Today’s Marijuana: As more states open the door to marijuana legalization –whether for medical use or recreational use — the taboos surrounding the herb are quickly vanishing.
For some of you, the last time you tried weed was in your college dorm, fumbling with a badly rolled joint and coughing uncontrollably while trying to act cool. Others just said no.
For those of you who identify as “cannabis curious” 0r simply want to know more about marijuana today, this story is for you. For the hardcore tokers out there, consider this a refresher.
How Many Americans Are Now Enjoying Cannabis?
According to a Gallop poll released in August, 33 million Americans—13 percent of the U.S. population— consume marijuana today on a regular basis. Just three years ago, only 7 percent admitted to regular consumption. Remember, these are Americans self-reporting that they are essentially breaking federal law, so most polling experts believe the number is significantly higher.
In another study released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was revealed that 47 percent of American adults used marijuana at least once during their lifetime. In 1969, only 4 percent of Americans admitted to trying the herb one time.
The CDC report also found that use among teens (12- to 17-year-olds) dropped 10 percent since 2002.
Clearly, the baby boomers are finding cannabis is fitting into their lifestyle just fine.
What About Potency? Will Marijuana Today Get Me Too High?
Yes, this millennium’s marijuana is a lot stronger than the Woodstock weed of generations ago. That being said, here’s what you need to know.
Back in the 1960s and ’70s, soldiers returning from Vietnam and other world travelers smuggled back literal tons of hashish and Thai stick, ultra-powerful forms of weed that would measure up to what is out there today. So if you were fortunate enough to enjoy the “good stuff” back in the day, you won’t be too surprised.
Botanical science has improved dramatically over the past 40 years. Master growers have been successful in cloning, hybridizing and manipulating the genetics of cannabis strains to produce stronger, more robust plants. Lab studies show that today’s herb is about three times as potent as weed from the 1970s.
But once again, there is an important caveat. The cannabis tested in the 1970s was from product confiscated from law enforcement agencies. Most of this was from near the southern border or smuggled in from Central America. This weed was mostly “Mexican ditch weed” or “brick weed” — a cheap, low-quality product. The high quality weed — mostly from large grows in northern California — was rarely captured, thus never lab tested.
The bottom line: Yes, today’s cannabis is strong. Do not underestimate its psychoactive effect. Take a few tokes and wait a while before continuing.
Plan ahead and please do NOT DRIVE while impaired.
Will I Still Smell Like a Skunk After Smoking?
Well, the scent of the herb hasn’t really changed. So, yes, your parents (or children or boss or landlord or spouse) will most likely smell it if you smoke it.
There are ways to mask the odor, but it’s likely to be detected by someone with a sensitive sense of smell.
Using a vape pen or portable vaporizer eliminates most of the smell. Since vaporization does not combust the herb — merely heating it enough to create vapor — the smell is less intense and disappears quickly. So if discretion is important, try vaping instead of smoking. Plus, there is always edibles …
Will Today’s Brownies Make Me Pass Out?
Edibles are tricky and need to be handled with care. Eating cannabis is entirely different than smoking or vaping it.
When smoking of vaping, the THC passes through the blood-brain barrier quickly through the lungs. You usually feel the effect quickly and it is much easier to control your dosage. Edible cannabis (candies, baked goods, etc.) need to be processed by your liver before entering your bloodstream. This biological fact means the edible will take longer to take effect — typically 40-60 minutes for the average person — and the high will last much longer.
Because of the way it is digested, edibles are a bit more of a guessing game. Everybody’s metabolism and tolerance is different, so what works for you will almost certainly not work for your spouse or friend. Trail and error is the best way to start with edibles. Begin with a low dose (5 mg), wait two hours, and work your way from there.
In legal states like Washington and Colorado, strict dosage limits are regulated to ensure proper titration.
Overindulging on edibles is an unpleasant experience. So take it easy and take it slow.
What Other Methods Are There For Ingesting Cannabis?
Let’s see, we covered smoking, vaping and edibles. Here are a few other ways to enjoy cannabis:
- Beverages: Drinking cannabis is similar to eating it because it is processed in the major organs before entering the blood stream. There are some great beverages out there in moderate doses for you to enjoy. Think of drinking cannabis like you would a fine cocktail. Sip it. Savor it. And listen to your body. And don’t drink and drive!
- Tinctures: This method is preferred for medical patients who want a reliable, fast-acting dose without having to marijuana today. The THC in tinctures are absorbed sublingually — meaning the tissues in your mouth. Take a dropper of the tincture and let it swish around in your mouth for a bit before swallowing. The tissues in your mouth will absorb the cannabinoids. Tinctures are discreet, effective and highly underrated.
- Lotions, balm, massage oil: Yes, you can use cannabis all over your body, from head to toe. There are cannabis shampoos, soaps, shaving cream, you name it. Here’s the important thing to remember about topicals: You will NOT get high from using them properly. Your epidermis does not have a receptor for THC, the psychoactive ingredient. The receptors on your skin bind to the CBD and other cannabinoids that are not psychotropic. Your body and muscles will feel relaxed and any pain you have will lessen. Try them as part of your everyday beauty routine.
- And more! We are entering the golden age of cannabis entrepreneurship. If there is a demand for a product, someone is already creating it. Sublingual lozenges and strips. Tampons. Patches. Sex lubes. Gum. The list goes on
Am I Paranoid? Or Am I Just Paranoid About Getting Paranoid?
We here this one a lot. And, yes, any substance that changes brain chemistry, even mildly for short periods of time, can cause your brain to play tricks with you. It’s not pleasant.
This experience typically hits those new to the psychoactive sensation of THC and it usually is a temporary phenomenon. So what do you do if that dreaded sense of paranoia kicks in? Drink a tall glass of water. Lay down. Close your eyes. Turn on some music or the TV. And. Just. Do. Nothing.
Or you can do what legendary rocker Neil Young does: Eat black pepper.
“Try black pepper balls if you get paranoid,” Young said on The Howard Stern Show in 2014. “Just chew two or three pieces. I just found this out myself. Try it.”
Is this an urban legend perpetrated by Young? Nope. There is science to back up his claims. It’s called the “phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effect.”
And here is an interesting take from Psychology Today:
“It is simply too narrow to say that cannabis causes paranoia, because there is no way to measure individual experiences. There are too many variables in an individual’s life, that in conjunction with the use of this plant, cause increased anxiety. The spirit of Mary Jane is a beautiful, creative one. Those who have a lot of experience with psychoactive plants can testify that if you are not experiencing beauty and creativity, it is probably due to some unconscious attitude. Why not explore within yourself? It’s all a learning experience.”