If you’re new to medicinal or recreational marijuana use, you may have some questions. How do you consume it? What are the diagnoses that are treated with medical marijuana? What is THC? Is it legal where you live?
At Conte, we believe in education first and foremost when it comes to anything cannabis. Consider this your one-stop shop for learning about cannabis.
History of Marijuana
Also known as cannabis or hemp, marijuana has been extracted from plants by humans since around 500 B.C. in and around China. Chemical analysis revealed clear evidence of burnt cannabis from that time, which may have been used ceremoniously or medically, or even to use the oil and fiber to make clothing, paper or rope.
In the United States, early colonists grew hemp for rope and textiles. Even first U.S. President George Washington grew hemp at his home as one of his primary crops. Through the late 1800s, Americans utilized cannabis for rope and fabric, as well as medicinal purposes. In the 1850s, marijuana was used in various over-the-counter drugs in American pharmacies.
In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed by the U.S. Congress. This required that certain special drugs, including marijuana, be accurately labeled with contents. More and more regulations were passed, including the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act in the late 1920s, which gave states the authority to exercise police power in regard to seizure of drugs used in illicit trade, and the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937, which made possession or transfer of marijuana illegal throughout the U.S. under federal law.
In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) deemed the Marihuana Tax Act to be unconstitutional, since it violated the Fifth Amendment (rights against self-incrimination). As Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, the Controlled Substances Act officially prohibited the use of cannabis for any purpose and eliminated mandatory minimum sentences and reduced simple possession of all drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor.
After numerous other court cases and addendums, California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis in 1996. In 2012, Washington and Colorado were the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Since California trail blazed the legalization of marijuana, 27 states (as well as the District of Columbia) have officially decriminalized the use of cannabis. Decriminalization refers to the reduction of penalties for cannabis offenses, typically involving a civil penalty for possessing small amounts of cannabis. This removes the need for criminal prosecution or the threat of arrest.
Only Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming still consider medicinal marijuana illegal. In terms of state population, 27% of U.S. residents live in an area where medical and recreational cannabis use is considered illegal.
However, under federal law, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance under the CSA and thus is strictly regulated by federal authorities. Marijuana’s status under the CSA has remained unchanged for more than 50 years.
States where marijuana for medicinal use is legal but illegal for recreational use require marijuana users to obtain cannabis after a prescription from a licensed doctor. The patient must suffer from one or many symptoms, ranging from seizures to nerve pain or cancer.
Common Misconceptions About Marijuana
Due to smear campaigns and general misunderstanding about cannabis and its effects, there are many misconceptions about marijuana. We’re here to set the record straight.
I can drive when I use marijuana.
False. Cannabis impairs judgment and your overall senses, so it is never recommended to drive a motor vehicle after marijuana consumption. It’s important to remember that cannabis remains in your body even after the effects seem to have worn off, meaning you can still be legally impaired hours after you no longer feel high. We recommend you do not drive until the day following marijuana consumption.
If you are found to be operating a motor vehicle while impaired by marijuana, you can be charged in a court of law and face penalties and sanctions. These include suspension of license and possible fines or jail time, depending on where you live.
There’s no way to overdose on cannabis.
False. You can become physically ill from inhaling or ingesting too much marijuana, which can lead to nausea. You can also experience extreme paranoia or anxiety from taking too much marijuana, which can also lead to an inability to tell the difference between reality and fantasy (psychosis).
Although no evidence exists that suggests you can die from overuse of cannabis, it is recommended to know your doses/limits and avoid a possible overdose.
It’s impossible to become addicted to cannabis.
False. Chronic marijuana use can lead to addiction. Research suggests 1 in 11 regular users (about 9 percent) develop an addiction to cannabis. People who use marijuana as adolescents often see that 9 percent statistic jump to about 17 percent.
Marijuana is less likely than most drugs to become addicted to, but it is still a possibility and should be consumed with caution.
Inhaling mairjuana is not harmful for my lungs.
False. Any kind of smoke is harmful for your lungs, whether from a cigarette, a campfire or, yes, even marijuana. The American Lung Association states that marijuana inhalation includes many of the same carcinogens as cigarette inhalation. Regularly smoking cannabis increases your risk of chronic bronchitis and respiratory infections.
Q: What does THC stand for?
A: Tetrahydrocannabinol (quite the mouthful) is the primary psychoactive cannabinoid extracted from cannabis plants.
Q: What does CBD stand for?
A: Cannabidiol is extracted from hemp or from other non-hemp plants. Legally, hemp is described as any part of the cannabis sativa plant with no more than 0.3 percent of THC within it.
Q: What qualifies me for medical cannabis?
A: Eligibility for medical cannabis depends on if you suffer from one or more of the following conditions: Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), autism, cancer, dystonia, epilepsy, HIV infection or AIDS, Huntington's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, neuropathy, pain that degrades health and functional capability as an alternative to opioid use, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, substance use disorder, or many other conditions that hinder your way of life, at the discretion of your health care provider.
Q: How do I discover my proper dosage?
A: Your makeup is different from your neighbor, which is different from your best friend. It’s recommended to start at a very low amount and slowly add to it over time. Your tolerance adjusts and once you get to a point where you’re comfortable, you know you have found your proper dosage.
Starting with a small dose and waiting at least 30 minutes to 2 hours to gauge how you feel before adding more will truly help you find your dosage quickly and effectively.
Have more questions? If so, check out our Marijuana Q&A section!