Tips from a New Jersey Cannabis Patient Consultant
Recently I was catching up with a colleague of mine, Christine Siegel, who is a Cannabis Patient Consultant. We had been discussing the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program and our experiences as professionals working within the program. We had such a great conversation that I wanted to share some tips and guidelines she uses with her patients.
Firstly, what is a cannabis patient consultant? She is a health coach who works directly under a certified medical doctor in the medical marijuana program. Her background is in plant-based medicine and as an herbalist; she has extensive knowledge of cannabis and its application for medical treatment. She also has years of experience working for a New Jersey medicinal cannabis dispensary. She utilizes her broad knowledge and experience to guide her patients on how to best use cannabis. In addition, here are some of Christine’s extremely useful tips:
Understand Treatment is a Customized Approach
Many patients who come to see Christine arrive with various preconceived notions about marijuana, whether from past personal experiences or things they have heard. Not having an open mind can be detrimental to optimal treatment because medical marijuana treatment should be a customized approach. Utilizing the cannabis products available from a New Jersey dispensary and gauging how you are responding to the cannabis is a process. Not every patient will react the same way to a strain of cannabis or a particular method of administration.
Keep a Log of Your Use History
Because medical marijuana treatment is so customized, Christine urges you to keep a log of use history. This is important in determining the best medicinal “toolbox” for your care. For example, Strain ABCD, is an Indica dominant strain with 21% THC and 1.5% CBD. When administered using a vaporizer, 2 inhalations was the perfect dose to help you sleep. On the other hand, strain XXYY is a Sativa dominant strain that contains 18% THC, 5 % CBD and 1 inhalation helped my anxiety without making me sleepy or too “buzzed”.
Learn How to Properly Dose
As many medical marijuana patients are aware, treatment may require some trial and error. When you had a bad experience using cannabis, most often it is because you had the wrong potency and/or medicated too much too quickly. Christine suggests a more cautious approach. For example, take one inhalation. Wait 10 minutes. Check and see how you feel. If you need more, take another inhalation, again wait 10 minutes and check. She also suggests titrating up one more dose (take one more inhalation) so you know what one too many feels like, thus making it less likely that you will over medicate going forward.
If you consume medical marijuana orally, please understand that processing marijuana orally has a longer onset and has a longer effect than any other method of administration. If you do not wait the proper time in between doses, you may inadvertently consume too much.
Learn How to Use Cannabis The "Right Way For You"
When Christine advises patients, she understands that you need to look at a multitude of factors to determine “the right medicine, right time of day, and the right amount”. She has to consider your age, your medical condition, your experience using cannabis and even your level of responsibility. If you work 9-5 job that requires high levels of concentration, you may not want to utilize a Sativa dominant strain with the highest level of THC % as the effects may make it difficult to concentrate. On the other hand, if you are doing manual work, this same strain may actually improve your job performance. Other strains may be best for nighttime use to help enhance sleep and rest.If you are a parent, choosing the appropriate strain and method of administration requires considering the welfare and safety of your children. For example, steering clear of cannabis lozenges that may be attractive to children may be important. Using cannabis discretely can also be important when caring for your children while medicating.
Optimize Your Dispensary Relationships
Having a background working for a dispensary, the cannabis consultant knows how valuable it is to have a relationship with the budtenders (the persons at the dispensary that are responsible for helping you make your purchases). Unfortunately, because of market forces and supply and demand, some strains may not always be available. Therefore, having different available options can be very important. This is why having a use log can be so instrumental. The more experience you have with using cannabis successfully, and the more you understand how each strain affects you personally, the better your budtender will be able to match your needs with the strains that are available at that time.
If the dispensary is busy and you only have a short time with a budtender, you can direct him/her to suggest an in-stock medium potency hybrid for example. You can acknowledge that you’ve had the best result with X strain, but you want to stay away from Y strain because you had a negative reaction of Z. Being this specific will also help you save money because medical marijuana is expensive and in New Jersey, you cannot return any products.
Medical cannabis is an emerging and evolving field of medicine and unfortunately an area of medicine that has for too long been adversely affected by disinformation campaigns. The situation is rapidly changing and I have seen firsthand how beneficial medical cannabis can be for a significant number of patients. Medical marijuana treatment really is a customized approach and I am hoping that by arming you with these tips, tricks, and guidance, you too can take advantage of the benefits of medical cannabis.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of medical marijuana or if you would like to enroll in the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program, schedule a consultation by calling (732) 268-7663 or request an appointment online.