Last October (2015) recreational marijuana became legal to purchase in the state of Oregon and today (June 2, 2016) edibles became legal. Nearly every news site and blog had their opinions, tips, humor pieces, and updates. Being a Portland organization, how could we not join in? It is the perfect time to remind you to ALWAYS, in any circumstance, care for yourself and others.
The studies on mental health and cannabis are wide and varied - often coming to very different conclusions on its effectiveness to fight conditions such as depression or even cause greater struggles. What we're saying is justifying or opposing smoking pot for mental health issues is about as easy to do as 'diagnosing yourself' with some rare disease on WebMD when you see that a runny nose is a symptom.
So what do you do then if you struggle with mental health issues and would like to try recreational marijuana? Well, in truth, it would be a great thing to talk with your doctor or counselor about it first. Marijuana for medical use has been around for quite some time and by knowing your medical history and conditions they might be the best judge. They may write you a prescription (which is truly cheaper anyway) or suggest abstaining.
Now you're saying - 'but but but Eric, I wanna try it now!!' I hear you. I understand. Through different articles and conversations or possibly past experiences it seems that marijuana will just mellow it all out. So while I still suggest consulting a doctor (especially if you have been diagnosed with something) I understand that some of you will go ahead and grab some today or soon. It's a historic event, but also know it will be around tomorrow and next month and next year. It's the new normal. But... if you are trying marijuana and have mental health struggles (diagnosed or assumed) or know someone in this situation here are some tips.
6 TIPS FOR USING RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA
IMPORTANT: If you are feeling suicidal/having thoughts of suicide or are with someone who is DO NOT use any drug or substance. Seek help and have important conversations. Call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or check out more resources.
1. Consult a Doctor/Counselor/Trustworthy Friend
That's right I mentioned a doctor or counselor again. Another good source might be a friend that struggles with the same condition or has some expertise (using marijuana responsibly). Although all bodies react differently, their experience might be a good meter. Don't go by hearsay or rumor. Only trust someone if they have a track record of being trustworthy and caring when helping you through things.... baring in mind they are not a medical professional.
2. Ask the Shop
Most shops that are starting to sell recreational marijuana are actually medical dispensaries and have been doing this for patients for quite some time. You aren't asking them for a prescription, but they know the product really well. Not all marijuana is the same and each strain has a varied affect. Ask what would be a milder high or what strain works best for depression or state your concerns (ex. worried about it causing anxiety). They are not your doctor, but they have important and helpful knowledge. They want you to be safe and happy as well. You can also do some research ahead of time or go with a friend in the know.
3. Don't Indulge Alone
The results of smoking or ingesting marijuana can range from a relaxing state to hallucinations to paranoia, etc. For positive effects it might be nice to have someone by your side and for negative or unwanted effects they will be there to calm you down or get you help. It might be good for the other person to not partake, especially if you are nervous or unsure of the affect it will have on you. Think of them as your DD for the 'trip' ... even if you are already safe at home.
4. Take It Easy
Don't overdue it on your first time for sure! You want to see the effect it has on you, not 'party hard'. Remember you are over 21 if you bought this legally and you are a responsible adult... Or at least can act like one for your own safety. Research how to smoke it and appropriate amounts or ask at the shop. Don't just guess. Chronic use (pun intended) of any substance is dangerous and causes problems. Furthermore if you are eating edibles be extra careful. Edibles take much longer to have a noticable effect (anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours) and last much much longer. People have been known to take more thinking it's not working and the results can be dangerous. Read more about edible warnings.
5. Take Note
Take care of yourself. Learn from this experience and make sure to make the right decisions for your health in the future. Do not feel pressured to continue if this isn't the right choice for you. Make a doctors appointment if concerns or questions come up. Remember it is a legal substance now, so asking a doctor is more than alright.
6. Don't Self Medicate
If you are using marijuana as a medication, get a prescription. Self medicating with any substance (ex. alcohol) can easily lead to abuse or addiction. If you are becoming dependent on a substance or have distinct urges it would be wise to seek help. More on that here.
All that to be said, be smart, be safe, and care for one another.