What Are the Links between Cannabis And Schizophrenia?

It’s crazy how quick people are to class their opinion as fact, particularly in relation to cannabis and its alleged crazy-making properties. Facebook is the worst culprit in this regard, but often politicians, journalists and even doctors are just as bad. Like most anything to do with the plant, the awful truth about cannabis and schizophrenia is mired in conflicting evidence.

The general consensus amongst scientists is that people with schizophrenia are more likely to consume cannabis than people without the condition, which leads to the correlation v. causality debate. It’s a debate that’s tied to the demonisation of cannabis by officials and propagandists, beginning in the early twentieth century.

What Started the Debate?

Until the 1920s, there were up to 30 products available from western pharmacies without a prescription that contained cannabis, and American doctors wrote three million cannabis-related prescriptions a year to treat a variety of conditions. Back then, the general public were familiar with the terms cannabis and hemp, knew and understood their uses. To demonise cannabis, prohibitionists introduced the word marihuana to confuse people, and it worked.

When the Mexican Revolution began in 1910, millions of Mexicans flooded across the border bringing with them an herb they called mariguano, and in America, they and the plant were quickly shamed. “All Mexicans are crazy and this stuff is what makes them crazy,” one Texas legislator said, a sentiment that haunts cannabis to this day.

Beginning with Massachusetts in 1911 and through the 1920s, 27 U.S. states outlawed cannabis. A number of countries, mostly colonies such as South Africa, Canada, Sudan, and Australia also banned cannabis in the 1920s.In America, it was the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act that damned cannabis.

There are a few theories on events led to the Act but no question the campaign was led by Harry J. Anslinger, then chief of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FDN; predecessor of today’s DEA.) With the financial backing of interested parties that may have included the petrochemical and alcohol industry as well as William Randolph Hearst, they launched a tirade of propaganda that terrified nations.

The Threat of Insanity

Headlines like: “Marihuana: Assassin of Youth,” and the film, Reefer Madness (1936), cemented the idea in the minds of people that weed made you crazy. However, it was Anslinger’s testimony at the congressional hearing for the Act that did most damage. “Marihuana is an addictive drug which produces insanity, criminality and death,” he said, though he had no medical or scientific evidence to back up his claim. He did call on a number of “experts,” one of which was a pharmacologist named Dr. James Munch who had injected cannabis oil into the brains of 300 dogs; two died.

When asked if he chose dogs because their brains were similar to those of humans, he replied that he didn’t know, as he wasn’t a “dog psychologist.” When the bill passed, Anslinger made Munch the official marijuana expert of the FDN, a position he held till 1962. The congressional trial lasted less than two minutes and when the bill was passed, then American president, FDR, signed it into law.

After the bill was enacted, a number of 1940s court cases bolstered claims that marijuana use led to insanity when the defendants in five murder trials pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity due to marijuana use, and won. In one case, Munch testified for the defence saying that after two puffs on a joint he turned into a bat. “Killer Drug Turns Doctor to Bat!” the headlines said the next day.

By 1941, doctors had quit prescribing cannabis, and it had disappeared from medicine cabinets in the home. In 1942, cannabis was removed from the American Pharmacopeia. Yet, after 45 years and 1,800 studies, America’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has failed to prove that cannabis has any damaging effects on human health, but continues to release regular reports linking cannabis to everything from memory loss to psychosis.

In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act banned cannabis at a federal level in America, classing it as a Schedule 1 drug with no medicinal value. Yet, in 1998, the American government patented the findings of a study that showed cannabinoids act as neuro-protectants with the ability to limit the damage of stroke and trauma as well as protect against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and HIV dementia.

From Insanity to Uncertainty

The first study to support the idea that using cannabis leads to increased risk for schizophrenia took place in 1969 in Sweden on 50,000 18-year-old army recruits. A 15-year follow-up recorded a six-fold increased risk for schizophrenia, which led a 27-year follow up that reported a threefold increase if the recruit had used cannabis more than 50 times in his life. Various other studies such as the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study found similar increased risks.

Further research came up with alternative explanations. One set of later studies identified similar brain pathways in cannabis users and schizophrenics while another found that schizophrenia patients may have endocannabinoid deficiencies independent of cannabis use. More recent studies conclude the genes that predispose a person to schizophrenia also lead to cannabis use, however that’s not the same saying cannabis use leads to schizophrenia.

