Cannabis 101

What is medical cannabis?

Medical cannabis refers to the use of the flowers or “buds” of the cannabis plant taken as a form of medicine or herbal remedy.

 

Medical cannabis acts on the endocannabinoid system. This system is associated with many processes in the human body including neural development, immune function, inflammation, appetite, metabolism and energy homeostasis, cardiovascular function, digestion, bone development and bone density, synaptic plasticity and learning, pain, reproduction, psychiatric disease, psychomotor behaviour, memory, wake/sleep cycles, and the regulation of stress and emotional state.

 

Due to the vastness of the endocannabinoid system and the influence of cannabis upon it, medical cannabis can be effective in treating the symptoms associated with a wide range of illnesses.

 

1. Information for Health Care Professionals: Cannabis (marihuana, marijuana) and the cannabinoids. (May 2013). Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/marihuana/med/infoprof-eng.php#chp70

 

*The information contained in this education center is intended as a basic guide and it is recommended that anyone wishing to use cannabis as medicine should first consult a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Is medical cannabis safe?
Quality Control

All of Agrima’s products are tested for their active ingredients and a wide range of contaminants before being made available for sale. We exceed strict safety standards and protocols set out by the Food and Drug Act (FDA), Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) and the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).

 

Alternatives to Smoking

Medical cannabis can be an effective way to manage symptoms for some patients; however, the way patients choose to administer medical cannabis alters the safety level of the medicine. The health risks associated with smoking of any kind are well documented and are usually the primary concern for patients deciding if medical cannabis is right for them. Becoming familiar with alternative methods of administering medical cannabis such as vaporization and ingesting edibles can make usage much safer for both the patient and those around them.

 

Published clinical trials

For your reference, Health Canada has compiled a list of published clinical trials on smoked/vaporized cannabis and associated therapeutic benefits.

 

*The information contained in this education center is intended as a basic guide and it is recommended that anyone wishing to use cannabis as medicine should first consult a qualified healthcare practitioner.

THC and CBD
What are cannabinoids?

When talking about cannabinoids, we are referring to chemicals that are unique to the cannabis plant.   There are over 480 natural components found within the cannabis plant, of which 66 have been officially classified as cannabinoids.

 

THC and CBD

THC and CBD levels (often expressed in a percentage) should be considered when choosing a medical cannabis strain.

 

THC is the most well-known and researched cannabinoid and the most psychoactive. When it comes to cannabinoids, the scientific community has generally focused on THC as the primary or only important variable. Until very recently, selective breeding in cannabis for both the adult-use and medicinal markets have produced mostly THC-predominant strains of cannabis to the exclusion of other cannabinoids.

 

CBD lacks nearly all psychoactive effects. Taken together, THC and CBD demonstrate synergy in many applications.

Indica, Sativa and Hybrid
Indica, Sativa and Hybrid

 

The two most common types/varieties of cannabis are Indica (Cannabis Indica) and Sativa (Cannabis Sativa). Within these two varieties there are numerous strains, all of which possess different THC and CBD ratios. Strains of cannabis are often categorized as either an Indica variety or a Sativa variety.

 

Hybrid varieties are bred with the goal of creating a new strain that possesses all the positive properties of the parent strains while eliminating or reducing the negative ones. Hybrid strains are generally identified with whichever is more dominant, Indica or Sativa.

Dosage
Dosage

 

As an organization, we promote safe consumption of medicinal cannabis. Therefore, we employ the method of ‘start low, go slow.’ Please consult a healthcare professional for more detailed guidance.

Ingestion methods
How do I use medical cannabis?

 

Typically dried cannabis is consumed orally or inhaled. Health Canada recommends vaporizing over smoking. Below are the three most common methods of consumption:

 

Smoking

 

Smoking refers to the burning of dried cannabis in the form of filtered and/or unfiltered joints, bongs, or pipes. This method has come under scientific scrutiny due to the harmful effects of smoking but is often preferred by patients because of the speed at which the effects are felt. A recommended alternative to patients who choose to smoke is to use a vaporizer; this way patients reduce the harmful effects of smoking while maintaining the medicinal benefits.

 

Vaporization

 

Vaporization is the process of inhaling medical cannabis by heating a small amount to a temperature below its combustion point. This method releases cannabinoids in a vapor form without producing irritating toxic and carcinogenic by-products that are released when cannabis is burned (smoked).

 

The devices needed for vaporization are available in a wide range of products from small electronic devices, ideal for discretion and portability, to larger more expensive stationary devices kept in the home. One option for patients is the Health Canada approved Volcano Vaporizer.

 

Oral Ingestion

 

Orally ingesting medical cannabis is most commonly associated with cooking cannabis to make edibles such as baked goods and desserts, although it can be mixed with healthy meal options as well. Orally ingesting cannabis can take up to an hour to take effect, so it is recommended to start low, go slow.

 

Talking to your doctor
Talking to your doctor:

 

As with any decision concerning your health and well being, it is important to consult with your doctor or healthcare practitioner:

 

Be prepared

 

Be sure to have all the following prepared before making an appointment with your healthcare practitioner:

 

  • Have your Agrima Application form and Agrima Medical Document.
  • Clearly identify the symptoms you feel you can better manage with cannabis.
  • Make a list of medicines and therapies you have tried for these symptoms, and identify which have been effective and which have been ineffective.
  • Explain how you are using cannabis (or want to use cannabis) to manage your symptoms.

 

Be your own advocate

 

  • If you are concerned about your healthcare practitioner’s reaction, remember that healthcare practitioners are there to work with you to help make the best decisions about your health.
  • Bring someone with you for moral support if you are nervous and want to make sure you can bring up the subject of cannabis with your healthcare practitioner.
  • You may want to review Health Canada’s Information for Health Care Professionals webpage to find credible studies associated with your illness to reference for your healthcare practitioner.
I still have questions

If you need clarification or advice, we’re here to help! Don’t hesitate to contact us.


Quick Facts

Cannabis acts on the human endocannabinoid system. This system affects many different parts and processes throughout the human body, thus giving cannabis many potential medicinal benefits.
There are many different strains of medical cannabis that affect the human body differently due to their unique THC and CBD ratios. Knowledge of these ratios can help patients choose the most effective strain for their symptoms.
Much of the information provided in this Education Center is cited from Health Canada’s website. Check out Health Canada’s Information for Health Care Professionals.