5 Common Mistakes Patients New to Medical Cannabis Make

Medically reviewed by Michael Matthews, M.D.
02 October 2020
If you’re new to medical cannabis, skip all the “I wish someone would’ve told me before’s” with this guide.
02 October 2020
31 min read
5 Common Mistakes Patients New to Medical Cannabis Make

Read more
  • 1. History
  • 2. Welcome to the world of medical cannabis
  • 3. Problem n° 1: impatience
  • 4. Problem n° 2: not storing your medical marijuana correctly
  • 5. Problem n° 3: believing it’s a magic plant
  • 6. Problem n° 4: thinking all strains are the same
  • 7. Problem n° 5: fearing you will get high
  • 8. Conclusion and recommendations

The future of medicine is always changing, and to yours and everyone’s luck, it's changing for good. Nowadays, the use of medical cannabis is gaining popularity all around the world. At the moment, there are already 46 countries around the globe that support the legal use of cannabis:

  • Among these 46 countries, 95.6% (44 countries) support the legal use of cannabis for medical use only.
  • Between this 95.6%, an 11.3% allows the medical use of cannabis only for patients with specific conditions, such as chronically ill or cancer patients, or only for strains with 0.2% of THC content.  
  • From the list, only 2 countries in the list allow both the medical and recreational use of cannabis, Canada and Uruguay.


Legal medical cannabis map

Legal medical cannabis map


The use of marijuana for its medical properties dates way before then we actually acknowledge. Medical cannabis has been helping treat patients even before the year 1000 b.c. Ancient physicians from countries such as India, China, and Thailand would use the plants by mixing them with other medicines to treat pain and illnesses.

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In the beginning, they used to reduce the cannabis plant to a powder form and mix it with wine for administration -yes, you read correctly, wine. In Ancient Greece they even used cannabis to treat sore or wounded animals, they would also treat nose bleeds with weed leaves and they took seeds to get rid of tapeworms. 

Then, much later in the 1970s, Marinol was developed, the first form of medical marijuana capsules.


Welcome to the World of Medical Cannabis

Enough with the history lesson for now, you’re probably here because you or a close relative may have decided to start taking medical cannabis, which is great!

We know being new at anything can be challenging, there’s lots of new information to deal with which may end up leading you to feel lost and confused. Worry not! We’ve created a list of the top 5 mistakes medical marijuana newbies make so that you can avoid all the “I wish someone would’ve told me that before”s and you can jump straight into the benefits of using medical cannabis. 

The most common mistakes between patients new with medical cannabis include impatience, wrong storage methods, misinformation, and fear.

Read ahead to find out how you can avoid all of these mistakes.

Problem N° 1: Impatience 

Most medications, both prescription and over-the-counter need time to take effect, at least 20 minutes. However, patients who are new to medical cannabis tend to forget this little detail and start becoming impatient after taking their first doses, sometimes they may even start doubting the efficiency of marijuana as a medical resource. 


Problem N°1: Impatience

Most patients get impatient while waiting for cannabis to take effect.

That’s the first mistake. Just like any other medication, medical cannabis also has its own time to take effect. To your luck, with medical marijuana, this can only take between 10-15 minutes when you’re vaping or smoking, while if you took edibles they may take anywhere between 30 minutes or an hour to kick in. 

So before deciding on taking another dose, or thinking that trying medical cannabis was a complete waste of time, please make sure you’ve allowed your medication enough time to act. Chances are you are just being a little impatient. 


Type of consumption Time to take effect  Length of high
Edibles 1-1.5 hours 4-6 hours 
Smoking buds 10-15 minutes 1-2 hours
Concentrates 10-15minutes 0.5-2 hours


Anyway, if you still haven’t felt any changes after enough time has gone by, then, of course, you can try with a higher dose, although it is recommended to begin with small doses when you're new to marijuana.

Don't forget to take note of the amount you needed so you know with more precision next time. 

Problem N° 2: Not Storing Your Medical Marijuana Correctly

Again, just like other medications or even food, it’s important to pay attention to the storage method of your medical cannabis. You probably wouldn't leave your headache pills lying around anywhere, or a milk carton out of the fridge except you enjoy the sourish taste. 


How to store your cannabis

How to store your medical cannabis correctly.

The same goes for marijuana buds -buds are the flowers, in case you're not familiar with the slang: the way you store your weed can have a major impact on its efficiency and may even turn it into a useless flower. To explain this we’ll have to get into the technical aspects of marijuana. 

