I’ve been using cannabis for exactly half my life, being introduced to it on a recreational level around the age of 17 and taking to it quite enthusiastically. Times were different back then in the late 1990s and early, 2000s about what we know about cannabis. It was abused, and cannabis culture showed a very different view of cannabis than what we see now.

When I began using cannabis, I didn’t use it responsibly and used it for the wrong reasons, which didn’t always prove to have the best outcomes. In the words of Rod Stewart, “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger,” with cannabis as there were a lot of years that I could have been using cannabis to produce optimal outcomes for personal, emotional, mental, and physical benefit.

With cannabis now being legal in Canada and the legal age being only 18 in certain provinces, there’s an opportunity to educate the younger generations on cannabis. It’s our opportunity to fill the gaps in what we didn’t know for the generations who will grow up in the era of legalized cannabis.

10 things I wish i knew about cannabis

Here are 10 things I wish my younger self knew about cannabis:

1. Cannabis is not just an intoxicant. Steve DeAngelo in The Cannabis Manifesto takes the stance that cannabis should not be used as an intoxicant but rather as a path to wellness. “Wellness includes sparking creativity, extending patience, promoting self-examination, awakening wonder, catalyzing laughter, facilitating friendship, and enhancing the sound of music or the feel of your lover’s skin. Cannabis does not cause loss of self control; it enriches the most precious parts of our lives.” – Steve Deangelo in The Cannabis Manifesto: A New Paradigm for Wellness. (North Atlantic Books, 2015.)

2. Less is more. I always found that there was a time that I would “plateau” if I used too much cannabis, recognizing that choosing to use smaller amounts at regular intervals, or larger amounts in smaller intervals was always the way to get the most out of cannabis use. If you are interested to benefit from cannabis, perhaps sitting down and hitting giant bongs throughout the day isn’t most productive, but using micro-dosing, where you use tiny amounts of cannabis, can produce more results.

3. Strain matters. From the difference between indica and sativa, to the levels of THC and CBD in cannabis, strain matters, and how you use it will produce different effects. Know what you’re using, and choose a strain that matches the outcomes you’re looking for through cannabis use.

4. You don’t have to embody the role of the “stoner”. While perhaps in the days of Half Baked and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle it was “cool” to portray the image of a stoner, that doesn’t have to be the norm anymore. Young users of cannabis have an opportunity change the portrayal of cannabis and how the perception of a cannabis user is formed in our societies.

5. Cannabis interacts with your physiology. While I wholly believe in the benefits of cannabis use when dosed properly and the right strains are used, cannabis is a substance. It interacts with your body, physiology, internal systems, and just about every function of your body through your endocannabinoid system. Undertaking cannabis use isn’t just about “getting high” at the time of use – it’s much more than that, which is why it’s being used in medical approaches. Be open with your doctor about cannabis use so they can take into account your cannabis use when making other medical decisions.

6. Cannabis use isn’t something to be ashamed of. I hid my cannabis use for years, but it was greatly because of the stigma that surrounded it. When I “came out” as a cannabis user, I found that I was in good company, with many of my friends and colleagues disclosing their regular use too. New generations have the opportunity to break stigma and redefine cannabis use.

7. Be smart about the legal boundaries of cannabis use and access. Even though cannabis is legal in Canada there are still a lot of laws and regulations around it. You can still very much get in legal trouble for not complying with cannabis laws. Be smart about cannabis. Enough said.

8. Language matters. From how you describe yourself, to how you name the cannabis plant, to how the effects of cannabis are communicated, language matters so much. Choose your style of communicating about cannabis, and define your personal brand of cannabis consumption. Use language carefully so to embrace the mutual responsibility we have to spread good information about cannabis.

9. There’s always too much of a good thing. As a recreational user, I’ve always wished I could have an endless supply of cannabis to smoke all day, or the financial ability to purchase ounces upon ounces of cannabis to enjoy. Then I think about cannabis as a wellness supplement, not as something to be abused. Just like less is more, there is too much of a good thing. When cannabis use gets a bit heavy at times, I try to think of the analogy of taking vitamins, exercising, drinking water, or any other healthy activity. While all these activities are encouraged for wellness, too much can hurt you. All things in life need balance.

10. Explore the possibilities of cannabis consumption. Likely due to my location and the cannabis culture I grew up in, I never got to experience some of the finer and more effective ways to consume cannabis. It was always about finding what “dank bud” we could find to get high. New generations have the opportunity to explore strains, cannabinoids, THC levels, and new methods of consumption like edibles (beyond the pot brownie), oils, tinctures, topicals, concentrates, and other products that refine the cannabis use experience. Younger users have the advantage to use what’s available to them to bring a level of sophistication to cannabis use that increases the scope of what’s possible for the body through cannabis.

What conversations can we now have with younger people to help them learn about cannabis and use it in ways that is to their ultimate benefit? What tools do young people like to use to learn about cannabis? How to young people perceive cannabis and what will be their role in shaping the cannabis movement?

CannaWrite embraces its responsibility to help educate young people about cannabis. With a Master of Education, I have developed the knowledge and experience for engaging young people in important conversations around important issues. Consult with CannaWrite today if you’re a parent, educator, parents’ group, community organization, or school, looking to work on a customized youth education strategy. 

This post originally appeared on CannaWrite.

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