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Medical Cannabis and the Holidays: Tips for Patients

Updated: Mar 31

Long days spent by the beach, devouring mangoes by the tray with family and friends, and the smell of dinner cooking on the BBQ — there’s nothing quite like the holidays in Australia.

Despite all the joy, the holidays can also bring a certain amount of stress, particularly if you rely on a pain or anxiety treatment plan that may be disrupted by travel and celebrations.

If medical cannabis is part of your treatment, it’s essential to plan by considering your travel itinerary and other stressors that may pop up during holiday celebrations.

Travelling with Medical Cannabis in Australia

As a patient, travelling domestically with medical cannabis is generally acceptable, so long as you carry your prescription and proof of identification.

That said, it’s worth understanding the rules and regulations in each state and taking extra precautions to avoid issues crossing state borders.

It’s advisable to bring a doctor-written letter outlining the details of your prescription and keep your medication in its original packaging with labels fully visible. Ensure that your paperwork and packaging match up.

Finally, remember to bring enough medication when travelling to avoid finding a doctor interstate or going without. While it may be tempting to bring an oversupply, this is not advisable as you could risk the amount being deemed illegal with the intent of redistribution.

Speaking to Family About Medical Cannabis

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Whether you tell your family is up to you

Even though medical cannabis is legal in Australia, many people still associate cannabis use with ‘stoners’ and do not understand the new rules and regulations or patient benefits.

If you have family or friends who fall into this camp, you may feel nervous about addressing your medical cannabis treatment with them.

First, your nerves are valid! When you’ve made a personal decision about a medical treatment that betters your quality of life, it can be challenging to have that decision questioned.

Should the topic of medical cannabis arise, aim to facilitate a productive conversation rather than starting an argument.

To do this, start by taking the conversation one-on-one to prevent opinions from flying around the table. Then, try to see things from the other party’s perspective to help you avoid going on the defensive.

When you’re ready, counteract the concerns you hear with science, research, or information from your doctors. This will help ensure the conversation is grounded in fact rather than emotion.

For example, many people still associate cannabis with a ‘high’ and may not have encountered non-psychoactive compounds like CBD. Starting with this factual information and then supporting it with anecdotes about your personal experience can go a long way to breaking down misconceptions.

Remember, if you feel uncomfortable discussing your condition or treatment plan, you don’t have to. But if you want to address the issue head-on, it’s best to do so calmly, employing fact over emotion.

Mixing Alcohol and Medical Cannabis

When everyone around you is enjoying a celebratory tipple, it can be hard to say no. But, like any prescription medication, combining medical cannabis and alcohol comes with risks.

One study from 2015 saw patients drink either a placebo or a small amount of alcohol 10 minutes before inhaling either a low or high dose of THC. The researchers found significantly higher peak THC levels among the participants in the group who did consume alcohol when compared to the control group.

In another study, results suggested that cannabis may slow down the rise of blood alcohol, which means the feelings of drunkenness would be delayed, leaving the individual at a higher risk of overconsumption.

The body of research around medical cannabis and alcohol consumption is still limited. But, the evidence suggests that no matter the dose or order of consumption, mixing these two substances can come with risks.

If you are a patient with a medical cannabis prescription, you may be feeling some unease around the holiday period. But with some preparation and knowledge, you can continue treatment while enjoying the festivities here in Australia.

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Disclaimer: This content is general in nature and intended for educational purposes only.

Alternaleaf Pty Ltd

Level 18/1 Nicholson St, East Melbourne VIC 3002, Australia

© 2023 by Alternaleaf. All rights reserved.

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