everything you need to know

Cannabis has infiltrated popular culture in recent years. Despite this, many people still don’t know everything they need to about the plant that may actually be responsible for their lives. This article will teach you all there is to know about cannabis and how it might benefit your life.

The “everything you need to know book” is a guide that teaches people everything they need to know about cannabis. The book also includes information on how to grow cannabis, the history of cannabis, and much more.

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A new collection of research attempts to look into how marijuana affects individuals from all walks of life, including gay and trans people.

The quantity of cannabis used in Canada is growing between the legalization of cannabis in late 2018 and the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. At the same time, as individuals deal with the loss, loneliness, and suffering of the epidemic, a greater focus has been placed on mental health. However, there are still many unknowns about how cannabis usage impacts our mental health, and there is much discussion over whether it is a helpful coping aid or a dangerous habit. 

Persons from many groups, particularly LGBTQ2S+ people, are understudied and underrepresented in the research that does exist. The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), in collaboration with the Canadian Institute of Health Research, the Canadian Consortium for Early Intervention in Psychosis, the Schizophrenia Society of Canada Foundation, and Veterans Affairs Canada, has funded a series of year-long research projects to better understand the unique relationship these communities have with cannabis use and mental health.

MHCC’s head of policy, Mary Bartram, told Xtra that 18 studies are now in the works, and that they represent the last group of roughly 40 research projects that MHCC and its partners have sponsored. Qualitative research showcasing different groups, such as LGBTQ2S+ populations, racialized and Indigenous peoples, veterans, and people with current mental health concerns, comprise the last set—the majority of which were ongoing as of September. 

“I’m hoping we can broaden the dialogue around cannabis and mental health so it’s not simply a bad connotation,” Bartram adds. “It’s critical not to dismiss the prospect of advantages while also not being naïve about the hazards.” 

While we wait for the findings of the research, here’s what you need to know about cannabis and mental health, as well as the requirements of different demographics. 

“We know that mental health and drug use, whether it’s cannabis, alcohol, or other substances,” Bartram adds, “share a lot of risk factors.” “Everything from poverty to difficult childhood or grownup experiences, or adulthood trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), produces that intimate correlation that puts individuals at risk.” 

Many studies have shown a relationship between cannabis usage and an increased risk of mental diseases including schizophrenia and psychosis, especially in younger persons or those who have a family history of psychosis—and especially when higher-potency cannabis is used. Cannabis usage is linked to an increased risk of suicide, anxiety, and despair, according to the Canadian government’s health department, while long-term frequent use may severely damage memory, concentration, IQ, and decision-making. Because their brains have not completely formed and cannabis may damage brain growth and function, youth under the age of 25 are at the biggest risk of unfavorable effects. 

On the other hand, for many people, using cannabis for social or recreational purposes may enhance their quality of life or help them deal with stress. It may help with anxiety, sleep problems, and chronic pain. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of two major active components present in cannabis that has been shown to help soldiers with PTSD. Cannabis is often seen as a superior narcotic to other drugs since it is only somewhat physically addicted with regular usage and a cannabis overdose is not lethal.

Aside from the low danger of physical addiction and overdose, it’s crucial to remember that there are other methods to decide if drugs are harmful or beneficial. Cannabis use is almost twice as likely among those with mental health conditions such schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and PTSD, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA). It’s unclear if there is merely a link between cannabis as a coping strategy and problematic usage, and research on the subject is still ambiguous. One in every three cannabis users will have a problematic connection with the drug, with 9% developing an addiction; this number rises to 17 percent among persons who began using as teens, and 25 to 50 percent in daily users. 

What impact has legalization and COVID-19 had on how much and why individuals use cannabis?

In October 2018, Canada legalized cannabis, 17 months before Ontario’s first pandemic lockdowns. The elements of legalization and the pandemic are tightly linked when investigating why cannabis usage has grown overall. “You can’t really tell them apart now,” adds Bartram. Multiple studies suggest that general cannabis usage is rising, with one early research from Statistics Canada noting “boredom” as one of the primary causes for the rise. 

 

However, there are underlying mental health causes for the rise. “People are saying they can’t sleep, they’re scared about the future, and they don’t feel helpful—been that’s a consistent theme over the past six to twelve months,” Bartram says. “A lot of individuals will be fine,” she adds of those whose usage has grown, “but others may run into longer-term problems.”

What does it mean to have an issue with someone’s use?

“When [cannabis] begins to cause issues at work or school, in your domestic life, or in your own well-being, that is problematic use,” Bartram explains. While problematic usage differs from person to person, there are several warning signs to look out for, such as a desire to cut down but an inability to do so. Bartram recommends reading “Canada’s Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines” as a starting point. To protect your lungs, choose cannabis products with lower THC or greater CBD content, use non-smoking techniques such as edibles or vaping, and use less often, according to the instructions.

If you’re worried about your personal cannabis usage, speak to a friend or a professional you trust about it. If you’re worried about someone else’s cannabis usage, be sure to have a nonjudgmental talk with them. Keep in mind that many individuals aren’t accustomed to discussing cannabis usage openly or honestly, particularly because it’s still illegal. There are no widely agreed-upon healthy or harmful intake levels. Bartram recommends approaching these talks with an open mind and patience, as well as a desire to listen to the individual’s unique cannabis experience.

What are the possible advantages? 

“A lot of individuals use cannabis to enhance their quality of life and haven’t had any difficulties,” Bartram adds. “That’s something we want to learn more about.” “There is also research regarding potential therapeutic advantages of cannabis for things like anxiety,” she adds. A lot of talks concerning cannabis usage are centered toward its likely negative impact on users. It has been shown to aid with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which affects LGBTQ2S+ persons at a greater incidence than the general population. It may also benefit patients with chronic pain, and it’s frequently a safer alternative to alcohol or medications for relaxing. 

Cannabis may be a tool for many of the particular health concerns that varied cultures experience. For example, the medical system frequently fails to provide adequate care for LGBTQ2S+ people, and cannabis can be a “helpful tool to continue to try and maintain physical and mental health in a world that does not always protect them,” according to Chicago writer C. Merten, who writes for the online cannabis resource Leafly. Some individuals take it to relieve pain and decrease inflammation following gender-affirming operations. It may be used to treat the symptoms of various physical disorders such as cancer, as well as providing relief from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Why is it so critical to broaden research to include a broader range of people?

“There is no one-size-fits-all link between cannabis and mental health,” adds Bartram. “When it comes to utilizing cannabis in a manner that is relevant to mental health, people bring various cultures and viewpoints.”

The present research are mostly qualitative in nature, with the goal of better understanding people’s experiences with mental health and cannabis by listening to them reflect and speak for themselves. According to Bartram, there will be a stronger link between cannabis usage and LGBTQ2S+ communities, who have been affected especially hard by recent social isolation and depend heavily on selected family and community networks. Furthermore, LGBTQ2S+ populations often struggle to get health treatment that is tailored to them, if at all, and may resort to self-medicating as a means of coping and seeking comfort. “Cannabis might be a tool to help individuals deal with difficult conditions,” adds Bartram.

We should see the outcomes of these investigations fast, according to Bartram, because of the short time period of this present study. “We have some resources to help mobilize the information from our discoveries,” Bartram adds, “to get them into the public domain and the many communities that these programs are about.” The MHCC’s job is to compile all of the findings and communicate them with the right individuals and communities, providing useful information and tools for how we address cannabis usage collectively and individually. “We’re enthusiastic to learn more about how to use cannabis in a manner that is relevant to mental health,” adds Bartram.

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