Would Using Cannabis be Right for Me?
Years of prohibition have limited medical studies of cannabis, but great work has been done in Israel and other locations and there is mounting evidence that cannabis may be useful for treating many disorders, including:
Anxiety (but note that excessive amounts of THC may actually increase anxiety)
(Research into the use of cannabis a cure for cancer is only at the initial stages and unproven at this point, but it can be useful for managing symptoms related to conventional treatments.)
(including opioids and alcohol)
For those who just starting to learn about cannabis, I highly recommend the Cannabis 101 series at Leafly.ca:
What is cannabis and what is a cannabis strain?
Indica vs. Sativa: What's the Differerence Between Cannabis Types?
CBD vs. THC: What's the Difference?
There are many "How to" articles in the Cannabis 101 section at Leafly as well.
About Topicals: Creams, Lotions, and Oils
Do Cannabis Topicals Get You High?
Cannabis Topicals: Will I Get High, Fail a Drug Test and End Up Smelling Skunky?
(This article was written before the sale of topicals became legal in Canada.)
What Can I Expect When I Use Cannabis for the First Time?
The advice usually given for those who are new to cannabis use is, "Start low and go slow."
The effects of cannabis use will vary by the strain you use.
Strains very high in CBD and low in THC (like Charlotte's Web) will not make you high, but they will work on restoring balance to the body and may be effective in dealing with pain.
Strains that are high in THC tend to make you feel "high" but, in moderation, users often report feeling relaxed, happy, euphoric, uplifted or creative. Some strains like Purple Kush may make you feel sleepy, and they have an application in treating insomnia, while others, like Jack Herer, may leave you feeling in overdrive and ready to keep busy all day.
The most commonly reported side effects are dry mouth, dry eyes, and dizziness, but more serious effects like anxiety or paranoia can occur with some strains, so it is important for beginners to avoid excessive use.
One common but disturbing side effect that comes with overuse of certain strains is called "couch lock", and that is a great term to describe the effect. You can actually feel like your muscles do not want to move and you end up sitting on the couch for an extended time. This effect is mainly associated with certain strains of cannabis that have high levels of the terpene myercene.
This video also reports that, with higher doses of THC there is an increased risk of acute psychosis and it can potentially increase the risk of schizophrenia.
So, what to do?
First, research the strain you plan to consume using a resource like Leafly.ca, to make sure it will provide the type of effects you are looking for. In the absence of hard medical evidence, this site has accumulated reports for the effects of some strains that are made by about 10,000 people, so the results could be considered statistically significant.
Secondly, I'll repeat the advice given previously to start low and go slow. If you are smoking the cannabis (something I don't really recommend) then you should be able to feel the effects quite quickly and have some idea as to how your body is being affected in about 15 minutes. If you are using sublingual tinctures, like the ones I prepare, you should feel the effect within within 10 minutes but the overall effect may still increase after that. In the case of edibles, like gummies or brownies, you may not feel the full effects for up to two hours!
The most common rookie mistake is taking a dose, feeling little or nothing in terms of the immediate effects, and then going to repeated dosages too quickly. If you get too high, one remedy is to take a product that contains CBD but no THC, and that will help moderate the effects for you.
Thirdly, consider using a good beginner strain with equal parts of THC and CBD. These strains typlically have less than 10% THC and CBD, but the lower level so THC, combined with the balanced CBD, are much less likely to lead to any negative consequences.
And lastly, please remember that we are all different. What I experience when I take a dose of a certain strain may be entirely different from what you experience. You are the only person who can judge whether taking a certain cannabis product is right for you.