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Why You Should Keep a Medical Cannabis Journal

Leslie kahn


The act of writing things down helps you to organize your thoughts, to improve your mental health, to set goals, to reduce stress, and to learn more about yourself and your cannabis lifestyle. In this article I will discuss the benefits of journaling as well as the importance of medical cannabis journaling. I will include suggestions on what information to track and will provide recommendations for the different types of journals. 

Benefits of Keeping a Journal

1. The activity of writing has a strong correlation with increasing intelligence through the learning of new words. It has a positive effect on vocal communication skills. It is a unique experience that connects the hand and the brain which improves your memory and your comprehension.
2. Chronicling your thoughts encourages mindfulness as it allows you to actively engage with your thoughts. This forces you to be in the present moment which has been shown to increase happiness.
3. Journaling encourages the setting of goals which your reticular activating system (RAS) deems relevant, making it much more likely for you to achieve them. The RAS is a bundle of nerves attached to our brainstem. Its function is to filter out useless material so that only information that is important to you gets into your consciousness.
4. Your emotional intelligence, the ability to understand and control your emotions, is strengthened by journaling. It increases your self-awareness, allows you to work through your emotions and makes you more empathetic.
5. When you commit to keeping a daily journal, it is an act of self-discipline. This strengthens with consistency and can spill into other areas of your life in a positive way.
6. Writing down your thoughts, ideas and experiences is very cathartic. It can lead to emotional, physical and psychological healing. Studies show that it may improve immune function, reduce stress, lower anxiety and facilitate better sleep.
7. “Stream of consciousness” writing may bring out unexpected thoughts and ideas and increases creativity.
8. Writing down a positive experience may help boost self-confidence and self-esteem by allowing your brain to re-experience it. This may alleviate self-doubt in the future as well as releasing endorphins and dopamine which lifts your mood. 

Now that we all agree that the activity of journaling will make you a better, happier and more confident human being, let’s turn to the many reasons to keep a medical cannabis journal.

Benefits of Keeping A Medical Cannabis Journal

While it is entirely up to you how detailed a journal you choose to keep, here are several suggestions on what to track. Pick and choose what is relevant for you!

  • Strain name/Sativa/Indica/Hybrid
  • Details of its phenotype
  • Terpene profile
  • Cannabinoid profile
  • Price per gram
  • Brand name of products, name of cultivator, grow location and the dispensary where you purchased them
  • Lab results 
  • Delivery method
  • Reason you purchased a particular product
  • Brand names of flower, edibles and concentrates you consumed
  • Intensity of effects
  • Symptoms relieved
  • Times of day in which you medicated
  • How long it took for the effects to kick in
  • How long you felt relief
  • Side effects felt
  • Activities you engaged in while you were medicating

1. With so many choices of strains, products and delivery methods available to medical patients, keeping a journal is a useful tool for helping you find what works best for your needs.

2. The end goal for patients is to use the lowest dosage possible to reap the most benefits. This can be achieved by tracking how much cannabis you consume. 

3. It is important to identify strains that have adverse side effects such as dry mouth, make you excessively hungry, cause anxiety and paranoia or make your eyes red. 

4. Since cannabis enhances your senses, part of the cannabis experience is enjoying the aroma, flavor and the subtle undertones. 

5. Keep track of your state of mind and your body 

  • How did you feel before and after medicating? If it is to relieve a physical symptom, use the pain scale of 0-10 before and after. Describe the type of pain and exactly where you felt it. 
  • If it is for your emotional or mental state, describe if you felt angry, sad, depressed, anxious, tired, happy or calm, before, during and after medicating.
  • Did you exercise before or after medicating? 
  • Did you medicate while taking prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, caffeine or sugar? 
  • Did you eat a big meal, drink alcohol or experience an allergic reaction?
  • How well and long did you sleep? 
  • For women, where are you in your menstrual cycle?

6. What did you like or dislike about the experience?

7. Scheduling your journaling time. It is entirely up to you how much time you spend on your journal entries. Decide what time of day works best for you. If you are tracking your sleep, writing down your experience upon waking will be the most useful. Journaling in the evening gives you the opportunity to assess all the events that happened during the day. Or you could do both if you are inspired! 

Different Types of Cannabis Journals

1. Simple Notebook
If you want to keep it simple and inexpensive, you can create your own cannabis journal. Dollar stores have lined notebooks or if you want something a bit nicer, stationery stores carry journals.

2. Medical Cannabis Journal or Log
There are several companies that sell journals or logs specifically for medical cannabis patients; Goldleaf Journal is the most comprehensive. Amazon.com also sells a selection of journals.

3. Digital or App Cannabis Log
Releaf App has partnered with Americans For Safe Access. The app creates graphs and reports to help you understand the effects of your cannabis products over time. Data is collected from all users so that it can be shared with others to find the best strains, dosage and delivery methods.
Strainprint App helps you decide which strains work best. The company has a loyalty program that entitles users to free accessories. Please be aware that the company is gathering data about your cannabis usage!

As they say, you get out what you put in. In the long run, the more information you collect about your cannabis lifestyle, the more time and money you will save while receiving the most benefits.

Sources:
cannabis.net, Benefits of Keeping A Cannabis Journal
medmen.com, The Benefits of Keeping a Weed Journal, Sara Coughlin
leafly.com, How To Keep A Cannabis Strain Health and Journal, Cori Keating
huffpost.com, 10 Surprising Benefits You’ll Get From Keeping a Journal, Thai Nguyen, Feb. 13, 2015, updated Dec. 6, 2017.
medium.com, If You Want It, You Might Get It. The Reticular Activating System Explained, Tobias van Schneider, June 22, 2017
cvdvt.org, 5 Tools for Tracking Your Cannabis Use, Aug. 29 2018