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At Black Rose we believe patient education is critical. In an ever changing world of Cannabis, its important to stay in the know. Continue below to learn all about Cannabis, its effects on the body and some of the potential therapeutic uses. Have a question not listed here? Let us know!

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Learn some general knowledge and facts on Cannabis, how its used, its different forms and how it works on the body.

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Learn about the effects that Cannabis has on the body and also some of the possible side effects that may affect some patients.


Learn which disases and conditions have been shown to  benefit from therapeutic use of Cannabis products.

Introduction to Cannabis

What is Cannabis?

The word Cannabis refers to the Cannabis sativa plant, which originated in Asia and is now grown all around the world. Today it is used for its psychoactive and therapeutic effects and comes in many forms including as dried flowers and leaves; hash; extracts, such as oil (e.g., honey oil, phoenix tears) and shatter; and edibles (e.g., candies or baked goods).

What is Cannabis made up of?

Cannabis contains hundreds of chemical substances but most importantly are the substances known as cannabinoids. There are over one hundred known cannabinoids and they are produced and stored in the plant’s trichomes. Trichomes are tiny, clear hairs that project out from the flowers and leaves of the plant. Cannabinoids have effects on specific cell receptors in the brain and body. They can change how those cells behave and communicate with each other.

What are the most common cannabinoids?

The most researched cannabinoid is delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is responsible for the way your brain and body respond to cannabis, including the high and intoxication. THC has been proven to have therapeutic effects but can also cause some unwanted effects when the strength of THC is higher. 

Cannabidiol (CBD) is another popular cannabinoid. Unlike THC, CBD does not directly produce a high or intoxication and works on different receptors entirely. There is some evidence that CBD may block or lower some of the negative or unwanted effects of THC. This may occur when the amount of CBD in the cannabis is the same or higher than the amount of THC. Studies have also shown that CBD can be of great therapeutic use to patients experiencing seizures and other conditions and is being studied further.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are chemicals made and stored in the trichomes of the cannabis plant, with the cannabinoids. Terpenes give cannabis its distinctive smell and aroma.

How does Cannabis work?

The principal active ingredient in cannabis (THC) acts on very specific targets found in the body known as cannabinoid receptors. Other cannabinoids, such as CBD, may also have targets other than the cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body, in most tissues and organs, but they are especially numerous in the brain and nervous system. These receptors are involved in the regulation of many bodily functions including: brain and nervous system activity, heart rate and blood pressure, digestion, inflammation, immune system activity, perception of pain, reproduction, wake/sleep cycle, regulation of stress and emotional state and many other functions.

What are some methods people use to consume Cannabis?

The cannabis plant is used for its effects on the mind. It is also used for medical, social or religious purposes. Marijuana is a slang term for the dried flowers, leaves, stems and seeds of the cannabis plant. Cannabis can be taken in several different ways, such as:

  • Smoking (Inhalation): i.e. joints/spliffs, pipes/bongs, blunts, etc.
  • Eating / Drinking (Ingestion): i.e. Teas/Sodas, Cannabis oil, Baked goods (edibles), etc.
  • Vaporized: breathing in dried cannabis or liquid cannabis vapours through a vaporizer or vaping device
  • Dabbing: breathing in very hot vapours from heating cannabis concentrates

What are the different forms of Cannabis?

What are some of the differences between smoking and ingesting?

Smoking: When smoking, it can take only seconds to minutes after consumption to begin to feel the effects, but 10 to 30 minutes to feel the full effects. Effects can last up to 6 hours, and some residual effects could last up to 24 hours after use. When cannabis is inhaled into the lungs, it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and its effects are quickly felt by the brain and body.

Eating / Drinking: When eating or drinking, it can take 30 minutes to 2 hours after consumption to begin to feel the effects, but up to 4 hours to feel the full effects. Effects can last up to 12 hours, and some residual effects could last up to 24 hours after use. When cannabis is ingested, it takes much longer for it to be absorbed into the bloodstream and for its effects to be felt by the brain and body.


