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  • D.H. Reilly

Medical Marijuana Side Effects Usually Minor and Tolerated

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

Side Effects Of using Medical Marijuana

Maybe you’ve been putting off getting a Virginia Marijuana Card because you’re worried about side effects.

We get that. New can be scary, and as it has only been six years since Virginia legalized medical marijuana and less than one since it’s been available in dispensaries, it’s still new to so many people. Plus unlike other medications that are new to the market, marijuana can be scary because of the stigma created by decades of myths and misconceptions.

If you’ve been letting fear of side effects keep you from getting a Virginia Marijuana Card, we’ve got good news for you: all medicines have side effects, but marijuana’s side effects tend to be minor and tolerated.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All with Medical Marijuana

New marijuana patients may be surprised to find that they don’t experience all of the side effects they stereotypically associate with the drug, because there is no such thing as a universal response to marijuana.

While one strain and dosage may relieve the symptoms of one patient’s condition, another patient with the same condition may find that medicine intolerable. Remember, not only does every drug have side effects, but every drug can affect individual patients differently.

Consider anxiety, for example, one of the qualifying conditions for getting a Virginia Marijuana Card.

While there is evidence that anxiety can be safely and effectively treated with marijuana, there is also evidence that for some patients and at some dosages, marijuana can exacerbate anxiety.

For most marijuana patients, the side effects they experience are not only more tolerable than those of traditional pharmaceuticals, but also just generally tolerable. Yes, you might be one of the rare cases where a patient’s side effects are so severe that they need to consult with their physician. But most of marijuana’s most common side effects can be easily managed.

Most Side Effects are Tolerable, but Not All

Before discussing the more common and easily managed marijuana side effects, let’s start with marijuana’s effect on your heart rate and blood pressure, which can be a serious issue for patients with heart conditions.

Marijuana can lower blood pressure and speed up the heart, so many experts don’t recommend cannabis for heart patients.

But there are some conflicting findings where marijuana and the heart are concerned, and some researchers have found that medical marijuana does not threaten the health of patients with heart conditions.

As with all medicines, make sure you follow your doctor’s advice.

The Munchies, Dry Mouth, and Red Eyes: The Minor Pests of Marijuana Side Effects

Fortunately, the three side effects most commonly associated with marijuana are more like minor inconveniences than serious health issues. And for those few patients who find these three side effects intolerable? Well we’ve got some advice for minimizing them.

The Munchies: You Can Modify Your Meds, but You may not Want to

Perhaps the side effect most often joked about in stoner comedies, the munchies are a product of the THC in your medicine. THC binds to brain receptors that are instrumental in the processes of tasting and smelling, which is apparently how marijuana gives you the munchies.

If you find while you’re medicating that you have to exert way too much willpower to resist the munchies, or if you’re unhappy with the number of times you give in to temptation and reach for a snack, then you might want to talk to your doctor about trying a less potent strain of medication.

The American Journal of Medicine has reported findings suggesting that even though marijuana users consume more calories than non-users, they’re also likely to be skinnier.

As neuroscience professor Dr. Gary Wenk put it to Men’s Health, “What we speculate is that marijuana is getting in there and altering your ability to burn through calories, in spite of the munchies.”

Managing Your Dry Marijuana Mouth

Another side effect you can blame on THC is the dry mouth so familiar to marijuana users everywhere. You might think you’d be less likely to deal with it if you stuck to edibles, but it isn’t the smoking that’s to blame for most of the dryness.

Just as THC binds to brain receptors related to taste and smell, it also binds to receptors in your body, resulting in an impairment of the parasympathetic nervous system, which oversees saliva production. So while you’re medicating, your nervous system is doing less salivating, and your mouth gets dry. Sorry, couldn’t think of a third rhyme.

Try sucking on candy while you medicate if you just can’t stand the dryness. You could also ask your doctor about trying a strain that’s lower in THC.

Red Marijuana Eyes: Harmless, but Possibly Embarrassing

Nothing says “stoner” like bloodshot eyes, and given the stigmas that can still hound marijuana users, it’s understandable that you might want to minimize this side effect.

And don’t bother switching to ointments or edibles to get rid of the redness. It’s once again THC that’s to blame.

So what will work? There are a number of over-the-counter eye drops that should do the trick, and it can’t hurt to keep hydrated while medicating. You could also look into less potent medicine, but remember that the red eyes aren’t a threat to your health, they’re strictly a cosmetic concern.

Other Marijuana Side Effects are Also Highly Manageable

Some side effects often associated with medical marijuana are a little more worrisome than red eyes or the munchies, but fortunately even these slightly more serious concerns can be easily managed.

Don’t Medicate and Drive: Marijuana Sedates Users

Like a lot of medications, marijuana may cause drowsiness, sedation, and impaired judgement and reactions. You should never drive, operate heavy machinery, or attempt dangerous tasks while under the influence of your medicine.

If you find that your medication needs and your daily tasks are conflicting, you may have to talk to your doctor about adjusting your medication.

Marijuana Hangovers: Yes, They’re a Thing

Believe it or not, marijuana use can cause hangovers, although they’re both less common and less severe than hangovers caused by drinking. Symptoms of a marijuana hangover include headaches, dry mouth and eyes, fatigue, listlessness, mild nausea, and brain fog.

Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire, instant antidote for a marijuana hangover. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize them, including: eat a good breakfast, keep hydrated, use normal, over-the-counter pain relievers for your headaches, and drink some caffeine.

And if those tips don’t help, once again, you may need to talk to your doctor about adjusting your strain or dosage.

Remember, It’s Medical Marijuana

If used inappropriately, marijuana can be dangerous or lead to intolerable side effects, like just all medications. You might have to drive or operate machinery for work, 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 know 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.

Find Out if Medical Marijuana Might be Right for You

If you’ve been wondering if medical marijuana might be the right treatment for your qualifying condition, we’d like to help you find out. We’ll even take $25 off the cost of your appointment if you reserve an evaluation with one of our doctors today.

You’ll meet with your doctor virtually from the safety and convenience of your own home, using your smartphone or computer for a telemedicine appointment. Together the two of you will discuss your condition and determine if medical marijuana might be right for you.


Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.

At Missouri Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

Call us at (877) 303-3117, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

Check out Missouri Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Missouri.



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