Is It Safe to Use Cannabis with THC?

By Ellen Lenox Smith, Columnist

I am constantly reading about people interested in medical marijuana who are seeking information on cannabis products high in CBD for their medical issues.  I’ve also noticed many stating they do not want any THC in these products.

I’ve found that I need both. 

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are chemical compounds, called cannabinoids, found in the marijuana plant. There are well over a hundred different cannabinoids in marijuana, and they all interact with receptors in the brain and body, causing various effects.

THC is the most widely known cannabinoid, due to its abundance and psychoactive qualities. For centuries, marijuana has been used recreationally because of THC’s ability to make people feel “high” or euphoric.

But as cannabis has become more accepted for medical use, some are concerned that they will get high or stoned if their cannabis has any THC in it. Many have turned to cannabis products that primarily contain CBD. 

Personally, I have learned to look for products that contain both THC and CBD, as they are more effective in easing my pain and helping me sleep.



Personally, I have learned to look for products that contain both THC and CBD, as they are more effective in easing my pain and helping me sleep.

Many patients became interested in CBD after learning that epileptic seizures could be reduced or even stopped by utilizing cannabis products high in CBD content.  This was discovered when the parents of Charlotte Figi, a 5-year old girl suffering from severe seizures, learned of a cannabis strain that was loaded with CBD. This was what they wanted to try with their daughter, because it was completely non-psychoactive, unlike THC. The results were amazing, not only reducing Charlotte’s seizures, but also opening up the possibility of helping patients with other conditions such as spasms, anxiety and chronic pain.

Like me, many patients with chronic conditions have found that they need to use medical cannabis extracted from either a high CBD variety or one with more THC. If you find a high-CBD strain, it does not mean it will be THC-free. Many strains advertised as “high-CBD” still contain some psychoactive cannabinoids. This should not scare you.

I am 67 years old and have been using cannabis since 2007 for two incurable painful conditions.   Like many patients, I had no desire to experience the psychoactive effects of THC, so at one point in my treatment I tried a high CBD strain containing only trace amounts of THC. The pain relief just didn’t happen, so I switched back to cannabis products that combined CBD and THC.

Recently, after reading that CBD can help with cancer, lupus, nicotine addiction, Parkinson’s disease, osteoporosis and other chronic conditions, I decided to grow plants high in CBD to add to the oil I take orally at night. I now make an oil with a combination of strains that include this higher CBD strain, along with higher THC plants.

I want you to know that I do not get “high” or stoned, as some assume. What I get is pain relief.

But remember, as with any medication, you can take too much and get a negative reaction, so be careful to take the dose that is right for you. Don’t be concerned if you are like me and need THC to get relief from your pain. Each body requires something different and we all need to find the correct match for safe relief.

Ellen Lenox Smith suffers from Ehlers Danlos syndrome and sarcoidosis. Ellen and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical marijuana advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation and serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition.

For more information about medical marijuana, visit their website.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.