Cannabis Uses and Effects

Cannabis uses and effects
Cannabis, weed, pot, dope, grass, zol. You can smoke it, vape it, drink it, eat it, brew it, and extract it.  If extracted, it has a multitude of other uses, topically and orally.  It is the third most commonly used drug in the world, following tobacco and alcohol. Cannabis has countless applications, medically and for pleasure and recreation.  As a result of global prohibition, most of what we (thought we) knew about cannabis has been misleading and untrue, but just the same, lately there are countless claims that cannabis is a “miracle”‘ plant that cures all illness or dis-ease.  Since the beautiful plant is becoming more accepted and legalised/decriminalised in many countries the world over, it can now be studied and more is learnt about its many compounds and their qualities, almost daily. So what are the effects of using cannabis?  Let’s look at some of the effects one can expect when using cannabis.

Getting High or Stoned
This is most likely the reason why many people first smoke/vape weed, or indulge in edibles. THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain, this is what creates the feeling of being high and relaxed.
When smoked or vaped, THC gets into the bloodstream fast enough for you to feel it in seconds or minutes. The THC level usually peaks in about 30 minutes, and its effects may wear off in 1-3 hours. If you drink or eat cannabis, it may take hours to wear off completely. It’s not always easy to distinguish just how potent your recreational, and even medical, weed might be.

The potential for a difficult experience exists
A pleasant experience isn’t guaranteed.  Just like many other substances that are put into the body, there can be positive or negative consequences that result from cannabis consumption, depending on amount, frequency, quality, and probably most importantly, the idiosyncratic biochemistry of the user. Often one hears of people feeling paranoid, anxious, afraid, or panicked, when stoned.  There is a possibility that using weed could worsen the symptoms of any pre-existing conditions you may already have. Therefore cannabis and any other  psychoactive substance should always be used with care and caution.

Senses may be affected
Effects can differ from one person to the next, depending on things like potency, method of consumption, and much you’ve used in the past. Some people report heightened senses where colours seem brighter or sounds seem louder.  Sometimes you may lose track of time, feeling like time is speeding past or dragging out.  Another common effect is distorted motor skills, so driving can become dangerous.

Medical use
Cannabis preparations have been used medically for generations for illnesses such as epilepsy, migraines, headaches, and menstrual symptoms. However, it is only relatively recently that the active components have been identified and their mechanisms of action have begun to be studied and better understood; and therefore, more socially accepted.  Health practitioners in South Africa can legally prescribe medicinal cannabis products with approval from the DOH and SAHPRA via the Section 21 application route. Medicinal cannabis is legal, provided that the cultivation, manufacture, prescribing, and supply complies with the guidelines set out by the SAHPRA (formerly known as MCC).   Why would a practitioner prescribe a cannabis product? Some studies have shown efficacy in the treatment of chronic pain, muscle spasms and multiple sclerosis.  It has also proven to be effective in the treatment of insomnia or sleep apnea, anxiety (which could also worsen when cannabis is used), loss of appetite, nausea and weight loss due to illness, or treatment, such as chemotherapy, and epileptic seizures.
Albeit effective for many, it is important to not be irresponsible and do the necessary research before purchasing and using any cannabis product.  Do not self-diagnose and prescribe. Opt for products that have been tested and comply with regulations and guidelines.