Effects and Possible Side Effects of Cannabis

What are the effects of Cannabis on the body?

Some of the acute effects of Cannabis are:

Euphoria (the marijuana “high”) - typically occurs shortly after smoking and generally takes longer with edibles or other oral administrations In high doses, some people may experience dysphoria and increased anxiety.

Cardiovascular Effects - tachycardia (an increased heart rate) is the most consistent of the acute physiological effects seen with cannabis 

Psychoactive Effects - in addition to euphoria, the short term effects associated with cannabis are: 
  • Relaxation 
  • Time-distortion 
  • Intensification of sensory experiences (such eating, watching films and listening to music) 
  • Loss of inhibitions (which may result in laughter) 

Cognitive Effects - some reviews note that cannabis use is associated with impaired function in a variety of cognitive and short-term memory tasks The levels of Δ9-THC in the plasma after smoking appear to have a dose, time, and concentration-dependent effect on cognitive function. Driving and operation of intricate machinery, including aircraft, may be significantly impaired.

What factors determine the effects of Cannabis?

How cannabis affects you depends on: 

  • How much you use 
  • How often and how long you’ve used it 
  • Whether you smoke, vape or eat it 
  • Your mood, your expectations and the environment you’re in 
  • Your age 
  • Whether you have certain pre-existing medical or psychiatric conditions 
  • Whether you’ve taken any alcohol or other drugs (illegal, prescription, over-the-counter or herbal).

People can have very different experiences with cannabis. Some may feel relaxed, lively, talkative, giggly and even euphoric, while others may feel tense, anxious, fearful and confused. The kind of experience you may have can vary from one episode to another, usually because of the amount taken, the method used and the frequency of regular cannabis use.

What are some of the side effects of Cannabis?

The information on side effects associated with therapeutic use of cannabis is limited. Some of the more well-known side effects are intoxication-like reactions including:

  • Dizziness, drowsiness, feeling faint or lightheaded, fatigue, headache 
  • Impaired memory and disturbances in attention, concentration 
  • Disorientation, confusion, feeling "too high", feelings of unreality 
  • Suspiciousness, nervousness, episodes of anxiety resembling a panic attack, paranoia (loss of contact with reality), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things) 
  • Impairments in motor skills and perception, altered bodily perceptions, loss of full control of bodily movements, falls; 
  • Dry mouth, throat irritation, coughing 
  • Worsening of seizures
  • Hypersensitivity reactions (contact dermatitis/hives)
  • Higher or lower blood levels of certain medications
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Fast heartbeat.

What are some of the possible long-term effects of Cannabis?

Although Cannabis is generally well-tolerated, some of the possible long-term side effects of chronic Cannabis use are:

  • Increase the risk of triggering or aggravating psychiatric and/or mood disorders (schizophrenia, psychosis, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder).
  • Increase the risk of developing respiratory infections or chronic cough (when smoking).
  • Decrease sperm count, concentration and motility, and increase abnormal sperm morphology.
  • Negatively impact the behavioural and cognitive development of children born to mothers who used cannabis during pregnancy.
  • Negatively affect cognitive functions (ability to think and make decisions).
  • Lead to a decrease in one or more of the effects of cannabis (tolerance).
  • Lead to withdrawal-type symptoms when use is abruptly halted or discontinued. 
  • Withdrawal symptoms may include anger or aggression, irritability, anxiety, nightmares/strange dreams, insomnia/sleep difficulties, craving, headache, restlessness, and decreased appetite or weight loss, depressed mood, chills, stomach pain, shakiness and sweating.
  • Results in psychological dependence (addiction) which is characterized by impaired control over drug use, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, and craving. 

What is the safest way to consume Cannabis?

