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How Cannabis Changed Mike Tyson’s Life



Tyson Ranch broke ground in 2017 in the middle of the California desert. It was good timing.  Proposition 64 had freshly legalized cannabis for recreational use in the state. When Tyson is being asked about his corporate vision or business savvy, he inevitably gets personal. He describes marijuana as medicine that has put his life on a better path.

Tyson is open about his past. Both in explaining his cocaine addiction as a young man and to demonstrate the role cannabis plays now in his health. Tyson grew up amid poverty and abuse — even given alcohol as a baby. He tried cocaine for the first time at eleven years old, and not two years later, he was discovered to be a promising boxer while he was a thirteen-year-old inmate at a juvenile detention center. His counsellor, ex-boxer Bobby Stewart, introduced Tyson to the famous trainer, Constantine D’Amato, who saw in Tyson the next world heavyweight champion. When Tyson’s mother died, D’Amato adopted him.

Shortly after Tyson won his first championship, D’Amato died. So, Don King targeted a nineteen-year-old Tyson. King enabled Tyson’s cocaine use and, as a result, cut Tyson’s boxing prime short. Tyson was always an intimidating contender, but there is an obvious decline in his technique as his addiction escalated. He was high on blow before famous fights. He side-stepped drug tests by smuggling a child’s pee in with a false penis. King stole millions of dollars. Eventually, Tyson lost his boxing career and went to prison. When he emerged, he was broke, traumatized and in chronic pain.

Cannabis and the road to recovery

Tyson doesn’t call cannabis a panacea — No drug is a cure-all. He credits his third wife, Lahika Spicer, with helping him get sober and healthy. Together, they developed his one-man show that rehabilitated his reputation, where he tells the story of his traumatic childhood.

Nevertheless, Tyson calls himself an advocate for cannabis. He thinks education about the medical benefits of cannabis will help end the stigma. When he retired from boxing, he started taking prescription pain killers, which left him feeling “tired and cranky all the time”. Cannabis also helped him manage his symptoms of mental illness, especially his anxiety. So, he only needs to take one medication (cannabis) to manage both conditions instead of taking two.

Tyson’s story challenges conventional wisdom on addiction treatment.  Abstinence-only says, Tyson is still an addict, he has just switched his drug of choice. However, people with addictions frequently have other disorders as well, such as chronic pain or psychiatric diagnoses. (The term for this is “co-morbidities”).

Integrated treatment is an approach to addiction that considers co-morbidity. When we can meet our needs, and medicate ourselves properly, we’re less driven to seek self-medication.

Tyson is presenting cannabis as the best medicine for his co-morbidities. Granted, smoking $40,000 of weed in one month is a lot. However, addiction has never been defined by how much you consume, but by the consequences of consuming.

Nobody is saying trauma victims just need a joint and they’ll feel all better. Addiction isn’t straightforward, but one thing is certain: treatment needs less shame, and more empathy.

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Cannabis Substitution Project Raided by Vancouver Police – Charges Laid – Cannabis News, Lifestyle




On Tuesday, May 10th, 2022, The Cannabis Substitution Program (CSP) was raided by Vancouver police, and charges have been laid. An unexpected blow from the province, many are concerned about this heavy-handed approach. Here are the details about this developing situation. 

What is the Cannabis Substitution Program?

Set up on the downtown eastside, the Cannabis Substitution Program supports anyone looking to get off other drugs. While they do distribute cannabis, they are not a dispensary and won’t just sell their buds to anyone. Their cannabis and products provide an alternative to much harder drugs, ease pain and reduce withdrawal symptoms. They provide a drug replacement that is non-fatal, effective, and backed up with evidence. During an opiate epidemic, this work could not be more important.

A package of cannabis flower, capsules, and edibles offered free by the CSP – Photo courtesy of Neil Magnuson’s Facebook page

In the beginning, the Cannabis substitution program primarily focused on helping addicts. As time went on, word of the organization spread to the medical cannabis community. Patients in need of support began using them as a resource for both medicine and guidance. Considering their experience in helping heroin users, they can provide a wealth of knowledge when it comes to other narcotics. 

