Now that we live in a country where recreational cannabis is about to be legalized, a bit of education around safety and harm reduction wouldn’t be amiss. While the “gateway-drug” theory that one drug will make you want to go out there and try all of the others is rubbish, there are some precautions which should be followed to this end. The medical effects of cannabis and the cannabinoids are a boon to many different illnesses that have to contend with chronic pain and loss of appetite. The hemp plant is also ecologically friendly, requires no pesticides, provides many additional products that can be commercially exploited (such as fiber, food and oil) and is easily cultivated.
However, as cannabis is a psychoactive plant, it can have some detrimental effects on mental health in those whose perception is unstable. These people would be anyone with an existing diagnosis of depression, bipolar disorder, autistic spectrum, and schizophrenia. In order to quantify errors of perception and depression, Drs. Abram Hoffer and Humphrey Osmond created a special questionnaire-style test which they called the HOD test in 1961, which stands for Hoffer Osmond Diagnostic. When I first learned about this test, I took it upon myself to make it into an App for ease of use and harm reduction purposes (links below). Simply put, the test is a true/false questionnaire of 145 statements that quantifies how many perceptual errors you experience due to stress levels. Scores of 20 and above indicate that cannabis and other substances that alter cognition and perception should not be used.
The other thing to mention is that cannabis will induce deficiencies in some brain chemicals that must be addressed so that long term mental health isn’t effected. Anandamide (AEA) and 2-Arichidonoyl Glycerol (2-AG) are two naturally occurring cannabinoid neurotransmitters in our brains. Whenever we supply an external substance (cannabis in this case), the production of these neurotransmitters is down regulated. This means that if we supply their nutritional precursors between use, we will be less likely to become habituated or addicted to an external supply. These precursors are as follows:
Choline (from egg yolks or lecithin granules): dose: 2 tablespoons /day of granules or 2 eggs per day between use. This helps your brain to synthesize AEA and 2-AG.
Essential Fatty Acids: borage Oil (Omega 6-GLA), salmon oil (Omega 3-EPA/DHA), flaxseed oil (Omega 3-EPA/DHA/ALA) Dosage: 400mg of each per day. These lower inflammation in your brain and gut.
Natural COX-2 Inhibitors (Turmeric, Green Tea Extract, Frankincense, Resveratrol, Cats Claw, Capsaicin): Any one of these can be taken prior to cannabis use in order to prevent the short term memory loss that accompanies use. For dosage, follow bottle instructions to start.
It is also important to note that frequent use will adversely affect these levels, and your mental health. As such, if you wish to use cannabis recreationally, a safe frequency would be no more than once every 2 weeks, while supplementing with the above mentioned nutrients between your use. If you are unsure of whether or not to use cannabis, do the HOD test mentioned above for an extra margin of safety.
Be Well and Be Zen
Gaby A R, (2011), Nutritional Medicine, Ch. 276, Addiction, p. 989-999., Fritz Perlberg Publishing, Concord, NH., ISBN 13: 978-0-9828850-0-0.
Parker, L.A., (2017)., Cannabinoids and the Brain., Ch.2, p.24-25, 76., MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts., ISBN: 978-0-262-03579-8.
Audette A. J., Johnson R. R., Anello F., Revisiting the Use of the Hoffer-Osmond Diagnostic Test in Mental Health., Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 2017, Vol. 32, No. 4.