Part 3 of How to Do the Pot’s series The Pot Talk explores the very loaded topic of “too much”. We offer the advice of experts and real women who help dig into the complexity and wide range of experiences that make up modern cannabis. Plus, 5 tips to consider if you, or someone you love, are heading toward consuming too much weed.
April Pride: This podcast discusses cannabis and is intended for audiences 21 and over.
Shonitria Anthony, Blunt Blowin’ Mama: I will admit that this has been a very stressful year and I have probably consumed a lot more cannabis this year than I have in my whole, entire life. I’m just going to admit that. And it’s because of the climate. It’s because of the stress, the election, the pandemic, George Floyd was murdered, we have all these things, Breonna Taylor. And these are things that are popping up over and over and over. And how do you cope? I turn to cannabis.
April Pride: Happy New Year and welcome back to How to Do the Pot. I’m April Pride. So what is The Pot Talk? Well when cannabis was declared an essential service during the lockdowns for COVID-19 in March of 2020, the national conversation around the plant shifted from stigma to solving real problems related to stress, sleep and mental health. If you’re one of the many women who has found relief with cannabis, we’re here to help. Because what does come next after cannabis has been deemed essential medicine for millions of Americans.
April Pride: We’ll share stories about these top-of-mind topics, a friend who just needs to do the pot already, your favorite boomer who was prescribed too many pills, a teenager who has too little school and no sports, a sober partner who is off the weed for work or to work the steps, and how to talk to someone asking for a friend you think smokes too much weed. Which is the topic of today’s episode.
April Pride: You just heard from Shonitria Anthony, a journalist and host of Blunt Blowin’ Mama Podcast. Shonitria’s far from alone in coping through 2020 with weed. And alcohol consumption was up nearly 50%, too. It’s been a long haul, but how do you know if a lot is too much? If you’re concerned about someone you love or your own behavior around weed, we offer this episode to guide your next move with informed compassion.
April Pride: Today we’re exploring the very loaded topic of too much, the global pandemic for society to recognize the integral, essential no less, role cannabis plays in the daily lives of millions of Americans. But just like pharmaceuticals can be consumed beyond what’s necessary to heal, so, too, can weed. A few stats for you, 35% of those who report consuming weed in the last month are daily consumers. One-third of today’s daily pot smokers, quote, smokers, meet the criteria for cannabis use disorder. Which is defined as the continued use of cannabis despite clinically significant impairment. We also know that people who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana-use disorder than adults. Data shows that 9% of cannabis consumers become addicted, which is less than the rate for alcoholism … Which is 16% of people becoming addicted, but still significant.
April Pride: The bible for mental disorders, the DSM-5, lists 11 symptoms for cannabis use disorder and the number of symptoms correspond to the severity of the disorder. So take the many possible symptoms, then add a lack of cannabis education, research and medical oversight, like many things with weed, simple answers, they’re hard to find. We’re not doctors, we’re not dispensing medical advice here at How to Do the Pot, and we encourage you to reach out to a medical professional if you may be struggling with any addiction. Since it’s our job to think about weed and its effect on women, we see our role as providing you with the information that we have access to, the advice of experts, and real women who can help dig into the complexity and the wide range of experiences that make up modern cannabis.
April Pride: We asked Dr. Jessica Knox, our favorite cannabis doctor, a Harvard-trained physician and co-founder of The American Cannabinoid Clinics, the most important questions to think about if you’re concerned about over consumption.
Dr. Jessica Knox, American Cannabinoid Clinics: Cannabis is a medicine at its root. And certainly that medicine can be used in a recreational way. But I believe that it should always be used in a way that enhances or makes you feel better, improves your quality of life. And if it’s not doing that for you, if it’s doing the opposite, then I think that’s a good indicator that maybe you’re overdoing it.
Dr. Jessica Knox, American Cannabinoid Clinics: There are some folks who need hundreds or even thousands of milligrams a day for what they’re trying to manage, and others who only need 10 milligrams a day. So it is very personalized. But when thinking about is somebody using too much, I think there are probably, I don’t want to say metrics because it’s not that hard and fast, but two concerns that come to mind. One is, there is a phenomenon when using cannabis now as the biphasic effect where it’s not linear in that if I feel okay with this low amount of cannabis, or I feel good with this moderate amount of cannabis, I’m going to feel amazing with this higher amount of cannabis.
