Side Effects & Risks Medical Cannabis
In general, patients seem to tolerate medicinal cannabis well. Typical side effects last a short time, are mostly benign, and resolve as tolerance builds. Side effects mainly occur after the intake of high doses, or when medicinal cannabis is used in combination with other substances like alcohol or particular medications.
Side Effects 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:
Redness of the eyes
Reduction of alertness of the user, especially in the few hours directly after consumption.
Increased heart rate
Lowering of blood pressure and dizziness
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
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
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:
Pregnancy and lactation
Driving and operating machinery