For years, the distinction between medical marijuana and adult use was clear: Going through chemotherapy? Secure a prescription for nausea and anxiety relief. Feel tense after a long work week and want to let go? Hang with friends and roll a joint. The ends of the spectrum were established.
Today, the grey area in between — commonly referred to as wellness — includes conditions like insomnia, pain and tension. These health issues are often remedied with over the counter medications that are marketed for relief. However, as cannabis (marijuana AND hemp as well as their extracts) moves towards legalization and declining social stigma, more people are looking to these plants for help.
A recently published study in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found that “many customers at Colorado’s adult-use cannabis stores use the product not just for fun, but also to ease issues like pain and insomnia.” The research team, led by Marcus Bachhuber of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, surveyed 1,000 customers in two Colorado retail stores between August 2016 and October 2016. Of those who responded, 65% said they used cannabis to relieve pain, and 74% reported using cannabis to promote sleep.
The findings suggest that adult-use laws, frequently called recreational, imply use is for pleasure or experience-seeking while the reality is that customers use cannabis for symptom relief. An obvious conclusion is that this could lead to a reduction in both over-the-counter and prescription medications, but research is in its infancy.
Emphasizing Bachhuber”s findings, the HelloMD’s 2016 Medical Marijuana Patient Survey found “the most common conditions that individuals were successfully using cannabis for chronic pain, anxiety, stress and insomnia.” How? Chemical components (cannabinoids such as THC and CBD) interact with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system whose receptors are responsible for maintaining the body’s homeostasis or balance.
But when deciding if cannabis is right for you, it is worth noting that physiological differences (your internal footprint), variations in products and strains as well as delivery modes affect results. There are topicals (creams and salves), flower (grind and roll a joint), vape pens (oil) and edibles and knowing what is right for you requires some trial and error. Best advice: go low and slow. It’s about the quality of the experience not quantity of product.
Start with a very small amount (low, as in 1 to 2.5mg), wait and see the effects (with edibles it could take up to an hour or two) and then gently increase the dosage (slow) until you find a level that provides relief, not a high. This method, called titrating, allows you to notice your reaction and find an optimum dosage to relieve symptoms.
Want to keep up with all of the legal issues, medical findings and safety precautions available? Check back each week as we do a deep dive into various cannabis topics to keep you in the loop.