Justice vs. The Law

This organization does not consist of a bunch of gangsters getting rich dealing drugs; they sell low-cost cannabis from the back of an RV and whenever possible, they give it away. By working with growers in the legacy market, the CSP is able to circumvent a lot of legal overhead. Because of this, their bud and edibles are handed out free or if they are sold, the price is cheap. As one could imagine, this is completely illegal. But, for an addict suffering from withdrawal symptoms or medical patient without any access, the organization is a lifeline. 

George Middleton holding an extremely large bud in the CSP RV – Photo courtesy of The Vancouver Cannabis Substitution Program Facebook Page

All cannabis businesses across the province are required to comply with the Cannabis Act. This includes having a license. Medical cannabis organizations are under Federal jurisdiction, thus, they don’t have to follow the same rules. However, these regulations are a giant mess, making legal integration nearly impossible. The only course of action is to adjust your operations to comply or apply for an exemption; this is what the CSP has done. 

Exemption from The Cannabis Act

According to CSP founder Neil Magnuson, the Cannabis Substitution Program submitted an application to the Crown. They have formally asked for an exemption from the Cannabis Act. Their argument is that the current regulations provide too many barriers, making low-cost cannabis inaccessible. Currently, the application is still processing.

Raided and Charges

On Tuesday, May 10th, 2022, several police officers came to shut the program down and seize the CSP RV. Program founder Neil Magnuson and two other staff members have been charged with trafficking but nothing has been approved by the Crown. All CSP staff have been released on their own reconnaissance. 

Vancouver PD surrounding the CSP RV – Photo courtesy of Neil Magnuson’s Facebook page

When the CSP is about to open, you can usually tell by the lineup outside. This isn’t due to popularity, it’s because of necessity. The Cannabis Substitution Project provides an invaluable service to our community, one that doesn’t fit into our current laws. Thankfully, they don’t really care about that. On May 10th, the Vancouver police shut down the CSP but the next day, they re-opened. When asked about the raid and re-open, Neil Magnuson had this to say: “People need to have high dose edibles or they’re going to die. We’re not walking away from them.” 

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Is marijuana addictive? | Leafly




Humans are pleasure-driven, reward-oriented beings. We have a built-in reward system, and love to feel good and seek out experiences and substances that evoke enjoyment. However, when we rely on substances to provide us with this feel-good high, our internal reward system can become dysregulated and dysfunctional, leading to addiction. 

Chronic cannabis consumption can turn into problematic use that can detrimentally affect physical and mental well-being, relationships, and daily life. And while the vast majority of cannabis consumers will not become addicted to the plant, it’s helpful to understand how cannabis misuse affects the brain, which cannabinoids can prompt addiction, and behaviors that can contribute to cannabis use disorder. 

Additionally, while some research suggests that cannabis can contribute to addiction, the plant may also be a form of addiction treatment.

What is addiction? 

People can get addicted to many different things, but chemical or substance addictions are the most common. Chemical addictions include drugs, alcohol, cannabis, or even caffeine (yes, it’s a real thing). There are diverse ways to talk about chemical addictions, including dependence, misuse, and abuse, but all are grouped under the broader umbrella of substance use disorders.

A chemical addiction is when an individual’s use of a substance disrupts their daily life, detrimentally affects their relationships, and hinders their ability to work. Dependence is so overpowering that they can’t stop using the substance, even though they want to quit. 

Scientists generally agree that addiction is a repetitive cycle defined by three stages:

  • First stage: binging and intoxication on the substance, which stimulates a flood of dopamine release that leaves the user feeling fantastic
  • Second stage: withdrawal and negative effects; the absence of the substance triggers a panicked, negative reaction
  • Third stage: characterized by a preoccupation with consuming more of the substance, which ultimately leads back to the first stage

An addiction to cannabis also conforms with these three stages. A formal diagnosis of cannabis addiction is referred to as cannabis use disorder.


Does cannabis help or worsen depression?

What is cannabis use disorder?

Cannabis use disorder (CUD) can be defined as the inability to stop consuming cannabis even when it is causing physical or psychological harm. This definition not only captures addiction but also includes individuals who may be dependent on cannabis and negatively impacted by it. 