If you choose to consume cannabis, how much you consume and how quickly you consume can influence whether or not you experience adverse effects. Take your time to understand how your body reacts to cannabis as everyone’s response is different. Until then, start low and go slow to minimize health risks and the risks of overconsumption. Start with a low amount of THC and wait to feel the effects before taking more.


Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis

What conditions have shown to benefit from therapeutic use of Cannabis?

Although studies are limited, Cannabis has been shown to be of some benefit in managing the following groups of conditions:

Psychiatric & Stress Disorders 
  • Anxiety, Depression, Sleep Disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Alzheimer's / Dementia, Opioid Withdrawal

Pain Disorders
  • Acute pain, Chronic neurological pain, Arthritis

Neurological Disorders
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Cord Injuries, Movement Disorders (Parkinsons, Huntington's, Dystonia)

Gastrointestinal Disorders
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes

Other Conditions
  • Glaucoma, Palliative Care, Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting

What kind of effect does Cannabis have on Anxiety and Depression?

THC exhibits a biphasic effect on mood. Low doses have been shown to be anxiolytic (reduce anxiety) and mood-elevating, while higher doses can sometimes be anxiogenic (increased anxiety) and mood-lowering. Studies also find that THC could improve symptoms of anxiety and depression in patients suffering from mood disorders secondary to some chronic diseases (HIV, MS, chronic neuropathic pain)

Cannabis with equal proportions of CBD + THC is associated with an attenuation of some of the changes in mood seen in patients using THC-predominant cannabis for medical purposes.

How does Cannabis affect sleep patterns?

THC exhibits a dose-dependent effect on sleep. Low doses have been shown to decrease sleep onset latency, increase slow-wave sleep and total sleep time. Higher doses may sometimes cause sleep disturbances.

Can Cannabis help reduce withdrawal symptoms?

Studies have shown that Cannabis can be quite effective at helping minimize the symptoms of opioid withdrawals., but may actually exacerbate those of alcohol withdrawal. THC may increase the reinforcing properties on alcohol, increase alcohol consumption and increase risk of relapse of alcohol use. 

What kind of role does Cannabis play in Pain Management?

In clinical studies of healthy volunteers with smoked cannabis, oral THC and cannabis extracts, there is evidence to suggest a dose-dependant effect with cases of acute pain. Lower doses appear to have a pain-relieving (analgesic) effect, while higher doses can sometimes have a pain-increasing (hyperalgesic) effect.

In chronic cases, there is evidence of the efficacy of the use of smoked or vapourized cannabis in the treatment of chronic neuropathic and non-cancer pain, especially in cases where conventional treatments have already tried and failed.   

Does Cannabis have any effect on cases of Arthritis?

Studies have shown that THC is effective at alleviating some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA), while a combination of THC and CBD has shown to improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  

Which Neurological conditions can Cannabis help with?

Evidence suggests that THC and CBD improve the multiple sclerosis (MS) associated symptoms of tremor, spasticity and inflammation. They are also associated with some measure of improvement in other symptoms of MS and Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) including spasticity, spasms, pain, sleep and symptoms of bladder dysfunction.

Is it true that Cannabis can worsen Seizures?

Studies show that THC may have either anti- or pro-epileptic properties (may prevent or cause seizures), though further studies regarding its anti-epileptic effect are emerging.

CBD on the other hand has anti-epileptiform and anti-convulsive properties. Oral CBD (Epidiolex ®) has been proven to effective in the treatment of drug-resistant seizures in treatment-resistant seizure disorders.

Can Cannabis be effective in the Palliative Care setting?

Cannabis has been proven to be effective in the alleviation of a wide variety of single or co-occurring symptoms often encountered in the palliative care setting:

  • Intractable Nausea and Vomiting (associated with chemo and radio therapies)
  • Anorexia/Cachexia
  • Severe intractable pain
  • Severe Mood Disorders (depression, anxiety)
  • Insomnia

May also be associated with a decrease in the number of medications used by this patient population.


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