The most common expectations from cannabis consumption include energizing euphoria and grounding relaxation. Alongside those, intensified sensory perception, spontaneous and continuous laughter, tunnel vision and talkativeness are other common experiences of cannabis consumption. However, we can get much more out of the cannabis experience, than what most think possible, in a supportive environment and by setting a conscious and caring intention.

Is cannabis safe?

Author of The Cannabis Health Index, Uwe Blesching, was a paramedic who responded to many calls related to substance use and abuse. Blesching stated that there was never one call to 911 relating to cannabis use alone. However, upon investigation, it was discovered that there have been cannabis-related visits to the hospitals. Most of them were due to the anxiety they were experiencing, and most unsurprising of all, is that the majority of those cannabis-related visits were due to cannabis consumption in combination with another drug. U.S government statistics also reflect that there have been zero deaths from cannabis use alone, while tobacco (particularly cigarettes) claims 110,750 lives annually and alcohol claiming 75,766 lives yearly. Due to reasons as such, there is no wonder why myself, and many others including medical professionals, share Bleschings’ notion that cannabis is safe for consumption.

Finding your therapeutic window

As with any medicine, cannabis has side effects which you need to be aware of. Keep in mind that every strain affects every person differently and your experience is also influenced by external and internal factors. Your environment, emotional and mental state can also contribute to your experience. Your therapeutic window is the stage in your cannabis consumption where you reach the effect you are looking for. Whether it is for pain relief, tunnel vision or couch potato chilling after a taxing day. Finding this therapeutic window also reduces your adverse side effects as you find out how much you can handle. To find this window, individuals should consume a small and controlled amount of cannabis until you have reached your desired effect.

Possible side effects of cannabis

For all levels of consumption:

  • Increased appetite

  • Red sclera (reddening of the white parts of the eye)

  • Dry mouth (commonly known amongst stoners as cottonmouth)

  • Slower responses (which many benefit from by being able to produce more meticulous work, while this may cause events such as slower driving)

  • Talkativeness

  • Spontaneous and persisting laughter

  • Tunnel vision/reduced attention span

For higher (more than considered responsible) levels of consumption:

  • Ataxia (unsteady gait*)

  • Aphasia (inability to speak clearly)

  • Unusual perceptions of senses such as hallucinations

  • Increases in heart rate.

  • Panic

*Unsteady gait is an abnormality in walking.

I personally experience very few of the adverse side effects proposed to accompany cannabis, but I do benefit greatly from the healing properties. I have always been a stressed out, hot-headed individual suffering from a chronic illness for as long as I can remember. Since my frequent cannabis consumption, which started approximately 4 years ago, I have become more productive, I’ve lost a lot of weight while maintaining my appetite, dramatically reduced my anxiety and stress levels, reduced the flares of my illness and made new friends because of cannabis. I generally follow a 420 rule, where I do not smoke or consume cannabis before 4:20pm, although there are days where I make an exception. This is so that my employers and clients have no reason to feel like my consumption influences my performance- thanks to the stigma attached to it, yet I benefit from all the health and relaxation properties.

Many cannabis consumers can go years without experiencing adverse side effects of cannabis. One can, however, be certain that they will either experience the energizing euphoria or grounding relaxation. It is believed that Indica and Sativa are the two housing strains that are responsive for the euphoria and relaxation. Indica is said to be the main source of relaxation and is often the strain chosen for pain relief while sativa is said to make you energized and is often used for tunnel vision while working. The best way to know how you will respond to cannabis is to pursue your therapeutic window through experimenting with a little bit at a time and building that up until you find your optimal state. To that same point, consulting with a medical cannabis professional is always in your best interest before choosing a new treatment option.

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