This article is a collaboration between Cassee Mosely and Ren Anderson: Cassee wrote the majority of the article with her research from Western Pennsylvania and Ren edited, formatted the piece, and added several paragraphs of information gathered from dispensary medical professionals in Eastern Pennsylvania. This article has been several weeks and revisions to produce the most comprehensive guide possible for fellow medical cannabis patients.
We realize this is a ton of information and to be completely honest- we hope you never need to use any of it. However, it is important to be both informed and prepared.
Why a “Cannabis Safety Guide”? I thought Medical Cannabis was safe!?
Cannabis is a plant as well as a medicine: that can mean allergies and overdose are always a possibility: any medicine with positive medicinal benefits has an equal potential for unwanted side effects. This is especially true for new patients or when trying new strains for the first time.
This is a guide in how to handle unwanted side effects or accidental overdose of your medical cannabis products. Cannabis can increase and/or induce anxiety, panic attacks, headaches, heart palpitations, nausea, or even temporary psychosis if the strain is incorrect for your conditions or the dosage administered is too high.
As patients as well as industry professionals, we both want first-time patients fully educated about these issues. Countering side effects as they arise is just as important as finding the correct dosage, strain, and format for your illness or ailments. Unfortunately, finding the correct products or combinations of products the first time is rare; consequently, negative medicating experiences can happen to the best of us at any time.
For caregivers that have non or low verbal patients some of these side effects are often the only way of determining the correct or incorrect products or dosage. Having this information can mean the difference between and an ER trip and an otherwise uneventful evening.
Please go to the Emergency room for any of the following:
-Swelling in the throat/mouth
-Shortness of breath
-Uncontrollable shakes or seizures
-Sudden psychosis, or severe anxiety or panic attack.
(Please read here for details.)
For allergic reactions look for
or unusual sore throat
Please contact your primary care physician for guidance.
Further, if an unpleasant experience occurs, note what strain caused the adverse reaction and the terpenes are in that strain. This helps more easily narrow down the allergy/difficult terpene so it may be avoided in future purchases.
The following tips are how to counteract unwanted, uncomfortable side effects that are not life-threatening.
So, what do you do when your medical cannabis increases discomfort instead of treating your symptoms effectively?
Number One: Don’t Panic!
An overdose of Cannabis is not typically fatal, but we can take steps to minimize the unwanted effects. Cannabis has been present along with other factors like alcohol, cocaine, heroin in some overdoses. However, cannabis is not known to kill by consumption alone without the presence of other substances. (Check out these links from the CDC, Medical News Today, and Healthline for further reading.)
If you can safely take a bath or shower, it may help aid in calming, relaxing, and reducing stress. (Adding safe essential oils here is a great combination)
Also, watch a movie or a series, grab a blanket and pillow and lay down. A nap may help.
The most important aspect of this part is to relax and let the medication wear off over time.
The following kit is created as a way to save you or a loved one from a trip to the ER, if possible. It is in no way to substitute for medical care.
Each of the following items increases physical comfort, decreases anxiety, and handles most other unwanted, unpleasant side effects one may experience medicating with accidentally unhelpful strains and/or products. These items each have properties and scents that aid in relaxation and can help counteract the overwhelming feelings of a negative medicating session.
Here is the complete list we are going to discuss:
2. Limonene: Citrus
3. Beta-Caryophyllene: Peppercorn, Rosemary, and Cloves
4. Linalool: Lavender, Mint, and Cinnamon
The Treatment Plan
To start, consider the form in which medical cannabis was consumed. Inhaling is going to be easier to treat than a pill since the former wears off faster than the latter.
The whole process may even be a team effort. For caregivers and parents, these tools can be used in daily routines for self-care or for the care of others; such as candles or oils to relax and unwind after a particularly hectic day. By utilizing the above methods you can easily calm yourself down naturally and easily within a few moments (best case) to a few hours (worst case).
Straight CBD is the most important thing to have is in your kit; even better to keep it in supply in an oil or tincture.
Put the drop(s) under the tongue (sublingually) for the best and fastest absorption. This is the easiest form to ingest in case of too much THC to counteract that “high” feeling.
