THE GOOD, BAD, AND UGLY OF MARIJUANA USE.

I’m going to begin by saying I am not a fan of getting high or buzzed or ‘relaxed’ with alcohol, marijuana, or even chocolate every single day. There are much healthier ways to unwind than having a glass of wine, or a couple hits off a joint after a hard day.

I have seen how the use of cannabis affects people in positive ways and also how it’s left its stain in very negative ways. The ‘good’ side and for many sick people marijuana is their only solution to pain relief, enhancing their appetite, and sincere relaxation. The definite ‘bad’ effects, which I have seen much more often, is any potential a person may have vaporized in a haze of pot smoke.

Marijuana has two psychoactive ingredients, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These factors have contrasting effects on the brain. THC makes you feel high, and CBD is responsible for its pain relief, anti-seizure, and purported anti-cancer effects. Additionally, most people don’t know what type of impact it will have on their brain.

Being laid back and mellow may seem to be beneficial, but research shows that may not be the case. A study conducted with rats show why getting stoned and these airy effects are harmful to your well-being. The researchers categorized the rodents as slackers or hard workers. Even the most ambitious rats became slackers with a small amount of THC. THC didn’t impair the rats’ ability to perform, only their willingness to try. A small study with humans showed very similar results. People who are high on THC will choose an easy task more often, avoiding the harder one that offered four times the payoff. Imagine this effect on a teenager or young adult, while they are searching for their path in life. It confirms what I have observed over many years; chronic cannabis smokers burn out at the thought of bettering themselves. A change in motivation didn’t happen in rats injected with only CBD.

Habitual smokers had less gray matter in a region of the brain that influences decision-making, and they had significantly lower IQs than non-smokers. The research showed on rats’ brains that those with the most significant reaction to THC also had a higher density of a particular receptor in their anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). This area of the brain is vital for people to gear up to face a challenge and stay on course.

And if that’s not enough for you to put down the joint, people who smoked cannabis four or five days a week or chronic smokers over many years ended up in lower social class than their parents, with lower-paying, less skilled and less prestigious jobs than those who were not regular pot smokers.

As many states have already approved medical marijuana and others allowing recreational cannabis it is important to note that stores offering this dried flower provide it with active ingredients in varying combinations, potencies, and formats. Currently, there is no consistency in testing, standards or labeling.

I’m a huge supporter of giving your body a rest from any less than health-enhancing habit. As a naturopath altering your mind and ultimately your health — by drinking alcohol every evening, or getting high to relax, or feasting on a sugary dessert each night, or including chips with lunch every day — your system will thank you with better health if you skip the less than healthy habit. The more days in a row you abstain, the more days your body will reward you with better health.

(Information for this blog is from studies done at the University of British Columbia and UC Davis)

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