Deep Thoughts: Why cannabis affects everyone differently

You’ve likely heard the saying before: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

How about this one: “One man’s pain is another man’s pleasure.”

A few decades ago, cannabis leaves were widely considered a useless waste product. But now that we know fan leaves contain the valuable THC(A) compound, their value has risen immensely for extracting the raw juice.

That’s a big shift in perspective.

So when people consume THC, why does the exact same strain and serving size feel one way to someone and completely differently to someone else? The short answer is that everyone is affected by cannabis in their own unique way.

From a psychological point of view, we have each developed our own coping mechanisms for dealing with life’s stressors. Developed in childhood and influenced genetically and emotionally by our family of origin, we create coping strategies. This could mean avoidance, joke-telling, seeking connection, getting angry, making art, hurting ourselves, getting sleepy, overeating or a host of other tactics to help us attain comfort in some way.

Due to our varied experiences in childhood, we all have differing opinions of what “comfort” actually means. When we feel uncomfortable, the human condition tends to seek out and amplify whatever we have been trained to believe is going to satiate us.

Our coping mechanisms tend to be inherently lazy, as a means of seeking out a quick fix. Physiologically, our bodies tend to metabolize more efficiently when we are relaxed than when we are stressed. Being able to emotionally digest the experience plays a part in how our systems digest cannabis as well.

Our personal definitions of comfort lead to vastly different preferences from person to person. For example, someone who is most comfortable sitting all day is unlikely going to gravitate toward becoming a long-distance runner. Someone who is most comfortable with frustration isn’t likely to gravitate toward work with children, which takes a lot of patience.

So in this way, our whole value systems are dictated by what we find comfortable and uncomfortable.

Their underlying preferences also dictate our experience on a much more subtle level. Which flavors are our favorites? What kind of people do we feel attracted to? What types of music make us feel happy?

A friend of mine recently conducted an informal experiment that involved Tuvan throat singing (a very deep-sounding vocalization) being played for a room full of people. Some enjoyed the deep vocal sounds, while others found it extremely difficult and even painful to listen to.

It turned out that the people who didn’t like the throat singing had an underlying aversion to deep voices in generalmostly due to traumatic experiences they had with deep-voiced people in the past. The singing made them uncomfortable simply because of the unprocessed emotions they brought into the experience.

The way in which we each experience various strains of cannabis is very similar. While each strain has fairly universal qualities, they also each contain unique characteristics that may trigger discomfort or euphoria in an individual, depending on the specific underlying emotions each one ignites.

Chemically, our varied emotional states tend to dictate our hormone balances, which cannabis directly affects through its increased production of testosterone. The hormonal effects we seek from the cannabis high is fairly unique to humans, as scientific experimentation seems to conclude that the majority of animals do not enjoy the experience of cannabis.

Since cannabis amplifies the experience of whatever is in focus, it is most effective when we pair it with an intention. We can consider the user’s body and subconscious mind to be the canvas, their conscious intention is the paint and different strains of cannabis are different textures of brushes.

Since cannabis amplifies the experience of whatever is in focus, it is most effective when we pair it with an intention. We can consider the user’s body and subconscious mind to be the canvas, their conscious intention is the paint and different strains of cannabis are different textures of brushes.

We each have the option to see every single interaction as either “trash” or “treasure,” regardless of whether it’s comfortable or not. Our worldview forms the basis of every experience. Is our intention to harness a euphoric pleasure, which is available close to the surface? Or to purposely create a bit of discomfort for harnessing deep treasures from within?

Our underlying perspective is actually quite malleable, much more than most users realize, and that can cause certain strains to be an acquired taste. This is what we now know as neuroplasticity; the ability to re-route the habitual pathways in our brains to create new and intentional underlying structures.

No matter where we’ve started on our journeys, cannabis can be very helpful in restoring us to a state of freedom — even if that means each strain will affect each one of us differently.

My favorite strain may not be yours, and yours may not be right for me. But I’m sure we can both agree on a few as well. The more our personality structures have in common, the more we will agree.

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Author: Joshua Falcon-Grey

Joshua Falcon-Grey has immersed himself for more than half a decade in the art of plant medicine mysticism. As the founder of an Educational Media organization for Conscious Cannabis usage, "Expandabis", Joshua provides keen insights on how to best optimize the plant/human relationship for profound emotional empowerment. The first "Expandabis Method" practitioner, he offers intentional cannabis ceremonies in the Bay Area and beyond. He is also excited about his blossoming career as a transformational comedian and storyteller.

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