By summer of 2018, Canada will be legalizing recreational cannabis. The stigma surrounding medical cannabis as a course of treatment has already begun to slowly fade away. The general perception of cannabis is changing. But decades of criminalization have, understandably, made new medical cannabis patients wary of whether it’s the right choice for them.
If you are a prospective medical cannabis patient, know that it’s okay to have questions about this alternative treatment option. In fact, you may have many questions, particularly if you’re considering making a switch from prescription opiates or you’re trying to find a way to incorporate medical cannabis with other medications. Your questions are valid, and you’re not alone in asking them.
With all that in mind, let’s answer three of your most pressing questions about medical cannabis.
1. Is Medical Cannabis Addictive?
This is perhaps the most common question medical cannabis patients have before they start a course of treatment, and justifiably so. Addiction is on many patients’ minds nowadays because of the recent opioid epidemic that has seen many people become heavily dependent and addicted to prescription drugs.
The answer to this question, however, is that while there is a potential to develop a dependence on cannabis, the potential for addiction to the drug is low.
Often, the terms dependence and addiction are confused with one another, leading to misunderstandings about cannabis use. Dependence refers to when someone may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using a medicine or substance regularly. Addiction refers to the compulsive use of a medicine or substance, despite any negative physical, social, or financial impacts it may have on the users’ lives.
Since medical cannabis is a natural medicine, there are few withdrawal symptoms that might impact your daily routine. On the opposite end of the spectrum, opioids carry a much higher risk of addiction, and its withdrawal symptoms can kill you.
2. Is Medical Cannabis Safe?
There are many strains of cannabis out there. You might be worried about the quality of the medical cannabis you will be using as such. The good news is there’s no cause for worry if you schedule an appointment with a medical cannabis clinic and get your supply from a licensed producer.
Licensed producers of medical cannabis are strict about the quality of their products, and they are regulated by the government of Canada. Despite the fact that recreational cannabis hasn’t been legalized yet, cannabis has rigorous manufacturing standards.
Opioids on the other hand, while legal in their prescription drug form, are contributing to an epidemic that has taken thousands of lives.
3. Can I Incorporate Medical Cannabis with My Other Medications?
Whether you’re a patient with chronic pain, MS, arthritis, or another ailment, you most likely take some other medications to alleviate your symptoms. Perhaps you have been prescribed opioids to help with a condition like osteoarthritis or anxiety medications and anti-depressants to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Regardless of the exact case, you have legitimate concerns for asking this question.
Fortunately, there’s no need to fear incorporating medical cannabis with your other medications. Medical cannabis patients can safely integrate cannabis into their total health plan with the help of a medical professional. There are clinics across Canada with dedicated experts who can help you customize a plan and safely introduce cannabis to your drug regimen.
Medical cannabis experts will consult with you to ensure the strain of cannabis you take and its dosage are appropriate given your other prescriptions. With gradual adjustments over time, medical cannabis experts may even be able to reduce your dependence on opioids and keep you pain-free.
These three answers to your medical cannabis questions should make you feel more hopeful about treatment.