Dr. Jessica Knox, American Cannabinoid Clinics: What we see is it’s more shaped like a bell curve where there is a sweet spot in the middle. And moderate, gain, that’s relative. My moderate dose might be much lower or much higher than your moderate dose. But that moderate dose is where I’m going to feel the best effects. If I increase over that dose, I start to get either side effects, or I get a return of the symptoms that I had seen go away with that lower dose. So that’s one measure of, “Am I using too much?” Where I used to feel pretty good on 20 milligrams so I went up to 30 milligrams and now I feel really crummy, you probably should dial it back down. And that might be an easy way for someone to know if they’re using too much.
Dr. Jessica Knox, American Cannabinoid Clinics: I think another measure that I like to use and that is probably more aligned with the dependency/withdrawal/addiction, I guess scale, out in the general world is, is your cannabis use disrupting your normal way of life and your normal daily life? Is your use of cannabis making you not show up for work, or not show up for school? Or is it causing you to withdraw from your friends or family because you’re more interested in using your cannabis than connecting.
April Pride: Sandra Guynes, aka The Kush Nurse, is an RN with over 15 years of experience. She helps set expectations with her patients so they understand what it means to medicate with cannabis.
Sandra Guynes, The Kush Nurse: People think that cannabis is going to be this magic thing, and you’re going to have it and then that’s it, you’re good to go. So they have an idea that if you’re smoking or consuming cannabis more than once a day, now you’re an addict. But it’s not because when you think about it, the window of your medication really lies in the method that you use. So you know that if you need to work for eight hours, you’re going to need to figure out, “What am I going to have to take that’s going to let me work for eight hours? Okay, I can smoke every two to three hours. Or, I can have an edible that’s going to last me six hours. Or, I can have a combination of these things to get me to that eight-hour mark, a patch, an edible or whatever it is.
Sandra Guynes, The Kush Nurse: So I think that’s one thing that we really need to educate more on. Because a lot of people think you’re going to take this oil in the morning, it’s just going to add magic in your body. And I’m like, “No, you’re probably going to take it two to three times a day. You may have to try a different method for different things.” You ask me how many times a day and all that, you’re going to use cannabis almost as many times a day as you would use your regular pharmaceutical medication.
April Pride: As more women consider medical cannabis, we’re figuring out in real time what that looks like in real life. Shonitria shares how she thinks about consumption.
Shonitria Anthony, Blunt Blowin’ Mama: Some people require more because of what they’re going through physically. When you’re in pain you might need more than if you’re just recreationally … And when I say recreationally, I mean you’re just smoking a joint and watching Netflix. It’s not the same thing as someone who’s dealing with lupus or who has endometriosis, or someone who has these things that cannabis literally helps them to be well and healthy enough to show up in life. I realize that I’m a healthy person. The biggest surgery I had, which is a big surgery, are the two C-sections I had for my kids.
Shonitria Anthony, Blunt Blowin’ Mama: But just being conscious of “Am I smoking too much?”, if you have the thought “Am I smoking too much?” maybe you are. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s fine. Weed is fun, sometimes you get caught up, but just be conscious of it.
April Pride: Staying mindful helps Shonitria know her limits.
Shonitria Anthony, Blunt Blowin’ Mama: So over consumption is a concern but the best part about weed, especially if you’re a smoker of weed, your body will tell you when you’ve done it too much. You will not get as high anymore if you are smoking weed to get a quick high and then go do whatever you have to do. But if you’ve been smoking so much and then all of a sudden it’s like, “Wow, I used to only have to smoke one joint, a gram and I would be fine.”
April Pride: Episode 27 of How to Do the Pot breaks down 5 steps to be more mindful with your weed consumption. We call it practicing the pot. Have you thought about a tolerance break?
Shonitria Anthony, Blunt Blowin’ Mama: If microdosing doesn’t work for you anymore, then it’s a sign that it’s time for a tolerance break. It’s not for people who don’t know what a tolerance breaking is. Ideally, you want to take seven days off from cannabis. But it could be a T-break, which is just taking a break from THC. And that is the part that gets you high. Your tolerance can increase and grow over time to the point where you’ve hit that threshold and you can’t get high anymore, which is probably an indicator that you need to take a T-break.
