Patients who have a medical marijuana card will have the opportunity to try cannabis on their own and will experience through trial and error what works best for them. They should familiarize themselves with different forms of cannabis (oral/edible vs inhaled) so they can develop an understanding of how these forms affect them and how long they last for. For an explanation of these forms, read the article about Methods of Use.
Cannabis products come in a range of concentrations and potency. It is important to start with small amounts to prevent using too much while you learn about how each product affects you. The main thing to look out for is the THC or THCA concentration for inhaled products and the milligrams of THC for products you swallow. Bare in mind that the labels of these products may be innacurate even if they are lab tested. Dispensary products will generally be more reliable than those from the black-market, which is another reason it is important to be legal and purchase from dispensaries.
Medical marijuana doses and forms have to be tailored to each person differently. It isn’t possible to tell all people to use a certain dose and amount and frequency for a specific condition. We need to remember that cannabis treatment has a psychoactive effect. It gets users high. Treating pain, for example, is going to be different if someone works as an artist than if they work as a doctor. The lifestyle of the patient makes a huge difference in how they can treat their condition. Patients have to use cannabis in a way that is safe and allows them to fulfill their daily obligations and responsibilities (like driving, childcare, using heavy machinery, work, etc.). It requires trial and error to find out a safe way to do that and taking it slow while figuring that out is always the safer option.
The doses needed and the effects cannabis has on a patient change over time as well. In the short-run, a patient may not be able to use as much cannabis one day than they can the next day. For example, weekends may be a more opportune time to use a therapeutically maximal amount of treatment and workdays are probably going to allow for much less medicating, like only in the evenings after work is finished. Most jobs should not be performed medicated. That’s a sad fact. The high that comes along with the therapy is often going to affect work performance and sometimes will be dangerous for work. An airplane pilot should never fly high. A musician, on the other hand, can probably do just as well in his craft (if not better). Furthermore, the condition being treated is going to make a difference too. Patients who have seizures and use cannabis to control their epilepsy should use cannabis more routinely (even at work if they have to, depending on their job). Patients using cannabis for anxiety or insomnia do not need to medicate as frequently.
Inhaled cannabis is titrated each time it is administered. One puff is taken, then another if it’s necessary. Once the desired effect is reached, no more is needed. The amount of puffs and milligrams of THC inhaled each administration varies all the time based on the patient’s need. One cartridge may require more than another depending on its THC concentration and even a battery can require more puffs when it is low on energy than when it is fully charged. The patient has to develop skills to understand when they have administered enough so that they do not overdo it. Using too much cannabis over time will create a tolerance too quickly and medicating with marijuana will become costly. It can also cause unnecessary side-effects like sleepiness, palpitations and paranoia, among others.
In the long-run patients will develop a tolerance. What they use in the beginning of treatment will have more of an effect on them than a month or a year or a decade later. For this reason, it is often wise to take a tolerance break and reset the tolerance so less is needed. Alternatively, some patients may appreciate the tolerance because they become less high from cannabis and can use it more often without feeling in a daze all the time. The point is that everyone is different and needs to use cannabis in a way that is safe and optimized for their lifestyle and their medical condition. Doctors can only give initial recommendations but ultimately cannabis is a drug that is titrated by the patient to an optimal level. Don’t forget that it is better to use less of it and it is easy to use too much. Always put safety of yourself and others before treating your condition with cannabis. Thankfully, it is a safe medication with no long-term side-effects so as long as you are not overdosing and getting too high, you will not be hurt.