The main two components present in cannabis plants that work to treat a disease and relieve pain or other symptoms are THC and CBD (Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol). When your weed buds are exposed to high temperatures and air or direct light, these components become weaker, and therefore so does the medical effect. 


Common places for storing cannabis

Some of the most common places where people hide their marijuana stash.

At the same time, extremely humid and moist places promote mold growth in your buds, which you should also avoid unless you want your whole stash of medical marijuana to end up in the trash.

In order to preserve your medical cannabis' properties, we recommend storing it inside an airtight glass jar, in a dark, dry and cool area - but please don’t put it inside the fridge, just find some shade inside a cupboard and it should do the job. 

Problem N° 3: Believing It’s A Magic Plant

After doing some research on medical cannabis, some patients who choose to try it may be left feeling disappointed when they find out it didn't work magic on them and they aren't completely healed. 

Reminder: Marijuana is not the absolute solution to your medical condition.

While it may be highly efficient for pain treatment and other symptoms, medical cannabis is usually prescribed in conjunction with other medical drugs. 

So, before you decide to quit any other medications you were previously taking, you should definitely consult with your doctor. Patients must be provided with a clear education on what to expect when taking medical marijuana, the different ways of administration available, and the cons and benefits for each method. 


Consult with your doctor in order to find the balance of what works best for you. Perhaps, you simply aren't using the right medical cannabis strain, which leads us to the following mistake.

Problem N° 4: Thinking all strains are the same

Not every medication to treat headaches is made of the same combination of components. This also applies to medical cannabis. Each marijuana strain contains a different concentration of its main active components, THC and CBD. Therefore, some cannabis strains can be more suitable to treat certain symptoms and diseases than others, it just depends on the desired effect for each patient.


Medical uses of CBD dominant strains Medical uses of THC dominant strains 
Pain relief; reducing inflammation; migraines; nausea; anxiety; seizures; depression; psychotic and mental disorders. Pain relief; relaxation; muscle spasticity; loss of appetite; insomnia; glaucoma; nausea and anxiety. 

If you need help choosing which strain suits you best don’t hesitate to consult with a professional for guidance, and don’t be scared to test different types of medical cannabis until you find the one that suits your necessities best. 


Problem N° 5: Fearing You Will Get High

The fact that you’ve already gotten rid of prejudices related to marijuana and took the courage to open your horizons and try medical cannabis is great. And there’s no need to be shy about it, here’s a fun fact: most marijuana users are parents! 


Most cannabis users are parents

More parents recently find natural stress relief in cannabis.

Anyways, we can understand if you feel scared or nervous the first times you try it given you don't really know what to expect as the ‘high’ effect. If it serves as any consolation, Dr. Philip Denney, MD, once said: 

“[...] Cannabis is really a safe, effective and non-toxic alternative to many standard medications. There is no such thing as an overdose. We have seen very minimal problems with abuse or dependence, which at worst are equivalent to dependence on caffeine.” 1

However, some people may want to stick strictly to medical use for marijuana, and for those, we highly recommend opting for CBD dominant strains, like CBD Auto 20:1 which will mainly have physical effects on you, helping you stay calm, relaxed, and relieve the pain.



Reasons people use marijuana

Some common reasons why people use marijuana.

The component that gives you the ‘high’ feeling and behavioral changes in marijuana is THC, so if you're still scared to try it make sure you go for strains with a lower THC percentage. 

However, some patients could need a higher dose of THC to get the desired effects for their medical cannabis use. If this is the case, there is nothing to worry about!


For the first times, we suggest taking it slow. The best option is finding a nice place, somewhere you feel comfortable, and take small doses until you start to feel the effects, then maybe take a small break and if you feel comfortable you can take some more until it’s good enough for you, if not just leave the rest for the next time. 

You can always ask a friend to take the journey with you if that’d help you feel more relaxed. After a few times of using your medical cannabis, you’ll get the hang of it and perhaps you even start enjoying it!

Conclusion and recommendations

There is no real wrong in consuming medical cannabis, the risks are almost none, and even if you do make any of these or other mistakes when trying it for the first times, nothing can go that bad when it comes to medical marijuana.

Besides, making mistakes is the best way to learn, so just keep on trying different things until you find what works best for you. The main thing to remember is that every person is different so it may take you a little bit longer to adapt to your new medical friend, and that's completely okay!

Let us know in the comments which are your favorite medical cannabis strains and what uses you’re giving them!

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  1. "Legality of cannabis" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_cannabis 
  2. “An Act to Permit the Medical Use of Marijuana,” Dr. Philip Denney, 2005