Is Cannabis Addictive?

addictive cannabis Vancouver WA dispensary

You’ve probably had the talk at some point. Or maybe you were the one giving it. Either way, it might have gone something like this: “There will be times when your friends are going to do things that you don’t agree with. They will experiment and get into dangerous situations. You’ll end up at a party where things quickly get out of hand. It’s up to you in those moments to make the right decision. Stand up to peer pressure. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t do drugs. If you do, you’ll get addicted, end up in jail, and ruin your life.”

Ok, so I’m paraphrasing, but the idea is the same. Too many people with authority lump cannabis in the “bad kid” box and said it was addictive.

Yes, there are strong scientific reasons why teens should not be experimenting with cannabis, but is it actually addictive?

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of mythological nonsense about cannabis floating around. Stop by marijuana shops in Vancouver, Washington, talk to anyone behind the counter, and you’ll quickly realize that there is so much misinformation about cannabis that the person’s job is almost less about selling you the sativa you want as it is educating the clientele on all sorts of topics from dabbing, to the benefits of using a bong, to the best storage containers, and so much more.

While we’re faced with all sorts of questions on a daily basis, one I still hear more often than you would think happens to be, “Is cannabis addictive?”

While it’s too often become common place for nearby cannabis connoisseurs to smirk at this question as if it weren’t legitimate, I can tell you that I’ve heard much more ridiculous queries, and that this is actually a question with an answer that keeps evolving, it seems. And, while some marijuana shops in Vancouver, Washington are quick to tell you, “No, cannabis is not addictive”, it turns out the true answer is more convoluted.

Addiction

To better understand if one can have an addiction to marijuana, let’s start with another question: “What is addiction?”

According to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, “Addiction is a complex disease, often chronic in nature, which affects the function of the brain and the body.”

“Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry,” states the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

“Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that can be pleasurable but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships, or health,” according to Psychology Today.

Here in lies our first problem.

While all of these statements from reputable sources are correct and there is overlap, they are also very different. And that’s because while we have learned much about addiction over the last half century, addiction is still not well understood.

The lack of understanding is just one of the reasons we treat the symptoms and not the disease. Remember, there is a reason they call it the study of medicine.

But, let’s get back to the issue at hand. Based on these definitions, is cannabis addictive?

The answer is yes.

But, you may say, cannabis doesn’t have any addictive properties like nicotine found in cigarettes. While we might not yet be able to pinpoint addictive chemicals in cannabis, it’s not so much the cannabis, but the behavior that is addictive. So much so that Cannabis Use Disorder was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5). In fact, they estimate one in three regular users can qualify as having Cannabis Use Disorder.

Cannabis Use Disorder

Cannabis Use Disorder is diagnosed by the appearance of 11 symptoms. Any two symptoms and you can be diagnosed, but as more symptoms appear the severity increases. Here are the symptoms as shared in Very Well.

  1. Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you meant to
  2. Wanting to cut down or stop using the substance but not managing to
  3. Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance
  4. Cravings and urges to use the substance
  5. Not managing to do what you should at work, home or school, because of substance use
  6. Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships
  7. Giving up important social, occupational or recreational activities because of substance use
  8. Using substances again and again, even when it puts you in danger
  9. Continuing to use, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance
  10. Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance)
  11. Developing of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance

In addition to the above, people who are diagnosed with Cannabis Use Disorder also complain of disruption of function due to use, an increased tolerance, cravings, and the development of withdrawal symptoms that can include the inability to sleep, restlessness, nervousness, anger or depression.

A recent study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) find that 2.5% of adults – about 6 million people – have experienced Cannabis Use Disorder in the last year. And, those who consume cannabis before 18 years old are seven times more likely to experience these symptoms.

However, while the numbers suggest addiction, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that Cannabis Use Disorder is more closely associated with dependence problems than full on addiction. Their estimates say about 4 million people in 2015 were dependent on cannabis and under 150,000 sought treatment for their behavior.

