In Florida, doctors can legally prescribe marijuana to treat permitted conditions. The illnesses and issues on that list are varied — for example, side effects of cancer treatment and epilepsy both appear on it.
At Living Waters Regenerative Medicine Center, Dr. Deborah Viglione and her team approach medical marijuana as they would any other drug — prescribing it when appropriate and with careful consideration of your overall health. And, as with any other medication, we want you to be aware of potential side effects.
Factors that impact side effects
Several factors can make a difference in whether or not you experience side effects when using medical marijuana, as well the severity of those side effects. For example, you can take medical marijuana in the form of edibles, smoke it, take a pill, or use it in a vaporizer. The method of delivery impacts the dose of the active ingredient, THC.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a cannabinoid, and it’s the compound that creates the feeling of euphoria so often associated with marijuana. The amount of THC you consume affects whether you feel side effects or how intense they are. Dr. Viglione can help you understand what dosage you should start with.
Possible side effects with medical marijuana
Most patients tolerate medical marijuana well, and serious negative side effects are rare. Pregnant women, children and adolescents, and nursing mothers should avoid using medical marijuana. You should also discuss any other medications you take with Dr. Viglione, as some drug interactions are possible.
You may experience changes in cognitive function as a side effect of using medical marijuana. You may also feel sleepy or lethargic. Some people experience short-term memory loss.
You may feel hungry or like your mouth is very dry. Your eyes might feel dry or look red. Some people experience dizziness or nausea; others have an increased heart rate, although it’s rarely serious.
You may feel hot and sweaty or cold, and you may feel anxious or paranoid. Psychotic episodes are possible but are very rare. If you’re predisposed to psychosis due to some other issue, you should avoid using medical marijuana.
Using medical marijuana safely
The good news is that medical marijuana is safe, and side effects are rarely serious. However, most people would prefer to avoid side effects if possible.
One of the best ways to do that is to approach medical marijuana with caution. Begin with a low dose, and wait to see how it affects you. Discuss any concerns with Dr. Viglione.
Some people find they prefer CBD, or cannabidiol, instead of THC. As a different cannabinoid, CBD has different possible side effects. Some people experience low blood pressure, lightheadedness, or drowsiness using CBD.
If you’d like to learn more about medical marijuana, its uses, and its side effects, schedule an appointment to talk to Dr. Viglione. She can answer your questions about the appropriate uses of medical marijuana and the process of applying for a Medical Marijuana Use Registry Identification Card.