FDA Approved Cannabinoids
The FDA has approved a few medications for management of cancer symptoms and treatment side effects. These medications are legal. Dronabinol is a capsule or solution that can be ingested to treat nausea and vomiting. It can also be used to increase appetite and treat weight loss. Nabilone is also a capsule used to treat nausea. Talk to your doctor to see if these medications are options for you.
Medical marijuana differs from other marijuana as it is medical grade. Medical marijuana is 100% pure, meaning that it has not been contaminated by chemicals when growing or preparing the product. There are two main active ingredients in marijuana. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active ingredient that causes the “high” associated with marijuana use. Many individuals and studies have found that this aspect helps relieve pain and nausea. The other active ingredient is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD produces less of a high and may reduce anxiety and paranoia. Individuals may be advised to use medical marijuana for reducing pain, treating nausea and vomiting, or increasing appetite.
Getting a Medical Marijuana Card
Prior to purchasing marijuana from a medical marijuana dispensary, individuals must apply and be approved for a medical marijuana card. In order to do this, healthcare practitioner must make the medical recommendation that marijuana usage is medically necessary or will reduce side effects for the patient. Physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, and physicians assistants can refer patients to the medical marijuana program. To apply for a medical marijuana card, visit the online application or download a print application at DC Health. DC medical marijuana cards are only valid in DC.
After receiving a medical marijuana license, individuals may purchase marijuana from a medical marijuana dispensary. Each dispensary may have specific rules about accepted forms of payment. Some dispensaries may accept out of state medical marijuana licenses. Call ahead or check out their website for more information. Remember, the only individuals that may make a purchase are those with an up-to-date license. In DC, individuals may purchase up to 4 ounces in a 30 day period.
DC Area Dispensaries:
What is right for me?
First and foremost, like with any medical decision, talk with your doctor about what options are best for you. Medical marijuana and cannabis products work for some people but not all. Another source of information is the dispensary. The employees are well-versed in their products. They will be able to explain to you the different strains available to you and how each may benefit you differently. A common misconception is that all medical marijuana is the same. However, there are many strains available, each with different amounts of the active ingredients TCH and CBD. The dispensary employees may also have advice about how to best use marijuana: inhalation or ingestion.
There still may be confusion around the legality of medical marijuana. Under federal law, all marijuana is still illegal, even medical marijuana. However, FDA approved cannabinoids are legal. Though medical marijuana is illegal at the federal level, a 2014 law made it illegal for the federal government to spend federal dollars to impede state laws around medical marijuana.
In the workplace, there are no protections for those using medical marijuana. Even though an individual may have a license to purchase medical marijuana, their workplace may still have rules about drug use. Know your employers rules about drug use and drug testing prior to using medical marijuana. In Maryland and the District of Columbia, employers are not required to explicitly address employer accommodations for medical marijuana use. In DC, medical marijuana cannot be used in public places and should never be used on the job.