Here’s the most damning evidence: cannabis use has increased ten-fold amongst teenaged populations since the 1960s but incidences of schizophrenia have remained consistent at 1 per cent over that time. If cannabis use led to schizophrenia in the way some research suggests, thousands of users could lose their minds any day now. Is that what they want us to think? Dr. Lester Grinspoon, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard, and author of Cannabis Reconsidered (1971) is featured on the documentary, The Culture High, where he calls the whole debate, “ridiculous.”

Plus, I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to trust any studies when the data is epidemiological and known to be problematic. Studying the varying lifestyles of thousands of people and attempting to draw conclusive results is akin to herding cats, except worse because humans make flawed and unreliable subjects; translation: we lie a lot. Also bear in mind that the subjects of these studies are some of the most vulnerable people in society, the abused, marginalised and mentally ill.

Ultimately, there are so many studies out there on cannabis and mental disorders, it’s possible to select the relevant ones to prove or disprove any argument, leaving the whole question conveniently vague for anyone who might want to use the research to demonise the plant. Put simply, the links between cannabis and schizophrenia are tenuous at best, and a manipulation of facts at worst. While uncertainty prevails, the best course is to question everything, and be vigilant of opinions parading as fact. ‘Cause if the cannabis doesn’t make you crazy, my freaky friends, the conflicting evidence will.

Reference:

“Big Bad Scary Weed,” Ch.1. “Brave New Weed, Adventures Into The Uncharted World of Cannabis,” Joe Dolce, HarperCollins, Oct. 2016.

#followtheplant #cannabisheals #sacredplant

How I Learned to Treat my Depression with Cannabis

My natural state is depressed and anxious even though I’m an optimistic go-getter at heart. These contradictory sides of my personality tug at my peace of mind on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis. Three things keep me sane: writing, cannabis, and exercise, and in that order. If I had to, I could live without cannabis and exercise though I’d be miserable. If I couldn’t write, I’d be dead.

I was diagnosed clinically depressed at the age of twenty-five but have never taken prescription drugs to treat my condition. I took Seroxat – prescribed by a psychiatrist – for five days and binned them against medical advice because they gave me horrendous headaches if I drank alcohol. When I took them, I felt the same way I did on MDMA. From the first pill, it was clear to me it was a drug, and if I were going to take drugs, I’d take the one I trusted: cannabis.

However, opting to self-medicate meant that I had no support system for my condition, making it more challenging to deal with. Over the next few years I made some really bad decisions that effectively murdered my wellbeing, and propelled me to immigrate to a new country. I was on the run with no idea it wasn’t possible to escape ME. It would be another ten years before I’d discover the trauma that underpinned my depression, and another five to learn how to treat it.

Before I learned about how the body holds trauma, I assumed that depression was a head problem, and that if I tried hard enough I could think my way out of it. With the benefit of hindsight, I can now admit that it’s likely cannabis caused me to spend more time in my head than is necessary or healthy. It’s possible that in this regard cannabis slowed my life progress but when you’re dealing with depression in an unsupported manner, there is no “normal” progress.

Essentially, I survived, and cannabis made that possible by easing the pain in my hijacked nervous system, calming me, and enabling me to write. It was when I made the commitment to take my writing seriously that I began to see small changes in my overall health. From the get-go, cannabis was a part of my writing routine, opening the door to my unconscious and allowing me to explore those terrifying parts of life that makes us human. The more I smoked, the more I wrote, and asked difficult questions, and searched for answers. Cannabis made life fascinating, and gave me the curiosity of a child.

I use cannabis to help me get to a place of questioning, and to ask the difficult questions with compassion instead of criticism. It helps me look at my hay-wired mind from a different angle, and makes me open to new ideas, things I might not readily understand, as well as the experiences and expertise of others. Cannabis softens the blow of remembered pain, letting me hold it without pushing it away, helping me to embrace and learn from it, to trace its path back to abstract sources, and follow its patterns through the course of my life. On this podcast, ex-addict Russell Brand talks about addiction as a holding pen that protects a person from life until they’re ready to confront its pain.

To attribute my healing to cannabis alone would be a lie. My approach is holistic, including meditation, nutrition, and exercise as well as a willingness to learn. I’m still working on the forgiveness part. Today, I work out five days a week, and follow a meal plan that nourishes me. I use cannabis to both motivate me to go to the gym, and for muscle recovery. Because sleep is an essential part of muscle building, cannabis also ensures I get the necessary rest. It’s got to the point that I can’t work without cannabis, and in fact, it’s difficult to do anything without cannabis because being stoned has become my natural state.

