By Samantha Wahl
Normalization of historically taboo territory is no easy feat, especially within the current diverse cultural climate. We’re talking cannabis, here. Conflicting studies on its effects are released every year, and while some support evidence of physical wellbeing, others link consumption to more discouraging mental consequences. Every time adverse evidence is brought to the media’s forefront, the conversation of medical cannabis is pushed further away from political acceptance.
In a society growing more comfortable with non-binary ideologies, it’s important to remember the multifaceted scales of existence. Cannabis is no exception.
It can be a soothing plant, as it has been for thousands of years. But to reap its benefits, it’s important to know how to consume it. To know how to consume is to know what exactly we are consuming, and more so, to know ourselves.
The cannabis plant contains more than 100 different cannabinoids, with the most considerable being THC and CBD. In their most simplified structures, THC accounts for elation experienced upon consumption, while CBD acts as a suppressant against THC, not responsible for intoxicating properties.
It comes down to balance. Use of strains dominated by THC without a complementing amount of CBD will inevitably lead to a more potent high, but this can cause some negative cerebral effects. High potency strains have been linked to psychosis and other mental health issues, which is especially problematic when they are marketed to consumers as being “danker,” more reputable breeds of bud.
This is when paranoia and anxiety are mixed in to everyday conversations about the overall safety of the drug. How can we legalize something so dangerous? How can we treat a plant that leads to a total lack of control as if it is an ordinary substance?
Beyond self-experimentation, there are safe ways to ensure specific strains will work for the individual.
First, education. Purchase from trustworthy sources. Not everyone has the luxury of a legalized or medicalized state, but that doesn’t necessarily mean being kept in the dark. There is endless information online about which cannabinoids are present in particular strains. Leafly, arguably the most popular source for strain information, recently released a new and improved Cannabis Guide, which provides data on both THC and CBD content, as well as the associated feelings reported from experienced users. It’s wise to pay attention to names of strains after researching proper balances of cannabinoids.
Next, personal history. Those with family histories of mental health complications may need to practice discretion when consuming drugs with psychedelic properties. People with personal relationships to cerebral disorders should research their ancestral pasts, and understand that their internal hardships may not be as personal as it would seem. Studies have proven that psychiatric affliction regarding cannabis use are statistically more likely to have been passed down from the generations before.
With knowledge of strain content and family history come societal awareness, which is one of the most important steps to using cannabis safely. The taboo nature of a drug is a direct effect of whether or not it will be properly represented to its consumers. As mental health issues come into mainstream light, the more information can be found on treatment, and the same can be said for cannabis. Anyone confused about why and how using pot is influencing their wellbeing needs to know that they are not alone.
The sooner we normalize the plant used by millions of people daily, the more efficiently it can be used as a healer.