Cannabis and Mental Health: InnerZension Therapy’s Perspective
This post is geared towards describing the main philosophies and orientation that InnerZension Therapy holds with respect to cannabis and mental health. None of the information herein should be construed as medical or legal advice. We do not condone the use of illegal substances. We do not condone irresponsible use of any substance. The information herein is educational only. For full advice on how cannabis-related substances will affect your own body and mind, you must seek an appropriately-licensed and appropriately-trained physician. We work with addictions and have certified and licensed counselors available to help in most cannabis-using scenarios. We do not prescribe medicine and do not write medical marijuana scripts. We offer cannabis-friendly, mental health services to help you optimize your cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning.
Is cannabis the angelic cure-all some people are touting, or is it a poisonous plant that only causes or exacerbates mental health problems? Is it dangerous or helpful? Despite the growing evidence in the scientific and medical communities, this heated debate continues to polarize this country.
The true answer, just like so many other debates, is somewhere in the middle. Yes indeed, cannabis does pose some physical, mental, and behavioral risks, especially as marijuana falls subject to more genetic alterations, chemical extraction methods, and broken into higher potency isolates. Usage patterns are also changing, as more principalities are legalizing some or all forms of it. But the act of legalization does not make it the aforementioned cure-all. For example, alcohol is largely legal across the country, but it has its own set of extremely toxic effects on the physical body, cognition, behaviors, and long-term health consequences. Making something legal does not make it healthy or safe. Each individual should research the latest information on all the things they consume, including their water, OTC meds, food, supplements, and of course, drugs and alcohol.
Tenant #1: Cannabis and hemp should not continue to be demonized as poisons but should also not be glorified as a harmless cure-all. These class of substances are not all-good nor all-bad. We can’t even place these items in a static position on that continuum because there are so many different factors that will determine how cannabis and hemp affect each individual person. On the surface, we begin with easy questions that can generate widely varying answers, such as what strains are being used, how strong is the content, how was it grown and produced, how were the isolates extracted, how clean or toxic the equipment and substances when extracting the phytocannabinoids, any genetic modification present, was it organically produced, what is the content profile of all the phytocannabinoids? This series of questions represents just some of the numerous considerations on how to determine safety levels and potential side effects, but what about the person consuming it? Valid and essential considerations are the age of the individual, predispositions and genetics, their usage patterns over time (how long they have been consuming, how frequently they consume, their tolerance level, etc.), the intentions behind their usage, how responsible they are with usage, what pre-existing physical, mental, emotional conditions does the client already have, etc. There are so many considerations that it is absolutely impossible to predict how generic cannabis/hemp would affect each person.
Yet for most people, typical results of cannabis/hemp use will most likely fall somewhere in the middle of the continuum. In other words, each person might have some symptom alleviation while also experiencing some side effects, either concurrent with usage or over the long term. There will also be people who do, in fact, find themselves at one end of the continuum…either having alleviated certain health conditions or perhaps they experienced something scary and will never use again. The demonization of cannabis and hemp in the past decades polarized people and did a big disservice to Americans’ ability to think objectively, curiously, and rationally about it. Because cannabis and hemp were strictly illegal, most people were influenced to judge it as dangerous, silly, and downright wrong. As we are seeing in the new literature, the answer will almost always reside in the gray area between the poles of demonizing and deifying. This is where InnerZension Therapy stands with respect to cannabis/hemp and mental health…we wish to add objectivity to the discussion, and we wish to help individuals find their own sweet spot of legal usage. The sweet spot of usage could loosely be defined as the accentuation of bonafide positive effects while minimizing the inevitable side effects of usage, including and especially the real possibility of cannabis dependence.
Tenant #2: The underlying human endocannabinoid system (ECS) might be the best way to explain the wide-ranging known effects of cannabis/hemp on the human body and therefore a full ECS discussion could be the biggest help in analyzing each person’s risk/reward profile for when using cannabis/hemp products. For example, some known immediate risks of cannabis could be hallucinations, psychosis, delusions, paranoia, altered sense of time, etc. All of these effects could easily be explained by how the cannabis/hemp product impacts or alters the ECS. Long term risks appear to be cannabis tolerance, addiction, schizophrenia, loss of IQ, loss of motivation, irritability, depression, sleeping issues, etc. It is beyond the scope of this blog to discuss the ECS and all the various risks, but we offer a free PhD paper that discusses the importance of the ECS system and how cannabis might affect that system. Click here for your free copy. Keep in mind that the potential rewards of cannabis/hemp products could also be best explained through the ECS system and is thoroughly discussed in the free PDF. InnerZension Therapy is dedicated to staying on top of the latest scientific studies on how cannabis/hemp/ECS all affect mental health.
Tenant #3: It is nearly impossible to consume cannabis and hemp without altering mental health in some way (either positive or negative). Therefore, without having honest and forthright discussions around personal cannabis use, it would be likewise impossible to achieve most mental health goals, even with a very skilled counselor. Therefore, InnerZension Therapy strongly values trust, confidentiality, non-judgment, and compassion. We ask the clients to be very truthful about their cannabis use in addition to all their lifestyle habits and choices, all of which have an intricate effect on body chemistry, ECS functioning, and ultimately mental health. Regardless of whether your cannabis use (or non-usage) is believed to be related to any mental health condition, it is vital you express openness to your InnerZension Therapist so that guidance they give is effective and on-track with your personal vision and goals.
Please contact us to schedule an appointment with our cannabis/ECS-trained clinician.