Disclaimer: I live in a state within the US that allows recreational and medical use of cannabis. I do not advocate breaking local laws. Websites like NORML.org can help you find information on the laws in your area.
These statements are not medical advice and have not been evaluated by the FDA.
Depending on who you speak with, you may either hear praise or condemnation for cannabis. This is partly a result of the long running propaganda campaign against cannabis.
Reefer Madness is a classic example. Here is a brief clip:
It’s funny, I know, but this is the type of propaganda they used to scare people about cannabis. They wanted you to think that it’d make you hysterical, listen to jazz music, and that the white women would run off with the black jazz musicians.
Clearly, the propagandists had never actually used cannabis themselves.
Anyways, people have been discovering on their own that cannabis is very beneficial for many things.
I have responsibly used cannabis for over a decade and also studied the available research.
There’s a few things you ought to know about cannabis. It’s:
- fantastic for your health
- a performance enhancing drug, especially for endurance athletes
- the best natural longevity supplement on the planet
- safer, statistically, than peanut butter
- a billion dollar cash crop that can help revive our working class economy
- being patented rapidly by pharmaceutical (biotech) companies, mostly for treating cancer
- and more
Cannabis has been used by humans for ages. The oldest recorded medicinal use is 2737 BC by Emperor Shen Neng.
Carl Sagan, American Astrophysicist, even wondered if cannabis played a bigger role in our history than we give credit for:
It would be wryly interesting if in human history the cultivation of marijuana led generally to the invention of agriculture, and thereby to civilization.
As a cash crop, cannabis is valued at well over $10 billion annually – just in the USA.
While more people wake up to the reality that the War on Drugs is mostly a farce, states like Colorado have legalized recreational and medicinal use of cannabis.
As more states follow suit, the American economy will be bolstered by the billion-dollar industry.
Anyhow, here is a rundown of 5 important things to know about cannabis.
#1 Your body was designed to make use of, and thrive on, the cannabinoids in cannabis
Prohibitionists be damned, it’s true. And not just our bodies. Much of the animal kingdom!
Did you know that breast milk contains cannabinoids?
And that the human body even makes its own cannabinoids? See anandamide.
Enter the Endocannabinoid System. From NORML.org:
What Is The Endocannabinoid System?
The endogenous cannabinoid system, named after the plant that led to its discovery, is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.
Cannabinoids promote homeostasis at every level of biological life, from the sub-cellular, to the organism, and perhaps to the community and beyond. Here’s one example: autophagy, a process in which a cell sequesters part of its contents to be self-digested and recycled, is mediated by the cannabinoid system [Emphasis mine for note on the autophagy, cannabis, longevity conncetion. -Derek] While this process keeps normal cells alive, allowing them to maintain a balance between the synthesis, degradation, and subsequent recycling of cellular products, it has a deadly effect on malignant tumor cells, causing them to consume themselves in a programmed cellular suicide. The death of cancer cells, of course, promotes homeostasis and survival at the level of the entire organism.
Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids are also found at the intersection of the body’s various systems, allowing communication and coordination between different cell types. At the site of an injury, for example, cannabinoids can be found decreasing the release of activators and sensitizers from the injured tissue, stabilizing the nerve cell to prevent excessive firing, and calming nearby immune cells to prevent release of pro-inflammatory substances. Three different mechanisms of action on three different cell types for a single purpose: minimize the pain and damage caused by the injury.
The endocannabinoid system, with its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and all of the body’s organs, is literally a bridge between body and mind. By understanding this system we begin to see a mechanism that explains how states of consciousness can promote health or disease.
In addition to regulating our internal and cellular homeostasis, cannabinoids influence a person’s relationship with the external environment. Socially, the administration of cannabinoids clearly alters human behavior, often promoting sharing, humor, and creativity. By mediating neurogenesis, neuronal plasticity, and learning, cannabinoids may directly influence a person’s open-mindedness and ability to move beyond limiting patterns of thought and behavior from past situations. Reformatting these old patterns is an essential part of health in our quickly changing environment.
To get a full appreciation of how far back our evolution was intertwined with cannabis, read these words by Dr Robert Melamede:
…humans, and all animals, make and use internally produced cannabis-like products (endocannabinoids) as part of the evolutionary harm reduction program. More specifically, endocannabinoids homeostatically regulate all body systems (cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, excretory, immune, nervous, musculo-skeletal, reproductive).
…The cannabinoid system appears to be quite ancient, with some of its components dating back about 600 million years to when the first multicellular organisms appeared. The beginnings of the modern cannabinoid system are found in mollusks and hydra. As evolution proceeded, the role that the cannabinoid system played in animal life continuously increased. It is now known that this system maintains homeostasis within and across the organizational scales of all animals.
Plain and simple, we were built to make and use cannabinoids.
