So you’ve made the decision to try medical marijuana: now what? As cannabis legalization continues to sweep across the nation, many first-time medical patients find themselves wondering where to begin.
From confusing regulations to an ever-growing list of cannabis-infused products, diving into the medical marijuana field can be overwhelming — but it doesn’t have to be. In this handy JARS guide, we’ll cover everything from the doctor’s office to the dispensary so that you have the confidence you need to get the care you deserve.
Consult Your Doctor
Before you can even begin thinking about rolling up a joint, you need to get your medical card from a licensed physician. Not only is this appointment essential to legally obtain cannabis, but this is also an opportunity to get recommendations from a professional who is familiar with your ailments in a judgment-free zone. Common ailments that medical marijuana may be able to help with are:
If you don’t see any conditions that apply to you here, don’t fret: this is just a short list of ailments that cannabis may be able to treat. Check-in with your doctor to see if medical marijuana is a good option for you, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Now is your time to get all the information you need to make the best decision for you.
Choosing the Right Strain
While at the doctor’s office or through your research, you may be introduced to the concept of cannabis strains. Sometimes called cultivars, the cannabis plant has various varieties that each have their potential wellness benefits. While there are hundreds of different names, shapes, and sizes, cannabis strains are usually broken up into three separate categories.
In nature, indica cannabis plants traditionally grow in mountainous regions and are shorter fuller plants. Indica strains also produce thicker coats of resin, which develop as a form of protection. Marked by the old adage, “in-da-couch,” indica varieties are usually taken for their relaxation health benefits that have the potential to keep you couch-locked. This makes indicas a better treatment for conditions like insomnia or chronic pain as it can help to calm nerves and relieve minor aches and pain.
- Popular Indica Strains: Granddaddy Purple, Afghan Kush, Northern Lights
Sativa cannabis plants are tall plants that naturally thrive in regions close to the equator. Sativa varieties of medical marijuana are generally more invigorating than their indica counterparts and are meant for stimulating creativity or physical activities. For this reason, sativa products are often as a potential treatment for depression, chronic fatigue, and the inability to focus.
- Popular Sativa Strains: Jack Herer, Green Crack, Acapulco Gold
As the name suggests, hybrid cannabis plants are cultivated by breeding both indica and sativa plants. The result is a blend of effects that you might expect from each individual strain, making them some of the most versatile cultivars on the market. Hybrid plants are typically recommended when medical marijuana patients have very specific needs for symptom relief. The ability to tailor the effects is what makes hybrids great for both beginner patients and those with serious medical conditions.
- Popular Hybrid Strains: Pineapple Express, Blue Dream, Trainwreck
While cannabis plants are still often talked about in these terms, the industry continues to adapt to the consumer’s needs. In fact, one could argue that there is a sub-category in town that deserves your full-attention: CBD-rich strains.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is becoming increasingly alluring to medical marijuana patients as it has less of the psychoactive THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) but still has all of the potential health and wellness benefits of the cannabis plant. Many find that strains abundant in CBD give them the relief they need from conditions like stress and anxiety without derailing their entire day with an overwhelming “high” feeling.
Ask your budtender for recommendations on cultivars that may have a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC or somewhere in between to get the specific effects you are looking for.
- CBD-Rich Strains: ACDC, Remedy, Charlotte’s Web
Going to Your First Dispensary
Now that you’ve started your own research and have an idea of what strains might be up your alley, it’s time to take the plunge and go to your first medical marijuana dispensary, like JARS in Michigan and Arizona! If the thought of walking into a dispensary sends chills up your spine, you’re not alone.
The different names and the variety of products can overwhelm any individual that might be new to the legal cannabis scene. However, medicating with marijuana for the first time can be a painless process with the appropriate knowledge and guidance at your side.
Before stepping foot into your first medical marijuana dispensary, it can help have a handle on your local regulations to have a better understanding of what to expect. For example, in both Michigan and Arizona there are limits to how much medical marijuana you can purchase.
Michigan Possession Limits:
- 16 ounces of marijuana-infused products in solid form
- 7 grams of marijuana-infused product in gaseous form
- 36 fluid ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form
Arizona Possession Limits:
- No more than two and one-half ounces of usable marijuana per 14 day period
While these possession limits are important for our Jars patients, be sure to look into your local laws and regulations.
Get to Know Your Budtender
Similar to a skilled bartender, a “Budtender” is the industry term for the in-store experts who work in dispensaries that will act as your guide on this cannabis journey. JARS budtenders have in-depth knowledge when it comes to strains, varieties, uses, and consumption methods.
Though they are not usually medical professionals, they do have the expertise to help point you in the right direction to choose the right product for your specific symptoms. Our budtenders stay up-to-date on the latest cannabis news and research and are a priceless industry asset, especially when it comes to choosing the best cannabis strains for newbies to the game.
Perhaps most importantly, do not be afraid to ask questions!
Questions to Ask:
- What do you recommend for a first-time cannabis user?
- Would you recommend this to someone who has never tried alternative medicines before?
- What would help best for this _______ condition?
- Do you have a favorite strain?
- What is the most popular product you sell here?
- How will this product affect me?
- What method of consumption would you recommend? Flower, topical, sublingual, or edibles?
- How much medical marijuana can I purchase in Michigan? Arizona?
Final Step: Go Home and Enjoy
Once you settle on a product or variety of products, all that is left to do is go home and enjoy your cannabis in a safe and comfortable environment. Whether you settled on an array of cannabis strains or a box of THC-infused gummies with the help of your budtender, you now have the tools you need for a stress-free dispensary experience. As always, feel free to comment below or give one of our friendly locations a call for more information!