How do we equate impairment? That’s a question the cannabis industry has been up against for years now. Researchers are hard at work trying to create a device that can measure real time use of THC, but we’ve yet to see anything valid come onto the market just yet. Perhaps this is because we’re looking at it all wrong. Is it possible we need to re-evaluate how we think about Cannabis ‘impairment’?
Society has deemed it acceptable to poison ourselves with alcohol, a neurotoxin. A 2015 study on Drug Use And Health concluded that 70.1% of people ages 18 and older reportedly drank in the last year.
The World Health Organization reported alcohol contributed to more than 200 diseases and injury related health conditions. Drinking alcohol increases the risks of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, liver, and breasts.
Why are we still comparing alcohol to weed? It drives me crazy when people say we ought to approach weed like alcohol. What sense does that make? Alcohol kills people. Cannabis heals them.
I think about this as I trim the Do-Si-Do at work. I walk through the cultivation side, admiring the girls, basking in the glow of the lights. It blows my mind that until they’re 21, my boys won’t be able to stand here in this space, yet we can go to Girdwood and enjoy a pint of beer for me and a little cup of kombucha for them, in the brewery, which has become a rather family friendly place. Again, when did we decide it’s OK for our children to watch us poison ourselves with a neurotoxin, yet we panic if they see cannabis, as if it were still Reefer Madness days?
I forget, you see. My life has become centered in this plant. I’ve learned her. I’ve grown her, nurtured her and I now have the pleasure of selling her, legally, professionally. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to educate myself and others about the plant. I’ve learned tremendous amounts over the past three years as I’ve educated myself on cannabis use. Much of what I’ve learned has challenged that which I thought I knew, opening my mind to the potential for deep healing on many levels. I forget, often, that the rest of the world hasn’t caught up yet.
It fascinates me that we likely think nothing of seeing our sister, brother, friend, self, pop a Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan. Some are eating them like tic-tacs, their doctors happily refilling a 90-day prescription, no questions asked. Yet in 2013 these medications were involved in 30 percent of overdose deaths, second only to opioids. Side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, sedation, and let’s not forget to mention the blackouts that sometimes occur. Kleptomania? Yep. That’s a thing too, as the fear centers in the brain are shut down and inhibitions released.
How many people do we know that take these medications daily and drive? Do we question it, even give it a second thought? What does that label say in fine print on the side of the bottle? Use care while operating a vehicle? Or does it advise not to drive at all? How much care can be used when the fear centers are muted?
Then we have cannabis. As my friend Jack Tobin recently put it, we all have that one friend that ate a brownie at a party and got too high, and of course no one needs to be driving around like that. However, that’s not the norm. Cannabis has a built-in self regulating mechanism, in that it gets incredibly not fun very quickly if it’s overdone. It isn’t like alcohol, or benzos, where if taken in large amounts one simply blacks out or passes out. With cannabis, one remains highly aware. That awareness and magnification of consciousness can be incredibly uncomfortable. So much so, that every user knows when enough is enough and we don’t cross the line. If we do, we’re not going anywhere, because fear and panic set in, making it nearly impossible to leave one's space. Most people who’ve used the plant know what it’s like to take it to far. Once we go there, we stay well far away from that line, because it doesn’t feel good.
This isn’t just my personal opinion. This phenomenon was noted back in the 40’s when the LaGuardia Report was published. Detectives noted an extreme difference between cannabis and all other substances, in that cannabis users were all mindful to not get “too high”, because everyone explained it wasn’t a pleasant experience. They saw a distinct difference between weed and other drugs like heroin, cocaine, and alcohol, in that with the latter three the users tended to abuse the substances, using as much as they could get their hands on. Not cannabis though. Nobody wanted to get to high on weed.
It’s time we start having honest conversations with one another about our responsible cannabis consumption. I see hundreds of responsible consumers coming into my store daily. We exist in all walks of life. I’ve started asking people what they do for a living. We are everywhere, friends. It’s time we start being open about our cannabis use. Together, we can and will break the taboo.