By Lanny Swerdlow, R.N.
You haven’t used cannabis since you were in your 20s and you want to start again. With all the nonsense that has been put into your head ever since you were just a kid, you are to be congratulated for overcoming decades of lies. Congratulations—you are now on a road to increased health and decreased stress.
After decades of unfounded abstinence, you probably have some questions about its use. Those questions usually center on what is the appropriate use of cannabis and what is the appropriate amount to use?
To get a better understanding, an explanation of how doctors prescribe medications would be helpful. When a doctor prescribes medicine for what ails you, he will provide it either as “take as directed” or “take as needed.”
Antibiotics are an example of ‘take as directed” medicine. The doctor gives you 24 pills and directs you to “take one pill every six hours until all the pills are gone.” It doesn’t matter if the infection no longer appears present, you take one pill every six hours until all the pills are gone—you take it exactly “as directed.”
“Take as needed” or PRN is the other dose regimen. Vicodin is an example of a PRN medication. The doctor instructs you to “take one pill every four hours as needed for pain.” If after four hours you don’t have any pain, you don’t take the medication unlike the antibiotic which you take every six hours even if the infection appears to be gone.
Cannabis most definitely falls into the PRN category as the appropriate use is determined by the user.
For people who find that cannabis has little if any effect, makes them dizzy or other negative side effect, the appropriate use will be no use.
For most people, use will be occasional. A person comes home all stressed out from a difficult day’s work or they have been working in the garden all afternoon and their back is aching—they will use it occasionally as needed.
A person suffering from insomnia will use it every night before going to bed. A person with chronic pain, morbid depression or recovering from alcohol and drug abuse will use it morning, noon and night and for them that is the appropriate use.
The question then becomes how much to use. In the case of cannabis, and only cannabis, you use as much as needed to obtain a therapeutic dose which is the dose at which you achieve the therapeutic relief you are seeking. This is very individualistic with some finding just a puff or two to be all they need and others “bogarting” that joint. The same is true for edibles, tinctures and balms.
The amount you consume will usually be directly proportional to the quality of the cannabis you are consuming. Those varieties high in THC and other cannabinoids will provide therapeutic relief at a lower dose than poorer quality cannabis. Rather than freaking out about today’s marijuana with higher concentrations of THC and other cannabinoids, our government’s health officials should be lauding the horticulturists who have created these concentrated varieties as they significantly reduce the amount of smoking necessary to obtain therapeutic relief.
Whether you can afford primo marijuana or must consume more mundane varieties, you cannot overdose no matter how much you smoke. There is not a single study showing any correlation between how much cannabis a person consumes and their likelihood of developing cancer, emphysema or any other disease. In fact there are a growing number of studies in peer-reviewed, evidentiary based medical journals showing users of cannabis have a lower rate of developing many cancers than people who do not consume any cannabis.
The appropriate amount of cannabis for an individual to use is whatever it takes to get the therapeutic relief they are seeking. Referring to that moment when smoking more is not going to get you anywhere, George Carlin eloquently noted, “after you get to that point, all you’re doing is wasting good pot.”
Lanny Swerdlow, R.N., is heard on Marijuana Compassion and Common Sense every Monday at 6PM on Inland Empire radio station KCAA 1050 AM. He can be contacted at (760) 799-2055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.