Why Do People Smoke Weed? | LaJolla.com

Why Do People Smoke Weed?

This post is part of our Best Dispensaries Around the Bay Area series, sponsored by Project Cannabis.

If you’ve never gotten behind the whole cannabis trend and still wonder–why do people smoke weed–we’ve got answers. Of course, we understand that answer may be different for everyone. Some use weed for medical purposes–to alleviate or suppress symptoms as well as help certain health conditions–while others use weed as a means of feeling better–whether physically, mentally, or emotionally. Those stoners you hear about are likely using weed simply for the reason that it makes them happy and improves their mood. Then of course, some people smoke weed due to peer pressure, coping, or curiosity. 

Why people smoke weed is very dependent on the individual, so let’s dive deeper.

Understanding Why People Smoke Weed

There are many explanations that can help answer the question “why do people smoke weed,” and we are here to tell you all about them! Contrary to what weed critics might think, weed is not primarily used to become numb and dissociated. So what can weed help with, exactly?

For starters, people use cannabis for different reasons, and its effects are highly dependent on strain, dosage, method, and individual factors. Cannabis is believed to help lessen anxiety for some patients, due to its calming and relaxing properties. It is also believed to have a plethora of medicinal effects–such as aiding in seizure reduction in many treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy. Certain strains are said to facilitate appetite increase, decrease irritability, and lessen nausea, which is great for cancer patients suffering from negative side effects of chemotherapy treatment. Those experiencing pain can look to cannabis as a means of minimizing inflammation and swelling. Cannabis is also said to lower blood pressure, and prevent relapse in drug and alcohol addiction, as CBD is reported to reduce stress induced-cravings.

There are many motivators that are unrelated to medicinal use, too. Recreational weed smokers like the amplified senses–taste, vision, hearing–that consuming weed can deliver. It can be a delightful, supplemental tool to make painting at the park or enjoying a concert an even better experience. For artists and creators, smoking weed may be a vehicle for activating creative power, enhancing imaginativeness, brainstorming ideas, and innovative ways of thinking. 

Many cultures use weed in cultural practices and ceremonies, including shamanic rituals and quests to activate a higher frequency. Marijuana is seen by many as a spiritual connector, acting as a channel to help people tap into higher states of consciousness–serving a glue between the ordinary and the divine.

Convincing enough yet? Perhaps a little bit of cannabis history may help the case. Let’s unpack…

A Brief History of Cannabis

Throughout history, cannabis has been used for medicinal and ritual purposes, with the oldest known written record of use dating back to the late 2700’s, early 2800’s B.C in central Asia by the father of Chinese medicine–Chinese Emperor Shen Nung. There are many indications of the therapeutic effects of cannabis that span different timelines and locations around the world–including ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and India. Many ancient texts report that this powerful plant was used to treat a vast amount of health issues such as depression, lack of appetite, inflammation, glaucoma, and joint pain–to name a few.

Fast forward to 1,000 B.C. in India, where a drinkable concoction of milk, marijuana, and other ingredients was created and used as an anesthetic and anti-phlegmatic, which–believe it or not–is still present today in modern India. There are many ancient cultures, including India, that praise the cannabis plant in some way, often using scriptures and stories that highlight interactions with weed–including one with the Hindu god Shiva–to demonstrate the powerful benefits of the plant.

In the early 1600’s, it was said that weed reached the United States, where hemp production was on the rise and used to make everything from clothing to rope and other useful equipment and resources. Weed was introduced to Western medicine many many moons later–around the mid 1800’s, after several unique cases demonstrated that marijuana could aid in problematic health conditions. One man by the name of William Brooke O’Shaughnessy documented the ability of cannabis to cease a child’s convulsions, shedding light on its potentially powerful benefits. It wasn’t until the 1960’s when the use of cannabis became more prevalent.  Why people smoke weed wasn’t so much of a concern at the time, it was more “what else can this plant do?”

In the 1840’s, weed surged as a drug, becoming more widely accepted as a plant with true medicinal value and a common ingredient in many over-the-counter drugs at the pharmacy. Despite its general belief of providing health benefits, 26 states passed laws to ban marijuana between 1914 into the 1920’s, which surprisingly wasn’t followed by much rebuttal by politicians or American citizens. Weed became looked down upon, criminalized, and considered a gateway drug that could also lead to violence and even psychosis. Weed became stigmatized and lost its holding power.

Thankfully, from the 1960’s onward, counterculture helped marijuana gain popularity again, though it took nearly 3 decades for enough Californians to catch on and vote to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. We continue to see a shift in acceptance across the states, with 24 states and counting who have legalized weed for recreational use and more voters aiming to decriminalize the leafy plant.

Why Do People Smoke Weed?

So what motivates people to use weed in the first place? As aforementioned, some people use weed for simple recreational enjoyment. It can also serve as a rite of passage in cultural practices, and a form of social bonding amongst friends. It has the potential to amplify mood and induce silliness, and many use weed before watching movies–especially comedy–to get a good laugh. Some folks prefer smoking weed as it is a quicker way to experience the beneficial effects than other methods like edibles, tinctures, and topicals.

Still wondering, why do people smoke weed? There are tons of studies on patients with a diverse range of physical conditions that have seen their symptoms alleviated with the help of Mary jane. In fact, many PTSD sufferers notice a disruption of fear memory after smoking weed, helping decrease fear memories with associated traumatic stimuli. Similarly, Multiple Sclerosis patients have reported less stiff muscles and muscle spasms thanks to the reefer. Studies have also reported that weed can help reduce sinus problems and congestion, as well as ease insomnia and sleep disorders. The list goes on. 