Their concern is the rising potency of cannabis. It’s well known that THC levels in cannabis strains are increasing. This, the institute states, could lead to more accounts of dependence down the road.

Ultimately, while cannabis itself isn’t considered addictive, people are occasionally developing a dependence on this substance and in some very rare instances, this elevates to addiction.

Recipe: Easy Infused Kickin’ Chicken

grilled infused cannabis chicken

Sometimes cooking with cannabis can be complicated, from infusing your own butter or oils, to using the whole plant. That’s why we love using products like Verdita Dragon infused syrup by Craft Elixirs. The dosing is already done for you, so you have total control of your experience. This recipe makes it outrageously easy.

Unlike trying to infuse butter or oil to cook with and not really knowing what the dose is afterward, these syrups are measured out for you already, making recipes a piece of cake. The syrup we are using for this recipe comes in a 100mg bottle that can be easily dosed to your preference.

For this simple recipe, we used a jalapeno and cannabis infused syrup to add the kick to our kickin’ chicken.

spicy cannabis infused syrup

Ingredients

4-6 thin cut chicken breasts

1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

salt

pepper

red pepper flakes

Verdita Dragon infused syrup by Craft Elixirs, dosed to your liking

Step 1: If the chicken breasts are not already sliced thin, place them on a cutting board and slice them horizontally through the middle with a sharp knife. Salt and pepper both sides of each piece of chicken.

Step 2: Add oil, lime juice, pepper flakes, and 40-100mg dose of Verdita Dragon cannabis syrup, depending on your desired dose per piece of chicken, to a plastic resealable bag. Shake to mix.

Step 3: Put seasoned chicken into the bag with the oil mixture and shake to coat chicken. Let sit for at least one hour, or for better infusion and flavor, overnight in the refrigerator.

Step 4: Grill chicken over medium heat, basting occasionally with the remaining sauce, and serve hot.

Serving suggestions: Serve with a slice of lime to juice over the top. Top with jalapeno slices or a spicy chimichurri to give it even more kick. Or top with a pineapple mango chutney to cut the heat.

 

A Brief History of Cannabis

cannabis, plant, leaf

By now, nearly all stoners are aware of the differences between indica, sativa,and hybrid cannabis varieties. These familiar names bring to mind our favorite strains, Blueberry, Green Crack, Dutch Treat, the list goes on, and continues to grow as people continue to cross-breed. With so many varieties, many bearing multiple names and phenotypes, choosing the right strain for you can be quite the difficult proposition. In order for one to best navigate these winding, murky waters, one must first be willing to learn a little about the origins and biology of this remarkable herb.

Cannabis evolved between 34 million years ago and 6.38 million years ago in the Kush mountain range, which extends from North-eastern Afghanistan all the way down through Northern Pakistan, and India’s northern border, forming the western portion of the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region. Seeds found in sites dated to be as old as 12,000 years suggest that our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors were at least partly responsible for spreading cannabis from this fairly central region to Africa and Asia as they migrated between these areas. As humanity settled into it’s various different corners of the globe, the cannabis that they had collected and taken with them began to adapt to the various different climates in which it was dropped along the way. It was in this way that C. sativa and C. indica separated and became distinct species which began self-sustaining wild populations.

As cannabis adapted to different areas, it began to differ greatly from its geographically distant relatives, both physiologically and in the terpenes and cannabinoids that they produced. Cannabis which stayed in the mountainous Kush region became known as indica and grew to be short and stocky, producing dense buds. These adaptations protect against the cold, wet, mountain climate which can cause rot in less adapted plants. Meanwhile cannabis which landed in the hot, low-elevation African and Asian climates grew tall with a loose, fluffy bud structure, allowing them to grow and reproduce very quickly and became known as sativas. Sativa varieties even made it over to the new world by way of the Spanish Invasion of South America.These different regional varieties are what became known as the “Landrace Strains”, and these are considered to be the genetic forebears of all the strains that we know today.

