darker greens. Sativa buds are long and thin and turn red as they mature in a warm environment. In cooler environments the buds may be slightly purple. Sativa plants smell sweet and fruity and the smoke is generally quite mild. It is a source of fiber for rope and other products. The cannabis sativa medicating effect is often characterized as uplifting and energetic. The effects of a cannabis sativa are mostly cerebral. They give a feeling of optimism and well-being, as well as providing a good measure of pain relief for certain symptoms. A few pure sativas are also very high in THC content. They are known to have a quite spacey, or hallucinogenic, effect. Sativas are a good choice for daytime medication.
Cannabis indica is a short to moderate height bushy plant, generally between 3 and 6 feet, and its leaves have short broad fingers. The leaves are generally dark green, and are sometimes tinged with purple. As they near maturity, the leaves may become significantly more purple. It is a strong smelling plant with a “stinky” or “skunky” smell. The smoke of indicas is generally thick and more prone to cause coughing when inhaled. Indicas are the traditional source of hashish. The cannabis indica medicating effect is most often described as a pleasant body buzz. Indicas are great for relaxation, stress relief, and for an overall sense of calm and serenity. Cannabis indicas are also very effective for overall body pain relief, and often used in the treatment of insomnia. They are the late evening choice of many patients as an all-night sleep aid. A few pure indica strains are very potent in THC, and will cause the “couchlock” effect, enabling the patient to simply sit still and enjoy the experience of the medicine.