christalcann on Saturday Aug 12, 2017 4180 Views/ 3 Lights
What You Need To Know About Being A Caregiver For A Medical Cannabis Patient
Taking care of sick loved ones can be overwhelming emotionally and mentally, not to mention physically exhausting. However, taking care of a loved one who is medicating with cannabis is a completely new ballgame: there are things that you have to know about the plant whether you use it or not, that will ensure your loved ones get the best care possible.
States with medical cannabis laws enable patients to choose a caregiver, who is responsible with important tasks including the acquisition, transporting, and growing of medicine among others. Caregivers also provide housing and work on maintaining the health of a patient. Both medical cannabis patients as well as their patients are protected through the Rohrabacher-Farr Agreement, but there’s still very little information out there about how caregivers should work with cannabis. Most states don’t permit caregivers to use the plant unless they are also qualified MMJ patients.
If you or someone you know is going to start the role of caregiver for a medical cannabis patient soon, here are some of the basic things you need to know:
Study Your State Laws
Each state has their own specific medical cannabis laws, and it’s important for cannabis caregivers to be fully aware of the laws in their area. Some areas permit caregivers to grow their own cannabis plants, but others don’t. Generally speaking, most states have the same laws that apply to both caregiver and patient. A good place to start is by studying NORML’s guide to state cannabis laws.
Get Educated About The Herb
If you’re new to the world of cannabis, the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming. There are many things to consider when learning about cannabis and how it can help the patient. Here are some of the important things you should at least master to ensure that you are taking good care of your patient:
Research about the various strains that may be of help to your patient. For all conditions there is a wide variety of strains that can help patients, but finding the right one is usually a process of trial and error. Keep in mind that not all strains will get the patient high; THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)-rich strains will get them high, but CBD (cannabidiol)-rich strains can negate the effects of THC. There are also strains that contain almost no THC content, and therefore won’t get the patient high.
To help you evaluate if a strain is working or not, ask the patient to give feedback or rate how they feel with the following questions:
Does this strain give you anxiety?
How intoxicated do you feel? Does the intoxication feel comfortable or uncomfortable?
How much has the pain decreased?
Do the symptoms worsen when the cannabis wears off?
Do you notice other symptoms when you take this strain such as headaches, paranoia, cotton mouth, dizziness, or dry eyes?
How sedated or energized do you feel?
Learn about the various consumption methods. While smoking cannabis is the most popular form of consumption, many patients prefer not to smoke because it can cause irritation to the lungs of a sick person, or cause harshness in the throat. Vaporizing is a safer inhalation method that can also be used. Other forms of consumption include:
In some cases, patients get the most relief by mixing 2 or more methods or consumption. A patient with cancer may benefit from using edibles and concentrates, for example.
Find the right dosage. A physician may be able to suggest the right starting dose for various types of consumption methods. Generally, when it comes to ingestion, a standard dose for an adult usually starts at 5mg and the patient can work their way up as needed.
Go for whole plant medicine when possible. If you’re still in the trial and error phase, it’s suggested to go for whole plant medicine so that the patient can benefit from the entourage effect, which means that the cannabinoids work synergistically with the terpenes and other compounds in the plant to give the maximum healing benefits.
Familiarize yourself with the dispensaries in your area. Find out what kinds of quality medicine are available in each. Keep in mind that there are 3 different kinds of dispensaries all of which cater to different needs: wellness centers (they offer wellness programs and sell cannabis), medical-only dispensaries (cater only to medical patients and their caregivers), and medical-recreational dispensaries (cater to medical and recreational users). Don’t be afraid to ask the budtender questions about various strains and products, and let them know the patient’s medical needs so that they can recommend a product that’s right for them.
Talk to an RN (registered nurse) who has advanced knowledge of different medical conditions and who have experience working with cannabis and patients. They can offer you personalized advice and medical explanations to reduce the guesswork that comes with being a caregiver. This is highly recommended if you have zero knowledge about cannabis or have a patient that has a life-threatening condition. Nurses won’t be able to sell you cannabis, but they can provide you with valuable information on being a good caregiver.
Have you been a caregiver for a medical cannabis patient? What was the experience like?