Types of Medical Marijuana (A Complete Beginner’s Guide)

Humans have used cannabis for over 3,000 years to treat various ailments. In the 19th century, we began testing its usefulness in medicine from modern, scientific standards. This led to an examination of the types of medical marijuana and their different purposes.

With prohibition and subsequent classification as a schedule 1 drug by the United States, research has been significantly more challenging to perform. This presents a problem for doctors and patients (as well as life insurance companies) who need that data to make informed health decisions.

Luckily, we’re a slowly moving in a data-driven direction. The more we learn in the coming years, the better doctors can treat patients.

As a quick informational tidbit, Cannabis is the genus name. The two most common species are Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Marijuana is a common term but has no scientific bearing. (We, along with many people, use cannabis and marijuana interchangeably.)

Introduction to Medical Marijuana

Cannabis has an incredibly complex molecular makeup. While there are over 400 different chemicals in the cannabis plant, the compounds most people take interest in are the cannabinoids.

A plant can have anywhere from 70 to 85 different cannabinoids. The two major ones are:

  • THC – Tetrahydrocannabinol
  • CBD – Cannabidiol

For medical marijuana, these two chemicals will affect how you feel. They serve different purposes.

complete guide to medical marijuana

Most recreational users look for strains with high THC. That’s what gives you the high. It’s the psychoactive ingredient, and more usually means a more intense feeling.

Medical marijuana patients, on the other hand, tend to look for high CBD. Cannabidiol is where you find most of the medical benefits of cannabis.

When you go into a dispensary, you will see labels on every strain and every product with the amount of THC and CBD it contains.

From a biological perspective, both of these compounds mimic a substance which our bodies produce naturally called endocannabinoids. Scientists believe these chemicals we already have in our bodies help us maintain internal stability and health.

What Type is Best for Medical Marijuana Patients?

When it comes to choosing which types of medical marijuana are best, you should first consult with your prescribing physician.

If they aren’t of any help, most medical marijuana patients prefer strains or products with high CBD. Once you narrow down your options to a few high CBD strains, then look for the lowest amount of THC.

Since this is medicine, the lower THC will help you function normally. With high THC strains, it can get challenging to function at a normal level. Also, under no circumstance should you drive a car or operate heavy machinery while taking medical marijuana. It’s dangerous to you and everybody else.

How do Cannabinoids Work as Medical Marijuana?

Both THC and CBD bind to different receptor sites throughout your body. The difference is that THC tends to bind to the CB-1 receptor cells in your brain. On the other hand, CBD mostly bonds to CB-2 receptors. This is how the types of cannabinoids differentiate themselves.

The medical benefits stem from CBD binding to CB-2 receptors.

Generally, the strains of medical cannabis with higher CBD levels have stronger sedative properties. You’ll hear it called a body high rather than the mind high from high THC strains.

Strains which have high THC levels tend to make people more alert. However, super high THC can also cause intense anxiety and low levels of paranoia. It’s an “everybody knows” feeling that people sometimes get. Keep that in mind when selecting your strains at a dispensary.

At the end of the day, both high THC and high CBD strains can be useful for medical purposes. It depends on what condition you’re treating. Each type has different strengths for treating either physical medical conditions or psychological medical conditions.

Buying Life Insurance as a Medical Marijuana Patient

When it comes to medical marijuana and buying life insurance for your family, there is one essential point to keep in mind:

  • You will not be rated for using medical marijuana, but rather on the medical condition itself

However, the way you take the medication can affect rates with some life insurance companies. This breaks down to smoking versus non-smoking. There are more ways to ingest cannabis now that many states have legalized it for recreation as well as medicinal purposes.

save money on life insurance

Follow these steps and you can save thousands over what you might have paid.

There are a few significant points to keep in mind when trying to find a great life insurance policy for the lowest price with medical marijuana.

Always Use an Independent Agent

The trick with life insurance companies is their underwriting guidelines will be the same, no matter what product you buy. Since each life insurance company is different, you want the few that offer the best rates for your medical condition as well as one that won’t flat turn you down for treating it with medical marijuana.

Independent agents can show you multiple companies. Captive agents (the ones with the company’s name over their office door) can only sell you one company. If that company happens to charge an arm and a leg for a specific medical condition, that’s tough luck.

That doesn’t mean you have to call every single life insurance agent in your state to try and find the lowest rates. Independent agents can do all that work for you. The only thing they’ll need to know is:

  • Medical condition
  • Date of diagnosis
  • Treatments
  • Prescriptions

With that, they can narrow down the list to the few companies who will offer you the best pricing.

Not Every Medical Condition is the Same

Major medical advances in effective treatments continue to change the landscape. The problem is that some life insurance companies are slow to adapt. Some life insurance companies will decline a medical marijuana patient just because that’s how they are treating a condition.

Luckily, a growing number of insurance companies are realizing the folly of that decision. They’re turning away good people trying to treat a condition that might otherwise lead to something more horrific, like an opiate dependency.

Make sure that the life insurance companies you are considering look at both your medical condition and treatment favorably.

You can call Marijuana Life at (888) 987-8447 with questions on which life insurance companies might be best for your unique situation.

Types of Medical Marijuana

Worldwide, there are hundreds of different cannabis strains. These (while varying widely) boil down to two different species of medical marijuana plants. All strains are derived from two plants, indica and sativa.

However, to make it confusing to people new to cannabis, there are also hybrid forms of indica and sativa.

Indica for Medical Cannabis

Indica typically has higher concentrations of CBD and lower THC, although this can vary from strain to strain. Most people report more of a body high and calming effect from indica strains.

difference between indica and sativa

Tip for remembering: “indica, in da’ couch.”