Healthy cannabinoid receptors are needed to fully make use of cannabinoids. And omega 3 fatty acids in the diet are extremely important to build healthy cannabinoid receptors. Here are good food sources of omega 3’s:
Wild salmon is also a fantastic source of omega 3s. And the more grass-fed your beef, the better omega 3 ratio.
#2 Cannabis is fantastic for your health
It’s so beneficial, in fact, that the US government owns a medical patent on cannabis!
The research was done by the National Institutes of Health. The patent is owned by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.
What does the patent mean, in layman’s terms?
Cannabis, with its cannabinoids, is one of the best longevity “supplements” on the planet.
Oxidative stress (inflammatory damage) is at the root of all disease. Especially cancer and heart disease.
In the brain, the inflammation caused by oxidative stress leads to neurodegenerative disorders. Alzheimer’s, dementia, even depression. Mike Cernovich used the dietary compound NAC (N-Acetyl-cysteine) to treat his depression and anxiety.
NAC is very effective against oxidative damage. Could people use cannabis for similar reasons? Well yes, friend, they can. And have been for centuries.
Aside from physical (oxidative) stress, we have emotional or mental stress. Also known as The Silent Killer, long term stress is deadly. Adding insult to injury, chronic stress makes you miserable while killing you.
Well, cannabis is fantastic for releasing that kind of stress, too. Before it manifests into your physical life as back-pain, headaches, or worse.
There is an eerily fascinating phenomenon within sleep disorders involving memory. Within the sleep cycle you are supposed to forget and release experiences from the mind. If this is interrupted, and you can’t let go, chaos builds. Eventually you’ll go crazy.
So while cannabis has neuroprotectant effects, the ability to “let go” is equally important to mental health.
It’s also great for nausea, pain, blood pressure, cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and more. Remember, oxidative stress lays at the root of physical disease.
But isn’t cannabis dangerous?
The Duke thinks Kevin Sabet is full of shit. And I do, too. pic.twitter.com/e4ZkkhZXb8
— Derek Wolf (@DerekMWolf) August 2, 2015
Firstly, there are zero overdoses of cannabis. In history. It has never, ever happened.
Deaths correlating to cannabis use, often pushed in the mainstream media, always involve something more sinister. Like the abuse of prescription drugs. Cannabis use alone is never found as the killer because there is no mechanism of action to kill you.
Unless someone drops a pallet of cannabis bricks on your head, it’s very safe. Technically, peanut butter is more dangerous than cannabis (4 deaths/year from PB and 0 from cannabis).
More specifically, there are no cannabinoid receptors in the medulla oblongata. So unlike something like cocaine, respiratory failure or cardiovascular failure isn’t possible with cannabis.
#3 Cannabis is a performance enhancing drug
What athlete, gym rat, or fitness bunny doesn’t like performance enhancers?
How about an artist, architect or designer who wants to boost creativity for their project?
Most Americans fuel their day with coffee – perhaps the most common performance enhancing drug.
Cannabis gets an unfitting rap as something that will make you lazy. That’s not exactly so.
To be specific, certain strains of cannabis have more sedative effects (Indica dominant; body high) while others are more like a stimulant (Sativa dominant; head high). Hiking or playing basketball I’d prefer sativa strains. Easing sore muscles and achy joints after a hard day, indica.
Back to cannabis and laziness.
The cold hard truth is that lazy or stupid people are that way before cannabis. Does TV make people lazy, or do lazy people just happen to watch a lot of TV?
Let me use myself as an example.
Living in Colorado, it gets cold during the winter. I’ll spend a lot of time indoors to stay warm but I’m not slacking off.
Even though I use cannabis regularly, I spend most of my time focusing on business and working out. Not laying around watching TV and being lazy.
— Derek Wolf (@DerekMWolf) January 30, 2015
People responsibly use cannabis as a form of physical therapy, stress relief, medicine, and creativity-booster. This is often done in the privacy of their home and only within certain company.
Cannabis expands the mind to “connect the dots” between things that may seem unrelated on the surface, but truly connect in a deeper way. It’s a wonderful aid for problem solving and inventing new ideas and physical products.
But what type of successful person actually used cannabis regularly?
How about Michael Phelps, Olympic Champion in swimming.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olympian of Olympians, GOAT, world-famous actor, and governor.
Carl Sagan, American Astrophysicist who regularly gave court testimony for NASA. He stayed sober for these, and I would too, but used cannabis in private and with certain people to expand his grasp on life, physics and social issues.
It’s not just a bunch of wild jazz musicians who use cannabis.
Alright then, what does cannabis do for athletic performance?
Cannabis dilates the blood vessels and bronchial tract. More oxygen throughout the body is a huge performance booster. This is demonstrated by the controversial topic of “blood doping.”