A landrace strain can best be described as cannabis that has come from a specific region which has not been crossbred with any other strain, and are considered to be genetically “pure” sativa or indica cultivars. Strains like Hindu Kush, Moroccan red, Durban Poison, and Acapulco Gold are all examples of landrace strains, illustrating just how far this plant has spread and how adaptable it is. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about these strains is how different locations and growing conditions can affect such drastic differences in taste, smell, and effect. Differences which came fully to light in the early 1960’s, when strains from Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan were brought to Northern California by adventurous stoners who had hiked the fabled “Hippie Highway” and returned with seeds. Conditions are very similar in the two regions, both being mountainous terrain on roughly the same parallel, allowing for these strains to adapt quickly, producing new phenotypes in the process.

As growers came across all these different strains, the first intentional crosses between the two subspecies began to spring up all over California and the West coast. Strains that are now world famous such as Skunk, Big Bud, Haze, Northern Lights, and many others made their debut between 1960 and the mid 1980s in a frenzy of crossbreeding. Even the U.S. Government got in on the action, breeding the strain G-13 at the University of Mississippi in an effort to understand more about the plant. One night somebody stole the seeds to the strain and soon enough, people were smoking government weed. Strains developed during this time are referred to as heirloom strains and they are still highly prized for their unique flavors and highs. Eventually, the cross-breeding fever spread overseas to the Netherlands, where legal tolerance allowed for a more scientific approach to breeding. Dutch breeders went figuratively nuts, producing a litany of new hybrids like Dutch Treat, and Cherry Pie. In fact, many of the hybrid strains that we know now were produced by dutch growers during this time.

In this day and age, there are so many variants, it’s nearly impossible to keep them all straight. With genetic lines ranging from 95% pure indica or sativa, to lineages which have been scrambled to the dank smelling winds, finding the perfect strain can be difficult. Additionally, strains which were at one time staples of the cannabis world have become difficult, some even say impossible, to come across. An industry wide lack of desire to cultivate the old strains, combined with the danger of transporting landraces from their native homes are definitely not helping in regards to reviving these older strains. All’s not lost however, as a large number of growers have been dedicating resources towards reviving the old landraces and heirlooms.

As humans continue to grow and change as a species, so to does our oldest friend. Cannabis is as versatile and ever changing as the people who grow and smoke it, leading to a symbiosis that has stood the test of time. We must be cautious however, if we lose touch with the origins of cannabis we run the risk of losing strains and their unique effects. Understanding where our favorite strains come from and how they grow is important to maintaining the genetic integrity and quality of smoke from our favorite strains for years to come. Hopefully, with the proper care and attention, we can continue to innovate without losing touch with our roots.

 

  • by Budtender Andrew

Cannabis; The Superfood

cannabis superfood

Many of you may already be familiar with the cannabis plant, it goes by many names, Mary Jane, Reefer, Chronic, Ganja, and Herb. You’re also most likely already familiar with smoking out of bongs on your couch at home and passing joints with friends, or maybe even eating too many brownies at a party. However, have you ever considered having a freshly chopped Marijuana leaf salad?

The marijuana plant itself contains over 400 various and unique chemical compounds, these chemical compounds are what makes Marijuana a superfood. Recent research on cannabis from medical professionals such as Dr. William L. Courtney (who began with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, University of Michigan) has led to the discovery that cannabis is in fact, a superfood! Medical cannabis professionals, including Dr. William L. Courtney, even suggest that raw cannabis consumption should be a vital part of everyone’s day-to-day diet. On that note, people suffering from chronic illness could benefit greatly from the daily consumption of raw cannabis.

