This piece originally appeared March 26, 2016, on Healthline.com’s Contributor’s site, which no longer is live. Reprinted here with permission from Healthline.com. Items added in parenthesis and italics are to update the piece for accuracy after re-posting Oct. 21, 2017. Wow, how far I personally have come with medical marijuana in just over a year and half since this was written.
When it comes to medicinal marijuana, America is living in the wild, wild, west, so to speak.
Think about it: Medicinal weed is now legal in (more than) half the states and Washington, D.C., even though it still is classified as a Class 1 substance by the federal government. That puts it in the same category as heroin, an epidemic tearing at the fabric of our nation in just about every corner.
Pro-pot activists, who are only growing in numbers and momentum, are enraged over this inconsistency.
Schizophrenia over weed ended when I started smoking it again
As someone who used to be a bona fide pothead, and who only gave up pot about a year ago (and then smoked pot again while vacationing in Denver in April 2017, and then obtained a medical cannabis card in Illinois in June 2017), I make a living writing about addiction and recovery. I will say that finally giving up pot has allowed me to work smarter, breathe easier and feel better overall.
(Illinois medical cannabis does not have any poor effects on my lungs, eyes, etc. due to being cultivated without pesticides and other harmful materials. However, smoking too much pot can cause ‘stuck on stupid’ syndrome, and running out for more than just a few days is frightening to me. That said…what a blessing to be off all pharmacological medications. I probably was on 4 mg of Ativan per day when this Healer piece originally was written).
For about a decade or longer, I felt as though weed was the only thing that made life bearable. And I was grateful to have access to it and really flipped out when I couldn’t find it (which of course is addict behavior no matter what your addiction).
(I have no regrets for obtaining my card and going with weed instead of Pharma. I’m doing much better).
Toward the end of my (illegal) pot-smoking days, I was getting weed that either made me feel really, really, really, really good or put me on some not-so-pleasant trips. The middle of the road “ditch weed” that I smoked for years and years seemed pretty much all but a thing of the past.
My point? When you buy something off the street, you have no idea what you’re getting.
Even old-school stoners learn they’re not really experts when the card comes
But with highly regulated medical cannabis programs, you do know what you’re getting. In Illinois, everything is tested and labeled for THC and CBD content, among other things.
Cannabis is the fastest growing industry in America. Cultivators are creating strains that are highly effective at treating conditions such as PTSD, MS, intestinal problems, mental health issues and much, much more.
But with all these different strains being bred for all kinds of different medical conditions, most people (doctors included) have no idea what the heck they are smoking or prescribing. Even an old-school stoner like myself was blown away the first time I went to my local dispensary.
Why? Even I did not have the proper weed education.
(Some doctors, like Dr. Sulak, are experts on and advocates for medical cannabis. In the year and a half since this piece was written, many more doctors like Sulak have come out of the closet as medical cannabis advocates.)
No ‘magic bullet’ for prescribing cannabis
You certainly don’t just prescribe different pharmacological medications to different people not knowing anything about them. The same goes with medical marijuana.
Healer.com, launched by Dr. Sulak when this piece was written last year, offers step-by-step courses for patients, health providers and medical professionals. You can learn how to:
Find the optimal cannabis dosage
Use less cannabis for better results
Learn how to use cannabis without getting high
How to prevent tolerance from overuse
“We created Healer.com in response to the biggest challenges that our 15 medical providers and 18,000 patients at Integr8 Health have faced in this emerging field of cannabinoid medicine,” Sulak said in a news release. “Healer’s goal is to be the transparent, trusted source of cannabis, information and research – a respected authority on its safe and smart use.”
The site contains videos, tutorials and much more. “The major challenge we face is that no medical provider, including myself, can tell a person what their optimal dosage of cannabis is or should be,” Sulak said.
“We will continue to add more educational information and the latest research as we endeavor to restore cannabis to its proper place and mainstream acceptance as the therapeutic medicine it is.”
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