Some years ago I was decidedly anti-cannabis. It was for stoners, it sucked you into the couch like fly paper for humans, and it was not good for society. It certainly did not help that my then-boyfriend played Formula 1 video games for most of the day while stoned. Reading about the so-called ‘medicinal’ benefits, I might have even rolled my eyes.
Today, I am an impassioned pro-cannabis advocate. It has changed my life for the better using it as a medicine to better manage debilitating migraines as well as to increase my overall sense of health and wellness. The reasons that lead someone to consider using cannabis are varied and may even be complex. Below are five reasons I believe you should consider giving cannabis a first or second chance.
1. Cannabis alleviates pain quickly.
As humans, we experience a lot of physical pain. I often look at my dog Juno and wonder why we feel so much more physical pain than say, my dog. It is a fact, we experience it and it tends to get worse as we get older. [Nearly 100 million Americans](http://www.nap.edu/read/13172/chapter/2# 3) suffer from chronic pain.
I like many others suffer from pain including migraines, fibromyalgia, bursitis in my hips and tendonitis that can flare up in my wrist/arm. My diet is healthy and I exercise regularly, but I am still troubled with physical pain. In my experience, marijuana helps calm inflammation in my body and nips my migraines in the bud before they blossom. In addition, it helps quell the rising tide of PMS and feeling of unrest that comes with my fluctuating hormones.
Cannabis, and particularly, Cannibidiol (CBD), is a known anti-inflammatory and an analgesic. A new study shows that cannabis is effective in pain management for chronic pain such as fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain as well as pain associated with multiple sclerosis. The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America recently stated:
"Experimental evidence suggests that endocannabanoids, molecules found in the body that closely resemble compounds found in the cannabis (marijuana) plant, may play a role in limiting intestinal inflammation.”
Mainstream medicine also acknowledges that marijuana, and in particular THC, seems to help cancer patients manage pain. I am cherry picking only some medical conditions cannabis helps.
2. Cannabis does not have the same negative side effects as prescription drugs or alcohol.
If you don’t like to get ‘high’, the psychoactive feeling you receive after ingesting THC, then that is about the only negative side effect that cannabis will give you. It can also make some people feel a little groggy after use, but that’s about it in terms of side effects. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, and even alcohol, the negative impact of ingesting moderate amounts of cannabis is extremely low. Cannabis can act a relaxant, anti depressant and treat the symptoms of innumerable medical conditions. Conversely, the pros of using cannabis far outweigh the cons. You would be hard pressed to find a single death from someone ‘overdosing’ on marijuana, it just does not happen.
On the flip side to cannabis, there is a death associated with prescription drugs every 19 minutes in the United States. More people in the US die from prescription drugs than from illegal drugs. I’ve heard some people say it is like ‘Pharmageddon’.
The list of negative side effects from a pharmaceutical drug can read like an Egyptian papyrus scroll and some can even be laughable. ‘May cause transient third nipple in laboratory rats.’, read one label I glanced at recently. Prescription drugs can also be highly addictive. Many people take not one but multiple pharmaceuticals in conjunction with one another, leading to a potentially dangerous situation, especially in the elderly population.
Alcohol, although widely accepted culturally, has innumerable negative side effects. It damages the heart, liver, pancreas, weakens the immune system and the link between alcohol and cancer is well established. Our bodies also become less efficient at processing alcohol as we get older and we are more likely to feel drunk more quickly. Our bodies break alcohol down into acetaldehyde, which is a ‘highly toxic substance and known carcinogen’. Many proponents are quick to point out that it prevents heart disease or cultivates a ‘healthy heart’, but the reality is our body processes it as a toxin. Additionally, the CDC released that 88,000 people in the US die every year from alcohol use.
As with anything, moderation is key. Someone who abuses cannabis may end up feeling ‘burnt out’ or be a 'burn out'. But overall, if used in moderation with an understanding of how your system works with cannabis, you may reap many rewards.
3. You don’t need to get ‘high’ to experience the positive benefits from cannabis.
You can get high if you want to, but you don’t have to. This is where cannabis starts to get interesting to me. I always assumed you needed to get stoned in order to use cannabis. I also assumed you needed to smoke it. Both of these assumptions are incorrect. You don’t need to get stoned and there are many ways you can now ingest cannabis.
Personally, I am not able to ingest larger quantities of THC. The psychoactive component tends to make me feel very uncomfortable (like a head with no body), which is also why I was anti-cannabis for so long. That all changed when I discovered CBD (cannabidiol). CBD is an anti-inflammatory and when combined with THC, can remediate the effects of THC. In short, CBD is the antidote to THC’s psychoactivity. When used in the right quantities, or ratio, together, I am able to experience the medicinal benefits as well as an overall sense of calm and relaxation. Everyone is different in this respect, but you absolutely do not need to get high.
4. Cannabis relaxes you and can potentially ease anxiety.
Cannabis can induce a feeling of well-being and relaxation. To me, I find that using a cannabis tincture at night, helps take the edge off similar to the way a glass of wine might. The tinctures I choose tend to be high CBD and low THC and are not psychoactive. It works like a charm and I am mentally present and alert. Other people may find that a vape pen with higher concentrations of THC help to relax them, it depends on the person as we all have slightly different reactions to cannabis.
Anxiety affects nearly 40 million Americans according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America. Most of the top selling pharmaceutical drugs in the US treat anxiety & depression. It’s a big problem, and although cannabis does not address the root of this nationwide epidemic, it can certainly help alleviate anxiety in some people. A new study has even the National Institute of Health suggesting it may relieve anxiety. That said, studies can diverge on this subject and I believe the way cannabis affects people is highly individual and also directly correlates to the amount of THC to CBD that is ingested. You basically need to try it to see if it works for you.
5. Cannabis improves your sex life.
OK, so maybe this should be in the number one spot. It’s true, cannabis can improve your sexual experience and may even make you want to have more of it. Meow. This is good news for the institution of marriage, which should give those pro family politicians in Washington a good reason to support cannabis legalization.
Cannabis can enhance the body’s ability to experience orgasms and there is scientific evidence to support this. Dr. Mitch Earlywine, a psychology professor at SUNY Albany states:
“That CB1 receptor seems to be involved in improved tactile sensations and general euphoria,” he says, referring to cannabinoid receptors in our nervous system activated by THC. Naturally, no pun intended, THC is the active drug found in cannabis.”
Many people claim cannabis is an aphrodisiac and some even claim it to be a ‘natural Viagra’. This is not news as marijuana has been cited as an aphrodisiac for centuries, if not thousands of years. Most of this is anecdotal evidence however as the medical studies on sex and cannabis are rare. As with anxiety, experiences can differ. Some people claim that it inhibits their sexual response. It is important to note your overall experience is also highly dependent on what cannabis you ingest.
Lucky for us ladies, there are many new cannabis products on the market that address an enhanced sexual experience. It may come as a surprise that many are topical oils designed to be used as a sexual lubricant. Two brands you may want to try out are Herba Buena’s Quiver and Foria's personal lubricants.
Well, that's it in a nutshell as to why I think you should give cannabis a try. If you are new to cannabis and want to learn more, take a look at our Cannabis 101 post. HelloMD can help you get your medical marijuana recommendation, it's 100% online, private and efficient.