Blood doping is the practice of boosting the number of red blood cells in the bloodstream in order to enhance athletic performance. Because such blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the muscles, a higher concentration in the blood can improve an athlete’s aerobic capacity and endurance. Many methods of blood doping are illegal, particularly in professional sports.
It’s also one of the reasons that drinking beet juice is fabulous for performance and recovery. And sex.
Endurance athletes are using cannabis now, too. Pain and stress relief while running is a huge game changer.
It lets the athlete push harder and longer. It eases the mental burden during stressful activity..
Cannabis is banned by the Olympics*, partly because of its performance enhancing effects:
Cannabis is considered to be in violation of all three main disqualifying criteria. It violates the first (performance enhancement) because of its ability to decrease anxiety and fear, and potentially to improve some types of oxygenation and concentration.
Personally, I enjoy using it while hiking, doing yard work and weight-lifting.
*There is a linking issue with popsci.com. The link generates 404 but the article still exists on popsci.com and can be found at: http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2012-08/fyi-why-cannabis-olympic-banned-substances-list
#4 Your rightful access to cannabis
There is a simple, constitutional argument for the legality of cannabis.
Additionally, it was made illegal partly to suppress industrial hemp (Big Cotton, Timber, and Tobacco were threatened) and also to kick off the War on Drugs.
In fact, the federal illegality of cannabis was established by our joining a UN Treaty:
The Single Convention Treaty was the handiwork of the powerful ex-director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger, architect of the first federal cannabis prohibition law, the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act.“Anslinger had pushed for a treaty against cannabis in order to shore up the act’s dubious constitutionality under U.S. law,” said Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML. (The act was later declared unconstitutional for other reasons, only to be supplanted by the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, which kicked off Nixon’s War On Drugs.)“Today, the international treaty stands as the principal cause of prohibition-related crime and violence worldwide with drug wars from Mexico to Afghanistan plus the criminalization of millions of users,” Gieringer said.
#5 Cannabis is a complex, with cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes
It’s also why using the whole plant, whether smoked, made into an edible or herbal extract, is so much more effective than using a single-cannabinoid extract. Like those CBD oil extracts being marketed online.
Something like that only gives you 1/420 of the benefit of whole plant cannabis. And here’s why:
There are, in total, at least 420 unique compounds in the cannabis plant. Most can be put into one of three categories: cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes.
There are 70+ identified cannabinoids in cannabis. You mostly hear about THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinal) because that’s the one that gives you the “high” feeling.
But it does more than that, as it’s also responsible for pain relief, anti-cancer effects, appetite stimulation, and more. And as illustrated here, different cannabinoids have unique benefits in the body:
Quercetin is an example of a flavonoid that’s in cannabis. People take quercetin as an antioxidant supplement.
In nature, flavonoids are created by plants to deter pests and fungus. The thick, white, inner part of an orange peel is packed with flavonoids.
Terpenes are volatile oils that give plants their unique smell and flavor. For instance, limonene is behind the special, citrus makeup of lemon. Piperine makes pepper, well, peppery.
As explained here, terpenes have many effects in the body including: anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-biotic, analgesic, bronchodilator, stimulant, and more.
Once more, this is why whole plant cannabis extracts are much more valuable than CBD-only. The synergistic benefit comes from the variety of cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes.
It’s also why private interest groups are pushing for CBD-only legislation, instead of whole plant. There is a battle over who gets access to cannabis seeds and raw cannabis. A fight for who can cultivate cannabis.
The pharmaceutical interests want you to go down to CVS, with a doctor’s Rx, to buy CBD pills. They do not want you to realize that you can grow cannabis at home and make your own medicine for pennies on the dollar.
But that’s a story for another day.
I hope this information serves you well.
Cannabis is a plant that we’ve already been using for over 4,000 years…
And it appears that it would be a wise choice to continue doing so.
If the words “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” don’t include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn’t worth the hemp it was written on.
– Terence McKenna
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
– The Bible, Genesis 1:29
Estimates suggest that from 20 to 50 million Americans routinely, albeit illegally, smoke marijuana without the benefit of direct medical supervision. Yet, despite this long history of use and the extraordinarily high numbers of social smokers, there are simply no credible reports to suggest that consuming marijuana has caused a single death. By contrast, aspirin, a commonly used, over-the-counter medicine, causes hundreds of deaths each year.
– DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young
Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction.
― Bob Marley
Why is marijuana against the law? It grows naturally upon our planet. Doesn’t the idea of making nature against the law seem to you a bit . . . unnatural?
― Bill Hicks
I am convinced that there are genuine and valid levels of perception available with cannabis (and probably with other drugs) which are, through the defects of our society and our educational system, un-available to us without such drugs.
― Lester Grinspoon,
Prison is for rapists, thieves, and murderers. If you lock someone up for smoking a plant that makes them happy, then you’re the fucking criminal.
― Joe Rogan