Hang around the medical cannabis community long enough and you will hear someone refer to cannabis use as a journey. A big reason for such terminology is a desire to make cannabis consumption less stigmatized. But at least in terms of the journey proposition, it is more than semantics. The word ‘journey’ is especially descriptive of what medical cannabis patients go through.
The Miriam Webster online dictionary defines journey in several ways. Here are the two most appropriate definitions for the purposes of this post:
- Something suggesting travel or passage from one place to another
- An act or instance of traveling from one place to another.
Medical cannabis consumption is a journey in the sense that patients go through multiple stages that begin during that first visit with a medical provider and do not conclude until they finally arrive at the perfect medication model – if that happens at all.
Obtaining a Medical Cannabis Card
Most states with active medical cannabis programs mandate that patients obtain medical cannabis cards before they buy their medicines. A medical cannabis card essentially takes the place of a traditional prescription. As to how one obtains a card, the rules vary by state. Utah’s program is pretty typical. We can use it as an example.
Patients in Utah must visit with a qualified medical provider (QMP) or limited medical provider (LMP) with existing prescribing authority in the state. The medical provider evaluates the patient to determine whether they suffer from one of the state’s qualifying conditions. If so, the provider must also determine whether medical cannabis is the best treatment option for said person or not.
Assuming the doctor ends up recommending medical cannabis, the patient simply submits an application and pays the appropriate feed. Their card is then issued electronically to them.
Visiting a Cannabis Pharmacy
Obtaining a medical cannabis card is pretty straightforward in most states. With card in hand, a patient can visit a local cannabis pharmacy to purchase product. In Utah, there are fewer than two dozen pharmacies to serve the entire state. One of them is Deseret Wellness in Provo. Finding a local pharmacy is the next part of the journey. Patients in rural Utah can literally take quite a journey driving into one of the state’s urban centers.
Figuring Out How to Use It
The last part of the journey is the longest and most complicated part. It is figuring out exactly how to use medical cannabis. First of all, there are different delivery methods that vary by state. Some states allow smoking, others do not. In the absence of smoking, patients can choose:
- dry heating and vaping
- tinctures and oils
- edibles and ingestible products
- topical lotions and creams.
Delivery methods vary in terms of their effectiveness. And of course, dosage influences efficacy. It can be quite a journey to figure out the best delivery method and dosage for maximum relief. But do not stop there. Patients also have to consider preferred cannabinoids and brands.
It is Not All THC
THC is just one of the cannabinoids naturally produced by cannabis plants. There are more than a hundred others, including CBD. Medical cannabis patients usually have to work with their pharmacists to figure out on which cannabinoids they should focus. After that, they start looking at the various brands to find products they like.
After all this, the journey still isn’t over. Most patients have to continually adjust how they use cannabis. Some make adjustments for the rest of their lives. For them, the journey continues right up until the very end.