Updated on January 25, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
As a patient, it’s essential to understand the potential side effects of medical weed. Like prescription medications, medical cannabis can cause users to build up a tolerance. This is why it’s critical for you and your medical marijuana physician to discuss administration methods, dosage amounts and dosing schedule to reduce the chances of your body developing a tolerance for medical pot.
While some side effects of medical weed offer benefits, such as an increased appetite for patients with cancer, it can also cause some symptoms that are less desirable, like constipation. As a patient, you can trust that your medical marijuana physician will not recommend medical cannabis if they feel its side effects outweigh its benefits.
Like other medications, medical weed causes users to build up a tolerance over time. As your body becomes used to your dosage, the receptors in your brain become less excitable by the cannabinoids found in marijuana, which include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Factors that influence how soon you build up a tolerance to medical marijuana include:
If you’re only beginning to use medical pot, you may not become tolerant until later.
As a patient, one of the first signs of tolerance you’ll notice is that your medical cannabis isn’t alleviating your symptoms as well as it used to. If you have chronic pain, for instance, you may still experience pain after taking your medication instead of complete relief.
Other side effects from medical weed may also be absent, such as drowsiness. For some patients, this also results in the medication losing its effectiveness, as the side effects from medical marijuana can treat certain conditions, like insomnia.
For medications that risk tolerance, such as opioids, the long-term effect is requiring a higher dosage. In some states and countries where medical weed is legal, this is not an option since marijuana carries monthly and weekly limits.
The good news is that our body’s receptors respond well to tolerance-breaks. As a result, many patients can maintain their dose and still receive relief, though some may need to alter their dosage and schedule. You should only adjust your medical weed usage under your medical marijuana doctor’s supervision.
If you’ve developed a tolerance to medical marijuana, it’s possible your physician will recommend a tolerance-break. Within two days, receptors in your brain will reactivate, which allows your medication to begin working again.
To prevent a tolerance build-up, your medical marijuana doctor may suggest the following:
For the best advice on avoiding and managing tolerance from medical marijuana, talk to your physician.
Every medical cannabis patient is different, which is why it’s critical that you meet with your medical marijuana doctor to discuss any side effects, such as tolerance. While most find that the benefits of medical weed counter the potential side effects, physicians are there to ensure your treatment plan makes you feel happy and healthy.