How is Medical Marijuana Ingested?
Patients using marijuana as a part of their medical treatment plan will most often smoke the substance, or inhale the smoke it gives off. It may also be vaporized, where the active ingredients are released but no smoke is formed. Less common is to take the drug as a liquid extract or eat it by adding it to candy, cookies or brownies when cooking. The method of ingestion has little effect on how the body reacts to the chemicals, and is usually based on a personal preference for the patient.
Marijuana and Addiction
Physical addiction to marijuana is rare and most often seen in individuals who use the substance consistently over a long period of time. Most of the symptoms associated with smoking or inhaling the drug, such as short term memory loss, disappear once the effects of the drug wears off.
For those patients that have developed an addiction to marijuana, you might note withdrawal symptoms when it is not made readily available. These symptoms include irritability, insomnia, poor appetite, anxiety, depression, agitation, cravings and mood swings. If you suspect a patient is experiencing one or more of these symptoms as a result of their medically authorized marijuana use, bring it to the attention of their primary care physician immediately.
Whatever your personal beliefs and feelings are regarding the use of marijuana, as a nurse, you should be able to recognize its benefit as a natural drug. Cannabis has been used for hundreds of years to treat dozens of ailments. Now we have the opportunity to improve the quality of life for thousands of patients who suffer daily from the symptoms of chronic illness.