With the sweeping tide of cannabis legalization and decriminalization sweeping North America, and with a similar tide expected to sweep South America and continental Europe in the next few years, now is an ideal time to teach the public about THC and CBD. The days of so-called “educational” campaigns which consisted of nothing more than scaremongering and lying needs to come to an end. Kids see right through it. Instead we need to acknowledge a few things….
1) We Know More About Cannabis Than Previous Generations
This is the number one reason anti-cannabis propaganda doesn’t hold any water with the current generation. We all have access to the Internet these days, we can all see stories of the good cannabis does, and we all know that cannabis-related deaths are lower than aspirin. So when kids are given the Reefer Madness narrative they roll their eyes, giggle and ignore any advice given. This has a couple of obvious negative consequences: it means that valid concerns about cannabis and the adolescent brain are ignored; and it means that young people assume that all drug education is a lie, even for drugs like meth and heroin. Once kids know you’re lying to them about cannabis, why should they listen to your warnings about smack?
So, instead of lying and exaggerating, the educational campaigns should be more honest, but they should also be more detailed. Instead of talking merely about cannabis as a single, ubiquitous “drug”, there should be detailed information about cannabinoids, particularly THC and CBD. It should be made 100% clear: if young people intend to try cannabis then high CBD strains are far less harmful, will protect against mental health problems, and will be far less likely to cause anxiety and paranoia.
This is a message that kids should be willing to hear and accept. After all, who has a good time with cannabis when it causes an anxiety attack or symptoms of psychosis?
2) Legalization And Regulation Offers An Opportunity
With legalization and regulation we can take control of the cannabis industry. The media too often portrays the cannabis industry as “fledgling” and new, but of course this is nonsense. Throughout prohibition there was a cannabis industry. The difference is that post-legalization we can control it and move it in the direction of our choosing. That direction should be harm reduction. We need to ask ourselves how to reduce the dangers – because, as much as advocates like to ignore them, there are dangers – particularly in relation to teenage usage.
The simple answer is increase the CBD content.
While the Netherlands and other countries have talked about limiting the amount of THC, this is an ignorant and silly idea. The better option is increasing CBD. CBD mitigates against the downsides of THC. It’s a powerful, multi-purpose medicine, and by promoting high CBD strains we’ll be protecting the brains of users and reducing the instances of mental health problems.
CBD is nature’s own defense against THC. And while CBD has been systematically bred down for decades, it’s making a big, high profile comeback. This is very good news for all – and the wider public needs to be taught why it’s very good news.
Now, I’m not saying we should ban the low CBD, high THC strains, because that would be reverting back to prohibition: which as we’ve hopefully figured out by now, doesn’t work. But high CBD strains should be promoted, and TV campaigns should educate on the benefits of high CBD strains. Perhaps governments should even consider taxing high CBD strains at a lower rate than high THC strains.
Parents and kids need to understand these two cannabinoids, and the importance of the THC/CBD ratio in any given cannabis strain. As of right now, I’m not seeing any of this happen. All I’m seeing are a lot of ignorant people screaming about how bad cannabis is, as if somehow all cannabis was the same.
People need an education, and law makers and scientists need to be the ones to give it to them.
3) Smoking Is The Worst Way To Take Cannabis… So Why Do It?
The decline of cannabis smoking is something that will almost certainly happen by itself, without needing a push. Face it, smoking is becoming more unfashionable by the year. Good. It’s a disgusting, stupid habit. The only positive thing about smoking cannabis is the immediacy of the effects, which for conditions like chronic pain and epilepsy can be of huge benefit. But since vaping has become popular it’s no longer necessary to smoke under any circumstances.
Even if cannabis smoking doesn’t cause cancer, it definitely causes bronchial problems, tar build-up on the chest and charred lungs. Surely we can all agree it’s not something anyone concerned with their health should be doing.
So why aren’t educational campaigns focusing on this? Why is it assumed that smoking is the preferred, logical route of administration? It needs to change, and in this case I’m sure it will.
Just look at how popular edibles have been in Colorado since legalization. While it surprised many, in hindsight it shouldn’t have (see above: smoking is disgusting). For many baby boomers, now returning to cannabis after taking an extended break to raise their kids, their smoking days are long gone. They’d take a cannabis brownie or cannabis juice over a joint any day of the week.
CBD & THC: An Education
The sad truth is that as long as ignorant prohibitionists remain in positions of power this necessary shift in public education of cannabis will never happen. Politicians are still afraid of being labelled “soft on drugs”. And so they’ll continue to fund propaganda rather than education. Instead of teaching us the merits of CBD and how CBD protects the brain against THC they’ll fund campaigns that implore kids to just say no.
These campaigns will fail. They won’t be taken seriously. And a small percentage of young people will suffer long-term consequences due to that failure.
Eventually, of course, things will change for the better. But, I suppose my point is this: we shouldn’t wait for politicians to wake up and smell the CBD. The public needs an education on cannabinoids. With prohibition crumbling and the inevitable spike in usage it will bring, we can’t afford to wait.