The use of cannabis to treat medical conditions and as a recreational substance became legal in Massachusetts in 2016. Almost 16% of Massachusetts residents have tried cannabis in the past year, and many seek cannabis dispensaries to manage chronic pain instead of turning to addictive opioid drugs.
With events like the Cannabis Science Fair and Smoke & Network happening in December, the biotech hub of the U.S. surely enjoys its fair share of marijuana use. From growing cannabis to smoking it or utilizing edibles, coders and techies are notorious for being big champions of cannabis. However, many people turn to cannabis not to help them come up with creative new apps or technology, but because they know that cannabis is an incredibly effective substance for dealing with chronic pain.
Cannabis can aid in inflammation, muscle pain, nausea suffered by cancer patients due to chemotherapy treatment, and many other types of pain. From sports injuries to menstrual cramps and muscle tension from fibromyalgia or over-training, it’s helpful to know which strains are most effective for treating pain and where you can find them in Massachusetts.
Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica for Pain?
For inexperienced cannabis users, it can be hard to know if they should try Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or hybrid strains to best treat chronic or intermittent pain. Massachusetts marijuana users are no different. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine offers help. 95 cannabis users that were randomly chosen were asked if Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica better alleviated their chronic pain. An overwhelming number of respondents said that Cannabis indica was best for helping to reduce pain. Cannabis sativa, according to the study’s respondents, was better for treating depression and anxiety.
568 Known Cannabis Molecules
With over 568 known molecules in cannabis, its hard to distinguish what plant compounds are actually responsible for its pain-reducing qualities. Research indicates that cannabidiol (CBD), 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), additional cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids all have a positive effect on the pain receptors of the body and the endocannabinoid system. There are at least 60 identifiable cannabinoids and scientists are still trying to understand all the effects they have on the body as a whole.
CBD or THC?
Cannabis users are perhaps familiar with the euphoria-inducing sensation that THC can produce. This is the chemical compound responsible for hallucinations and the feeling of being “high.” You can choose cannabis strains with low or higher THC to treat chronic pain. CBD has absolutely no hallucinogenic properties. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that higher concentrations of CBD are necessary to treat pain.
Both THC and CBD can reduce pain, calm inflammation, and help those suffering from poor sleep.
It can be difficult to know which strain to pick due to the interesting strain names out there too, like Cannsutra, Crouching Tiger Hidden Alien, Myth Buster, and Green Heaven, but the name of a strain alone doesn’t indicate its effectiveness.
What’s more important is the CBD:THC ratio and how your body acts to a specific hybrid or full-spectrum strain. It’s good to ask plenty of questions when you visit a dispensary to find out which strains have been most consistent in helping others deal with their chronic pain. Going to a reputable dispensary and asking a lot of questions as well as reading product labels to find out exactly what percentage of the product is CBD or THC can help you determine which strain is best for you. You may want to try different ratios, for dealing with chronic pain after a car accident, as opposed to addressing pain caused by lifting too hard at the gym.
Finding the Best Cannabis to Reduce Pain in Massachusetts
There are more than 65 different cannabis dispensaries in Massachusetts, spread across Ayr, Boston, Cambridge, Cape Cod, Fall River, and Farmington. Weedmaps shows you exactly where to find medical marijuana and pain-relieving cannabis strains that have both THC and CBD.
You may want to try a hybrid marijuana strain that contains South Indian Cannabis Indica and South American Cannabis Sativa for pain management, or there may be another type that is better for reducing anxiety and depression.
Those who need to manage pain while caring for young children, driving, or working with heavy equipment may want a CBD-only strain.
Weedmaps is helpful because it tells you if a Massachusetts dispensary sells medical cannabis or recreational strains. Dispensaries are only allowed to carry one or the other or both, depending on their license.
*Photos by RODNAE Productions