On Treating Anxiety and Other Matters by H Jenkins
Background: I am a 38 year old male who works as an administrator in an office environment on the east coast of Canada. I was very anti-cannabis in my youth, the very model result of the government`s disinformation campaign on marijuana. Life circumstances have changed my perspective.
Shortly after my father died (when I was 35) I began to experience anxiety attacks. Episodes of slight nervousness gradually progressed to occasional full-blown debilitation. A couple of episodes were severe enough that I found I had to lie down because of the feeling of impending doom.
Although I had occasionally enjoyed cannabis since my mid-twenties, I started to use marijuana on a more regular basis as I found it helped to ease the occurrence and severity of my anxiety symptoms.
Not strictly for the immediate `high` effect, but as much for the residual benefits that seem to keep me ‘protected’ as long as I ‘top up my tank’ by consuming marijuana every once in a while. It is apparent to me that marijuana has a lingering effect, in that periods of prolonged abstinence result in the anxious symptoms gradually re-appearing. I have not suffered another anxiety episode since I began regular use.
Research tells me that marijuana has been as effective as could be expected from a successful course of conventional pharmaceutical treatment, minus any of the very-real (and sometimes dangerous) side effects that accompany virtually any ‘conventional’ treatment: weight gain, `blunted` emotions, not to mention the rare but occasional compelling need to end one’s own existence.
Noting that this is factually one of the most safe substances one can consume, negative ‘side-effects’ (for me) consist of an occasional (transitory) increase in anxiety when consuming too much. This is easily avoided by paying attention to the amount I consume, and is to me, a small price to pay in light of the overall benefit. Episodes where I have ‘over-indulged’ and have become slightly uncomfortable are usually followed by an extra-mellow rebound effect, and the ‘anxiety-threshold’ seems to be reset to a higher level the next time.
Some of the physical changes that I have experienced since I began using cannabis are that I have been able to quit smoking, am eating a healthier diet and exercise regularly. As a result, I have lost approximately 30 pounds. My blood pressure and lipid profiles are the best they have been since my teenage years. In short, I am approaching the best shape of my life.
Another benefit is that as with many people raised in our alcohol-tolerant (promoting?) society, I used to drink to excess. Now 3 drinks is a big night for me – I no longer enjoy (nor seek) that ‘trashed’ feeling.
Spiritually, I find that cannabis helps to reveal things as they really are, and sometimes allows you to see things from a different perspective. Mulling something over after a toke is almost like consulting with a more imaginative version of yourself!
I never ‘need’ cannabis and have never experience a ‘craving’, like I used to for a cigarette. Basically, I have found that it is like a nice craft beer or a rich piece chocolate – a virtually harmless pleasure put on earth for us to use and enjoy.
Like many enthusiasts, I have also found that it is a great ‘enhancer’ for virtually any activity (with the possible exception of solving mathematical problems – do not toke and triangulate!). Writing is easier. Inspirational sometimes arrives faster than you can record them. Contemplative powers are enhanced.
A largely undiscussed benefit is an increased capacity for feelings of empathy towards other humans and creatures, as well as an openness to ideas and philosophies that may have once been dismissed out-of-hand.
It is almost impossible to engage in violent or excessively aggressive thoughts or behavior while under the influence, and there is a definite carry-over into ‘sober’ periods of life. Sleep is more restful, comes more quickly and is devoid of nightmares.
I realize that this runs counter a lot of information presented as fact in the usually hysterical portrayal of this substance by our government and that it may make a non-user question whether the deleterious effects have degraded my mental functioning. Not so.
What makes me so passionate on this issue? The nagging feeling that it is hypocritical to give tacit approval (by remaining silent) while cannabis and those who enjoy it are persecuted for choosing to use a substance which does not cause them harm, helps to relieve many conditions, and generally leaves the user a better person for having experienced it.
Meanwhile, the puritanical roots of our present-day society have promoted tobacco and alcohol use as the ‘acceptable’ vises. This paradox has resulted in more death and misery than is possible to quantify or comprehend, but it would not be much of a stretch to say that these two substances have killed as many people as have been killed in the history of warfare. Yet marijuana is shunned and criminalized.
Future generations will judge us harshly for perpetuating this hoax. I refuse to be complicit.