As cannabis use becomes increasingly mainstream in Colorado, more and more talk of wellness has been integrated into methodologies of consumption. Two main cannabinoids, THC and CBD, are getting the most attention.
“These are both cannabinoids of the cannabis plant,” explains Joe Lindsey, director of customer relations and head educator for High Country Healing. “Cannabinoids are molecules that seek balance, so if you are imbalanced mentally or physically, they are looking to balance you out. Out of 150 cannabinoids, THC is the only one that is psychotropic.”
For those looking for pain relief and who also don’t mind getting high, Lindsey said THC indica is the best option. If you want to stay clear and focused, he said using CBD would be best. With CBD, you get pain relief, as well as one of the strongest natural anti-inflammatory molecules out there, along with ease of anxiety and depression, and you won’t be high or distracted.
“CBD has anti-inflammatory effects and THC does not,” said Dr. David Grey, founder of High Altitude Mobile Physicians.
The “entourage effect,” explained Grey, is a theory that CBD is more effective in conjunction with a least some THC.
“People are under the impression that they can just use CBD,” he said, “but research had shown that you don’t get the full effect.”
For medical use, every state has different conditions for their patients to be eligible for the medical cannabis program.
“Here we can only accept Colorado medical cards,” Lindsey said. “In Las Vegas, all United States medical cards are accepted. They are a fully ‘reciprocal’ state. In Arizona, a Colorado card holder may have and use cannabis, but not purchase, so they are only partially reciprocal.”
Cannabis can be recommended by doctors for conditions that include Dravet’s (child severe epilepsy), cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, seizures, muscle spasms, post-traumatic stress disorder, and severe nausea or severe pain.
This all varies depending on location. In Colorado, you can be treated for severe pain with cannabis, but in Texas, for instance, more restrictions make it so only a few diseases would be eligible for treatment by cannabis.
“For those who may be afraid of how cannabis might affect them but want the benefits, my recommendation is to take their dose prior to bed,” Grey said. “It benefits them by helping them go to sleep, and then any of the psychoactive effects of THC happen when they’re asleep.”
CBD doesn’t create the psychoactive effects of THC, but Grey said even a small amount of THC with CBD can increase wellness benefits.
Microdosing, Lindsey said, is becoming a more popular way to consume.
“People are coming out off the woodwork and trying it more than ever,” he explained. “It seems like more people are using it throughout their day kind of like Advil or Tylenol.”
A little pain? Rub a cream on that won’t get you high. A little anxious? Try 5 milligrams of a CBD edible to just barely cut the edge and remain focused.
“I don’t think microdosing is even thought of,” Lindsey explained. “The patients we see are people in extreme pain that need a larger dose of edibles or concentrates just to function. I’m sure there are patients who microdose through their work day, but on the medical side they are doing everything to get rid of pain. I know friends who microdose just to get through the day. Parents love hitting the vape pen — it’s discreet, easy and you don’t smell like cannabis.”
There’s no doubt that there is more to be discovered on how cannabis may contribute to wellness, as the industry is nascent and knowledge around these topics is always evolving.
“The things I learned over four years ago have changed,” Lindsey said. “New information and studies come out every day detailing some benefit of using cannabis. The biggest thing in my opinion, right out of the gate, is that cannabis is the widest and most commonly used drug — for 10,000 years — and it just so happens to be the safest.”
Lindsey explained how a human brain stem is responsible for respiration. If we get knocked out, that stem keeps us breathing.
“There are no cannabinoid receptors in the brainstem so no matter how high you get, you will continue breathing,” he said. “We do have opiate receptors in our brain stems. So if you take too many opiates, your brain stem will stop breathing and you will not be resuscitated. If my kid were to try a drug without my choice, or a friend, or a family member, I know that cannabis is the safest choice.”