Like most dark leafy greens, the leaves of the Marijuana plant (as well as its flowers/” buds”) contain important nutrients such as fiber, protein and essential vitamins. Some of these nutrients include; Folate (which is essential for DNA repair) Iron, Calcium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K. just to name a few! Cannabis is also packed full of antioxidants and in certain strains, the flavonoid compound anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are responsible for the dark purple color that is found in Cannabis Indica plants (like Granddaddy Purple). It is also found in common foods like blackberries, plums, eggplant, red onions and even red raspberries. These anthocyanins counteract the imbalance of oxidative and antioxidative factors in our bodies, therefore defending our health. Not to mention, cannabis contains an abundance of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, as well as terpenes and essential amino acids. On top of all of that, what makes cannabis (including Hemp) exclusive to other leafy greens, is all the cannabinoids that it contains. When consuming cannabis in this raw manner, it’s considered to be a vegetable!

Incorporating fresh cannabis into one’s daily diet is extremely nutritional in many ways, that’s for sure! Nevertheless, there is one stipulation that makes consuming raw cannabis rather difficult to achieve in our society now. This being, you can’t simply add any dried and cured cannabis to a blender and expect to receive these benefits. You must consume the fresh plant, like you would with spinach/other leafy greens from either the grocery store. Now, this would be simple, if growing your own cannabis was legal… unfortunately this is still not the case in most of the United States. Even in the states where it is legal, there are licenses and medical requirements that make it impossible for the common person to grow. If we had the ability to buy bagged, fresh cannabis, our diets would be greatly enhanced! Yet, we still must take growing methods into consideration. Consuming food sprayed with harmful pesticides whether it be cannabis or any other vegetable, is an immense health risk. As we know, it’s rather difficult and often expensive to find organic, non-genetically modified vegetables on the market. Therefore, home growing would be an advantageous option for many, if it were legal! Hopefully as knowledge about cannabis spreads, we will see some acceptance towards the home gardening of this plant.

Now, the question you’ve probably been asking yourself this whole time is, “…but will it get me high?”. Here’s the situation: Cannabis when consumed fresh, usually has a higher concentration of THCA (tetrahydrocannabinol-acid) as opposed to THC. THCA itself does not produce a psychoactive high when consumed. THCA must first be converted into THC, which can be done simply by applying heat! Some of the conversion also happens in the drying/curing stage of marijuana, which is another reason why eating the plant fresh is recommended for the strongest nutritional benefit. This is good news to those who would like to avoid the psychoactive effects of THC but still enjoy the anti-inflammatory properties of THCA along with all the nutritional benefits of eating a superfood. So, in short, you’d have to eat a heck of a lot of raw cannabis to feel any sort of high from it and even then, you’re better off just smoking it instead for recreational purposes.

All told, the cannabis plant is beneficial to our health in many ways, one of those ways being that it can be consumed like a vegetable. With all those vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, cannabis makes the perfect addition to any recipe! Unfortunately eating raw cannabis in this day’s society might be rather difficult to achieve, however hopefully that will change soon. If you’d like to experience the nutritional and non-psychoactive benefit of cannabis in your diet, and you can get your hands on some fresh leaves yourself, here are a few ideas for you! You could either straight up use the leaves whole, mixed with other greens such as spinach, kale and arugula and mix yourself your favorite salad. You could also grind or chop up the leaves and sprinkle them into a finished pesto sauce or maybe over a finished tomato soup. You can even make raw cannabis smoothie to start your morning right! Keep in mind, when storing raw cannabis, you should store it in the fridge, like you would other fresh leafy greens. Here’s a recipe to keep in the cookbook for when the opportunity arises to consume some raw cannabis.

  • By Budtender Autumn

cannabis banana blueberry smoothie recipe

Blueberry Banana and Raw Cannabis Smoothie

  • 1 Banana
  • 3 (Large) Strawberries
  • 1 Cup Blueberries
  • ½ Cup Coconut Milk
  • ½ Cup Almond Milk
  • 1tsb Chia Seeds (if you like the texture)
  • 1tsb Hemp Seeds
  • 1tsb Flax Seeds
  • 15 Fresh Cannabis Leaves and 2-4 grams of Raw Cannabis Buds (if available)