The Cannabis Chronicles: “Weed? Hey, at least it’s not Meth”

January 29, 2014 Updated: April 24, 2016

Welcome back and Happy New Year!

…”Hey, a little toxicity done safely and not overindulgently is OK.”  Well, perhaps they won’t say it exactly that way, but you get the drift. Whether it’s happy hour or a little cannabis “smoke” among friends, you feel good because you are impairing some of your nervous system functioning.  No, contrary to urban legend, you aren’t killing nerve cells and you’ll still be able to make babies, but the internal cell functioning does not “like” the way it’s being driven, and makes changes to resist it.

This is a moving target for most people. It can happen slowly or relatively quickly. It depends on the drug or compound, frequency of use, the individual, age of use, and other circumstances.  It’s a natural process, not based on a malicious or irresponsible intent to drive your system to abuse or addiction. We call this “tolerance.”  Most people believe that this “resistance” or tolerance is due to the body metabolizing or breaking down the substance more quickly. Unfortunately, it is actually the brain tissue where the drug or alcohol works that is the major source of the resistance. 

The internal systems where cannabis acts are using “quantum” or miniscule concentrations of transmitters compared to the amount smoked in a joint, hookah or vaporizer.  Those transmitter systems have receptors and channels where THC and other cannabinoids act.  We are not able to internally induce a transmitter release large enough to cause a similar high by will alone. So getting high means you are overdriving your system.  It’s like filling your glass via a controlled-release faucet compared to a water hose.  We experience this change in our consciousness as pleasurable. Depending on our preferences, we may choose an “upper” or “downer” change in our consciousness. Either way, it’s via an internal toxicity from an external agent.

Now, we do have internally-induced intense changes in consciousness, such as orgasm, intense feeling of bliss during meditation, experience of immersion in Source, or the runner’s high.  The majority of these experiences require time and effort– no instant gratification. When a drug or alcohol causes a toxic reaction in a cell, it ultimately changes receptors and production of proteins, via changes in gene expression, to resist the drug effects.  We get the reverse of the high feeling as the drug effect wears off. What goes up must eventually come back down. Unfortunately the coming back down usually goes below the level of mood you were at before you took off.   I’ll review how this works in the next blog. 

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