It tends to have the following effects:

  • Helps people be more relaxed and calm
  • Provides more of a body effect than a mind effect
  • Has a sedative-like effect
  • The preferred strain when it comes to gentle nighttime time effects

Most medical marijuana patients who need something to help ease pain gravitate toward indica strains. The CBD helps block pain. It also can help people suffering from sleep disorders.

At the dispensary look for the following indica strains:

  • Hashplant
  • Herijuana
  • G-13
  • Pakistani
  • Afghani
  • Blueberry
  • Purple Kush
  • Northern Lights
  • Dutch Treat
  • Romulan
  • Master Kush

Sativa Medical Marijuana

Recreational users generally prefer sativa strains. They are much higher in THC than CBD. However, because it offers more of a mind high rather than a body high, it can be better for people suffering from chronic fatigue or depression.

When using sativa strains, exercise caution because it can lead to mild anxiety and paranoia. Of course, this depends on the individual. Everyone reacts differently.

Most people report the following effects from sativa strains:

  • Greater energy and uplifted feeling
  • Spacing out
  • Colors are brighter and more vivid
  • Sense of touch is more intense
  • Increased (sometimes insatiable) appetite
  • Short term memory issues

When you go to the dispensary, some common strains of sativa are:

  • Acapulco
  • Burmese Gold
  • Malawi Gold

Hybrid Strains of Indica and Sativa

There are countless indica-sativa hybrid strains. When looking at hybrids for medical purposes, consider the following:

  • Look at the amounts of CBD and THC
  • Generally higher CBD is better for medical purposes
  • Experiment and record what works best for you
  • Speak with other medical marijuana patients with similar conditions for suggestions
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the budtender any questions, they’re always super helpful

Final Notes on Types of Medical Marijuana

Be prepared to be a little overwhelmed with all the strain options at dispensaries the first time you go. It’s okay. The budtender can guide you toward an option or two to fit your needs.

Keep in mind that medical cannabis has gone through breeding and crossbreeding to select for different qualities.

Every product has the THC and CBD clearly labeled on it.

If the strains mentioned above are not available at your dispensary, the budtender will likely have some suggestions for similar strains.

It would be wise to keep a little notebook or digital record of what strains you get and note how you respond to each one. That way you can narrow down the options that work best for you.

How to Consume Medical Marijuana

Smoking is historically the most common way to consume medical marijuana. While many researchers consider smoking cannabis safer than smoking tobacco, it can still irritate your lungs. There are many other ways to (more safely) take medical marijuana.

Vaporizers for flower

These are boxes where you grind up the cannabis flower then put the resulting bits into a tabletop box or large handheld vaporizer. The machine heats the ground flower to the point where the THC and CBD will reach their smoking point without burning the plant.

ways to consume medical marijuana

This is a little more work than a normal pipe, but it’s also much easier on the lungs and throat.

Typically, vaporizing the bud in this way is significantly less harsh than smoking out of a pipe or water pipe.

The onset of the effects usually takes between a minute and five minutes.

Vaporizers for Oils

These typically come as a pen-sized battery that either has a button or auto-draws when in you inhale. The cells are rechargeable and attach to different oil cartridges.

When looking for a vape pen, get one with a button. Many oil cartridges will not work with the auto-draw style. The downside of the buttons are that you can accidentally push them if you carry it in your pocket or purse. Ask at your dispensary for a version that has a way to turn off the battery entirely to prevent accidental use.

Onset is usually within 5 minutes if not almost immediately.


Tinctures are the CBD or THC oil suspended in a carrier oil, often coconut. You use the included eye dropper cap to pull the dose you need out and drop it under your tongue. Hold the dose there as long as you can then swallow the remainder.

medical marijuana nonsmoking

If you don’t want to smoke at all, tinctures are a great option. They will taste strongly of cannabis if you take it sublingually.

Sublingual application usually takes between 15 and 45 minutes to kick in.

Alternatively, you can also add the tincture to beverages like teas, coffee, or even water. This method can take longer to kick in and will flavor your drink but is more subtle and convenient.


These is a portable spray bottle where you press the button to administer the dose. Some people report mild burning sensations.


Cannabis wholesalers are getting more and more creative about what they can put THC and CBD into. Since they bind to oils, anything with a fat in it (butter, oil, lard) will carry the chemicals.

Some standard options include cookies, chocolate bars, coffees, teas, and gummy candies.

Edibles can get tricky with how much to take. Ingesting cannabis through your stomach takes much longer than other options so it may be an hour or two before you feel anything. Do not get impatient and take more before waiting a full two hours. Otherwise, you may experience an overwhelming high.


There are medical marijuana pills available which contain oil. They are similar to edibles and take 1-2 hours before you feel the full effect. The dosages are more accurate than what you find in edibles and are generally cheaper than edibles.

Topical Balms

This is typically a wax based product that you rub into your skin. The balm almost always smells strongly of cannabis. However, patients with ailments like arthritis say that rubbing the ointment into the affected area is the most effective form of treatment they’ve tried.

All of these products will vary from city to city and even between dispensaries within a town. Finding the best treatment for you will require some experimentation.

How Marijuana Life Can Help Find Affordable Life Insurance for Medical Marijuana Patients

At Marijuana Life, we respect your right to confidentiality. Whether you are a recreational or medical smoker, your rights are protect by law.

Navigating the life insurance process without getting penalized or declined for smoking cannabis (especially in prohibition states) can be tricky. It’s something they routinely check for in the life insurance medical exam. But with the right life insurance companies, you are both safe from overbearing authorities and your wallet will be safe from the companies that overcharge.

If you have any questions, give us a call today at (888) 987-8447. We work for you and not any insurance company. That means we are on your team to help navigate the world of medical marijuana and life insurance.