I myself was brought up to hate marijuana, and to despise and persecute people who used it. Then I came of age in the sixties - and rapidly reversed my attitude toward weed. But most of my relatives to this day reject my use of cannabis - for any reason.

We’re meanwhile seeing a rapid expansion of medical marijuana prescriptions for treating a large list of common ailments and conditions. And many people who never thought of using cannabis in their lives, or who tried it once or twice and didn’t like it, are having to consider using it in order to gain medical relief. And of course, a great many people, you and and elderly, are shifting to recreational pot - just for the fun of it.

Why do so many people still reject marijuana, and how can they reconsider the possibility of using it, if they need to?

I had dinner with some friends last night and this issue came up, because one of the people there (who was 71) admitted that she tried pot when she was a teenager, had a bad experience - and just entirely closed down to the possibility of trying it again. But now her doctor was actually encouraging her to use it for her various aches and pains, and for emotional conditions as well.

Her fears of using pot, although ungrounded in practical reality, were very real to her. She represents a great many people who are afraid to lose control of their minds and actions - who’re concerned that they might say or do something terrible, unaccepted, damaging to their reputation if they get stoned.

Is this a valid fear, and if not, why can be done about overcoming it?

It’s true that marijuana helps loosen one’s inhibitions in most cases, so the danger of ‘acting out’ is quite real. However, the deeper fear that getting high can push you over the edge into schizophrenia or psychosis - this is not valid except, as research shows, for less than 1% of the population (and getting high is almost never the primary causal ingredient in such permanent mental problems).

I've documented this research in Cannabis For Couples, and you also Google schizophrenia and marijuana together, and find loads of research on the issue - the new Canadian and Australian studies are especially valuable.

That said, some people sometimes, when first getting high, do temporarily act up and do and say things they later wish they hadn’t. This is why, the first times you try marijuana, it’s wise to be in a situation with friends who’ll basically take care of you for an hour or so while you experiment with the experience and get to know it. Also, you can take advantage of our High Together App programs,where you’ll find a guided set of audio-visual experiences to help you stay mindful while exploring the cannabis high.

The Religious Argument Against Pot

Probably around fifty percent of the American population also believes that it's a sin to take drugs and ruin one's life - after all, the body is the temple of God, and should not be defiled. My own mom deeply believed that theological argument - even though scripture doesn't actually verify it.

I actually find this drugs-are-bad argument partly valid - because each of us is responsible for taking care of our mind and body, and honoring the remarkable miracle of consciousness we embody. The key question is - does cannabis damage the brain and body? Thus far, the evidence says no, or at most minimally when overused.

It's curious that both the religious and the medical establishment considers it perfectly okay to take prescription drugs that often do cause damage to mind and body, but until recently, marijuana was rejected. As more people get educated about the scientific facts around cannabis, we're finally gaining a clear cultural perspective on marijuana.

Dosage And Intake Methods Matter

Regarding smoking marijuana versus eating it, as we discuss in the Mindfully High book, you'll need to experiment to see which is best for you. Many more people end up in the emergency room panicking from an overdose of ingested cannabis than from smoking too much - so my recommendation is to try smoking or vaping or tincturing it first, as this gives you most ability to determine your intake.

Inhale just two tokes, then wait a few minutes and see if you need more. And yes, it’s a bit of a nasty taste - but that just goes along with the territory, a small price to pay for the consciousness expansion, pain reduction, etc that ensues if you approach it mindfully.

We were also talking last night about driving while high, and the new research showing mixed reports on the danger of driving high - it’s definitely mixed. What researchers don’t know to look for, is whether the person driving high is doing so mindfully, or is in a state of intoxication from the drug. We definitely do have the choice, once we learn to manage the marijuana high.

This is what mindful cannabis usage is all about - learning to shift into a responsible mindset when needed, even when driving - especially when driving, which I don't advise at all. And please remember, dosage is important. If you get too high, simply DON’T drive. And never drive when you’ve also consumed more than one drink of alcohol, as all studies indicate.

With these factors in mind, I hope that more people who react against pot usage in general will begin to be realistic, and adjust their beliefs to match the facts. The truth is, especially when using guidance such as our app, there's no reason for the vast majority of people to be afraid of getting high. Just be sure to light up in a safe quiet space where you won't be bothered, use the free High Together app as needed ... and enjoy the experience!

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