And I’m not convinced this is a good thing. I have more THC in my system than a Colorado marijuana lab. I’m more conscious than ever that without cannabis, I can’t sit still. Without it, I’m a pinball on Ritalin. In recent months, I’ve been trying to quit tobacco again, and notice it’s more difficult this time round, as my two addictions have become more entrenched in me and with each other. Cannabis has become an extension of my personality. Yet, I’m part of a stoner tribe that’s currently going out of fashion.

Today, everyone is talking about the medical benefits of cannabis, and I couldn’t agree more because it has saved my life. But there’s no question having to maintain a secret addiction did not help my mental health, and I wonder how different the outcome would have been if I’d be able to take this drug supported by the medical community? I’m a recreational user only because that’s how society labels me. Still, if I had to do it all again, I would always choose being a stoner over depressed and suicidal. Who in their right mind wouldn’t?

#stonerfam #medicalcannabis #cannabisheals

Why You Need to Choose CBD Wisely

Cannabidiol AKA CBD may be one of the biggest health breakthroughs in recent history, but unfortunately its industry is mired in chaos allowing some companies to operate with the values of a street corner drug dealer. In fact, ex-drug dealers run many of the companies producing CBD. How could that be? The answer is simple and obvious.

Being involved in the cannabis game for years, weed slingers of old were the first to learn about the health benefits of cannabis, and in a prime position to take advantage of shifts in the marketplace. When it became clear that CBD offered a chance to go legit, lots of them packed up their scales and poured their earnings into new barely-legal cannabis and hemp-based ventures.

Some of them bring their street values to these new ventures. On the street, the dealer has one goal: Make a fast buck. He knows how to do one thing: sell. He sets the terms because he’s the one brave enough to take the risk of operating in a black market. He employs a heady menagerie of chemical references and psychedelic poetics to close a sale because on the street, he can say whatever he likes.

His customers are uninformed, dependent or sick. But that’s not his fault, or his concern. His job is supply them with illicit substances they can’t get anywhere else. He prides himself on infiltrating underground markets, overcoming distribution challenges, and creating a protected front from which he can operate. A mutated version of this dynamic currently shapes much of the CBD industry.

The Dealers Are Not the Problem

Cannabis research is still in its infancy, and while the results of completed studies are compelling, the only thing scientists agree on is that a lot more research is needed before they can begin to give accurate guidance on dosage and efficacy. They’re not saying it doesn’t work, in fact they agree it does, but they’re still learning how exactly it works. The data that exists to date is based on lab animals and tiny groups of people.

There are two factors that complicate the job of scientists. First, the draconian laws banning cannabis prohibit proper research into its properties and benefits. Second the effect of cannabis varies widely, as it’s determined by the physiology of the person taking it. That’s why one person can hit a bong, go to a concert and have a great time, while another might want to crawl into a corner and hide.

Lack of regulation has allowed this industry to emerge as if from nowhere and consumer demand is keeping it alive despite its grey existence. It’s really the reluctance of authorities to recognise their wrong thinking on cannabis, and move more swiftly to meet the tidal wave of consumer demand that’s created the vacuum in which these companies operate.

So far, regulatory efforts are as diverse as they are chaotic. This summer, California banned hemp-derived CBD oil in a move that locked dozens of companies out of the industry even though the DEA has now re-classified Epidiolex, the CBD product made by GW Pharmaceuticals as a Schedule V drug. In Spain, companies had been selling CBD oil as a food supplement but a policy change means that’s no longer possible. Epidiolex was recently entered into the Spanish pharmacopeia.

In October, the UK’s Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued letters to the industry informing them that to sell CBD they must have either “marketing authorisation” or a “traditional herbal license” from the MHRA. Many of the larger CBD companies are ignoring the letter until they receive notice of a change in law. Each country has its own policies in relation to CBD, further complicating the situation.

Regulation is Part of The Solution

In coming years tighter regulation will force CBD companies to comply with evolving standards but until that happens the industry is a street corner full of mad claims and in some cases, devoid of scruples. Many CBD companies have one goal: Make a fast buck. They will say anything to close a sale. Their websites are a heady menagerie of chemical references and psychedelic poetics designed to lure uninformed and/or sick people.

