Are the benefits of THC and CBD overblown? That depends on who you ask…
Recently I stumbled upon this Reddit Post in the subreddit “unpopular opinion” where the OP said that while the Redditor believes in full body autonomy and that cannabis should be completely legalized – that the medical benefits have been overblown.
Here’s what the OP had to say,
So full disclaimer, I support the full and total legalization of marijuana, as well as THC and CBD products. I believe people have a right to bodily autonomy and a right to grow and a right to self destruct, and that it’s neither societys job nor the governments job to determine outcomes until a persons choices violate the rights of another.
But with that said, the strong push of thc and cbd as these miracle cures for everything is overblown and that the advertising used by a lot of shops to promote unproven claims rivals that of the supplement industry, which is largely unregulated. While there are likely some benefits, more research is needed. And while some things maybe proven, like pain relief with CBD, many things may end up disproven while many negative things, such as links between anxiety and drug induced psychosis from THC, in at risk populations, may also manifest.
Some research has already been done –
And more research is definitely needed. However, what’s concerning to me is that I don’t think most of the pot user base is going to accept the research, especially over any points that end up being painted in a negative light. This is especially concerning that some of the preliminary evidence suggests long term consequences from over and extended use, which can be expensive and burdensome for both the user, their family, but also state agencies and resources meant to help people with disabilities – even self inflicted ones, like MA.
And if the preliminary research is right and we see spikes in mental illness and other illnesses stemming from prolonged use, we could see the rise of a younger generation seeking to ban or limit the use of marijuana, which would bring us full circle, where we’re pissing away egregious amounts of cash on the judiciary and prison system over a plant.
So with that said, I think the community needs to take a careful look at itself, embrace moderation and, while being enthusiastic about prospective benefits is fine, be honest about what is and what isn’t known and be mindful of the potential risks on both a group and an individual level. – Source
There’s a lot to unpack in this one and I’ll be spending the rest of the article breaking down the OP’s opinion and adding in my own for clarity.
Let’s get started!
The Strong Push for THC and CBD are overblown!
The first claim that the OP makes is that the medical benefits of THC and CBD are overblown. How is it possible that these cannabinoids can provide so much therapeutic benefit? Well, I actually responded in the Reddit thread, and if you can find my original post, you’ll actually learn my real name…shh!
The main reason why it is seemingly such a “miracle cure” is because of the fact that when people begin to use cannabis after the age of 25, they are supplementing their endocannabinoid system with phytocannabinoids that resemble their endocannabinoids.
As a result, their endocannabinoid system begins to perform at optimal levels. The ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body. Therefore, if the ECS is out of whack, physical illness manifest.
Then, correcting it suddenly heals the person…it’s not the “THC nor the CBD” but it’s the interaction of the cannabinoids with the ECS that promotes the healing. – Me
I have spoken about this extensively here on Cannabis.net. But, to be fair, there are some people that put too much stock into cannabinoids as the source of healing. While I’m 100% on board that these cannabinoids are beneficial, I do think that there is an eagerness to oversell it by advocates.
While it does provide a plethora of benefits, it doesn’t always help the patients in question. It doesn’t always stop cancer, it doesn’t always stop pain for some users.
This is because every individual user is unique and cannabis interacts with us in a unique fashion. There is no “standardized effect” that occurs from cannabis consumption. Two people could smoke the same joint and have wildly different experiences.
Therefore, to claim it’s a “cure all” and that it will work in a particular manner is not correct. In most cases, cannabis only engages with the endocannabinoid system which then sparks internal processes and the healing is done primarily by the body or mind.
The Links between Psychosis
“While there are likely some benefits, more research is needed. And while some things maybe proven, like pain relief with CBD, many things may end up disproven while many negative things, such as links between anxiety and drug induced psychosis from THC, in at risk populations, may also manifest.”
The OP then cites a research paper by NIDA which has funded 95% of “negative cannabis studies” where it claims that there may be a “link” between cannabis use and psychiatric disorders.
However, this link is not causal at all and every single study that has been done on the subject matter reaffirms this. They say, “there is correlation” but it isn’t necessarily the “cause of”.
And this is the case for more people who suffer from Schizoid disorders. Basically, their underlying genetic factors coupled with their environment simply needs a catalyst to activate the condition. In some cases, that is cannabis, in others its alcohol, and for others it could be a “bad breakup”.
Yet, these instances didn’t cause the psychiatric condition. Far from it, it was already present in the person and these events only triggered it.
Also, “Drug Induced Psychosis” is another way of saying, “Getting High” because the drug altered your baseline. However, you don’t necessarily have a full blown “psychotic break” which is what the OP is actually referring to.
Furthermore, the “At risk population” argument should be applied to all sectors of society if you ever want to make a serious case for this argument. Why? Because “IF” cannabis is responsible for psychotic breaks – then so does alcohol.
If we take extra measures for preventing “at risk populations” from getting their hands on cannabis – shouldn’t we do the same for people who drink alcohol? After all, what are the comparative studies that pit the “psychosis hypothesis” between alcohol and cannabis?
