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Medicinal Use Of Cannabis


What is cannabis?

Cannabis, also called marijuana, is a drug that comes from the cannabis sativa (hemp plant). It may also be called pot, weed, or hash. Cannabis may be taken in the form of a pill, capsule, or mouth spray. Cannabis can also be smoked, baked into food and eaten, or made into a tea and drunk. The effects may start right away and last for 3 to 4 hours depending on whether you smoke or eat cannabis.

What is medicinal use of cannabis?

Cannabis can be used to control or relieve symptoms caused by medical conditions. The following are some of the common symptoms cannabis is used for:

  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or weight loss
  • Pain, tingling, and numbness from nerve damage
  • Mood and sleep problems
  • Muscle spasms, tremors (shaking), or tics
  • Fluid pressure in the eye from glaucoma

What are the risks of cannabis use?

  • Cannabis can vary in quality and strength. It may work well for some people, but not for others. The amount of cannabis needed, when to use it, or if it is working may not be clear. It may interfere with your ability to drive a car or operate machinery. If you are pregnant and use cannabis, it may prevent your unborn baby from growing normally.
  • Cannabis can make you feel tired, drunk, dizzy, or high. Cannabis can cause anxiety, confusion, decreased memory, or difficulty learning. Cannabis increases the risk of panic disorder, depression, or seeing or hearing things that are not real. If you use cannabis for a long time and then stop, you may have withdrawal symptoms. You may feel angry, anxious, nervous, or restless. You may lose your appetite, lose weight, or have problems sleeping.
  • Cannabis may contain harmful substances, such as metals, fungus, and germs. It may increase your risk of a lung infection, long-term bronchitis, asthma, or other lung diseases. Smoking cannabis may increase your risk of cancer of the head, neck, and lungs. Cannabis may also increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. When taken with other medicine, cannabis increases the risk of side effects.

What else should I know about cannabis use?

  • Learn and follow the laws about the use of medicinal cannabis in the area where you live.
  • Tell your healthcare providers about all of the drugs you take. If you use cannabis, tell them when and why you use it.
  • See your healthcare provider regularly.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about the use of cannabis pills, capsules, sprays, or vaporizers, instead of cigarettes.
  • Do not use cannabis if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Do not drive or use heavy machinery when you use cannabis.
  • Do not use cannabis if you have a mental health illness.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use other drugs or medicines while you are using cannabis.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your symptoms do not improve.
  • You feel you are becoming dependent on cannabis.
  • You have stopped using cannabis, and feel that you cannot cope with your withdrawal symptoms.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • The effects of cannabis have worn off, and you have shortness of breath, a fast heart rate, or chest pain.
  • You want to hurt or kill yourself or others.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.