They use words like organic, omegas, bio, gluten-free, and vegan because they appeal to a health-conscious target audience. They bandy about terms like CO2 extraction, whole flower and full spectrum, which are meaningless to most consumers. Some say their products can treat everything from mood swings, MS and menstrual cramps to fibromyalgia, diabetes and insomnia, but they’re crossing a line by stepping into the role of medical professional when neither they nor their products are qualified or tested for that purpose.

This is one of the reasons governments are jumping in with ill thought-out policy changes, as they rush to curb the industry’s ambition, earnings and market penetration. The cannabis pioneers who have been campaigning for the right to produce medical marijuana for decades are a casualty of the chaos, as they get penalised in the same manner as unscrupulous CBD dealers. This is currently happening in Canada.

It’s not that the industry doesn’t care about compliance. For now, it’s self-regulated, meaning lab-test centres have emerged to meet industry demand as opposed to state laws. Current testing methods only measure for quantities of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD, and for the absence of pesticides, or other contaminants. However, this information only confirms the material won’t harm consumers.

Unfortunately, until anything can change two shifts must occur. First, the UN has to release cannabis from the grip of its narcotics conventions to allow for regulation and more extensive research worldwide. Secondly, governments have to get on board with the massive education programme needed to educate the medical community and general population on cannabis. Until then, my freaky friends, choose CBD wisely.

 

In future posts, I’ll describe how CBD treated my anxiety, discuss the markers of good quality CBD, explain the importance of Entourage/Ensemble Effect and interview industry experts to answer more questions on testing and standards.

#chooseCBDwisely #regulate #legalizecannabis

 

The Art of Cooking with Cannabis Is Not Hard to Master

The first time I decarbed five grams of bud I burned it black. I’m happy to report it was still okay to smoke but impossible to cook anything with it. I quickly learned that my oven was too hot for the purpose and adjusted it accordingly. The first time I made cannabutter the same thing happened: black butter, though it was edible and had a potent kick.

The thing is it’s not enough to turn the temperature down low to ensure the right results when cooking with cannabis; you have to get it right. If the temperature is too low, you won’t activate the THCA, and your edibles will have no oomph. I can’t tell you what temperature to use because every oven is different. This is a matter of trial and error.

The best guide I can give is: consistent warmth that’s not too hot, somewhere in between 80 and 100 degrees celsius. If your bud is dry, or old, make sure to keep it at a lower temperature as it will easily burn. (I have a jar of black herb that proves this.) Set the timer for 15 minutes. Some books recommend longer decarb times but I find this is enough. You’ll know you’re on the right track if your kitchen fills up with a sweet grassy scent.

Cannabutter is super easy once you know how so don’t be deterred if your first few attempts don’t work. Besides getting the temperature right, your most important piece of equipment is going to be cheesecloth. It’s possible to buy it in strainer form, which makes things incredibly easy when it comes to separating your bud from your butter, leaving you with a creamy grain free spread.

What you’ll need:

  • Large Pot
  • Wooden Ladle
  • 5 grams of Weed
  • 100 – 125 grams of Unsalted Butter
  • Cheesecloth Strainer
  • Large Glass Jar

What to do:

Melt the butter slowly in a glass bowl submerged in a large pot of water. When it’s melted, add the decarbed weed. Keep the pot on a low heat, stirring continuously for an hour and a half. Do not let it overheat. Keep stirring. Yes, I know it’s boring, but it’s worth it.

Why not listen to a podcast while you wait? I can recommend Stoner, RISK!, Ear Hustle, and Under the Skin with Russell Brand, though not all of his podcasts ‘cause he loves the sound of himself too much, and at times needs to shut up so his guests can talk.

When the time is up, strain the butter into the jar. While hot it will be dark but when it cools, it will have a green colour a chocolate scent. Cannabutter can be eaten straight away but better to let it cool down so you don’t burn your wee tongue. If you can’t wait and want to eat it hot, dip some sourdough bread in it! Yum!

Pro Tip: Don’t eat this before you have anything too active to do, unless you want this to happen.

How to Not Smoke Weed like a Tourist in Barcelona

A recent visit to Barcelona showed me it’s the future of cannabis and I’m living in the past. Though I’ve been a stoner for 25 years, I don’t naturally integrate into the city’s cannabis club scene for the simple reason I’m used to buying solid from the street, and smoking at home. Barcelona showed me it’s time for a change.

