- D. H. Reilly
Side Effects of Using Medical Marijuana
Updated: Sep 28, 2021
Sure, you can get relief when you get a Missouri Marijuana Card, but can you get any unwanted side effects with your medicine as well?
If you’re concerned about the side effects of using medical marijuana, it doesn’t mean you’re letting your medicine make you paranoid; it just means you’re being cautious with your health.
And yes, you may experience side effects when you use medical marijuana. It is medicine, after all, and all medicines have side effects. The question then isn’t “Does medical marijuana cause side effects,” but rather “Can I tolerate the side effects of medical marijuana as well or better than I can tolerate the side effects of traditional pharmaceuticals?”
And for millions of patients nationwide, and more than 130,000 right here in Missouri, the answer to that second question is a resounding “Yes.”
One Patient’s Side Effect is Another’s Therapy
One thing that can make it difficult to discuss the side effects of medical marijuana is that the medicine can affect individual patients in diverse ways, and what works for one patient can cause a negative side effect for another. Just as every drug has side effects, every drug can affect individual patients differently.
So it would be difficult to cover all of the side effects that have been reported by some marijuana users, and we’re just going to hit some of the most common and noteworthy here.
Remember, Cannabis is Medicine: Your Doctor Can Help With Side Effects
Anxiety can be one of the qualifying conditions for getting a Missouri Marijuana Card, and with good reason; there is ample evidence that marijuana can help treat anxiety.
However, marijuana has also been shown to worsen anxiety for some patients at some dosages.
That’s just one example of a way in which marijuana can have different effects for different users and at different dosages. That’s why Missouri requires you to work hand-in-hand with a qualified physician before issuing you a marijuana card. With a doctor’s help, you can be sure you’ll safely find the right approach for you.
Research shows that most patients find the side effects of medical marijuana to be highly tolerable. For more severe adverse reactions, consult your doctor. For advice on handling some of the more common and more tolerable side effects of medical marijuana, simply read on.
Red Eyes, Dry Mouth, and Empty Stomach: The Big Three of Marijuana Side Effects
They’ve long been a staple of R-rated comedies, and they’re the side effects most commonly associated with marijuana. Fortunately, they’re also highly tolerated by most patients and easily managed.
Red Marijuana Eyes: Harmless, but Possibly Embarrassing
The red eyes commonly associated with marijuana use are not harmful at all, and should only concern you for cosmetic reasons. Whether it’s to showcase your peepers or to avoid the stigmas that can still dog marijuana users, it’s understandable that you might want to avoid this common effect of THC.
And it is indeed the THC causing your red eyes, so don’t bother to switch to edibles or topicals in an effort to get rid of them. The delivery system won’t change this side effect.
Fortunately, it’s an easy side effect to address. Red marijuana eyes can be treated with over-the-counter eye drops and by staying hydrated while taking your medicine. And if those options don’t do the trick? Talk to your doctor about trying a strain of medication with lower THC levels.
Relieving the Dry Mouth that Can Come with the Relief of Medical Marijuana
Dry mouth is another side effect you can blame on THC, and another one that remains uninfluenced by the form in which you take your medicine. Fortunately, it’s also another side effect that’s easily managed.
Your dry marijuana mouth is caused by THC binding to receptors in your body and inhibiting your parasympathetic nervous system. And one of the functions your parasympathetic nervous system regulates is saliva production.
If you find the dry mouth you experience with medical marijuana intolerable, you can try sucking on some candy while medicating, or talk to your doctor about trying a medication lower in THC.
The Munchies: Are They Really a Negative?
Completing the big three is the munchies, another byproduct of THC use. Just as THC binds to receptors throughout the body, it also binds to receptors in the brain that are related to your senses of smell and taste, which seems to be how marijuana stimulates the appetite.
And while you could try a strain lower in THC, you might just want to see if those munchies affect your health in any significant way, or if you can just give into the munchies as a side effect of your medication and chow down; marijuana users appear to be skinnier on average than non-users, even though they also tend to take in more calories.
Yes, it sounds too good to be true, but it’s medical science!
A study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that marijuana users on average take in more calories than non-users, but they’re also likely to be skinnier than the average non-user.
As Dr. Gary Wenk, a neurologist, told Men’s Health, “Marijuana receptors live on your mitochondria, the power plants that give us energy. It turns out that they have THC receptors and they’re involved in regulating your energy use. What we speculate is that marijuana is getting in there and altering your ability to burn through calories, in spite of the munchies.”
Some Marijuana Side Effects are More Serious, but Generally Still Manageable
Unfortunately, there are side effects sometimes associated with medical marijuana that can be more serious. Fortunately, these side effects are also generally well tolerated and relatively easy to manage.
Hangovers: They’re not Just for Drinking Anymore
Although less universally-experienced and severe than the hangovers associated with drinking, marijuana users can also experience hangovers the day after medicating. Common symptoms of these hangovers include fatigue, lethargy, brain fog, dry eyes and mouth, headaches, and mild nausea.
And while there is no instant cure for marijuana hangovers, there are some general tips you can try in order to minimize their severity, including: stay hydrated, eat a nutritious breakfast, drink caffeine, and use over-the-counter pain relievers.
And if those tips don’t help, once again, you may need to talk to your doctor about adjusting your strain or dosage.
Don’t Operate Heavy Machinery: Marijuana can Cause Sedation and Impairment
Like a lot of medications, marijuana may cause sedation and impair your judgement and reactions. For your safety, and the safety of everyone else on the road, you should never drive while under the influence of your medication, and you should also avoid operating heavy machinery and doing any other potentially dangerous tasks.
There is no way to side-step this side effect; you simply have to adjust your medication schedule so that it doesn’t conflict with your responsibilities, and as always consult your doctor if your medication isn’t fitting your life.
Ask Your Doctor if Your Heart is Healthy Enough for Marijuana
Perhaps one of the most serious possible side effects of medical marijuana usage is heart complications. Because marijuana can speed up your heart rate and lower your blood pressure, many experts recommend patients with heart problems avoid using marijuana.
But the research here is inconclusive, and some studies have found that medical marijuana is not especially dangerous for users with heart conditions.
It’s Called Medical Marijuana for a Reason
Like just any medication, medical marijuana can be dangerous if used incorrectly or inappropriately. Just having a job that requires you to operate heavy equipment, or having experienced intolerably dry eyes from THC use in the past, or having a heart condition doesn’t automatically mean you can’t benefit from medical marijuana.
Only a doctor can tell you if medical marijuana is right for you, and if one does, you’re likely to find the side effects minor and manageable.
Why Wait any Longer to Find out if Medical Marijuana is the Relief You’ve Been Seeking
Wondering if medical marijuana might be right for you? Don’t delay: reserve an evaluation with one of our doctors today, and you’ll save $25 off the cost of your appointment!
You and your new doctor will discuss your condition virtually, using your smartphone or computer for a telemedicine appointment, deciding together if medical marijuana might help you. And if your doctor doesn’t recommend a Missouri Marijuana Card for you, you’ll receive a complete refund!
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
At Missouri 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.
Call us at (877) 303-3117, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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