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Where to Find Relief?

One of the most common questions I have received working at a dispensary is what is your strongest stuff; what’s the highest testing flower you’ve guys got?! Most patients want something that will help them sleep or relieve pain/discomfort that they are experiencing. So recently, when a middle-aged woman came up to me visibly flustered and was looking for something “not heavy, just something to give a slight buzz,” it took me back for a second. She was a self-described novice with a very low tolerance and did not want to get so high that she couldn’t enjoy herself or be functional. Fortunately, I had a perfect strain that would give her the health benefits that she was looking for without the side effects she was worried about. This flower was low in THC, specifically Delta 9, the main compound that gets you high, but contained a higher amount of CBD, which is considered a “non-psychoactive” compound. If these terms are beginning to confuse you, you are not alone. THC and CBD are just two out of hundreds of compounds found in cannabis and with changing laws and attitudes we are able to use science to learn more, so let’s talk a look.

Just as I was about to delve into some of the defining compounds found within cannabis and talk about the one generating all the buzz today, Delta 8, my fellow staff writer put out a detailed spread last issue. So, turning in a different yet similar direction, as people continue to seek treatment in the form of cannabis, I see so much of this circle back to mental health. The increase in mental health issues has only been exacerbated during these uncertain times as many people have had to deal with losing jobs, family members, friends, and just the stress and anxiety that isolation can bring. It is wonderful that we live in a more connected world through the internet, but that of course brings on a lot of unintended consequences when people are unable to unplug for a minute and simply relax.

As mental health issues have increased, people continue to seek alternative forms of therapy. I personally am a huge advocate of talk therapy, yet growing up as part of the generation dubbed “gen Rx,” pharmaceutical companies have taken over and flooded communities with pills. Therapy is a very individual experience and what works for one person may not work for another and I do not believe medicine, in this case pills, are inherently evil. The problem occurs when doctors prescribe this medicine to patients who are not even fully aware what they are taking and the unintended risks. And sadly, with such powerful drugs that are being prescribed today, the overdose rates have skyrocketed. It is as if a new grim milestone is reached every year as prescription drug overdose deaths are set to surpass the total number of casualties in all U.S. wars combined. It took just over two decades of overdose deaths, from 1999 to 2021, to exceed the casualties suffered in a 200-year span of war.

While going from a patient at a dispensary asking for suggestions on flower to bringing up hundreds of thousands of prescription overdose deaths may seem like a stretch, and it is, the question I was asked emphasizes the challenges we face in society. This woman simply wanted to find some relief from another fast paced day/week. But what was equally important as achieving that level of comfort was to make sure the medicine was not going to negatively affect her. And this is the double-edged sword in having access to the incredible range of medicinal products that there are today; it is overwhelming. The beauty of the cannabis plant versus opioids is that the unintended risk may be a longer nap or insatiable appetite; you don’t have to worry about dying or forming an all-consuming addiction. I always like to stress that, like all medicine, cannabis affects people differently, so as more products become available like ones using Delta 8 THC instead of Delta 9, new patients will have to find what works best for them. Ultimately I am happy to see people taking on mental health with more vigor as we continue to learn more and open ourselves to alternative forms of medicine away from “Big Pharma” that seemingly has done as much harm as good.

Ryan Fitzgerald, originally from Milwaukee, WI, is a student of history, a lover of music, competitive games, and a cannabis enthusiast. He writes about cannabis history, culture and current events.



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