Years of experience in the Medical Cannabis arena have taught us that it is easy to chase THC levels in the pursuit of pain relief. It's easy to believe that more is better. In reality, a patient's choice of strain for pain treatment could have more influence on pain relief than the actual volume of THC consumed.
It is generally accepted among Medical Cannabis professionals that Type I and Type II are the best strains for pain relief. In addition, some patients seem to do better with certain terpene profiles. Linalool, pinene, beta-caryophyllene, limonene, and myrcene immediately come to mind.
What does this mean for medical marijuana pain patients in Utah? It means that treating with Medical Cannabis should involve ongoing consultations with a Pharmacy Medical Provider (PMP) for the purposes of determining the best strain and dosage. It doesn't hurt to understand the differences between Type I and Type II strains either.
Type I cannabis is easily the most popular type among Medical Cannabis users. A Type I strain is purposely bred to ensure that THC is the dominant cannabinoid. Type I plants generally have a THC level of 0.3% or more and a CBD volume of 0.5% or less.
How high can THC levels go in a Type I plant? That is a good question. We have heard of plants with THC content as high as 30%. However, such potent plants are the exception to the rule.
A Type II strain is bred by the grower to contain balanced amounts of both THC and CBD. If both levels are above 0.3%, you have a Medical Cannabis plant. If both are below that threshold, you are looking at industrial hemp. Either way, the point is that the two cannabinoids are balanced. One does not dominate to an extreme degree.
Though Type III cannabis is rarely recommended for pain relief, it is worth discussing briefly. As you might have figured out by now, a Type III plant is CBD dominant. In nearly every case, it is going to be classified as industrial hemp with a THC volume of less than 0.3%.
What you have read thus far constitutes generally accepted guidelines within the Medical Cannabis community. But don't forget that you are a unique individual. How you respond to any given strain will largely determine what products offer you maximum pain relief. Maintain an open mind. Be willing to try different strains, delivery methods, and dosages in your search for the best treatment.
Also keep an open mind about microdosing. We know of at least one study that suggests microdosing could be a viable pain relief strategy for patients dealing with chronic neuropathic pain. The microdosing mindset calls for starting out with smaller doses to see how they work. You ideally want to use the smallest dose possible to achieve the desired effect.
As you work with your PMP to figure out strain for pain treatment and dosage, tracking your results will help considerably. Write things down. Create a paper journal or write a digital note on your phone. The point is to track every time you use Medical Cannabis, how you consume it, and how it makes you feel. Such information is invaluable to your PMP.
Remember, chasing THC volume is not necessarily the best way to treat pain with Medical Cannabis. It is more important to find a strain that works for you. You are most likely going to want a Type I or Type II strain with a particular terpene profile. Your PMP can probably make a few recommendations.
Have you ever noticed that every visit with your doctor comes with a question about other medications you might currently be taking? There is a reason for that. Doctors always need to be concerned about drug interaction. In some cases, drug interaction can dilute or enhance the effects of a particular medication. Moreover, some drugs just shouldn't be mixed for safety reasons.
Does all of this apply to Medical Cannabis? Yes. If your primary care physician is not also your Qualified Medical Provider or Limited Medical Provider, they need to know that you use Medical Cannabis. Likewise, it is a good idea to inform your Pharmacy Medical Provider of any other medications you are currently using.
A big concern people seem to have is that Medical Cannabis could interfere with prescription antibiotics. Some people are concerned that mixing the two is not safe. Let us nix the safety issue right from the get-go. To our knowledge, there have been no reports of dangerous drug interactions between cannabis and antibiotics. No worries there.
Still, there are legitimate concerns the cannabis might dilute the effects of certain antibiotics. This is entirely possible; we just don't know at this point. Some of the antibiotics that raise concern are clindamycin, erythromycin, and clarithromycin. Penicillin and amoxicillin both appear to be unaffected by cannabis.
Antibiotics are largely benign in terms of their side effects. That is not the case with other drugs. Your doctor might prescribe a medication with a known side effect of making you drowsy. In such a case, using Medical Cannabis along with that other medication could enhance that particular side effect. Remember that THC has a sedating effect in most people.
