5 Frugal Ways to Save Money on Medical Marijuana
The rising costs of everything from groceries to rent, mortgage interest rates to insurance are hitting hard for many Americans. For some patients who depend on medical cannabis to help with symptom management, that includes rising costs at their local dispensary.
During this period, when everything seems to be getting more expensive, Americans are looking for ways to economize. If you have a medical card and use medical cannabis, there are a few strategies you can use to save money. And make the affordability of cannabis a lot easier on your budget.
1. Use the Lowest Effective Dose
Higher potency cannabis products are more expensive. When patients have debilitating health conditions and symptoms, they want relief. It’s common to associate more relief with higher potency medical marijuana. You want it to work.
But physicians advise that starting with high-THC products isn’t necessary. And it isn’t recommended for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, if you are using medical cannabis on a daily basis, you can develop a tolerance to it.
Using lower-potency medical cannabis products reduces the risk of THC tolerance, which means your medical marijuana could work better (and longer) to help with your symptoms. Some patients also abstain from using medical cannabis for short periods of time to help avoid any problems with THC tolerance.
What Potency of THC Should I Start With?
When you meet for your initial or follow-up appointment with your DocMJ physician, you can ask for recommendations. Your marijuana doctor understands your symptoms and can provide suggestions regarding THC potency.
A general rule of thumb is to start with a lower potency THC. That may be cannabis products with 10% THC, and depending on where you live, they can be difficult to find. Use online resources like Weedmaps or Leafly to research dispensaries in your area. And browse the products (and potencies) those dispensaries carry.
Purchase small quantities to start when you are exploring different strains and potencies. In most dispensaries, lower THC products are more affordable compared to concentrates and other high THC medical cannabis options.
What Happens if a Low Dose Doesn’t Help With My Symptoms?
The good thing about starting with lower-THC medical cannabis is that you can increase it if you find it is not helping with your symptoms. If you do decide to increase the potency of the medical marijuana you buy, level up in small increments.
For example, if 10% THC is not helping, discuss trying products with a 15% THC potency with your physician. Also, research other routes that may be more effective for you, such as tinctures or edibles (if available). You may find that a combination of different intake routes may work better for you and help you save money.
2. Experiment With Timing Your Doses of Medical Marijuana
Timing is everything when it comes to microdosing medical cannabis. Did you know that at certain times of the day, your body can be more receptive to cannabinoids? It’s true! And the effect of medical marijuana can also be impacted by other factors, including supplements, whether you have recently eaten, and more.
When you experiment with the timing of your medical cannabis, you may find that dosing at different periods throughout the day works better for you. The goal is to use less cannabis to get some help with your symptoms and save money.
Mastering when you take medical cannabis, the potency level, and how much you consume is key to getting the best results possible for your needs. And wasting less cannabis by dosing at optimal times throughout your day.
What is the Best Time to Take Medical Cannabis?
Cannabis is most potent when used for the first time during the day. For many patients, that means waking up and taking a microdose of medical marijuana to help tame symptoms before the day gets started. That works on the weekend when you may not have to go anywhere, but what about during the work week?
One of the concerns about using medical marijuana first thing in the morning is impairment. If you are able to take public transit or get a ride to and from work, it isn’t a problem. However, if you drive to work, it is important to make sure you are not risking your safety (or the safety of others).
For this reason, many people choose to use medical cannabis after work when they get home. Sativa dominant strains can provide relief without making you feel drowsy. Whereas some patients prefer Indica strains taken about an hour before bed to help them sleep.
Alternatives to Daytime Use of Cannabis
If taking medical cannabis during the day (at work) is not a safe option, what other alternatives do you have if you experience pain, anxiety, or other debilitating symptoms? Clinical-grade cannabidiol (CBD) may help.
Many types of symptoms are rooted in problems with chronic inflammation, including anxiety and chronic pain. There are many clinical studies that discuss the potential of CBD to reduce inflammation. And unlike medical marijuana, CBD is non-intoxicating.
3. Subscribe for Dispensary Deals by Email
Do you live in an area where there are many different medical marijuana dispensaries? That is actually a good thing because it can mean better and more competitive prices. Some patients actually drive out of their way to another city if there are more dispensaries to take advantage of discount prices.
Watch out for “happy hours” at your local dispensary. On certain days and times of the week, dispensaries can provide big discounts. That can help you stretch your budget in the long run.
How Do I Find Local Dispensaries?
A quick online search on Google will help you identify all the local medical cannabis dispensaries in your area. You can also click on Google Maps to see how far the dispensaries are and how long it will take to travel to them.
Look for dispensaries that offer flower and a broad range of other medical cannabis products. If you plan to use medical marijuana long-term, make sure you keep your eyes open for any deal that can save money, including special discounts for military veterans and seniors.
Where Do I Subscribe to a Dispensary Email?
Visit the dispensary website. You can find a link on Google when you search for local dispensaries. Most websites will have a section where you can enter your email to subscribe. And then, you will start receiving helpful information, coupons, and notifications about discounts and sales that can help you save money.
