When Nate mentioned cannabis, I asked him why he was so interested in it. He stated that he did it for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is how much it has aided him and the other NFL players. I asked him how marijuana had helped them, and he replied, “Well, we can either smoke cannabis or take opioids, both of which are extremely bad for you.” “But when you’re in the NFL, everything always hurts, and the cannabis helps,” he explained. He also mentioned that I’m a lot more peaceful and relaxed when I’m on cannabis and that I enjoy the person I am when I’m not. That seemed like an addict trying to rationalize his acts at this stage.
However, it was my responsibility to investigate, so I did. I checked my usual sources for medical research, the NIH and CDC. I rapidly discovered that cannabis is 64% as effective as opioids for chronic and traumatic pain. I understand that 64% on a test isn’t very excellent, but in this case, the importance was possibly world-changing. If this were true, we could provide cannabis instead of opioids more than half the time and the person would not notice any difference in pain. I now had solid research-based verification from the NIH that what Nate informed me about pain was true.
But I was concerned that we would simply be switching from one addiction and death route to another. I looked into how many individuals died from cannabis use each year, expecting a large number, because for how many years did we hear about how dangerous cannabis was? I discovered that the amount of persons who die from cannabis overdose is really low. We know how many people die from bee stings and vending machine falls, but we don’t know how many people die from cannabis overdose. That seems strange coming from a country that has spent billions of dollars advertising and producing after-school specials about why we should avoid it.
So, no one died? How can it be less than the number of persons killed by vending machines? One of the reasons, it turns out, is that there are no cannabis receptor sites in the pons. The pons are located in the brainstem and are in charge of breathing; it is what keeps you breathing while you are sleeping and while you are not paying attention to it. If there are no receptors in the pons, you can consume large amounts of cannabis while never stopping breathing. Surprisingly, the pons have opioid and alcohol receptors.
I had to look into the other part of this that I had dismissed at first as a reason for Nate liking that version of himself more when he used cannabis. I mean, I was incorrect about the pain and safety of cannabis, and who knows, maybe I’m wrong about this as well. Guess what, I was also completely incorrect about liking oneself more on weed than off. The explanation for this is that cannabis suppresses or inhibits a specific area of the brain known as the amygdala. The amygdala stores all of the worst aspects of life: fear, hatred, rage, terror, and acute anxiety.
As a result, cannabis has a very real and extremely powerful potential to decrease tension and anxiety, as well as, to some extent, negativity. While there is evidence that cannabis might help people relax and be happier, there is also evidence that it can cause paranoia in some people. The interesting thing is that anxiety suppression and paranoia production occur at different dosages. So it’s totally feasible for a person to experience anxiety suppression at 10mg and then get paranoid at 80mg. The problem is that when you smoke cannabis, you get 200mg, thus you had no idea there was a limit.
As cannabis was incorporated into candies with lower mg values, we began to see more research and information on cannabis other than anecdotal data. All of this suggests that if we could figure out how to dose cannabis, it could be a viable alternative for both pain and anxiety. The main difficulty is that, while gummies can help, they have far too many negatives to be effective.
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Dr. Matt Chalmers
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