The main anti-marijuana propaganda since the 1960s was that individuals who smoked marijuana did so to escape their problems and reality.
So let’s talk about that reality, the one prohibitionists don’t know…. that they don’t know about; namely, that over the course of our lives many serious life events, medical and other wise, can develop into what feels like a state of PTSD in slow motion.
Everybody’s lives ultimately end in tragedy; it is just a universal that comes with being human. Nobody escapes this, but the good news is that we all can be helped by this gentle plant.
Over the last 20 years we have learned the open secret of the suppressed scientific research about medical marijuana as a therapeutic agent which provides patients with the ability to experience joy, insight, and the will to live, especially when faced with overwhelming life events that threaten to overwhelm their ability to cope. Medical marijuana works by reestablishing a homeostatic state in both mind and body, or the ability to remain physically and mentally stable under long-term distress.
Every major catastrophic life event, physical illness, disease, or disability has an equally challenging psychological component that one must, alone, come to terms with. Cannabinoids act as a mild dissociative — it is this temporary disconnect when all else fails that helps you find your “still spot” within a distressed state.
In that very moment of joyful homeostasis we experience a moment of serenity and peace, which standard psychiatric medicines lack. The very word health has the root word to heal and the suffix th which means the process of.
Cannabinoids represent a new classification within pharmacology, representing this robust homeostatic support those in distress seek.
Increase in cannabinoids levels = increase in homeostasis level = decrease in PTSD symptoms
“Distress tolerance (DT) often is conceptualized as the perceived or actual ability to withstand aversive physical or emotional stimuli and offers one promising explanatory factor for the association between PTSD symptom severity and marijuana use coping motives.”
“These preliminary results suggest that distress tolerance may be an important cognitive-affective mechanism underlying the posttraumatic stress-marijuana use coping motives association.”
“Theoretically, trauma-exposed marijuana users with greater posttraumatic stress symptom severity may use marijuana to cope with negative mood states, at least partially because of a lower perceived capacity to withstand emotional distress.”
From- “Posttraumatic Stress and Marijuana Use Coping Motives: The Mediating Role of Distress Tolerance”
J Anxiety Disord. 2011 AprilThe best medicine is preventative, the one you use before you get the disease and develop full-blown symptoms.
“An ideal treatment would be a drug able to block the pathological over-consolidation and continuous retrieval of the traumatic event, while enhancing its extinction and reducing the anxiety symptoms. While the latter benefit from antidepressant medications, no drug is available to control the cognitive symptomatology.
“Endocannabinoids regulate affective states and participate in memory consolidation, retrieval, and extinction. Clinical findings showing a relationship between Cannabis use and PTSD, as well as changes in endocannabinoid activity in PTSD patients, further suggest the existence of a link between endocannabinoids and maladaptive brain changes after trauma exposure”.
From – Frontiers Behavior Neuroscience Aug/ 2013
People utilize cannabis medically to produce hope and joy, which helps them cope with physical and emotional distress in the face of sometimes seemingly insurmountable life conditions. Joy is the very outward expression of this internal state of homeostasis. Life is best experienced with as little suffering as possible; marijuana is an aid that tilts the playing field in your favor. Suffering does not build character and is bad for the health of the brain; cannabinoids help to treat this.
So how does an activated endocannabinoid system augment reality in a positive manner?
“Cannabis may dampen the strength or emotional impact of traumatic memories through synergistic mechanisms that might make it easier for people with PTSD to rest or sleep and to feel less anxious and less involved with flashback memories.”
“The presence of endocannabinoid signaling systems within stress-sensitive nuclei of the hypothalamus, as well as upstream limbic structures (amygdala), point to the significance of this system for the regulation of neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to stress.”
“Evidence is increasingly accumulating that cannabinoids might play a role in fear extinction and antidepressive effects. It is concluded that further studies are warranted in order to evaluate the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in PTSD”.
Drug Testing and Analysis, Aug. 2012“Clinical findings showing a relationship between cannabis use and PTSD, as well as changes in endocannabinoid activity in PTSD patients, further suggest the existence of a link between endocannabinoids and maladaptive brain changes after trauma exposure. Along these lines, we suggest that endocannabinoid degradation inhibitors may be an ideal therapeutic approach to simultaneously treat the emotional and cognitive features of PTSD, avoiding the unwanted psychotropic effects of compounds directly binding cannabinoid receptors” –Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, Aug. 2013
You get about 30,000 days to live
“So you should view this fleeting world —
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightening in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.”
Even if you live to be 80+ years old, that equals only 30,000 days that you get to live. In the very brief period of time you are alive, the one thing that you do possess is the radical freedom to find meaning or emotional salience in life. You create this by finding what brings you joy, the most beneficial of all emotions. Cannabis produces joy when none can be found.
“Additional analyses revealed that the relations between PTSD (lifetime and current) and lifetime cannabis use remained statistically significant when adjusting for co-occurring anxiety and mood disorders and trauma type frequency. Overall, these findings add to the emerging literature demonstrating a possibly important relationship between PTSD and cannabis use.”
From – Psychology of Addictive Behaviors /Sept 2011
How about a simple existential thought experiment? There is no right or wrong answer.
Knowing all about life as you understand it to be so far, if you were given the option to have never been born vs. being born and living the present life you have, which would you choose?
In other words, which condition would result in the least amount of suffering and the most joy?
This mental calculus must also take into account in the larger context your future chances of producing joy for yourself with the resources and mixed bag of evolutionary limitations and gifts you possess over the span of your lifetime.
My hypothesis is that more than 50 percent of people in the world will probably say that, in their lives, they have experienced more pain than pleasure, the science supporting medical marijuana as a pharmacological treatment option addresses this issue of human suffering as no other medicine can.
For many medical marijuana patients, cannabis would be the deciding factor that makes life worth living. I am glad we have marijuana on our winning side.
This post is dedicated to TR Ritchie, a traveling musician/troubadour/poet, who resides in Bellingham, Washington, and who was just diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer. If you enjoy his music and would like to help out, please visit his website, www.trritchie.com to purchase a book or CD for yourself or as a gift for a friend. Thank you in advance for any help you can give TR in his moment of greatest need.
“So shed no tears of pity here
Spin no tales of tragic grace
Just let it be enough that life
Is blooming in this rocky place
It is the proof that seeds will grow
Wherever they are sown
And that sometimes small and twisted things
Can split the hardest stone”
~ “Whitebark,” TR Ritchie 
℞ ℞ ℞ ℞ ℞ ℞ ℞
Editor’s note: Ron Marczyk is a retired high school health eduation teacher who taught Wellness and Disease Prevention, Drug and Sex Education, and AIDS Education to teens aged 13-17.
He also taught a high school International Baccalaureate psychology course. He taught in a New York City public school as a Drug Prevention Specialist.
He is a Registered Nurse with six years of ER/Critical Care experience in NYC hospitals, earned an M.S. in cardiac rehabilitation and exercise physiology, and worked as a New York City police officer for two years.
Currently he is focused on how evolutionary psychology explains human behavior.
To see all of Ron Marczyk’s “Worth Repeating” articles for Toke Signals, click here.