One of the more annoying aspects of the internet is that you can always find information which corroborates what you want to hear. For every article telling you weed is bad for you, there’s another elsewhere claiming it isn’t, making it difficult to know what to believe. The growing prevalence of medical marijuana and its decriminalisation in many areas has given rise to a marijuana legitimacy which, in some cases, genuinely helps people. The danger for many recreational users though, is the enticement of pro-marijuana articles and the self-justification this supports to continue smoking weed. From there, it’s easy to slide into a state of marijuana dependency; your circumstances change, a negative stressor impacts your life, and that recreational habit starts to become more regular.
One of the problems with modern marijuana, legal or otherwise, are its various cultivation methods. THC (weed’s main psychoactive compound) levels are now two to three times higher than weed produced in the 80s, which is achieved through the crossbreeding of plants and fertiliser use. The process of concentrating the THC also concentrates heavy metals, pesticides, and other substances the plant draws from the soil.
Many marijuana plants and products are also rife with bacterial and fungi contamination, and although the plant needs a relationship with some bacteria to flourish, the level of extra contaminants allows additional sources for illness and infection. In all likelihood, these contaminants have always been present due to the illicit nature of marijuana production in the past, but it’s only since the legalisation of medical marijuana that contaminant testing has been introduced. Have you ever gotten sick after smoking marijuana? Maybe, maybe not. But the contaminants are there, and even if you don’t exhibit any outward display of illness or infection, these things are entering your body and compromising your immune system and overall health.
Butane Hash Oil (BHO) is an oil derived by stripping THC from marijuana using butane. Shatter, budder, wax, crumble, and honeycomb are all examples of BHO, but the biggest concern is butane is known to leach into the THC during the stripping process. Butane has a relatively low toxicity, but it’s an additional toxin you don’t need entering your body, and prolonged BHO use amplifies that toxicity. A downside with other types of cannabis concentrates, particularly THC distillate oils, is how the process removes most if not all the cannabidol (CBD), the other main active ingredient in weed responsible for its medicinal properties. This is significant because CBD’s medicinal benefits are marijuana’s greatest asset. With the absence of CBD, the result is pure narcotic. And arguably, that’s what everyone’s after, but in terms of a cannabis addiction, the body’s cells are responding solely to the effect of THC, making it harder to quit weed when the time comes.
A further consideration when using concentrates and edibles is the use of solvents in their production. Heptane – commonly found in rubber cement, paint coatings, and used in gasoline production – and rubbing alcohol are frequently used, but there is no watchdog monitoring their use. This means there is no way of knowing which solvent grade is being used – typically, there are seven grades with the last three being unsuitable for use in food consumption. And although a lot of concentrate manufacturers will use the right solvents and processes, unless this is stated on the product or their website, there’s often no way of knowing.
Compared with alcohol, cigarettes, and heroin, weed is less physically addictive. But it’s possible to become addicted to anything which stimulates pleasure (or pain for some!). It’s estimated that 10% of weed users have a cannabis addiction, and a further 20% have marijuana dependency. Once you cross over into that 30%, the dynamic between using weed and how it affects you when not using, begins to change. This is because the difference between recreational and repeat use is the exchange of energy. For a recreational user, that weekly smoke on a Friday or Saturday night contributes to the process of winding down and relaxation – you have the mental energy burn. But for a dependent user, there’s an undercarriage of a single or several unresolved issues, which puts the psyche under pressure. Marijuana releases that pressure and dispels that pent up negativity, but it’s also burning up our energy in the process through the sensations and experiences in our high state. The underlying issues are still present though, and the pressure quickly builds up again. You almost don’t have time to recover as a dependent user, because you’re constantly blazing through mental energy every time you light up.
Most of us know what is good and bad for us. You might tell yourself weed is fine, that it’s worked for Willie Nelson all his life, therefore I want to be like Willie. But Willie’s doing what he loves. Are you? Are you using weed because it adds value to your meaningful life in the career you’re passionate about? If you can achieve your ambitions in life, love, and career, and smoke weed regularly without it affecting those foundations, then that’s good for you. Seriously. Whether it’s good or bad for you comes down to knowing yourself, there’s no right or wrong answer, only honesty with yourself in knowing what’s right for you. But if you reach the realization that weed is taking more energy than it gives, then your next step is deciding how you’re going to solve that problem.