In the last ten years, Barcelona AKA BCN has replaced Amsterdam as the cannabis capital of Europe. Thanks to a clause in the Spanish constitution that allows its citizens to form associations and do as they please in private, a series of court cases dating back to the 1970s, and the bravery of Barcelona activists, the first clubs began opening in the 1990s. However, these places were just private grow ops and dispensaries.

It wasn’t until 2001, with the opening of the Barcelona’s Cannabis Taster’s Club that the current cannabis social club model, a safe place to buy and smoke cannabis with like-minded friends, was born. Fast-forward ten years and what started out as an underground movement led by activists becomes a thriving business opportunity, with clubs popping up all over the city. By 2012, there are hundreds of clubs, an estimated 500 across Catalonia.

With growth came problems. Police started raiding and shutting down clubs they suspected of trafficking. Charges were pressed on the owners of some clubs, the two most famous cases being Three Monkeys and Panagh. Both cases went all the way to the Supreme Court, taking years to process, but ultimately ending in dismissal of trafficking charges.

Over the years, many attempts to introduce regulation for cannabis clubs have been made. La Rosa Verda, a set of guidelines drawn up by Barcelona activists was passed in 2017, however its victory was cut short by the Catalonian coup a few months later. For now, the clubs operate in accordance with the Buenas Practicas, a code of practices outlined by the Catalonian Federation of Cannabis Associations (CatFac.)

Of all the rules, the most important is that the club operates as a non-profit, existing to serve its members not profit from them. The clubs agree to grow a certain number of plants, usually two per member, and in that way they justify a private grow op. Members can receive up to 3 grams per day, and 25 grams per week. The average price of a gram in a club is €10. Some of the clubs are making a goddamn fortune.

As a user who’s coming from the black market, I have to remind myself to not smoke weed like a tourist. That means not balking at the prices and remembering that  clubs offer a safe place to smoke and meet like-minded freaks, a real gift after years of smoking in secret. By now, I’ve been to about six BCN clubs, and the one thing they all have in common is stoners, but not the kind I expected.

Sure, it’s mostly young dudes in hoodies, or older dudes in hoodies, yes, mostly dudes, but the ladies are there, too, just in smaller numbers. Before going, even I bought into the hype, assuming that because they have constant access to weed, BCN stoners must be hitting it like it’s 4/20 every day. But that’s scarcity thinking, the result of buying from an unreliable black market for so long.

When a person can access a commodity easily, and is not concerned about getting more, it’s an abundance economy, and rather than promoting more use, it gives people space to consider how they use, prompting them to self-regulate. The same is true of any substance. Yes, a certain percentage of the population become alcoholics and drink to excess, but the majority do not buy a bottle of vodka on a Tuesday morning even though they can if they want.

In an abundance economy, the relationship with any item is a product of personal responsibility and self-care. I saw this in action with many of the stoners I spoke with in BCN. They were conscious of how much they smoked, in some cases did not smoke tobacco, and in others only smoked weed at set times of the day or week. They were more interested in quality than quantity.

I see now that my habit has evolved out of a scarcity model that keeps me clinging to it in unhealthy ways. It’s time for a change. Watch this space, my freaky friends.

If You Want to Travel in Style, Travel High

“I have no idea,” says the clerk at the bus station when I ask about a connecting bus to Malaga. My ten-hour journey from Cadiz to Barcelona will involve one train and four buses due to a problem with the train line, an unwelcome detour. My local bus station in a small town is mostly closed, and its service appears designed to maximise inconvenience for any passenger going further than the next town 20 miles away. I’m going hundreds.

Good ganja, I hate traveling. Can’t stand being stuck for hours in an uncomfortable seat unable to smoke, or the look of utter confusion on the faces of most people, AKA the Great Unstoned. Don’t get me started on The Booking Process. Dirty toilets. Overpriced water. And bad food. To cope, I get stoned.

On the morning of travelling, I can’t shake the feeling I’m forgetting something, and do a mental checklist before leaving: passport, phone, purse, yes; what am I forgetting? At the local station, I smoke a joint on a nearby bench to prepare for the journey. In front of me a woman struggles to get her bag off a bus. But I can only see the morning sun glistening on the Atlantic.

