Fortunately, adds Dr. Herring, there are “very, very few major drug interactions” with the cannabis herb. “There are some, but it's not something that's going to kill you like other harsh pharmaceuticals. Marijuana has very minimal to no side effects in most users.”
But that’s not to say cannabis treatments don’t pose some health risks. Robinson-Baker warns against using the prescription blood thinners Warfarin or Coumadin while undergoing cannabis therapies. The mixture could lead to increased bleeding, she says.
Patients on anti-anxiety drugs and/or taking anti-depressants also should approach medical marijuana with caution, she says, because it “can either accentuate the drugs that you're taking, like Xanax [which is used to treat anxieties], or it can completely minimize or do away with the effect of the drug.”
Dr. Herring adds alcohol and the herbal medicine St. John’s Wort to the list of substances that could negatively interact with cannabis, potentially triggering “psychiatric episodes.”
“Those are some of the things that we as pharmacists can play a primary, actually a very integral role in your healthcare with drugs that interact with your medicinal marijuana,” says Robinson-Baker.
Click here to watch MMERI’s Conversations on Cannabis Virtual Forum on YouTube featuring Pharmacists Dr. Caleshia Herring and Valeria Robinson-Baker. Visit MMERI’s website at http://mmeri.famu.edu.