Approximately 10% of 193 million cannabis users worldwide are affected by cannabis use disorder. Symptoms of cannabis use disorder include:

  • Continued cannabis use despite physical problems, like frequent respiratory infections
  • Continued use in spite of psychological problems, like anxiety or paranoia 
  • Continued cannabis use despite social or relationship problems; these problems can arise from different factors, like an impaired ability to process emotions, or a tendency to withdraw from social activities
  • Giving up or reducing other activities in favor of using cannabis
  • Problems at work, school, and home as a result of cannabis use
  • Intense cravings for cannabis
  • Difficulty controlling or reducing cannabis use
  • Taking cannabis in high-risk situations, such as when driving or using tools or machines that could cause harm
  • Consuming more cannabis than intended; or an inability to stick to consumption limits you’ve set for yourself
  • Increasing tolerance to cannabis
  • Withdrawal symptoms, like depression, or irritability, upon ceasing cannabis use

Can cannabis addiction alter the brain? 

Cannabis addiction, like all substance addictions, alters how the brain processes rewards, responds to stress, manages executive system function, and self-regulates. Cannabis addiction influences executive function by hindering our ability to pay attention, concentrate, make plans or decisions, and remember important things.

Addiction also impacts how we self-regulate. Self-regulation refers to our ability to wield control over our choices, impulses, feelings, thoughts and behaviors. When we become addicted to cannabis, the desire to consume the plant may sway our choices and actions in ways that are sometimes harmful. 

Cannabis addiction can also cause responses to stressful situations to become dysfunctional. For example, it’s normal to feel a spike in stress levels in response to a near-miss on the highway, or witnessing an argument. Stress causes the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to prepare the body for fight or flight. 

Research has shown, however, that long-term, heavy cannabis users often have a blunted response to stress—they don’t produce as much cortisol in stressful situations, and therefore don’t feel the acute effects of stress as much. 

While this could be a good thing—many of us could benefit from feeling more chill in the face of everyday stressors—it could also be a disadvantage, as cortisol facilitates the release of energy that helps us to react to threats or dangers. In other words, cortisol helps us move swiftly when we need to make a speedy getaway.


Does cannabis interact with antidepressants?

Cannabis and the dopaminergic system

One of the most researched ways in which cannabis addiction alters brain function is through its effects on the brain’s dopaminergic system, which is responsible for releasing dopamine, a molecule produced in the brain that significantly influences how we experience rewards. 

A toke of weed can deliver a dopamine hit that provides you with a euphoric high. However, repeated cannabis use can increase dopamine release to unnaturally high levels, which can reinforce addictive effects. 

“Cannabis, when used correctly, can lead to feeling good,” explained Dr. Jordan Tishler MD, faculty at Harvard Medical School, President of the Association of Cannabinoid Specialists, and CEO/CMO at inhaleMD. “This is believed to be related to the indirect stimulation of the dopaminergic system—the system that has been implicated in addiction.” 

However, it’s essential to point out that cannabis use must be chronic before addiction can take place. You can’t get addicted to weed from smoking one joint. Addiction arises when the brain’s reward system gets repeatedly stimulated, which then alters how it functions.

Cannabis and the endocannabinoid system

Our endocannabinoid system—the primary bodily system responsible for processing the effects of cannabinoids like THC and CBD—contains both naturally occurring endocannabinoids produced by the body, and receptors that pick up messages from endocannabinoids and cannabinoids in cannabis.

According to Tishler, cannabis misuse can lead to downregulation of endocannabinoid receptors, leading to fewer receptors circling in the brain—so their ability to pick up messages from the body’s normal endocannabinoid pathway is reduced. “In this way, the endocannabinoid system of the individual becomes dependent on the supply of cannabis-supplied cannabinoid,” said Tishler.

It appears that THC is the main culprit in downregulating the body’s CB1 cannabis receptors. With fewer receptors available, the brain becomes increasingly tolerant and desensitized to the rewards of THC. Therefore, increasingly large amounts of THC are needed to achieve a high. 