At bus station number two, I stand in a queue for twenty minutes to find out the bus trip will take three hours. I avoid the greasy omelet and cheap pastries in the café, have a mint tea with some homemade bread instead. Then duck round the back of the station for a spliff. Generally, bus stations are crawling with security and distance between it and the smell of cannabis is advisable. That said alone and minding my own business, I’ve never been bothered while smoking a joint in a public place. Never.

By the time I board the bus, the endless blue of the Mediterranean and my book are enough to distract me for the first two hours. The last hour is torture. The doubt is back. What am I forgetting? I do another mental list: keys, bank card, edibles, yes. What could it be? I want to check my train ticket but the detour forced me to book by phone. The ticket is on my phone. I can’t get online. I’ve never used this system before. I’m nervous. What could it be?

I get to Malaga grateful I have an hour to spare so I can find the train station and figure out how to check in with a phone ticket. I get to the security gate, log online to retrieve my ticket, and realise what it is that I forgot: to check the train time. I’m late. Two hours late. WTF? No way! How? What? The calm security officer tells me to go to the office. I trudge off in shock. Also, worried the bag of canna-chocolate cups I’ve made for a friend’s party are going to melt by the time I get there.

I pile into the ticket office, sweating, dragging my bag, explaining my woe. The sales agent sits behind a big desk with a computer and a phone on it in a room with two more agents who have identical desks. He has a greasy schoolboy haircut, an angry zit on the side of his nose, and a look of zero tolerance in his beady eyes. Unspeaking, he takes my ticket, turns to his screen, and taps for five minutes. His disaffected expression does not waver. He books me on a train first thing the next morning.

“If you loose this ticket, there’s nothing we can do to help you,” is the only thing he says to me. Meanwhile, I have to find somewhere to spend the night. Because my feet are screaming, the sales patter of the receptionist in the first hostel I find seduces me easily – though I do snag a discount. The room is at the end of a warren-like corridor that reminds me of a dream I once had.

Each room has a door plague engraved with the name of a Spanish province: Almeria, Huelva, Murcia, Cordoba, and Malaga. My room is Cadiz. I’ve ended up back where I started. But the room is cozy, with a hot shower, a window and an ashtray, meaning I can smoke. Good ganja, I can smoke. Small pleasures like these make traveling bearable.

The next morning, I make it on time for the train, and settle into my aisle seat to pass the six-hour trip catching up on some writing. About two hours from my destination, I start talking to two other smokers, one man, one woman, who, like me, are hopping out at the stops for a quick cig. We talk about house prices and politics till I mention cannabis. Then, everything changes.

The man, it turns out, used to own a cannabis club. He got out of the business because of problems with his partners. He assures me all the clubs in the city are corrupt. The woman, a few years older than me and a stoner for longer, is on her way to her local club for a smoke. We banter like old friends, swapping weed stories and phone numbers. Somewhere to sit, spread out and smoke is the only thing that could have made the moment better. When fellow passengers hear what we’re talking about, they smile.

As we get off the train, the man hands me a gram of Tangie. The woman and I find a quiet spot on a wall across the road from the station, in a skate park, the sun shining on our faces. We roll up and smoke, both agreeing of us that at the end of a long journey, every traveler should have a moment like this, or even better, travel high.

Epilogue

I made it safely to my destination. Half the edibles were not so lucky. The rest were very much enjoyed.

Going to The Gym High on Cannabutter

It wasn’t my plan to go to the gym high on cannabutter, and it certainly wasn’t what I expected. I made the cannabutter the night before, and out of sheer impatience, tried some at 7:00 a.m. not expecting it to have much of an effect. By 9:00 a.m., I was wasted. I mean red eyes, dry mouth, and bright-lights-everywhere wasted. Determined to workout, I put on my gym-gear, and some make-up, filled a bottle of water, and prayed to fuck no one noticed my faraway stare.

Inside the gym, the machines were haloed by a florescent glow, and even my shoelaces seemed to sparkle. Watching my reflection in the mirror, I resisted the urge to laugh at myself – difficult because everything was funny, especially me. I forced myself to workout hard, having missed the previous day and wanting to make up for lost time. This wasn’t easy. Mostly, I wanted to loll on the ground and giggle at the zigzags on the gym’s corrugated roof, but with a little focus, I made it through the workout in a speedy 40 minutes when it usually takes me at least 50 if not 60 minutes.