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Smoking Weed

So now that we understand the question “why do people like to smoke weed,” and have a clear grasp on the many reasons why people smoke weed, let’s discuss the benefits and risks associated with smoking weed.

You’ve likely been shunned from weed as a teen–warned that it is the gateway drug and is just bad news bears. Truth be told, weed isn’t for everyone. Some people experience paranoia, heightened anxiety, and on rare occasions nausea or vomiting–which can happen from ingesting too high of a dosage, a particular strain, when mixed with other medications, mental disorders, or even a bad batch of brownies.

Cannabis can affect your mental health positively or negatively, depending on several factors including your tolerance, weight and height, health conditions, and mental state. If you have respiratory issues, it’s best to avoid smoking weed and stick to tinctures, edibles, or beverages if you still want to experience the effects of cannabis. Cannabis can also worsen symptoms of mental disorders you already have–such as depression, anxiety, or mood swings–and in high doses can cause blurred lines between the real and the imaginary. In other words, your thinking may get distorted, and your judgment might be clouded.

That said, you also may feel heightened sensations, and this can be enjoyable for some people. Colors may seem more vibrant, sounds might seem louder and more pleasant, and you might feel a sense of euphoria. Many people also report that marijuana helps reduce their depression and anxiety and puts them in a state of calm and pleasure. 

Other pros are feeling a boosted mood–more sociable and bubbly. Depending on the strain, marijuana users can feel increased concentration, with an amplified ability to focus on particular projects–like packing for a trip, organizing an excel spreadsheet–or creative endeavors–like playing the piano, making homemade pizza, or playing a strategy-based board game. 

It’s important to understand that weed contains THC–the psychoactive compound in marijuana, responsible for stimulating your pleasure part of the brain. This part of the brain contains the highest number of cell receptors, and smoking weed activates neurons that release dopamine–which plays a role in pleasure, learning, and motivation–at much higher levels than natural stimuli does. This is what makes you feel not fully yourself, or what most like to call “high.” Some love the feeling. Some hate it, which is yet another reason why it continues to be controversial.

Smoking Weed Responsibly

Whenever planning to smoke weed, it is highly suggested to practice safe consumption–know your limits and tolerance, be aware of your surroundings, do not operate a vehicle or plan to migrate while under the influence, know the source of your cannabis and who is supplying it, make sure the people you are smoking with are trustworthy and reliable, and don’t overdo it! 

While there is such a thing as a functional stoner, where certain types of people can effectively operate day to day functions and tasks while high, it is not advised to smoke weed if you have any obligations–be it work, picking up your kids from school, or hammering nails into a wall to hang a painting. It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle (yes, bikes and scooters count too) while under the influence of marijuana as it can cause impaired vision, clouded judgment, and lead to a major or fatal car accident.

Weed is a powerful, potent, and incredible substance that can help people tap into their creativity, unwind and destress after a hard day’s work, and stabilize mood. Practicing discipline and being aware and in control of the frequency at which you smoke is crucial to avoid abuse of cannabis. Remember–everything in moderation.

How Do I Know if Cannabis Is Right For Me?

Individual’s can determine if weed is right for them by first taking a small amount with a trusted friend in a safe space, such as the comfort of your own home. If you’re planning to engage in consumption of cannabis solo dolo, it might ease your mind to call a friend prior to letting them know you’re about to test the waters. That way, you feel safer and they are available in case of an emergency. 

Once you are in a comfortable setting with a cleared calendar, take a mental note of how you are feeling going into the experience. As you start to feel the effects after inhaling or consuming weed, take another mental note of whether you feel calmer. Does your nervous system feel at bay? Is your body relaxed? Do you feel content? Or do your muscles feel tense and tight? Do you feel a sense of restlessness, uneasy, queasy, or have racing thoughts? 

How you feel while high will help you navigate whether it is right for you or not. You’ll likely know the difference between enjoying it or not vibing with it. Remember that some strains can make you feel more social and in the mood to mingle, while others might make you feel out of it or ready for a nice long slumber. Test out a few different strains and forms of weed to see what works best for you. 

It also helps to get advice from a weed expert who can help guide you to the best products suited for your individual needs and desires. Luckily, there are tons of knowledgeable budtenders at dispensaries such as ProjCan SOMA, whose staff is friendly and eager to help you find what high and effects you’re looking for. This posh dispensary carries high-quality weed products including CBD, fresh flower, vapes, pre-rolls, concentrates, and edibles. They have a massive selection of goodies from top notch brands, so you’ll never run out of options to try. 

One more time for the people in the back–why do most people smoke weed? Because weed has a wide array of physical and mental health benefits for recreational users and users who use cannabis for medical reasons. It may not be everyone’s preference, but don’t knock it till you try it! That is, unless you know you wouldn’t be a fan. No need to bother exploring something that doesn’t seem to align with you!

The Last Word on Smoking Weed

So there ya have it. While many states and general society still find cannabis to be a controversial topic, there is no denying that cannabis can do wonders for many folks, as well as radically alter lives for the better. If you are curious about trying cannabis for the first time, practice responsible consumption and try not to be too in your head. Let yourself ease into your high without assumptions or worries, as that might taint your experience. Now, go find a friend and hit your local dispensary to see what goodies that line the shelves catch your eye.

Media credits: The conceptual images about “why people smoke weed” in this article are copyright of LaJolla.com

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