Questions and Answers:

What is medical cannabis?

Medical cannabis is not the same as recreational cannabis and should not be viewed as such.  The medical formulation is indicated for a specific medical condition and is recommended by a medical provider. The provider has knowledge of the patient's medical condition and the patient is under the providers medical supervision.  Like other pharmaceutical medications, medical cannabis is subjected to various laboratory testing to ensure the percentages are accurate and the product is free pathogens that could cause harm to a patient.  There are registration processes that certify the provider, patient and caregiver and cards issued for possession of the product.  

Medical cannabis is a type of medication that is made directly from the cannabis plant (not synthesized in a laboratory).  The plant is grown then extracted using technology to remove the individual building blocks from the plant called cannabinoids.  These individual cannabinoids have specific characteristics to produce a desired medical effect.  The additive effect of each cannabinoid working together causes synergy or referred to as the Entourage Effect.  This means the individual cannabinoid can enhance the effectiveness when given together with other cannabinoids than by itself.  The most common cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) however there are over 85 known cannabinoids in a cannabis plant.  Each cannabinoid has specific properties and can have different percentages.  Depending on the strain of the plant, how the plants are hybridized and the percentages in which the plant is harvested, you can have endless products available.  The final product can have numerous cannabinoids present and different scents (due to the terpenes present).  

 

How should I take the medical cannabis?

There are various methods in which medical cannabis can be consumed and the regulations will vary from state to state.

In New York State there are only 3 ways in which cannabis can be ingested. 

1.  Oral administration (capsules)

2.  Oral Tincture, drops or syrup

3. Non-combustable vapor pen containing oil. 

There is not any active flame allowed for any consumption for medical cannabis .  All medications must be provided by a certified dispensing facility set forth by the New York State Department of Health.  A New York State registered pharmacist must be present at all times in which the dispensing facility is open for business.  

 

What should I expect while taking medical cannabis?

The effects may vary depending on the formulation and concentration received from the dispensing facility and the dose started.  Rule of thumb is to start dosing low and go slow when titrating the dose.  There are cannabinoids that can cause a psychoactive effect and others that do not cause a psychoactive effect. 

Here are some of the most common cannabinoids:

            Psychoactive*                                                               Non-psychoactive

            Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)*                                        Cannabidiol (CBD)

            Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)*                                  Tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA)

            Cannabinadiolic acid (CBDA)*                                       Cannabidivarine (CBDV)

            Cannabinol ( CBN)*                                                        Cannabigerol (CBG)

                                                                                                  Cannabichromene (CBC)

The response can also vary from days to weeks depending on the dose, formulation and concentration. 

Cannabis is generally well tolerated.  Due to the mechanism of action in which the cannabinoid exerts its effect you may find changes in neuronal processing due to the excitation or inhibition of cannabinoid 1 receptors (CB1) and/or changes in inflammation due to the anti-inflammatory process caused by the cannabinoid 2 receptor (CB2).