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If you have never used cannabis before, we recommend that you start off slowly and cautiously and that you set aside some time when you don’t need to drive or operate dangerous machinery in order to gauge how it affects you. Inhalation methods are felt immediately but will build over time, generally peaking anywhere between 5 – 20 minutes after the first dose. Be especially mindful with edibles, which can take up to two hours to take full effect. If overindulged, edibles may cause an unpleasant experience — if that occurs, however, there’s no need to worry, cannabis is extremely safe and cannot kill you. To minimize undesirable side effects, try strains or products with more CBD and less THC.

Although extremely rare, cannabis allergies do exist. This is difficult to pinpoint because doctors may not obtain cannabis to perform the usual allergy tests, but if you experience any allergic reaction, discontinue using the medication immediately and inform your doctor.


A dosage diary can be as simple or as detailed as you make it. When you try a new medicine, give it a page in your notebook, and record the category (Indica/Sativa/Hybrid), dosing method, cannabinoid percentages, strain genetics and growing conditions, smell, taste, and appearance — you may not always be able to find that strain again, but the more you know, the better you can find something equivalent.

The first few times you medicate, record your symptoms prior to dosage (it’s often helpful to use a 1-10 scale to rate the severity). As you begin your medication session, take note of the immediate effects. You’ll want to record the symptom level, and any other things you notice about how the medicine interacts with your mind and body. Then, take note of the symptoms at regular intervals (shorter for inhaled / smoked, longer for ingested).  If you do this for each new medicine, you will develop a treasure trove of information on how your condition responds to medication, which will be a valuable tool for both you and your doctor to evaluate the effectiveness of cannabis.


If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up! Remember medical cannabis is not one single drug, but a robust pharmacopeia with a huge variety of options. If you had any adverse psychological reactions (dysphoria, paranoia) you should try strains with more CBD and less THC. If you suffer from glaucoma, try strains high in CBG; if you get the munchies and eat too much, try strains high in THCV. Different strains feature different terpene profiles as well, so two flowers with the same ratio of THC to CBD might affect you differently. This is where your medication diary really shines! Making a note of what helps, you may find that they always smell of lemons, or always have purple hairs. This will help you identify medicine that is going to work for you, even if it’s a strain you haven’t heard of before.


If you’ve been vaping, try edibles — or vice-versa. There are more differences between ingested and inhaled cannabis than the duration of effects. Here’s a very informative video explaining this:

As you progress on your medical cannabis journey, keep in mind that it is one of the safest drugs in existence — aspirin and Tylenol are more deadly than marijuana! It might feel strange to be “experimenting” with medicine, but as long as you’re not doing any harm (and you’re not), this method empowers you to take an active role in your treatment.

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