Fortunately, however, this alteration isn’t permanent. A study of daily cannabis smokers found that the density of CB1 receptors returned to normal levels in almost all parts of the brain after four weeks of abstinence.


What is the endocannabinoid system and what is its role?

Are some more vulnerable to cannabis addiction?

While altered brain chemistry undeniably plays a key role in cannabis addiction, it’s important to also recognize that addiction is a multifaceted disorder caused by diverse interlocking factors. Genes, lifestyle, home and work environment, and socio-economic status can all play a role in addiction.

Beyond consumption patterns, evidence is emerging that suggests certain individuals are more likely to develop a cannabis use disorder than others.

For example, cannabis use before 16 years of age has been found to increase the risk of developing CUD. In addition, individuals with CUD are more likely to have been diagnosed with another substance use disorder, such as alcohol dependence. In a US sample of people who had been diagnosed with CUD, 83.5% of men and 82.9% of women had another substance use disorder.

Individuals with mood disorders, such as depression, are also 4x more likely to become heavy users of cannabis, increasing their risk of cannabis use disorder. However, there is some contention about whether heavy cannabis use may also contribute to depression.

Is cannabis more or less addictive than other substances? 

Although there’s a saying that comparisons are odious, sometimes they’re useful in providing context. Comparing cannabis to other commonly abused substances of abuse suggests that it’s the least likely to lead to dependence.

A 2015 review that weighed up more than two decades of research found that individuals who use cannabis are less likely to develop a dependency than users of almost any other substance, including nicotine, heroin, cocaine, alcohol or stimulants. 

The researchers found that the lifetime risk of developing a dependence on cannabis was about 9%. Nicotine came in at 32%, heroin 23%, cocaine 17%, alcohol 15%, and other stimulants scored 11%. This comparatively smaller likelihood of dependency may be because cannabis releases less dopamine than other addictive substances.

Can cannabis help with addiction? 

While THC can contribute to addiction, another cannabinoid present in the plant, CBD, or cannabidiol, may help treat dependence. Research is still very much in the early days, but data suggest that cannabidiol may help as an intervention for diverse addictions without inciting addiction itself.

A recent randomized clinical trial with human participants found that CBD shows promise in specifically treating cannabis use disorder. CBD doses of 400mg and 800mg represented a safe and more effective treatment than a placebo in reducing cannabis use among individuals with cannabis use disorder. Of the participants, 96% had been diagnosed with severe cannabis use disorder. 

While further clinical trials will be helpful in clarifying and consolidating these results, there’s a certain poetic irony that the same plant can contribute to the problem, and provide the solution. 

This post was originally published on November 22, 2015.

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Emma Stone

Emma Stone is a journalist based in New Zealand specializing in cannabis, health, and well-being. She has a Ph.D. in sociology and has worked as a researcher and lecturer, but loves being a writer most of all. She would happily spend her days writing, reading, wandering outdoors, eating and swimming.

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What Are The Side-Effects Of Quitting Cannabis?




This article originally appeared on and has been reposted with permission.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), marijuana is the most widely taken illegal drug in the United States.

In the last few years, more states have made the medical and recreational use of weed legal. Nevertheless, following a 2018 study from Washington State, the legitimization does not appear to have notably increased cannabis use. That being said, cannabis use has been receiving a lot of notice.

refusing marijuana joint
Photo by chabybucko/Getty Images

There are a lot of misunderstandings about whether people can get addicted to cannabis. In truth, it is conceivable that one becomes addicted to, or even dependent on, cannabis with frequent use. Sleep being on of the main issues user report having gone from using cannabis for sleep and then stopping the plant use.

Above three hundred thousand people start treatment for cannabis use disorders in the United States every year. According to a 2012 study, 30.6% of cannabis users had a cannabis use disorder between 2012 and 2013.

What Exactly Is Cannabis Withdrawal?

Cannabis withdrawal (or marijuana quitting) is when specific negative symptoms, psychological and physical alike, happen when an individual who regularly smokes weed stops using it.

There are a ton of misunderstandings when talking about the use of cannabis, and one of the greatest is the belief that it is impossible to get addicted to cannabis; that one can quickly stop taking it at any time. However, that is not always so.

