This blog post will answer the question: "Why do people use cannabis?" and cover topics like the history, how it is used, and what dangers are associated with its use.
There’s a whole lot of information to cover about why people choose to partake in cannabis — one of the most commonly-used substances worldwide — so we’re going to break it down for you in this article.
What is Cannabis?
Before we can get into why people use cannabis, we should first talk about what it is. Although cannabis has many different names:
The earliest known use of the word "cannabis" is from 1268, when it was used in a religious text. The term "cannabis" has been used in association with the Latin term "canabus", which referred to both hemp and marijuana.
When was cannabis introduced into society?
Cannabis use is believed to have first come to Europe via Asia more than 5,000 years ago. The first known references to cannabis date back to Mesopotamia, where ancient texts refer to using cannabis for medicinal purposes and as an intoxicant.
Ancient texts also refer to the cultivation of cannabis by early Chinese people, who began cultivating it between 1,000 B.C. to 2,000 B.C.
Over the centuries, cannabis was introduced into other countries and cultures in North Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East. By the time it had made its way to Europe in the early 17th century, cannabis had already been introduced into India and Africa as well.
How is Cannabis Used?
People use cannabis in all sorts of ways that depend on their culture and preference. The way a person uses cannabis can vary based on:
- their age,
- and geographic location.
Cannabis can be smoked or ingested orally.
Smoking involves inhaling smoke from the plant's flowers through a pipe or cigarette. The positive effects of smoking cannabis are immediate and include a sense of relaxation and heightened creativity. However, smoking causes the user to become intoxicated more quickly than ingesting it orally — which can also result in dependence and addiction if smoked too often.
Oral ingestion involves eating the buds, leaves, or flowers of the cannabis plant for recreational purposes.
The major negative effects of oral ingestion are:
- impaired motor function (i.e. movement)
- and delayed reaction time.
Unlike smoking, oral ingestion typically causes the user to feel the high over a longer period of time.
Although there are reports of other methods of ingestion:
- vaporizing cannabis,
- applying it topically,
- injecting it intravenously (these are less common than smoking or ingesting it orally)
Individuals who choose to inject marijuana intravenously are running the risk of developing infections like HIV or hepatitis C.
Other uses for cannabis include:
- making clothing,
- medicine for pets,
- and food products, among others.
How is Cannabis Made?
Understanding how cannabis is made can be helpful for understanding why people use it. Cannabis is a chemical plant, which means that it’s created from chemicals. The main active chemical of marijuana is THC (you may have heard reference to CBD, which also has mind-altering effects). In order to understand what makes cannabis so special, you need to understand how those chemicals are made.
There are two ways in which cannabis is made:
- through a simple process called home growth
- through a complicated process called the commercial production industry
Which method someone chooses depends on their goals and current situation.
Home growth involves planting seeds in order to grow a plant. Generally, this doesn’t provide cannabis that has high levels of THC because marijuana plants grown at home are often infected with fungi.
Commercial production methods result in higher quality cannabis because the plants are often grown in a controlled environment and handled by professionals. These professionals possess the skill set required for cultivating large amounts of high-quality plants with a low risk of bugs, disease, or other problems. The finished product is converted into THC and CBD (one strain may be high in one and low in the other).
In order to create differing psychoactive effects, growers will sometimes sell cannabis that has been contaminated with other drugs.
For example, some growers may sell plants that have been sprayed with other chemicals like PCP or embalming fluid in order to increase production. Although the high created by contaminated cannabis is often stronger than normal, it also can cause very unpleasant side effects like panic attacks and psychosis.
What Are The Effects of Cannabis?
Some of the positive effects of using cannabis include:
- an increase in appetite and feelings of euphoria,
- and increased creativity.
This is commonly referred to as the "high" that users experience when smoking marijuana. Some consider this state similar to what psychologists call a "flow state." During this flow state, people feel more creative, motivated, and full of ideas.
There are also some negative side effects associated with using cannabis. When people overuse it (i.e., use it too often):
- They may develop problems with memory and cognition over time.
- Even in smaller amounts, cannabis can "slow thinking and cause people to lose their train of thought."
- Frequent use of cannabis can result in psychological dependence or addiction, although it is not often a serious problem.
Cannabis isn't technically considered an addictive substance, although many people with frequent cannabis use develop a tolerance for it.
When someone has a tolerance for marijuana, they need more to achieve the same “high” that they used to get on lower doses. This can put them at risk for becoming addicted to the drug. Some heavy users find that marijuana is necessary to function normally and may go through withdrawal if unable to get high.
How to get the best 'high'
"There are many ways to get the best 'high' from smoking or ingesting cannabis, so you want to think carefully about which of these methods will work for you. Figure out which modes of ingestion don’t make you feel as high or aren’t your preference and stick with those."
Remember that the best way to get a good high is through frequent use. If someone starts smoking marijuana instead of eating it, they'll likely need more in order to feel "high" at all times. Often, a person who takes a "hit" quickly can feel its effects in as little as 10 seconds or less.