Be Responsible with Cannabis Consumption - Greene County Rural Health Network
Greene County Rural Health Network

Be Responsible with Cannabis Consumption

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Since cannabis has been legalized, it’s become more available than ever. But like with anything widely accessible, it’s important to approach it responsibly.

  • Stay Informed: Be aware of the effects of cannabis consumption, especially with increased potency. Knowledge is key to responsible usage.
  • Drive Safe, Drive Sober: Never drive under the influence. Keep our roads safe by choosing not to drive impaired.
  • Keep It Secure: Ensure cannabis products are safely stored away from children and pets. Let’s protect our loved ones.
  • Educate Others: Spread awareness about the importance of conscious consumption. Together, we can make informed choices.

On March 31st, 2021, marijuana became legal for recreational use in New York and since then dispensaries have started popping up all over the state.

Marijuana, weed, pot and Mary Jane are just a few of the names that are used in reference to the dried leaves, flowers, stems and seeds from the Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica plant. Marijuana is commonly used by smoking, eating, drinking, or inhaling it. In 2019, approximately 18% of all Americans used marijuana at least once according to the CDC.

Marijuana use has been well documented throughout history. The oldest known written record on cannabis use comes from the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung in 2727 B.C. Ancient Greeks and Romans were also familiar with cannabis, while in the Middle East use spread throughout the Islamic empire to North Africa.

With the rise of availability and use of marijuana you may have questions. Here are some things many people are curious about.

What is the difference between CBD and THC?

CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are two of the most well-known cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, but they have different effects on the body and mind:

THC is psychoactive, meaning it produces the “high” or euphoric sensation commonly associated with cannabis use. This effect is due to its interaction with the brain’s endocannabinoid system, specifically the CB1 receptors.

CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive and does not produce a high.

Medical Benefits
Both CBD and THC have potential therapeutic benefits, but they work differently in the body.

CBD is known for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) properties. It’s often used to alleviate pain, anxiety, depression, seizures, and inflammation.

THC, besides its psychoactive effects, also has pain-relieving, anti-nausea, appetite-stimulating, and muscle-relaxing properties. It’s commonly used in medical marijuana for conditions like chronic pain, nausea, and muscle spasms.

Legal Status
THC is typically regulated and restricted due to its psychoactive effects and potential for abuse.

CBD, on the other hand, is legal in many places, especially when derived from hemp plants containing less than 0.3% THC. This is because CBD doesn’t produce intoxicating effects and is often used for its potential health benefits.

Side Effects
THC can cause temporary side effects such as dry mouth, red eyes, impaired memory, increased heart rate, coordination problems, and anxiety, especially at higher doses or in sensitive individuals.

CBD is generally well-tolerated, with few side effects reported, such as dry mouth, diarrhea, and changes in appetite or weight.

Overall, while both CBD and THC have therapeutic potential, they offer different effects and applications, catering to various preferences and medical needs.

Potency of marijuana products

Over the past few decades, there has been a notable escalation in the potency of marijuana products, primarily driven by advancements in cultivation techniques and selective breeding. This increase in potency is primarily attributed to the higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in cannabis.

Historical Perspective
In 1995, the average THC content in cannabis seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was approximately 4%. However, fast forward to 2017, and this average had surged to 17%, marking a significant spike in potency over just a few decades. This trend is not showing signs of slowing down, as continued advancements in cultivation methods and genetic manipulation contribute to even higher THC concentrations.

Product Potency
The evolution of marijuana products extends beyond traditional plant material. Today, consumers have access to an extensive array of cannabis derivatives, including concentrates like dabs and oils, as well as edibles. These products often boast THC concentrations far exceeding those found in raw cannabis flower. Some concentrates, for instance, can reach staggering THC levels of up to 90% or more.

A significant consideration is the lack of regulation by the FDA in the cannabis industry. Unlike pharmaceuticals and many other consumer products, cannabis products are not subject to the same rigorous oversight and quality control measures. This absence of regulation means that consumers may encounter products contaminated with pesticides, heavy metals, or other harmful substances, posing potential health risks. As a result it is important to source cannabis products from reputable and transparent suppliers who prioritize safety and quality assurance.

If you choose to use marijuana products, start with a low dosage, and wait to see its effects to avoid having an uncomfortable experience. The psychoactive effects of marijuana become more pronounced with increasing THC levels, potentially leading to heightened intoxication, impaired judgment, and adverse reactions. As a result, THC products may pose greater risks of addiction, dependency, and adverse mental health effects, particularly among vulnerable populations.

Recognizing the signs of Marijuana Use Disorder

  • Approximately 3 in 10 marijuana users develop marijuana use disorder, with a 10% risk of addiction among users.
  • There is a greater risk for those starting marijuana use during youth or adolescence, and with frequent use.
  • Signs include attention, memory, and learning issues, using more than intended, failed attempts to quit, spending excessive time on use, cravings, and continuing use despite problems or risks.

Research is ongoing regarding the effects of high THC concentrations on the body and brain, as well as the impact on marijuana use disorder.

Children and Adolescent Marijuana Use

According to the 2023 Monitoring the Future Survey, 8th graders reported a 8.3% usage rate, 10th graders at 17%, and 12th graders at 29% in the past 12 months.

In 2021, approximately 5.8% of individuals aged 12 or older (equivalent to about 16.3 million people) experienced a cannabis use disorder in the past 12 months, as reported by the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

  • Marijuana use during adolescence can negatively impact brain development, affecting cognition, memory, and learning abilities.
  • Early and frequent use of marijuana increases the risk of developing a dependence or cannabis use disorder, which can persist into adulthood.
  • Marijuana use among adolescents is associated with lower academic achievement, increased school dropout rates, and social difficulties.
  • Adolescents who use marijuana are at higher risk of developing mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis.

Open communication between parents/guardians and adolescents about the risks and consequences of marijuana use can help adolescents navigate the pressures of cannabis consumption.