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 of marijuana, I might have even rolled my eyes.
Today, I’m an impassioned pro-cannabis advocate. Medical cannabis 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 Can Alleviate Pain Quickly
I like many others suffer from pain including migraines, fibromyalgia, bursitis in my hips and tendonitis that can flare up in my wrist and 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 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 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.”
These are only a few medical conditions cannabis has been shown to help.
2. Marijuana 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. Cannabis can act a relaxant, anti-depressant and treat the symptoms of innumerable medical conditions. There’s never been a recorded death from cannabis overdose. By comparison, opioid-related deaths number nearly 2,500 a year in Canada.
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 it prevents heart disease or cultivates a “healthy heart,” but the reality is our body processes it as a toxin and it’s responsible for many deaths a year.
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 of 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 marijuana.
Personally, I’m not able to ingest larger quantities of tetrahydrocannabinol (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. 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 of the plant 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 if you want to consume marijuana.
4. Cannabis Can Relax You & Potentially Ease Anxiety
Cannabis can induce a feeling of well-being and relaxation. To me, I find that consuming 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 in CBD and low in 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 different reactions to cannabis.
Anxiety affects nearly 3 million Canadians. Most of the top- selling pharmaceutical drugs treat anxiety and depression. 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 new study even has the National Institute of Health in the U.S. 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 ingested. You just need to try some different ratios and products to see what works for you.
5. It’s Possible For Marijuana to Help Improve Your Sex Life
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 New York 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 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. There’s so much new about cannabis these days, and I believe it would benefit everyone to give the plant another look to see where it can improve your overall health and wellbeing.
Photo credit: Rick Proctor