Years ago, my then-boyfriend annoyingly spent all his time playing Formula 1 video games while stoned. This put me firmly in the anti-cannabis camp. I saw this substance as clearly just for stoners who weren’t interested in moving from the couch. People touting the plant’s medicinal benefits usually got a giant eye-roll from me
Today, I’m an impassioned pro-cannabis advocate. As a medicine, it changed my life for the better and allowed me to 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 she does. Chronic pain is prevalent in nearly 20% of Canadians over 18 years of age and a third of those chronic pain sufferers report their pain as being very severe.
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’m 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 study showed 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 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), seems to help cancer patients manage pain.
And the list goes on.
2. Cannabis Doesn’t Have the Negative Side Effects as Prescription Drugs or Alcohol
If you don’t like to get “high,” then that’s about the only negative side effect 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. Conversely, the pros of using cannabis far outweigh the cons. There’s never been a recorded death from someone “overdosing” on marijuana. Because of where our receptors for cannabinoids—the compounds in marijuana—are located in the body, it just doesn’t happen.
On the flip side, in 2016 more than 2,800 Canadians died from an apparent opioid-related cause. 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’re 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 alcohol can prevent heart disease or that it cultivates a “healthy heart,” but the reality is our body processes it as a toxin.
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 the plant, you may reap many rewards.
3. You Don’t Need to get “High” to Experience Cannabis’s Positive Benefits
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, including even in your breakfast smoothie.
Personally, I’m 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 cannabidiol (CBD). 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’m 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 when consuming cannabis.
RELATED: CANNABIS 101: THC VS CBD
4. Cannabis Has the Power to Ease Anxiety
The latest Canadian study dates back to 2012, but in it, it was estimated that around 700,000 Canadians suffer from generalized anxiety disorder. And throughout North America it seems our first line of defense against anxiety is pharmaceuticals. It’s a big problem, and although cannabis doesn’t address the root of this epidemic, it can certainly help alleviate anxiety in some people.
A study out of the U.S. 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.
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 marijuana products I choose tend to be high CBD and low THC and are not psychoactive. It works like a charm and I’m 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.
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.
Cannabis can enhance the body’s ability to experience orgasms and there’s scientific evidence to support this. Dr. Mitch Earlywine, a psychology professor at SUNY Albany in the U.S. states: that the “CB1 receptor seems to be involved in improved tactile sensations and general euphoria,” referring to cannabinoid receptors in our nervous system activated by THC.
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 medical studies on sex and cannabis are rare. As with anxiety, experiences can differ. Some people claim that it inhibits their sexual response. It’s important to note your overall experience is also highly dependent on what cannabis you ingest.
Well, that's it in a nutshell as to why I think you should give cannabis a try. I’d love to hear your reasons for starting to consume cannabis for the first time or giving it a second chance.