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Hemp, THC, CBD, marijuana; cannabis. For centuries, cannabis has been used for medicinal and recreational qualities. It has also been the center of controversy. Today as we celebrate 4/20 or Weed Day the narrative around cannabis begins to shift, many are re-examining the plant and forming a new opinion about usage and consumption and ways to monetize it legally. Still, little is known about its origin, and even less is known about its multi-layered properties. However, advocates are working to educate and dispel outdated myths and ideologies about the plant.
Cannabis has been around for centuries, and its uses are as long as its time on earth. First noted in central Asia, cannabis has grown in popularity and has been demonized for its ‘feel-good’ properties. Nevertheless, education around cannabis is growing and causing a change in how it is viewed.
Called many names, cannabis refers to the plant component which produces marijuana, the dried leaves or flowers of the plant. Hemp is also a derivative of Cannabis. Similar in its nature to marijuana, the two are worlds apart. Hemp contains a lesser amount of THC and is unlikely to produce a high. Alternatively, marijuana’s THC levels can range wildly and is the main component causing feelings of euphoria for users.
“The terms ‘marijuana,’ the term ‘cannabis’ all get interchanged, but they’re not necessarily interchangeable when it comes to a scientific standpoint. Look at cannabis as your high level. Then a breakdown from that, people probably also heard of a term ‘hemp.’ Cannabis is your high-level plant and then you have hemp and marijuana. Hemp and marijuana, to the naked eye, look identical, but hemp is not technically marijuana,” says Jerome Crawford, Director of Legal Operations and Social Equity for Pleasantrees, a Michigan cannabis dispensary.
Often lost in translation, CBD or cannabidiol and THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, are the two most common cannabinoids found in cannabis. With more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis, CBD and THC get the most attention and work to create different sensations in the body by releasing neurotransmitters in the brain.
“Here’s a good way of thinking about it: CBD might be considered your body high, THC may be considered your head high. What I mean by that, THC is psychoactive so it produces a high and CBD is non-psychoactive, not producing a high,” says Crawford.
Cannabis has been used for its medicinal properties since its origination despite its recreational usage. Used to treat chronic pain, side effects caused by terminal illnesses, and anxiety, cannabis is re-establishing its roots in the medical field and providing relief for many patients. Creams, pills, edibles, and other consumables are made with CBD components to relieve joint and muscle pain. CBD may help to actually relieve pain, while THC may relate to how the body perceives pain. Legalization is helping Cannabis to make headway in medicine as an alternative way to treat pain and illnesses.
“I do think it has to deal with the legal status. We are seeing more states come aboard with some type of medical program, so people feel like if the law says it’s okay to use, it must be okay,” says Biyyiah Lee, MSN, RN, PAHM, and CEO and president of Midwest CannaNurses.
Helping to break medicinal stereotypes, users explore additional ways to self-medicate with cannabis. No longer limited to just smoking, users have many more diverse options to fit their needs.
“When we think about weed, most people think about the flower. However, the changing regulation have given us more ways to consume cannabis, beyond just smoking. A lot of people feel more comfortable with that. They think that when you consume cannabis in an oil form or in a pill form, it has more of that traditional medicinal feel than it did when we had just flower on the market,” says Lee.
Cannabis has been used for its medicinal properties since its origination despite its recreational usage. Used to treat chronic pain, side effects caused by terminal illnesses, and anxiety, cannabis is re-establishing its roots in the medical field and providing relief for many patients.
“If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of why we’re even seeing the politics play, at the end of the day, it’s money. We are well aware now of the financial freedom that is behind a lot of the cannabis products and the cannabis businesses, but all-in-all, it’s the combination of the advance in legalization and then you have just more accessibility now,” says Lee.
In Michigan, voters elected to legalize marijuana in 2019, and since, dispensaries and other cannabis-related businesses have begun to emerge. Turning the tide, cannabis users are coming out of the haze to advocate for its many uses, including recreational consumption. To continue breaking negative narratives around Cannabis, professionals encourage users to sound off about its benefits.
“I think the best way you can go around dispelling truth and rumors is, one, if you’re a consumer, then that’s your job. Don’t hide behind it,” says Crawford. “On the other side, if you want to help dispel or be a part of the change you want to see, but let’s say you’re not a consumer, keep an open mind and I encourage you to unpack why you have negative outlook in the first place.”