We’ve long taken the stance that education is the key to shattering persistent and damaging myths about cannabis. People are naturally fearful or dismissive of that which they don’t understand, and from policymakers to scientists to citizens, education matters. If we had the country’s undivided attention for just a minute to share a little information about cannabis — the stuff everyone needs to know — here’s where we’d start.
Not Everyone Uses Cannabis to Get High
For a big percentage of cannabis consumers, the high is entirely beside the point. Blame it on Cheech and Chong or Reefer Madness, but much of the population is resolute in their perception of the stoner — hippies, slackers, lazy, unmotivated, unemployed. And the list goes on. Welcome to the 21st century, everyone, a time in which scientific and medical research is increasingly showing the efficacy of cannabis for the treatment of a number of medical conditions without any kind of cerebral effect. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But just so we’re clear — not everyone who uses cannabis is trying to get stoned.
Our Bodies were Designed to Work with Cannabinoids
Ever heard of the endocannabinoid system? It’s the human body’s biochemical structure that’s designed to work with cannabinoids. In fact, our body actually makes two of its own cannabinoids — 2AG and Anandamide, which were discovered in the early 1990s. In the cannabis plant, cannabinoids are the active compounds that give different plants their unique characteristics, including those medical and recreational benefits. When external cannabinoids are introduced into the body, they attach to receptors in the endocannabinoid system to help the body maintain homeostasis. This balance is necessary to effectively manage a variety of biological functions — think pain management, fine and gross motor skills, appetite. We’re still scratching the surface of the endocannabinoid system and the role cannabis can play, but everyone should be aware of the reality.
Cannabis May Be a Viable Alternative to Opioids
The overprescription and abuse of opioids continue in our country, and the effects are devastating. Anxiety disorders affect over one quarter of the American population, and prescription drugs are touted as a solution. But researchers are increasingly uncovering evidence that cannabis is a sound alternative, particularly for pain management and symptoms relating to anxiety and depression. In fact, in states with medical cannabis laws, statistics shown a significant reduction in both hospitalizations and deaths from opioid abuse and overdose. It’s another reason this country needs federal funding to investigate cannabis as a treatment option.
As states continue to legalize cannabis, eyes are turning to Washington, D.C. Legalizing cannabis at a federal level — or at the very least, awarding grants so researchers and scientists can begin conducting meaningful clinical tries — is a much-needed step. It’s a long road, but education is always a step in the right direction.