It all seems so simple. Making an appointment, bring documents to support state requirements, fill out some forms, pay a fee, fill out an online form, wait a bit, and get a card.  Then you will have access to the drug that cures everything.

Sadly, it is not that simple. You might believe that evil forces in the government and pharmaceutical industries (including alcohol producers) have stopped you from using this cheap and effective drug called marijuana. A nice comfortable story, but not exactly correct.  Not even close.

From my perspective, here is what you should know before using medical marijuana.

1) Marijuana is a herbal medication

Marijuana, medical or not, is just another herbal medication and therefore subject to all the production, processing, and packaging problems of herbal medications. What you see on the label of a product is not always what you get. If your “product” doesn’t have a label, well, good luck with that.

2) Your genetics play a bigger role than you may think

Individual responses to medical marijuana are highly variable and the difference might be found in our genes. Marijuana is a complex herbal medication with many components, some have quite opposite effects and even actually stop hoped for positive effects. FYI, you are quite complex yourself and the combination of a complex medication and complex patient doesn’t always provide the expected result.

3) The right mindset is essential

Individual responses to medical marijuana are highly variable and the responses might be based on something other than the plant itself. Your mindset and the setting you use the drug can be very important in determining your success.

4) Marijuana is an old medicine, but the science around it is new.

The use of medical marijuana is in its infancy. You might consider yourself a pioneer, but in reality, you just might be a guinea pig. See the ideas above to realize that you might be involved in an expensive experiment without feedback. (If I told you that your experiment is uninsured and that you had 100% copay for each step in the process, you might think twice before starting the process.)

5) It’s not such a cheap alternative

The medical marijuana card is the price of admission and then the cost can escalate if you are not careful. The process can be terrifying, expensive and lonely if you make the wrong choice. You may consider yourself a pioneer, but a review of the history of pioneers indicates that those poorly led didn’t always go well. Remember, the Donner Party. And you certainly don’t want to become a guinea pig. Accept the idea that there is a lot to learn.

The use of medical marijuana is not as simple as getting a state-approved card.  That is the first step and that first step can be on a journey to wellness and your control over your healthcare.  Or, it can be an expensive fiasco.

Two final thoughts:

Don’t buy the hype.

Remember the salesman motto: If you promise them everything, you can sell them anything.