Lifestyle, News, Opinion

Responsible Use
Be A Smart Smoker
By: Steve Elliott

Responsible Use: Be A Smart Smoker

Cannabis is hotter than ever in America, according to a new study. Use in the United States has more than doubled between 2001 and 2013, according to researchers using data from two large national surveys on alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug use, called the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC).

The surveys ask questions “meant to identify marijuana use disorders such as abuse or dependence.” So, of course, the leading questions help to create suitable answers for those who need to portray cannabis as a menace; I mean, of course, for those who seek more government funding for their research, which unfortunately depends upon coming up with negative talking points about cannabis in the face of a nationwide demand for legalization.

Also ecstatic about the cash infusion coming their way are the bogus “cannabis rehab” services that prey almost entirely upon those forced into “drug treatment” by ignorant judges who enforce the corrupt and senseless cannabis laws.

According to the survey, the percentage of people who had used cannabis during the past year more than doubled from 4.1% in 2001 to 9.5% in 2013. Tellingly, even with these skewed questions and thus distorted statistics, the rate of cannabis abuse and addiction actually went down as the numbers of active cannabis users went up. Additionally, as the number of users went up, the percentage of users who had a cannabis use disorder decreased.

“As is the case with alcohol, many individuals can use [cannabis] without becoming addicted,” wrote the study’s authors. “However, the clear risk for [cannabis] use disorders among users (approximately 30%) suggests that as the number of U.S. users grows, so will the numbers of those experiencing problems related to such use.”

Most Americans Say Responsible Adults Can Smoke Cannabis

Most Americans (59%) agree that you can smoke cannabis and be a responsible adult, according to a 2014 poll. Contrary to the tired old stereotype of the lazy stoner — inculcated by decades of “reefer madness” propaganda — most cannabis consumers are instead hardworking members of society, that just happen to prefer a substance safer than alcohol or prescription drugs.

While we can’t erase the unhappy past and its negative stereotypes of the cannabis community, what we can do is demonstrate, by our conduct, that cannabis smokers can have full, rich lives with rewarding intellectual, artistic, and professional pursuits. Getting high is just one part of that picture.

Responsible adults consume recreational substances, including cannabis, in responsible ways.Those with addictive personalities or a lack of motivation will tend to form an abusive relationship with almost any substance or activity.

The fact remains that, for most of us, it’s relatively easy to use cannabis as part of a healthy, balanced, and responsible lifestyle; we’ve freely made the decision to use cannabis, not as the result of social pressure.

Sure, cannabis can produce a euphoric experience, but many of us find it helps make us more social or outgoing. Remember that novice users can also feel uncomfortable or withdrawn, or have anxiety symptoms such as elevated heart rates. Part of being a responsible, seasoned cannabis user is being kind and tolerant to newbies having a difficult time.

Cannabis use that puts you or others at risk, including legal risk, such as when driving, or at work, or in public places, should be avoided. Remember, use of cannabis while driving or in public is still illegal pretty much everywhere, and the penalties are stiff.

Don’t forget that cannabis use around children is not only very controversial, but also legally risky. Discretion is key; don’t take the risk of losing custody of your own kids, or being ejected from a friend’s home for smoking around theirs.

Just Say ‘Know’

Modern, mature cannabis users inform themselves about its effects, which should include both legal and potential health risks, along with personal consequences, including the impact on your finances. Never use cannabis as an excuse, or as a cue, or for antisocial or irresponsible behavior. You’re conflating cannabis with alcohol when you do that, and cannabis deserves better.

Learning the differences between indica and sativa strains of cannabis, and between flowers, concentrates, and infused products such as edibles and topicals is part of being a responsible cannabis consumer. Some heavy indicas, which can literally be the cat’s pajamas as an evening smoke, often aren’t that great an idea to start the day.

When you use cannabis as part of positive social interactions, you are more fully utilizing the potential of a consciousness-expanding plant than if you use it as a remedy for negative feelings. If you’re interesting in masking, rather than exploring your feelings you may be best to try alcohol.

Cannabis, when used properly, contributes to, rather than detracts from your quality of life, your health, your mental wellbeing, your creativity, your work, your relationships, and your social obligations. Adults who take responsibility for their own behavior, and for their own cannabis intake, treat themselves, and the herb, with respect.

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