Follow the instructions on the bottle of your preferred CBD. There are many CBD stores around so finding some reputable should not be difficult. CBD isolate or Broad-spectrum CBD are best since they work the most effectively to counteract an overabundance of THC.
Here is why CBD works: First, we all are born with an endocannabinoid system (ECS). A full understanding of our ECS is still being researched. However, we know that it plays a role in many functions including sleep, mood, and memory, among others. This is important because this is where both CBD and THC are “registered” into our bodies.
Further, we also know that CBD and THC both affect the CB1 receptor of our brain. The THC in our medicine attaches to the CB1 receptor, this is what gives us the high feeling if they are “charged” and “all circuits are loaded.” (As a new patient for the first time or if you have an unwanted effect, you may not want this feeling to last too long if you can help it!)
When CBD is utilized by the patient it seems to regulate the THC and lessen the unwanted effects. CBD produces no ”high”. So the result is the patient will begin to “come down”. The unpleasant effects will begin to wear off and the patient will (hopefully!) feel better.
At this point, relax and let nature take its course… we agree with most other resources in suggesting you try and sleep it off. We understand it is difficult, but because of the time it takes, sleeping is the best way to let it go away.
If you have existing allergies, having Benadryl/antihistamines on hand is a sound idea to make certain you can counter any mild allergies safely. For immediate relief of symptoms of itching and swelling- chew one Benadryl and keep it under the tongue until dissolved and make your way to the ER if the symptoms seem severe. Anaphylaxis is rare but possible with any medicine, food, or item we touch. Very rarely, dispensary flower may develop mold if not stored properly- those with mold allergies, please take note.
Antihistamines work best for reactions involving the skin and sinuses.
Stabilizing Your Experience with Terpenes
Limonene, Beta-Caryophyllene, and Linalool all have profound, steadying effects that help compensate for an overload of less pleasant effects. Although focused terpene products are now carried in some dispensaries, these products are still quite rare across Pennsylvania at the time of this article. Here is how you can utilize those same terpenes from common household items.
Peel some lemon or orange zest into a bowl to sit next to you for a relaxing effect in any room. Purchase or make fresh-squeezed lemonade, limeade, or orange juice. This will help combat any dry mouth, increase hydration, and decrease stress or anxiety you may feel as a result.
A citrus essential oil blend for a warmer or to put on some cloth to smell will work also. This has to do with the relaxing effects of the Limonene, it’s an anti-anxiety, stress-reducing terpene. Limonene also helps counteract the Paranoid and anxiety effect you may have or see in your patient.
And of course, eating fresh citrus in any form is both helpful as well as nutritious!
Beta Caryophyllene– Peppercorns, Rosemary, Cloves:
Keep peppercorns, rosemary, and/or cloves handy. Just inhaling the scent will help calm a patient having negative reactions to their medicine. Peppercorn, Rosemary, and cloves each have the terpene Beta-caryophyllene will help with relaxation and reducing anxiety. It also aids in regulating the THC, so it will help in the “bring down” department much like CBD.
Linalool: Cinnamon, Mint or Lavender,
The main terpene in each of these is called Linalool- all three are fantastic in a calming the mind and body.
These three scents are great for reducing anxiety, stress, and help with any depressive thoughts as an added benefit. Teas and other beverages made from these sources are also a fantastic way to calm down and settle the mind and body.
Also try to find mint, cinnamon, and lavender in reputable aromatherapy candles, scents, or diffusers. (However, be careful because many cinnamon oil products can be abrasive when used on the skin)
A Bottle of Water
Having a bottle of water set aside with the items in your rescue kit is always recommended.
Drinking water both helps with dehydration as well as combatting dry mouth of course!
Also, having a full bottle of water in a place in your home dedicated to emergencies means you have one less thing to hunt for or worry about.
CBD tinctures in particular are not often known for their pleasant taste; water helps.
Thank you for reading, learning, and taking your health seriously- If this article helped you, consider picking up Cassandra’s book: Newbies to Dewbies:: A patients experience and guide to the world of Medical Marijuana and all that comes with it.
You can also thank her for her writing by sending money to her cashapp: $newbs2dewbs
and/ or Become a Patron! of the Greenbud Gazette.