As I worked out, I noticed I had extra energy, and once I focused on a task, my motivation was super-charged. I find leg curls particularly challenging, and usually slack off on the last set. Not this time. I gritted my teeth and ordered my legs to rise to the challenge. I forced them into position, to literally bend to my will, ignoring the whine of my tired muscles. I’ve been working out long enough to know that part of the magic lies in mind-muscle connection, which is why it’s important to understand what muscle group a given exercise is working. Stoned, my mind-muscle connection was impenetrable.

However, I did notice I had less strength. On a good day, I can deadlift 80 kilos, but I stopped at 60 kilos yesterday because that felt heavy enough. And I struggled through a Turkish Get-Up with a 12-kilo kettle-bell when I normally do it with ease. Conclusion. I can see why athletes who do endurance sports like long-distance running or cycling gravitate towards weed, as it seems to unlock hidden reserves of energy and focus. But for someone who’s into weight-lifting, where strength-building is the goal, better to keep the ganja for after the workout, imo.

As for the cannabutter, man, that shit tastes good. I researched recipes from four or five different sources, comparing doses and cooking time. The kind of stove and pot used will affect the temperatures and timing, but what I noticed is that most recipes over-estimate both the amount of weed and heat needed for best results. Basically, unless your goal is to lose a few days of your life, it’s not necessary to load your base butter and/or oil with so much flower.

And also, what time of day it is when you consume your edible will affect its effects. Pro-tip: (uh, don’t you mean common sense, ed?) If you don’t want to end up feeling like a fairy-light before breakfast, best to wait till later in the day. Edibles are a good option for going to the gym high, but remember, a small dose (10mg) is enough. If you’re not used to taking cannabis, or not used to working out, the rule of thumb is: start small and go slow.

#cannabisworkout #cannabutter #stonedworkout

If You Can Grow Tomatoes You Can Grow Weed

Once upon a time, I believed gardening was for doddery old men who wore cardigans with holes in the pockets, and drank tea laced with whisky while dead-heading the roses. Beyond your common-or-garden varieties such as lilies and carnations, I knew little of the world of flowers, and even less of why bother grow and tend to them.

Then, about five years ago, I bought some potted hibiscus, a small lemon tree, and mint, and between them they brought colour and life to my unloved patio. Taking care of them turned out to be the perfect stoner past-time, quiet, tactile, holistic. Plus, the relationship is reciprocal; if they’re in good shape, so am I.

The leap to marijuana, a plant that’s been in my life for more than two decades, was unplanned, but natural. A friend gave me some seeds. I germinated them. One survived, and grew into a rather pathetic specimen that was a robust smoke. Year two, two plants survived, one growing slightly larger than the other, but both producing a mellow buzz that hummed for hours. Year three, and I started to get creative.

As well as expanding the potted plants in my patio to include aloe, basil, curry and a San Pedro cactus, I germinated six seeds. During the following summer, two beautiful baby Lemon Haze got eaten by starlings; a complaining neighbour cost me two stunning Indicas, and I had to execute a midnight run in a borrowed van to save two others. I managed to harvest about half a pound, half of which I used to pay my helpers, but I had enough to start baking, all that mattered to me.

Taking care of marijuana plants demands discipline and commitment because the challenges come thick and fast. As well as the usual bugs and pests, there are nosey-parks and thieves and the law to look out for. But once you commit to the task, when you grow weed it’s therapy, a connection to the earth like no other, and a unique insight into nature.

More than anything, gardening teaches patience, and herb is no exception. Like all plants, she has her rhythms and it’s up to you to figure them out. My advice: start small, start with tomatoes. They’re sturdy, smell amazing, and as long as you give them lots of water, and a decent amount of sun, they’ll give you juicy fruit. The above photo is of the tomato plant on my patio.

Don’t think you need fancy equipment. You just need earth, a pot and the right time of year. Need more tips? Don’t worry. Watch this space. Over the coming months, I’ll be filling these pages with lots of tips on growing and cooking, along with recipes and health tips for hashheads like me.

I no longer believe gardening is just for doddery old men, or perhaps I enjoy thinking of myself as doddery, pottering around my patio, fingernails caked in clay, and joint hanging from my mouth, as a re-pot the babies, I mean, plants.

#followtheplant #girlsgrowtoo #homegrow

“If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence, we could rise up rooted, like trees.” Rainer Maria Rilke