- D. H. Reilly
Side Effects of Medical Marijuana Use
New medications can be scary. It seems like every prescription drug commercial is accompanied by a list of side effects that can make the cure seem worse than the disease, potentially deterring patients in need of relief.
And maybe you’ve let that fear keep you from considering getting an Alabama Marijuana Card when the time comes.
But the truth is that every medicine has side effects, and that marijuana’s tend to be minor, easy to manage, and highly tolerated by users. If you’ve been letting fear of side effects keep you from finding relief, let us try to ease those fears a little.
Like Fingerprints, all Medical Marijuana Users are Unique
It might surprise you that you don’t experience all of the side effects you've heard about, or at least you might not experience them the way you expected.
The fact is that marijuana, like every other drug, can have very different effects on different users. Consider depression, for example.
Depression is recognized as a qualifying condition here in Alabama, because there is a lot of evidence that marijuana can safely and effectively treat depression. However, there is also some evidence that marijuana can cause depression for some patients in some situations.
The variety in responses to marijuana makes it hard to say exactly what side effects a particular patient might experience, and how severe they’ll be.
Fortunately, for most patients the side effects of medical marijuana are highly tolerated and easily managed.
But Some Potential Side Effects are More Serious
Before we look at some of the more common, less serious side effects, it’s important that we discuss a potential side effect of medical marijuana that could be serious.
In a potentially serious one-two punch combination for patients with heart conditions, marijuana lowers blood pressure and accelerates the heartbeat, so many doctors and researchers don’t recommend it for all patients.
But there is also research that suggests that medical marijuana does not endanger heart patients.
As with all medicines that aren’t available over-the-counter, it can be hard to keep up with the research and to know what’s safe and what isn’t. That’s why Alabama is making marijuana patients work with doctors in order to get their medicine.
Red Eyes, the Munchies, and Dry Mouth: The Most Famous of Marijuana Side Effects
Anyone who has ever seen just a few moments of a stoner comedy has probably heard of these three side effects, marijuana’s most well known. The good news is that most patients find these side effects completely tolerable, and we have some tips for you in case you’re not in that majority.
Avoiding the Embarrassment of Bloodshot Marijuana Eyes
Red, bloodshot eyes can tip people off to your marijuana use, so if you’re worried about keeping your medical choices private, you may want to minimize this side effect.
But don’t go blaming your red eyes on marijuana smoke and thinking that a switch to edibles will do the trick. Unless you have an especially sensitive reaction to all smoke, it isn’t the smoke that’s reddening your eyes but rather the THC in your medicine.
Instead of switching up your medication, try over-the-counter eye drops to alleviate that redness. You could also look into a strain of medicine with less THC, but those red eyes aren’t going to harm you or your vision, so you might not want to mess with your medication just to get rid of them.
Managing the Marijuana Munchies
THC is the culprit behind this side effect as well. It binds to brain receptors that influence our senses of taste and smell, enhancing them and giving you the munchies.
There is at least some good news about this side effect. According to peer-reviewed research in the American Journal of Medicine, marijuana users do consume more calories than other people, but on average they’re also skinnier than other people and their bodies process sugar better.
As Dr. Gary Wenk, a neuroscience professor, said to Men’s Health, researchers believe that marijuana helps burn calories, offsetting the munchies.
If reigning in your appetite while you’re medicating is getting to be too much for you, or you’re just trying to eat less, then you might want to look into a strain of medicine that’s lower in THC.
Managing Your Dry Marijuana Mouth
That dry mouth that comes with your medicine? You’ll never guess what causes it. Ok, you guessed: It’s THC.
While THC is binding to those brain receptors and influencing your sense of smell, it is also binding to receptors in your body, impairing your parasympathetic nervous system in the process. Your PNS controls your saliva production, so while you’re medicating your mouth dries out.
While you may want to talk to your doctor about a strain lower in THC if you find the dryness unbearable, you might also find that sucking on some hard candy while you medicate does the trick.
Other Possible Side Effects are More Serious but Also Manageable
Somewhere between the severity of possibly exacerbating a heart condition and dealing with a little dry mouth lies some side effects of medical marijuana that can be moderately worrisome, but that are still easily managed.
Marijuana Hangovers: Yes, They’re a Thing
Because they are less common and less severe than alcohol hangovers, marijuana hangovers are less well known and less often discussed. Nevertheless, marijuana hangovers are a real thing.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for a marijuana hangover except to treat the symptoms, which can include headaches, fatigue, mild nausea, brain fog and lethargy. Try using over-the-counter pain relievers, be sure to stay hydrated, and get a good breakfast and drink some caffeine.
And if that doesn’t do the trick, and your hangovers are intolerable, look into adjusting your medication.
Lay Off the Machinery: Medical Marijuana Causes Sedation, Impaired Judgement
Marijuana may impair your judgement and reactions and cause sedation and drowsiness. Never drive, use heavy or dangerous machinery, or attempt difficult or dangerous tasks while you’re medicating.
If you find that your medication makes you too tired or sedated for your daily life, consult with your doctor about trying new strains and dosages.
Remember, It’s Medical Marijuana
If used inappropriately, marijuana can be dangerous or lead to intolerable side effects, like just all medications. You might have to drive or operate machinery for work, and you may have experienced intolerable marijuana headaches in the past, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you couldn’t benefit from medical marijuana.
You can only know if medical marijuana is right for you with a doctor’s guidance. And the odds are that if your doctor suggests it, you’ll find the side effects worth tolerating.
Consult with Our Doctors to Learn if Medical Marijuana is Right for You
Like any medication, using cannabis inappropriately can cause intolerable side effects and be potentially dangerous. That’s why you must consult with a doctor in order to get an Alabama Marijuana Card. And when taken with a doctor’s guidance, marijuana can safely and comfortably provide relief for numerous conditions.
If you’re ready to learn about how medical marijuana can benefit you, reserve an evaluation with one of our doctors today, and we’ll book an appointment for you just as soon as Alabama’s medical marijuana market is up and running.
You’ll meet with your new doctor virtually, using your smartphone or computer for a telemedicine appointment. From the comfort of your own home, you and your doctor will discuss your condition and what medical marijuana might be able to do for you.
Not only will you save $25 off the cost of the appointment, but if your doctor doesn’t recommend medical marijuana for you, we’ll refund the entire cost. You’ve nothing to lose, and potentially an all new quality of life to gain!
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
At Alabama Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-5633, or simply reserve a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out Alabama Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.