They don’t exist. They do have independent studies that show the same link between alcohol use and schizophrenia – but we don’t see any legislation being made to curtail alcohol sales as a result. Buying alcohol within 1,000 feet of a school or a church is totally okay – but not with cannabis.
Here’s a snippet from Web MD on the effects of Alcohol on Schizophrenia
Alcohol misuse alone over long periods can cause psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, which is when you see, feel, hear, or smell something that isn’t there. “These symptoms can mimic or overlap with symptoms of schizophrenia and appear to ‘trigger’ a psychotic episode,” says Kamal Bhatia, MD, a psychiatrist at Baltimore’s Sheppard Pratt, a nonprofit provider of mental health, substance abuse, and other services.
People with schizophrenia are also more vulnerable to substance abuse. One large study shows that 47% have problems with drugs or alcohol, compared with 16% of people without the condition. Other recent research suggests that this group is three times more likely to drink alcohol. In fact, it’s the second most common psychoactive substance that people with schizophrenia use.
Experts have a few theories about why this is. One is that you’re more likely to have schizophrenia or misuse alcohol if you have a family history of these conditions. Researchers are also looking at the link between biomarkers (molecules in your body that suggest disease), alcohol misuse, and schizophrenia. Others think some people misuse alcohol to ease the symptoms of psychosis or side effects of antipsychotic medication. – Web MD
In other words, it seems that people with underlying schizoid tendencies tend to abuse drugs at a higher rate than those who do not. Alcohol being the 2nd most consumed psychoactive substance assuming that cannabis also is on the top 3 along with tobacco.
The fact of the matter is that these people have a pre-disposition for substance abuse due to their Schizophrenia meaning that the link between cannabis and schizophrenia is probably reversed.
It’s not that cannabis causes schizophrenia but rather schizophrenics tend to abuse cannabis to deal with their underlying symptoms. The same goes for alcohol abuse. It’s meant to silence the voices, only to have the condition compound and manifest as a psychotic “break” when a certain threshold of stress and anxiety has been reached.
The mind, at this point, then fully embraces the alternative narrative and that’s when things start getting weird.
The point here is that the “At risk” population are more likely to abuse cannabis as a result of their schizophrenia and not the other way around. We don’t see people without a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia become schizophrenic post cannabis use…at least that has never been studied or proven.
“This is especially concerning that some of the preliminary evidence suggests long term consequences from over and extended use, which can be expensive and burdensome for both the user, their family, but also state agencies and resources meant to help people with disabilities – even self inflicted ones, like MA.”
Most of the “long form studies” are not to be trusted. There’s a reason why cannabis users as skeptical about these studies, because unlike the OP – many of us understand the history of cannabis prohibition and how science was used as a weapon in sustaining the narrative of the War on Drugs.
The vast majority of users, and I’m talking about 95% and above – will not ever experience these “expensive and burdensome side effects” that the OP is imagining. Irrespective if it causes more “resource drainage” on agencies meant to “help people with disabilities”, the argument is also weak.
If this was truly the case, we would then enforce dietary restrictions on the obese when eating fast food. Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the US and it is directly linked with diet. Therefore, if the concern is “bleeding money from agencies”, wouldn’t it be in everyone’s best interest to weigh people prior to going into a restaurant to determine whether they can physically take that “Big Gulp” with their Super-Sized fries?”
It would certainly reduce the burden that the “fats” have placed on the taxpayer!
Nonetheless, I always hear about these “debilitating illnesses” that “may” happen, but have never in over twenty years of consuming cannabis met anyone who actually had one of these debilitating illnesses as a result from cannabis. Maybe I’m just lucky?
A Future Ban?
And if the preliminary research is right and we see spikes in mental illness and other illnesses stemming from prolonged use, we could see the rise of a younger generation seeking to ban or limit the use of marijuana, which would bring us full circle, where we’re pissing away egregious amounts of cash on the judiciary and prison system over a plant
While this “could” be true…we have seen that alcohol legalization hasn’t been reversed even despite the fact that 40% of all violent crimes have been linked to the use. Domestic abuse, cancer, mental illness – all have been directly linked with alcohol use – yet we still see that prohibition causes MORE HARM than regulation.
Also, the younger generations are going to be raised by people who smoke weed. I believe that they will probably smoke less than their parents do – but they will not see cannabis as anything “bad” or “warranting a total ban”.
It’s not the younger generation trying to ban or limit – it’s the older generation still stuck in the War on Drugs narrative. I see a future where all drugs are legal and regulated because “freedom” is a priority for future generations. At least that’s what I hope for!
While I totally agree that we shouldn’t grant cannabis “magickal powers” and give it more credit than is due, the argument that “users should take a hard look at themselves” is irrelevant.
People should be educated on cannabis and take a decision based on their own perceived risks. And in the case that something goes “wrong” like having a psychotic break since you’ve got schizophrenia – to NOT blame cannabis and take some fucking responsibility for their own decisions.
People are always trying to blame everything else but themselves…