By Rodney Clay Brunson, DO, FASAM

We baby boomers want to know: What’s in medicinal marijuana (MM), and why does it matter if we know what’s in it?

There are three types of marijuana to be familiar with: Cannabis sativa (C. sativa), Cannabis indica (C. indica), a subspecies of C. sativa, and Cannabis hemp (or simply hemp), to be discussed in a later article.

When you visit a dispensary, you will see many packages of marijuana on the shelves. Employees will sit you down and ask what you’re looking for, but let’s impress them with some unexpected knowledge. All of the many packages that you will see have different names – Blue Moon, ACDC, Sunburn, Love Boat, Kushe, Skunk. Daunting? Don’t be intimidated… all the different varieties on the shelves can be broken down into just two species: sativa or indica. That’s it! When the technician asks what you want, you can say sativa or indica. You will also have to let him know the strain. Let’s get to that.

A strain is simply the ratio combination of sativa to indica. For example, a ratio of 20:1 sativa to indica is the ACDC strain. Don’t worry… you will never have to know this to make your purchase, but it’s nice to know what the technician is talking about.

What’s so important about calling it sativa or indica? They each contain different important chemicals. CBD is found in sativa and THC is found in indica. CBD in sativa will make you feel motivated, alert and energetic (not manic or anxious). It may encourage you to get up and cut the lawn or clean the deck. You will have a sense of calmness and feel less anxious (without taking Xanax or valium). THC in indica will make you feel very relaxed and eventually sleepy. Before you go to sleep, you may feel your arthritis pain easing up.

There are many uses for the THC-containing strains that are found to be beneficial. But THC (indica) does go to the brain and can become psychoactive, which may not be functional for you. CBD (sativa) does not act on the brain to any significant level.

So, you come to me to get certified for your MM card, then decide to go to one of the dispensaries. After going through the one-time orientation at the dispensary, you find yourself standing at the counter with all the different products in front of you. The technician looks at you, noticing you do not look confused, but eager to show your stuff. He asks, “So which one do you want to try at home?”

You can now confidently reply, “I would like to try a sativa with a 20:1 ratio of CBD:THC because I don’t want to feel drugged or drowsy. I want to feel alert and energetic, not too relaxed like the indica could make me feel.” He may simply recommend ACDC.

Be sure to use MM safely and as recommended. Let’s show that this helpful plant can be used intelligently and is not the Devil Weed it is often said to be.

For more information, call (609) 484- 7000 or visit Dr. Brunson’s offices are located at 201 Tilton Rd., Suite 12, Northfield and 1 Enterprise Dr., Suite B, Cape May Court House (located at Waisbren Medicine).

(Disclaimer: Dr. Brunson does not consume psychoactive substances, including MM.)

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