In my own life experience, the unhealthiest thing about cannabis has been the lack of education around it.
Similar to how proper nutrition education can lead to food choices that heal us, knowledge about cannabis and a mindful approach can lead to good decision making about cannabis.
Here are 6 steps to ensure you are creating healthy and responsible relationship with cannabis.
Step 1: Set Your Intention
Ask yourself why you are considering consuming cannabis today. Is it to relieve body pain, release stress, enhance your mood, help with falling asleep, or purely to experience pleasure?
This is a good time to acknowledge the lifestyle choices that led you to feeling this way.
For example, if I am experiencing a lot of anxiety throughout the day, it’s often because I have not exercised heavily over the last few days or I stayed up too late watching Netflix.
I make an effort to balance my lifestyle with activities that support my mental and physical health. Once I’ve balanced these other factors, I then supplement with cannabis.
Upon setting my intention, I choose a product that I understand will best serve my reason for consumption.
For example, if I acknowledge that my intention is to relieve muscle pain, I’m more likely to choose a cannabis topical lotion to target the pain locally. If I am attempting to relieve high anxiety, I am more likely to choose to vaporize a strain high in CBD or take Hemp CBD oil drops.
Setting your intention is the first step to creating a responsible relationship with cannabis.
Step 2: Environment
For this step, I acknowledge my intention for consuming cannabis and adjust to the environment and setting.
For example, if I am out in a social setting with friends, the way I consume cannabis may be different than if I’m home.
When I’m out at an event I most likely will not consume a cannabis edible. While this method of consumption might taste good, it is more likely to make my body feel heavy, and I know I would prefer to be closer to my bed.
If I’m socializing at a nice restaurant, I know my bestchoice is for me to microdose cannabis with a vape pen instead of smoking. With this type of consumption I usually feel more clear headed than from smoking, and I don’t carry any lingering cannabis odor.
Together steps 1 and 2 can be referred to as set and setting: one’s intended mindset (shortened to set) and the physical and social environment (the setting) in which the user has the experience.
Step 3: Know Your Product Type and Cannabis 101
Understanding how the body processes each different cannabis product type is the ultimate step towards a positive and responsible experience with cannabis.
There are over ten different ways to consume cannabis that don’t involve smoking, and each method is absorbed and processed by the body in a slightly different way.
For example, when I take oil drops under my tongue, the cannabinoids are absorbed sublingually into the mucus membrane, usually taking effect in about 10-20 minutes.
Alternatively, an edible is processed by the liver and can take up to 2 hours to take effect, depending on what else I have eaten. The THC is also converted by the liver into a more psychoactive compound, so the experience may be amplified.
When you understand your different product options and basic cannabis 101, you are more likely to have a positive experience with cannabis in a mindful and responsible manner.
Step 4: Microdosing
Microdosing cannabis is effectively looking for the minimum effective dose to achieve the desired results.
By microdosing cannabis, I find I am better able to avoid over-consuming cannabis, especially THC. Though I appreciate THC for pain relief and relaxation, too much can increase my anxiety or distract me from my day at the office.
I would rather be underwhelmed by my cannabis experience than overwhelmed. Each time I try a new cannabis product, I try a smaller amount than the recommended dose.
If I don’t feel the effects enough, I know that the next time I consume the same product I can try increasing the amount.
When I find myself in a situation where I’m sharing cannabis with friends who are less experienced with it, or I’m being offered a new product that I have not sampled before, microdosing is my consumption strategy to increase the likelihood of a positive experience.
Step 5: Preparedness
Be prepared that your cannabis experience might not go as planned, and have a plan in case of over consumption.
Our bodies each experience cannabis differently. Even when I’ve consumed a familiar cannabis product, my mood, time of the month and the food in my stomach can completely change the outcome.
Consume cannabis with a friend if you are new or inexperienced. Have CBD oil drops on hand, as the CBD may decrease the intensity of the THC experience. Keep hydrated with lemon water as it may help the body process the cannabis compounds. Play your favourite music or distract yourself with a movie.
I personally find that the intense feelings that come with over-consuming cannabis are related to the thoughts and emotions I’ve been trying to suppress. Cannabis may act like a therapist, opening the mind to reflective thinking, which is not always the most comfortable experience.
Stay calm and remember that your body is capable of processing the cannabis.
Step 6: Personal Responsibility
As cannabis legalization becomes more widespread, concerns about children (or pets) accessing it, and people driving high, are often discussed in the media.
One solution to the access issue is to lock cannabis products up.
Both while at home, and while transporting cannabis, I keep my cannabis products locked up. Stashlogix offers one of the best storage solutions in the form of a lockable, odour-proof and heat resistant case.
When it comes to impairment, we are each responsible for our actions. As a general rule, when I am consuming any product with THC, I am not operating my vehicle.
The only exception to this is when I am microdosing THC in the form of 1:25 THC:CBD oil drops. This type of consumption does not personally create euphoria. However, I have come to understand my personal tolerance from regular experience and product experimentation without driving at the same time.
Cannabis affects us all differently, so it’s important to understanding your own tolerances to both THC and CBD, and avoid operating any vehicle while consuming.
Cannabis can be used for wellness, or it can be misused. I hope this overview on responsible cannabis consumption helps you or a loved one come to understand what a healthy relationship with cannabis can look like.
Disclaimer: The information shared in this post is for educational purposes only and is not to be considered medical or legal advice. Please consult with a cannabis educated health care practitioner and seek legal counsel on the cannabis laws in your area.
Disclosure: Flower & Freedom and Stashlogix have a paid educational partnership to collaborate on creating education on safe and responsible cannabis storage. Bethany and the Flower & Freedom team have been using Stashlogix cannabis storage solutions since November 2016.
Bethany Rae is the founder of Flower & Freedom. She is a cannabis education advocate and fitness enthusiast. She inspires honest, experience-based conversations to guide awareness around healthy cannabis consumption. Follow Bethany Rae on Instagram here.
Written by Bethany Rae for Flower & Freedom.