Why Choose Medical Marijuana?

Is marijuana a new medical treatment?

Marijuana has been a common medicinal treatment in Eastern medicine, with evidence dating back to its use in ancient Chinese medicine in 2700 BC. Recently, medical marijuana has started to become adopted by Western medicine to treat patients with minimal to no side effects.

Research has shown medical marijuana to serve both as a complementary method for a. symptom management and treatment of medication side-effects associated with certain chronic condition and b. as an alternative method for treatment of pain, seizures, and inflammation.1,2

Is marijuana safe as a medical treatment?

Yes. For over 50 years, medical journals have published hundreds of articles on the therapeutic uses of marijuana and its safety. Unlike common pain-relieving medications (i.e. opiates), studies have shown that it is physically impossible for a human to suffer death from a cannabinoid overdose. According to the US DEA, there has never been a US recorded death from an overdose of marijuana.3

However, this is not to say that marijuana usage as a medical treatment should be taken lightly. As you will read below, marijuana is made up of some powerful molecules called cannabinoids, that if not dosed correctly can be extremely disorientating and dangerous for the patient.

What are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are molecules that are contained in marijuana. There are over 60 of these molecules, with the most common being tetrahydrocannabinol [THC], cannabinol [CBD], and cannabinol [CBN]. These molecules act by activating endocannabinoid receptors in the body [i.e. CB1 and CB2] to elicit anti-inflammatory and analgesic responses. Burstein et al., 1992; Dyson et al., 2005; Mitchell et al., 2005)4,5,6

Unlike other analgesics, like opiates, marijuana has been shown to be a safe and effective therapeutic with very few side effects. In addition, medical marijuana has been shown to significantly reduce the use of more harmful opiates for patients suffering from conditions such as chronic pain.7

What is THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol, better known by the acronym THC, is one of over 60 cannabinoids found in marijuana. THC is the active ingredient of marijuana that makes you feel high, known as the psychoactive effect, when marijuana is smoked or ingested. Depending on your medical condition and/or perceived treatment outcome, THC can have either positive and/or negative effects.8

Adverse events related to the use of marijuana are primarily caused by high amounts of THC. It is important to point out that everyone metabolizes cannabinoids differently, which has led to clinicians who recommend marijuana as a treatment to use the following saying “Start Low [dose], Go Slow.”

As you will see in the Dosing Guidelines section, dose initiation should

  1. begin at the micro-dosing level
  2. pair low-dose THC treatments with CBD to limit and/or avoid unwanted psychoactive response
  3. slowly titrate up (if needed) over 2 or more weeks.9


What is CBD?

Cannabidiol [CBD] is a major component of marijuana and a well-studied cannabinoid molecule with anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, there has been research to suggest that CBD also has anticonvulsant, anti-oxidant, anti-emetic, anxiolytic and antipsychotic agent10, and is therefore a potential medicine for the treatment of neuroinflammation, epilepsy, oxidative injury, vomiting and nausea, anxiety and schizophrenia, respectively. Research is still on-going to further validate these findings, as well as the suggestion that CBD has the potential to kill tumor cells.11,12,13,14

In addition, CBD is a cannabinoid that does not have a psychoactive effect or cause a “high” (e.g., THC). It has actually been shown, when paired with THC containing treatments, to minimize and/or avoid psychoactive responses as well as limit the development of THC tolerance. Recommendations on CBD and 1:1 CBD/THC treatments can be found in the Dosing Guidelines section of this website.15,16


What are terpenes?

In addition to cannabinoids, marijuana is also comprised of terpenes. Terpenes are what give marijuana, and specific marijuana strains, it’s unique smell. Recently, studies have identified over 100 different terpenes, also called aromatic oils, in different marijuana strains. When ingested, these oils effect receptors in the brain and elicit different types of responses such as “relaxation” or increases “alertness.”

These molecules are now being associated with inducing the “entourage effect” in medical marijuana.18 The most common terpenes in marijuana are: limonene, myrcene, a-pinene, linalool, b-caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, nerolidol and phytol. Research has shown these terpenes to be quite potent in both animals and humans, effecting the behavior of both when these terpenes are inhaled. For example, limonene, which is also found in lemons, has been shown to have positive effects on alleviating gastrointestinal issues when ingested as well as antidepressant effects when inhaled.17,18

While the research has yet to definitively identify what strain of marijuana and its terpene(s) is best for a specific condition, the anecdotal evidence is beginning to add up. Stay tuned, as more information and evidence is discovered related to terpenes and their medicinal properties will be sure to bring it to you.

  1. Bruce, D., Brady, J. P., Foster, E., & Shattell, M. (2018, February 24). Preferences for Medical Marijuana over Prescription Medications Among Persons Living with Chronic Conditions: Alternative, Complementary, and Tapering Uses.
  2. Ko, G. D., Bober, S. L., Mindra, S., & Moreau, J. M. (2016, September 30). Medical cannabis – the Canadian perspective.
  3. Drug Fact Sheet[PDF]. (n.d.). DEA.
  4. Burstein SH, Audette CA, Breuer A, Devane WA, Colodner S, Doyle SA, Mechoulam R. Synthetic nonpsychotropic cannabinoids with potent antiinflammatory, analgesic, and leukocyte antiadhesion activities. J Med Chem. 1992;35:3135–3141.
  5. Dyson A, Peacock M, Chen A, Courade JP, Yaqoob M, Groarke A, Brain C, Loong Y, Fox A. Antihyperalgesic properties of the cannabinoid CT-3 in chronic neuropathic and inflammatory pain states in the rat. Pain. 2005;116:129–137.
  6. Mitchell VA, Aslan S, Safaei R, Vaughan CW. Effect of the cannabinoid ajulemic acid on rat models of neuropathic and inflammatory pain. Neurosci Lett. 2005;382:231–235.
  7. Abuhasira, R., Schleider, L. B., Mechoulam, R., & Novack, V. (2018, March). Epidemiological characteristics, safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in the elderly.
  8. M. R. (Ed.). (2018, May). How Does Marijuana Affect You?
  9. MacCallum, C. A., & Russo, E. B. (2018, March). Practical considerations in medical cannabis administration and dosing.
  10. Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015, October). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.
  11. Fernández-Ruiz, J., Sagredo, O., Pazos, M. R., García, C., Pertwee, R., Mechoulam, R., & Martínez-Orgado, J. (2013, February). Cannabidiol for neurodegenerative disorders: Important new clinical applications for this phytocannabinoid?
  12. Mechoulam R, Parker LA, Gallily R. Cannabidiol: an overview of some pharmacological aspects. J Clin Pharmacol. 2002c;42:11S–19S.
  13. Grotenhermen F. Pharmacology of cannabinoids. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2004;25:14–23.
  14. Vaccani A, Massi P, Colombo A, Rubino T, Parolaro D. Cannabidiol inhibits human glioma cell migration through a cannabinoid receptor-independent mechanism. Br J Pharmacol. 2005;144:1032–1036.
  15. MacCallum, C. A., & Russo, E. B. (2018, March). Practical considerations in medical cannabis administration and dosing.
  16. Canada, H. (2016, August 19). Consumer Information – Cannabis (Marihuana, marijuana).
  17. Russo, E.B., 2011. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid‐terpenoid entourage effects. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), pp.1344-1364.
  18. do Vale TG, Furtado EC, Santos JG Jr, Viana GS (2002). Central effects of citral, myrcene and limonene, constituents of essential oil chemotypes from Lippia alba (Mill.) n.e. Brown. Phytomed 9: 709–714.