In general, patients seem to tolerate medicinal cannabis well. However, medicinal cannabis use comes with side effects and risks. Typical side effects last a short time, are mostly benign, and resolve as tolerance builds. Side effects and risks mainly occur after the intake of high doses, or when medicinal cannabis is used in combination with other substances like alcohol or particular medications.
A review of the effects of the medicinal use of cannabinoids indicated that the most frequent categories of adverse effects relate to respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous system disruptions. The common acute side effects of high doses of cannabis occur quickly after consumption, including:
- Dry mouth
- Redness of the eyes
- Heightened appetite
- Mild euphoria
- Reduction of alertness of the user, especially in the few hours directly after consumption.
- Increased heart rate
- Lowering of blood pressure and dizziness
In general, all side effects will slowly decrease and then disappear within a few hours. This depends upon the dose taken and mode of administration.
Side effects and risks: quality is vital
When cannabis of unknown, often illegal, origin is used, there is always a chance the product is contaminated with pesticides, growth enhancers, heavy metals or microbes. These contaminants are very damaging to the health of a patient. Bedrocan’s medicinal cannabis is quality controlled by an external, internationally certified laboratory. The results of the analysis of every batch are presented in a Certificate of Analysis (CoA). This level of quality assurance shows our products to be free of harmful contaminants. Moreover, using standardised medicinal cannabis products is critical to ensuring the same dose is taken each time. This reduces the risk of overdosing and consequently that of unwanted side effects.
Preventing side effects and risks
Most unwanted side effects from the administration of medicinal cannabis may be prevented by adopting the following guidelines:
- Start with a low dose – it is better to take several small doses in a day
- Be patient and wait for the effects to appear
- Use the same (low) dose for several days, and monitor any side effects that may occur
- Increase the dose slowly – take plenty of time to increase until the optimal dose is found
- Be in a safe environment when initiating cannabis-based therapies (especially during the first administrations)
- Have a trusted person around for support during the initiation period
Side effects and risks: a special warning
Patients with a hereditary risk of psychosis or other psychiatric conditions (e.g. schizophrenia or depression), and patients with cardiac/coronary conditions should avoid the use of cannabis and cannabinoids, as they may potentiate these conditions.
Just like any other medicine, medicinal cannabis is certainly not without risks. The most important risk factors are:
- Heart disease
- Pregnancy and lactation
- Liver disease
- Driving and operating machinery
On rare occasions, cannabis use can induce a state of psychosis in individuals with a genetic predisposition. As a result, patients with a (family) history of psychotic disorders, particularly schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, should be under careful psychiatric monitoring when using medicinal cannabis. Moreover, a short, acute psychotic like episode (involving anxiety and catastrophic thinking) is possible in the case of non-predisposed individuals, especially when very high doses of THC is taken.
Occasionally, new scientific reports appear on the effects of cannabis on risk of psychosis. However, a direct link between cannabis and psychosis has not yet been established. The discourse surrounds the question: does cannabis induce psychosis in otherwise totally healthy individuals, or does pre-existing genetic vulnerability for psychosis result in adverse outcomes from cannabis use?
Recent scientific studies into this matter suggest a small proportion of the population has genetic predispositions that increase the risk of developing chronic psychotic symptoms when using cannabis (as a medicine or otherwise).
Therapeutic Benefits of Marijuana Tea
Another reason for marijuana-infused teas’ increasing popularity is that they contain more therapeutic benefits than traditional smoking. And, unlike smoking’s quick reaction time, cannabis-infused teas have a longer build due to the digestive tract’s absorption of the liquid’s active ingredients.
Tea made from brewing the leaves of the plant, not the bud, produces milder effects and doesn’t generate the traditional “heavy” or “stoned” sensations associated with other ingestion methods. Because of this, many say they feel “renewed” by the overall mild euphoria that often accompanies drinking cannabis tea, providing a great choice for those wishing to avoid becoming overly intoxicated.
If you’re going to brew your tea from flowers or leaves, you should make sure that you have a verified and tested organic source. Your best way to do this is to purchase your marijuana from a state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary. Be sure to check with your state to make sure that they allow flower. If you live in Oklahoma, you can purchase up to 8 ounces of flower at a time, which is more than enough to make tea for a month, but you’ll have to get your Oklahoma medical marijuana card first.
How to Make Marijuana Tea
Want to make your own marijuana tea? The easiest way to brew a cup is to simmer the marijuana buds, leaves or stems for 30 minutes with an added fat (like butter or coconut oil), depending on the medicinal strength you want.
Marijuana-infused teas made from cannabis buds produce the strongest effect; teas made from leaves are milder; and stem-made teas have the weakest effect of all three.
Here are three different marijuana tea recipes utilizing each of these plant parts that you can easily make at home!
Marijuana Bud Tea
For each cup of tea you’ll need:
- 1/2 gram marijuana buds (for leaves or stems check out the second recipe below!)
- 1/2 teaspoon softened butter (unsalted)
- 1.5 cups water (400 ml)
- Optional: Tea bag (any flavor, mint works very well)
- Optional: Milk, sugar or honey to taste.
- Utensils: tea strainer, stainless steel pot, spoon
- Grind the buds. Remove any stems and put them aside to make a separate cup of stem-infused tea.
- Place the ground buds into a bowl and add the butter, mixing carefully; the back of a spoon works very well for this. Try to get every piece coated with a little butter.
- Carefully add the water to a stovetop pot on medium heat, slowly bringing it to a simmer, then gently spoon in the marijuana butter mixture (be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl). Keep the water simmering and “brew” your tea for 30 minutes, stirring often.
- Remove your pot from the stove and allow to rest for a moment, or until the bubbles to stop breaking the surface; once cooler slowly pour it through a strainer and voila—tea!
If you find the taste too strong, you can always add a tea bag of your choosing to the pot during the last 3-5 minutes of brewing.