You should also be careful about using Medical Cannabis alongside prescription opioids. We personally know of people who used cannabis to get themselves off opioids, and that's good. But doing something like that is always best when there is medical supervision involved. You can get yourself into real trouble by consuming too much cannabis while also taking prescription opioids.
All of this boils down to the realization that it's entirely possible for cannabis to interact with other medications. We do not have any hard science on the topic because Medical Cannabis is still so new. That's the bad news. The good news is that we have never heard widespread reports of extremely negative drug interactions.
As a patient, be prepared to have frank discussions with your Qualified Medical Provider and Pharmacy Medical Provider. Both need to know about all the medications you use. This includes over-the-counter drugs. They need to know for the simple fact that drug interactions do occur.
As of now, there do not seem to be any particular safety issues related to using Medical Cannabis alongside other prescriptions. But don't just assume. Talk things over with your medical providers and give them the opportunity to offer their recommendations.
In closing, do not hesitate to report any potential interaction issues to your medical provider. For instance, you may suspect that your Medical Cannabis enhanced the sedating effects of another medication. Your doctor needs to know this. They may decide that it is best to write you a new prescription for a different drug.
Drug interaction is always a concern when doctors write prescriptions. Thankfully, Medical Cannabis doesn't appear to cause any major interaction issues with the most commonly utilized prescription drugs. If anything on this front changes, we will be sure to let our readers know.
Pay a visit to your Utah Medical Cannabis Pharmacy and you will find strain and product names like Bubba Kush, Fatso, and Purple Afghan Kush. Whatever you do, don't choose a Medical Cannabis product based solely on its name. Do not get drawn into names to the extent that you believe they tell you something about the effectiveness of the product. They don't.
Both product and strain names are largely meaningless from a medical standpoint. They mean everything from a marketing perspective, and that's exactly the point. Manufacturers choose names that will get consumers' attention. So do growers and processors. They want memorable names that will stick out in the marketplace. But that is as far as they go.
If it helps, think of naming as branding. Imagine you are a Medical Cannabis cultivator here in Utah. You have gone to great lengths to produce a strain completely unlike anything else other cultivators are producing. You want that strain to stand out. So what do you do? You give it a name that people will remember – maybe Mind-Blowing Bonanza of Love.
People would definitely remember that name. But from a medical standpoint, the name tells you very little about what the product can actually do for people. None of this is bad, by the way. Growers and processors need to make money. They need to adopt a business-first mindset if they hope to keep their operations viable. And part of that is branding.
The number one reason for being ambivalent about strain and product names is this: what is inside the package is more important than the name written on the package. As a Medical Cannabis user, your main concern should be cannabinoid and terpene profiles. It is the cannabinoids and terpenes that provide the relief you are seeking. Product or strain name doesn't matter much here.
With that in mind, it is very helpful to learn the differences between the three different types of cannabis strains. Type I is THC dominant; Type II is balanced between THC and CBD; Type III is CBD dominant. Each type has its appropriate applications for medical treatment.
Next up, do not forget the terpenes. Terpenes are those volatile compounds that give plants and trees their unique odors. Though the science isn't quite settled on the mechanisms involved, it does seem that certain terpene profiles can be more effective at treating certain conditions.
If we can say one good thing about strain and product names, it is that they help patients remember their favorites. That's a good thing. If you find a product that works for you, and it has a memorable name, you aren't likely to forget it. You will be able to walk right up to the Medical Cannabis Pharmacy, tell them what you want, and walk away with your medicine. Easy peasy.
Understand that this is exactly what growers and manufacturers want. That's why they and their marketing teams pick such interesting names. They want customers to be able to easily remember their favorite products; it is no different than any other industry. Names mean things because they stick in our brains.
Speaking of brains, just use yours in your search for the optimal Medical Cannabis treatment. Do not let yourself be drawn to a particular product because it has a name that appeals to you. The name probably means nothing from a medical standpoint; it is only there for branding purposes. Your concern is strain type, dominant cannabinoid, and terpene profile. Get that right and it won't matter what a product's name is.