November 05th, 2020
Cannabis is a gateway alright! Part 1.
This is the first part of the series: Cannabis Mythbusters!
The biggest part of my job as a cannabis consultant, especially in working with those who have cancer is education. When we understand what we are doing and why, it works that much better regardless of the topic.
Being uncertain and doubting our actions don't serve us well. When we engage in therapies or treatment that we are unsure of or even don't feel completely comfortable in is the same as tossing a coin at whether or not it will work.
I used to assume everything I knew, or didn't know I should say, about cannabis. I had no evidence to base my opinions. When my Dad wanted to incorporate it into his cancer treatment I froze and like magic, all assumptions vanished from my mind.
If this is something that could provide him relief, recovery or freedom from cancer, I was all over it. I no longer cared about what others thought, what I had been programmed to think or that it was (at that time) an illegal substance.
There were stories of healing. There were stories of hope and we wanted to be part of them. But, I had no idea where to start and who to work with because for every bit of promise I could find, there was just as much controversy making it seem nearly impossible to know what to believe.
This article will be part of a series: Cannabis Mythbusters. In part 1, I will cover the most popular questions I get asked as a cannabis consultant.
1. Can I overdose on cannabis and die?
2. Does cannabis cause brain damage?
3. Is cannabis a gateway drug?
These are some pretty heavy questions and with some endocannabinoid understanding, come with some heavy responses!
No other plant has had as much debate as the cannabis plant.
Some people label it as a superfood and some people are still stigmatized by it as an evil herb. Then, there are the millions of people that have points of view from aspect that fall anywhere in between.
Regardless of the mounting research and the constant increasing evidence, myths and misconceptions persist and still to this day gain traction in media, the news, in magazines and on billboards. The negativity is certainly not as much as in decades past, this is in part to research and a better understanding from the medical field.
Unfortunately, there is still an entertainment factor when cannabis is suggested. Marijuana, the slang term, brings forth the mental picture of a cloud of smoke, bloodshot squinty eyes, perhaps some tie-dye shirts, disco balls and most like a glimpse of Cheech and his buddy, Chong!
Although I must admit some of the meme's are pretty funny, this is a subject to be taken very seriously. We have science to prove its usefulness and universities indulging in additional study to find out just how this herb may work its way into medicine. We need to take care that the entertainment factor doesn't ruin the reputation of cannabis as medicine. We do this by education ourselves about its efficacy.
The number one question of all time, "can I overdose and die from cannabis?". The short answer is no! One particular study showed that the assumed LD50 of delta-9 THC is a consumed 46 lbs, at once! Even at that amount in that time frame, scientists were unable to produce death or organ pathology.
In primates, the LD50 was greater than 10,000 mg/kg. With these results, we can highlight the FDA's 8-factor analysis of cannabis in the Americans For Safe Access that claims "no known LD50 for cannabis in humans."
Let me back up and expand on a very key term here. LD50 means lethal dose 50. When a drug is being studied, scientists are searching for the lethal dose that will kill half of the participants in the study. This is what is considered to be the lethal dose of that particular substance.
The reason opioids have potential to kill from overdose is due to their receptors located in the brain stem. This is the part of the brain that controls respiration. The heart and lungs cannot take this and fall under arrest of the drug. The user has potential to die depending on amount consumed.
There are no cannabinoid receptors in the brain stem. The only area of the body known to science to not house CB receptors. This means consuming cannabis does not have the ability to inhibit respiratory function making overdose and death as a direct result of consuming cannabis, nearly impossible.
Consume cannabis and walk in front of a car, operate a motor vehicle, add it to alcoholic beverages and other drugs or get struck by lightening, then die is not the same as dying as a direct result of ingesting the herb alone.
Another misconception that many people worry is killing off brain cells that they think can potentially cause brain damage. Although it affects motor skills, attention span, and short term memory while intoxicated, it has been found that the difference of brain function between heavy users and non-users over the long term is very minimal. Results are much better for cannabis users than they are of users of alcohol or other illicits. Research indicates that nearly all effects from cannabis use stop and reverse with discontinued use.
It is important to note, however, that certain genes can lead to psychosis from cannabis use. This is rare and can be determined with genetics testing.
And, the most popular myth, Cannabis is a gateway drug. I hear it over and over and over and mostly from those whom are most un-educated in this topic. Cannabis is the most widely used "drug" in the world. It is the first substance used by most. Although, many cannabis users report using nicotine or alcohol even before they engaged in cannabis usage, the combinations are not causally linked. In fact, more people use cannabis to stop other drug use than those who go on to cocaine or heroin.
Correlation does not equal causation.
Those willing to try hardcore drugs will try them regardless of whether or not cannabis is available to them. There are thousands of patients who have overcome severe drug addictions, lessened withdrawal effects and maintain a "drug" free life thanks to cannabis therapy.
Sounds more like a gateway to health to me!
The most powerful tool we have to ensure we make better health and wellness choices in the future is KNOWLEDGE.