April Pride: Doctor Jess has some sobering news for THC lovers.
Dr. Jessica Knox, American Cannabinoid Clinics: Frankly, most of us don’t need that much THC. We typically don’t need a lot of THC to treat medical conditions. And that’s not to say THC doesn’t have medicinal benefits it does. There are definitely conditions where we need THC. But a lot of times for pain, for instance, you don’t need to medicate to a point of intoxication to get release. And recreationally, again it doesn’t have to take that much THC to get a little high if that’s what people want. But again, it’s all about informed use. You don’t have to blitz yourself with THC to feel good or feel better.
April Pride: As with much about cannabis, we’re still waiting for standardization. But in general, over 20% is considered a high THC level. Shonitria talks about one of the criteria Dr. Jess mentioned, asking whether your cannabis use is disrupting your normal way of life or your normal daily routine, whatever normal may be these days.
Shonitria Anthony, Blunt Blowin’ Mama: Anything can be abused, even cannabis can be abused. A wine mom says, “Well nothing is wrong with drinking a glass of wine.” I think the problem comes in when you drink half the bottle or you drink the whole bottle, and then you’re overdoing it. So everything’s in moderation. I love cookies. I love ice cream, I like to get the tiny, little pint of ice cream. But I don’t want to eat the whole pint because my stomach will hurt. Your body’s going to tell you, “Oh, you did too much.” So you just have to listen to your body. Your body’s telling you you’re overdoing it, then it’s time for a break.
Shonitria Anthony, Blunt Blowin’ Mama: Okay, maybe I smoked a little bit too much, but I admit it. And I think that it’s just really easy to fall into that and it being an escape. And I don’t think that cannabis should be an escape. It should be the gateway to you unlocking your feelings, to being able to sit down with yourself and figure out, “Why? Why am I doing this? What am I trying to run from? What am I trying to ignore? What conversations am I trying to avoid?” Just be honest with yourself. And it’s something that people don’t want to talk about with weed, but it happens. Sometimes you just have a little too much. Admit it, check it and keep going, it’s life.
April Pride: A personal note, I take, I guess you could say, a self-imposed tolerance break every family vacation. I don’t travel with weed which forces a check-in on both, my consumption and my behavior with and without weed. For today’s High Five, what to consider if you or someone you love is perhaps heading toward too much.
April Pride: Number one, are you consuming the right dose? Understand what dosage amounts work for you and reach out to a medical professional if you have questions. If you start to get either side effects or a return of the symptoms, be mindful of how much you need to feel better.
April Pride: Number two, if you’re a daily consumer, consider a tolerance break to check-in with your intention and goals around weed.
April Pride: Number three, you may need less THC than you think to feel better physically or mentally. Remember, cannabis’ ability to heal is on a bell curve. More doesn’t equal better.
April Pride: Number four, know the warning signs. Is your use of cannabis changing your normal routine causing you not to show up for work or other responsibilities? Are you withdrawing from your friends or family because you’re more interested in using your cannabis than connecting?
April Pride: Number five, cannabis can be addictive and marijuana use disorder affects about 9% of the population. Learn about the symptoms as listed in the DSM-5. The most of your symptoms are associated with dependence and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms lasting up to two weeks. Please ask for help if you need it. SAMHSA’s national helpline, 1-800-662-HELP, is a good place to start.
April Pride: We hope this pot talk has offered you some ideas for how to talk about or think about whether you’re consuming too much weed. Please share this episode and rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. It helps more people find the show. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks and if you have the pot talk, we’d love to hear how it goes. Thanks for listening to The Pot Talk. Find us on Instagram @DothePot and you can follow me, @AprilPride. And for lots more information about cannabis and women, visit our website, DothePot.com. Thanks to my co-founder, Ellen Scanlon, Madi Fair, our marketing manager, and our producer, Nick Patri. I’m April Pride and we’ll be back soon with more of How to Do the Pot.
So you must be legal, too. Age 21+ invited to continue.