Some of the Common Side Effects of Medical Marijuana and How to Deal With Them
Updated: Aug 4
Trying new things can be scary, and that includes medications. It’s as though every advertisement for a prescription drug comes complete with a lengthy list of side effects that can make the medicine seem even worse than the disease.
Maybe you’ve let that sort of fear of the unknown keep you from getting your West Virginia Marijuana Card, but you shouldn’t! That’s why we’re here.
The fact of the matter is that every medicine has side effects, and that marijuana’s tend to be very minor, easy to manage, and highly tolerated by users, in comparison to prescription drugs. If you’ve been letting fear of side effects keep you from finding relief, let us try to ease those fears a little.
Results May Vary, Because Each Medical Marijuana User Is Unique
One reason not to let a fear of side effects deter you from trying medical marijuana is that you probably won’t even experience most of those unwanted outcomes.
The fact is that the effects of marijuana can change drastically from person to person. Take depression patients, for example. Depression is not recognized as a qualifying condition here in West Virginia, because while there is a lot of evidence that marijuana can treat depression, a smaller amount of studies have found evidence that marijuana can cause depression for some patients in some situations.
The variety in patient response to marijuana makes it hard to determine exactly which side effects a particular patient might experience, and how severe they will be. Fortunately, for most patients the side effects of medical marijuana are highly tolerated and easily managed.
Some Potential Side Effects Are More Serious than Others
Before we look at some of the more common and less serious side effects sometimes associated with medical marijuana, it’s important that we discuss a potential side effect that can be serious for patients with heart conditions.
Marijuana can lower blood pressure and accelerate your heartbeat, so many doctors will not recommend it for patients with pre existing heart conditions. On the other hand, there is also research that suggests that medical marijuana does not endanger heart patients.
As with all prescription medicines, it can be hard for the average person to keep up with research and to keep track of what’s safe and what isn’t. That’s why West Virginia mandates that marijuana patients work with doctors in order to decide if the medicine is right for them. That is also why it’s important to keep up with our blog for the latest medical marijuana news.
The Three Most Infamous Side Effects of Marijuana: Munchies, Red Eyes, and Dry Mouth
Unless you live under a rock at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, you’ve certainly heard of these three side effects.
Thanks to stoner comedies, they’re the ones most widely associated with marijuana, even by people who have never tried it. The good news is that most patients find these side effects completely tolerable, and we have some tips for you in case these side effects bother you.
Managing the Marijuana Munchies
THC, the most famous chemical component in medical marijuana, is the culprit to blame for this side effect. THC binds to brain receptors that influence our sense of taste and smell, enhancing them and giving cannabis patients the munchies.
There is some good news about this side effect. According to peer-reviewed research in the American Journal of Medicine, marijuana users do consume more calories than other people, but on average they’re also skinnier than other people and their bodies process sugar better.
As Dr. Gary Wenk, a neuroscience professor, said to Men’s Health, researchers believe that marijuana helps burn calories, which offsets the munchies.
But if reigning in your appetite while you’re medicating proves too tough for you, or if you’re not one of the lucky ones who loses weight while on medical marijuana, then you might want to look into a strain of medicine that’s lower in THC.
On the flip side, many people who experience symptoms relating to hunger may seek out this effect. Sometimes, painful conditions can make people lose an appetite, and this makes it much harder to stay energized and complete daily tasks.
With the munchies, patients who have trouble getting food down will be much better off.
Avoiding the Embarrassment of Bloodshot Marijuana Eyes
Red, bloodshot eyes can tip people off to your marijuana use, so if you’re worried about keeping your medical choices private, you may want to minimize this side effect.
We can’t blame marijuana smoke for those red eyes, and switching to edibles will not make any difference. Unless you have an especially sensitive reaction to all smoke, it isn’t the smoke that’s reddening your eyes but rather the THC in your medicine.
Instead of switching up your medication, try over-the-counter eye drops to alleviate that redness. You could also look into a strain of medicine with less THC, but those red eyes aren’t going to harm you or your vision, so you might not want to mess with your medication if this effect doesn’t bother you too much.
Managing Your Dry Mouth
You’ll never guess what causes dry mouth when you medicate. Okay, you guessed it: THC.
While THC is binding to those brain receptors and influencing your sense of smell, it is also binding to receptors in your body, impairing your parasympathetic nervous system in the process. Your PNS controls your saliva production, so while you’re medicating, your mouth may dry out.
While you may want to talk to your doctor about a strain lower in THC if you find the dryness unbearable, you might also find that sucking on some hard candy or ice chips while you medicate can do the trick.
Other Possible Side Effects Are More Serious But Also Manageable
Somewhere between possibly exacerbating a heart condition and dealing with a little dry mouth are some side effects of medical marijuana that can be more worrisome than the annoyance of red eyes, but that are still easily managed.
Marijuana Hangovers: Yes, They’re a Thing
Because they are less common and less severe than alcohol hangovers, marijuana hangovers are less well known and not commonly discussed. Nevertheless, marijuana hangovers are a real thing.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for a marijuana hangover except to treat the symptoms, which can include headaches, fatigue, mild nausea, brain fog and lethargy. Be sure to stay hydrated, eat a good breakfast and drink some caffeine.
If that doesn’t help and you find that your cannabis hangovers are too frequent or severe, you may want to talk to your doctor about adjusting your medication plan.
Medical Marijuana Can Cause Sedation and Impaired Judgment, so Leave the Driving to Someone Else
Marijuana may impair your judgment and reaction time. It can also cause drowsiness. Never drive, use heavy or dangerous machinery, or attempt difficult or dangerous tasks while you’re medicating.
If you find that your medication makes you too tired or drowsy for daily activities, consult with your doctor about trying a different strain or dosage.
Remember, It’s Medical Marijuana
If used inappropriately, marijuana can be dangerous or lead to intolerable side effects, like just any medication. Driving or operating machinery may be part of your job description, and you may have experienced intolerable marijuana headaches in the past, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you couldn’t benefit from medical marijuana.
You can only truly decide if medical marijuana is right for you with a doctor’s guidance, and the odds are that if your doctor suggests it, you’ll find the side effects worth tolerating for relief.
Consult With Our Doctors to Learn if Medical Marijuana Is Right for You
Like any medication, using cannabis inappropriately can cause intolerable side effects and be potentially dangerous. That’s why you must consult with a doctor in order to get your West Virginia Marijuana Card. When taken with your doctor’s recommendations in mind, marijuana can safely and comfortably provide relief for numerous conditions.
If you’re ready to learn about how medical marijuana can benefit you, schedule an evaluation with one of our doctors today. You’ll meet with your new doctor virtually, using your smartphone or computer for a telemedicine appointment. From the comfort of your own home, you and your doctor will discuss your condition and what medical marijuana might be able to do for you. And if your doctor doesn’t recommend medical marijuana for you, you’ll pay only a flat, nominal fee for your evaluation!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
West Virginia Marijuana Card’s mission is to help everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana.
Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at 877-303-8424, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out West Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in West Virginia.