We celebrate giving during this week of Hanukkah. Let us think of ways to honor our loved ones with a gift of the sacred plant: medical cannabis. Cannabis is still federally prohibited even though it is legal both medically and recreationally in CA. The cost can be prohibitive to seniors on fixed incomes.

Helping mom or dad learning to treat him/herself with cannabis can be a daunting task. Brush up on learning beforehand by viewing some videos at Bring her/him with you when you enter a dispensary. Ask if the dispensary offers a physician or nurse consultations as a service. In some geographic areas physicians and nurses set up their own private practice devoted to recommending treating and monitoring a patient’s cannabis progress. They help adjust doses, methods of administration and suggest alternate strains or ratios.

How do you help without a doctor or nurses’ guidance? Here are some suggestions. Be careful of smoke shops selling hemp CBD (cannabidiol). There is continued confusion in CA. law about hemp CBD (see  Unless the smoke shop can show you the lab test, don’t buy there.

Bring cash and reading glasses as labels are hard to read. Treat labels the same as when buying over the counter medicines in Walmart. Read them in detail. Ask questions. Look at ratios. Most products are tested for CBD CBDA THC THCA and CBN. The “A” at the end of the molecule indicates the acid or raw form meaning prior to being heated. THCA does not have mind-altering properties. A safe ratio for pain is a 1:1 CBD:THC. Don’t be afraid of the THC. The CBD mitigates the mind-altering effect of the THC. It is needed to help activate CBD.

Very few dispensaries are truly medical. A good medical dispensary will carry ratios of CBD:THC of 3:1 4:1 5:1 or 10:1 from various cultivars (strains). CBD is effective for relieving 90% of symptoms. Higher doses of THC are needed for use in relieving cancer and insomnia issues. Ratios of CBD:THC 20:1 or 30:1 are rarely recommended by medical professionals. Again, don’t be afraid of the THC it is needed for balance and homeostasis.

Ask if the dropper is labeled in increments of a milliliter. The directions should tell you how many milligrams (mg) of cannabis is in a milliliter (ml or a cubic centimeter). Remember grams is weight liter is volume so 5mg per 0.5ml or ½ a dropper, 5mg in 1ml or a full dropper. Some experience with cannabis use is needed before using edibles. Edibles are delicious, easy to gobble up. But eating a bar of cannabis chocolate or a bag of fish or pretzels will land you on the couch for a day.

Be very aware of the ratios and do not be confused. A ratio of 3:1 THC:CBD means it has 3 parts TCH to 1 part CBD. Leave that product on the shelf, try another dispensary. A tincture oil given under the tongue is the best choice for a first-time user. Remember to ask for a first-time buyer discount.

Be sure to put your purchase in the trunk of the car. Do not ingest in the parking lot or while in your car. Dr. Dustin Sulak gives excellent online suggestions on adjusting the dose of cannabis to its effectiveness. Now embrace your journey. Safe practice.

Come join yours truly for An Afternoon of Poetry Thursday, December 6 from 2:00 to 3:00 at the Rancho Mirage Library.

Happy Hanukkah

Ruth A Hill consults on cannabis at