I attended college in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Many of my classmates smoked pot. I was quite happy with my own reality and had no reason to use drugs to escape it, nor have I ever smoked or consumed any cannabis. Now that I am in my 70s and aging, the prospect of developing chronic pain from an injury, cancer, arthritis, Parkinson’s, glaucoma, insomnia, anxiety, or a trauma and experiencing PTSD are all possibilities. Situations for which I might want to consider relief with cannabis. A friend told me that when looking for a place to retire, two important factors would be a state that allowed the right to die and where cannabis was legal. We have both of those in Vermont.
The use of cannabis has been around for thousands of years; although, it was just 50 years ago that the psychoactive properties of THC were identified. It wasn’t until the 1990s that there was a scientific understanding of the receptors in the body that respond to the two main components of cannabis: THC and CBD. The receptors for THC are primarily located in the brain and peripheral nervous system and therefore affect not only the mind but also affect movement, memory, pain, and smooth muscle. The other main chemical from the marijuana plant is CBD. It affects primarily the immune system and suppresses inflammation and does not have psychoactive effects.
Thirty years ago, it was discovered that the human body, along with other mammals, produce substances that are similar to cannabis that everyone needs to produce in their own body to function properly. Some individuals who experience fibromyalgia, migraines, and irritable bowel syndrome do not produce enough of these substances. Much like individuals with diabetes need insulin, people with this deficiency benefit from cannabis supplements.
The THC in cannabis decreases activity in two of the main pain centers in the brain and can be used therapeutically to reduce pain, alleviate traumatic memories, and suppress posttraumatic nightmares and anxiety. Cannabis has also been shown to reduce eye pressure in people with glaucoma.
Although I have never used cannabis, I support Ludlow opting in to allow the sale of cannabis in our town. There are desperate patients who, in their quest for relief from their symptoms, buy unsafe products on the street potentially laced with ketamine or other dangerous drugs. If and when I develop a need for cannabis, I want to be able to purchase it locally from proprietors who are concerned about consumer safety and third-party laboratory analysis of the products they are selling.
The citizens of Ludlow deserve a cannabis store that can offer them safe products, knowledgeable advice, and accurate information concerning appropriate choices: Sativa versus Indica and the correct strength to use. A store established in Ludlow by people who care about our community can educate their local patrons about medication interactions and reactions, modes of administration, harm reduction, and the safe and efficacious use of cannabis.
Linda Thomson, PhD, APRN