Dispensaries also share valuable information about medical conditions and the use of cannabis for symptom management. You’ll get some useful tips and articles to read that can help you make lifestyle changes that may help improve your symptoms.
4. Try Different Strains and Products
Many patients have one to three favorite strains, and they regularly purchase them. After all, there is some risk associated with trying a new strain. What if it doesn’t work? What if it has side effects like cottonmouth, dry eyes, or paranoia? They are legitimate concerns.
But on the flip side, what if there are many different strains that could actually work better? And if the medical cannabis strain or product works better for you, then you may save money by needing to use less of it.
The internet is full of trustworthy resources where you can research different strains of medical marijuana. In most cases, you will also find comments from other patients or reviews of the strain that can be helpful.
Branch out when it comes to the bud you use, and make notes of the different strains you try. Keeping a cannabis journal can help you track symptom relief and also side-effects and help you save more money with a strain that works better.
How to Try New Marijuana Strains Without Wasting Money
Online research is the first step to exploring new strains of medical marijuana. Then, list possible strains you would like to try and head over to your local licensed dispensary. To save yourself a trip, you can also check out the dispensary’s website and see what strains are currently in stock.
When trying a new medical marijuana strain, never buy a large quantity. Sure, that means you will have to go back to purchase more if the product or strain works for you. But you eliminate the risk of using your purchase limit on any strain you are not sure about.
One good way to try a new medical marijuana strain, if you prefer smokable cannabis, is to purchase shake. Dispensaries sell shake at a discount, simply because of aesthetic preferences. Most people prefer to smoke whole flower, but shake is literally what “shakes loose” during the trimming and packaging. If you are buying a new strain, it can help you save money.
Can I Use More Than One Type of Medical Marijuana?
Many patients prefer to use an Indica in the evenings (or on weekends) when they need to sleep or plan to stay home and relax. That is because Indica dominant strains can make you drowsy and promote sleep. But some strains can also be highly effective when it comes to moderating symptoms.
Sativa strains are best used when you are hoping for symptom relief, but you need to stay alert and energetic. Sativa medical marijuana can create psychoactive effects that may make you feel happy, less stressed, sociable, creative, and talkative. So, if you are going out with family or friends, a Sativa cannabis product may work best.
Some people alternate between Sativa and Indica strains. Others prefer a selection of hybrid cannabis strains, which offer the best of both varieties. You can use more than one strain, and you may find your own custom combinations of different strains work better. Hybrid strains can be more cost-effective for that reason.
5. Consume With Dietary Terpenes and Healthy Fats
Did you know that some types of foods can actually boost the efficacy of medical marijuana? We’re not just talking about “the munchies” but actually planning healthy snacks that can amplify the effect that cannabinoids can have on your body. And help you reduce what you spend at the dispensary.
There are many different meals and snacks you can prepare at home that can help you get better results from medical cannabis. And the good news is that for most of them, you don’t have to pay a lot of money. They can easily fit into your grocery budget.
Healthy Terpene Rich Snacks to Try at Home
Citrus fruits have very high levels of terpenes. It should not be surprising since some of the most popular strains of cannabis have limonene, which is found in oranges, lemons, and limes as well.
All herbs and most spices have high terpene content as well. You can eat them fresh, in a salad, or add them to a smoothie. Or you can season your meals to add some extra terpenes, which can provide wellness benefits.
Some foods that are high in terpenes include:
- Hops (beer).
- Black pepper.
- Raw nuts.
While concentrated terpene extracts are available online and at some health food stores, use precaution when adding them to your food. Some terpenes can be toxic to human health. In concentrated form, terpenes may cause lung damage and irritation when absorbed into the bloodstream.
Want to learn more about the health benefits of terpenes? Check out this article on our blog for more information: “Why Are Cannabis Terpenes a Big Deal?” and to learn more about how dietary sources and terpenes in medical marijuana work.
Foods Rich in Omega Fatty Acids
Eating a lot of fat can be bad for you, but healthy fats are essential for good health. When you have a healthy snack that is loaded with omega fatty acids, it can actually increase the number of cannabinoids that your body absorbs.
Foods that are beneficial and high in healthy fatty acids include:
- Eggs (omega enriched).
- Hemp seed oil or powder.
- Flax seed oil or raw.
- Fatty fish, like wild salmon, trout, or sardines.
When you consume healthy snacks high in omega fatty acids, it supports your endocannabinoid system. The ECS function is stimulated by arachidonic acid (Omega-6). However, consuming too much omega fatty acids can lead to downregulated cannabinoid receptors and promote inflammation, exacerbating specific symptoms.
I am a Chief Marketing Officer at DocMJ, a leading provider of medical cannabis health services to qualified patients. I have over 20 years of experience in healthcare marketing and communications, with a proven track record of delivering impactful and compliant campaigns that educate, inform, and empower patients to make better choices for their health and wellness.