Regardless of whether you make use of cannabis for medical purposes or recreationally, it is possible to get addicted to cannabis with regular use. As a matter of fact, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), one in every ten Americans who use cannabis will become dependent.

RELATED: Cannabis Use Disorder: How To Spot The Signs

If your use of cannabis is limited — that is, from time to time as opposed to regularly — it is less likely that you will experience any marijuana quitting symptoms. If, however, you take cannabis periodically and want to quit, here is what to expect when you quit using cannabis.

Withdrawal Symptom

Cannabis withdrawal symptoms can include sleep deprivation, irritability, and restlessness. Individuals who use cannabis regularly and stop all of a sudden can go through some withdrawal symptoms. Though a lot of people take cannabis without undergoing withdrawal effects, regular cannabis use can become a cannabis use disorder. In severe instances, this can come as an addiction.

RELATED: Do You Experience Withdrawal If You Stop Using Cannabis Cold Turkey?

Professionals define addiction as the continuous use of cannabis regardless of the adverse effects it has on an individual’s life, such as problems with their job, relationships, or family. Cannabis withdrawal symptoms reach their peak within the first week of quitting and can continue for up to two weeks.

Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels

Symptoms of cannabis withdrawal can include:

  • Restlessness
  • Diminished appetite
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Craving for weed
  • Difficulty sleeping

Some studies imply that women may experience a larger number of withdrawal symptoms of greater severity when compared with men. However, further investigation is required.

Why Cannabis Causes Withdrawal Symptoms

Cannabis is the name given to the dried extracts from the plant Cannabis sativa. The plant possesses terpenes and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), with THC adding to the primary psychoactive effects linked with the use of cannabis. Marijuana’s potency is determined by THC, while terpenes determine its scent and flavor. Marijuana’s effect on the brain is proportional to the amount of THC it contains.

RELATED: Why Your Marijuana Tolerance Break Isn’t Working

Taking cannabis frequently means that the body and brain get accustomed to a regular supply of THC. As soon as there is no longer a supply, the body takes some time to adjust to it no longer being available. This leads to uncomfortable physical and mental withdrawal symptoms.

As soon as the body and brain get used to not having THC in the system, the physical withdrawal symptoms will cease. However, some people might still have mental cravings for cannabis for some time. Based on samples of seized cannabis, the strength of the herb has steadily increased as the years go by. From about 3.8 percent in the 1990s, the THC content has gone up to about 12.2 percent in 2014. This shows that the present effects of cannabis, including withdrawal effects, may be more severe in comparison with their effects in the past decades.

Smoking Marijuana
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

Timeline Of Withdrawal

After quitting cannabis, the brain can take about a month to get back to normal functioning. The mood swings and physical pains of withdrawal are at their peak in the first week of quitting and can continue for up to two weeks. Although the physical effects of quitting cannabis will end after the drug has left an individual’s system, the mental and psychological symptoms can continue for longer periods. Within four weeks of stopping the drugs, studies state that brain receptors called cannabinoid one receptors start to revert to normal after two days without cannabis. Within four weeks of stopping the drugs, they regain normal function.

Some people who have quit using marijuana may experience cravings for it, particularly in situations and circumstances where they were previously exposed to it.

Bottom Line

According to the CDC, the use of cannabis has been linked to a slew of detrimental health effects. Memory problems, an increased risk of stroke and heart disease, lung problems caused by marijuana use, and mental health symptoms such as etymology and psychosis are just a few examples. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there is strong evidence in both animal and human research that early life of marijuana exposure can lead to cognitive deficits such as memory and learning issues, as well as altered reward systems in the brain.

While the CDC and NIDA have been seen as very anti-cannabis in their publications and brochures, more and more positive scientific studies are coming out about the plant as access and legalization increases across North America.

Some people can get addicted to or even dependent on cannabis. Those people may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug. A person might go through mood swings or other problems or experience poor sleep. For those who are looking to quit cannabis, there are resources available. If you want to cut back on marijuana use, do it gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Making a few healthy lifestyle changes can also help you transition more smoothly.

This article originally appeared on and has been reposted with permission.

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