Marijuana is Legal in Ohio: But Is Weed Safe for People in Recovery?

December 7, 2023. A day that shall live in infamy. Well, perhaps not — but this is the date when Ohio officially legalized recreational marijuana use and cultivation (for personal use). For recreational marijuana users, it may seem like good news. But what does it mean for people in addiction recovery?

This Redemption Recovery article takes a serious look at the possible impact of recreational cannabis legalization in Ohio and what it means for people in recovery from addiction. 

If They Legalized Weed, It Must Not Be Addictive, Right?

This is likely what lots of people will think at first glance. With the legalization of recreational weed use in 24 states and counting and the DEA moving the drug from Schedule I to Schedule II — it would be easy to assume. But the fact is that alcohol has been legal for more than 90 years. Prohibition ended in 1933. Did they end Prohibition because they suddenly discovered drinking alcohol is harmless? The answer is no. 

What Science Says About Weed Addiction

The same logic applies to weed legalization in Ohio. While the legal status of weed may have changed here — nothing else has. No, marijuana isn’t less dangerous than they thought. It is habit-forming and, yes, weed is addictive. Weed today is 3-5 times stronger than it was just 20-30 years ago. Before you go dismissing that like it’s some Reefer Madness propaganda, take a look at the scientific evidence

That doesn’t mean some people cannot use cannabis products responsibly. They can. Just as some people can drink responsibly. So, what does that mean for someone in recovery from an addiction to a different drug, like heroin or Xanax? Can smoking a little weed help them take the edge off and avoid their “drug of choice”? 

What to know about THC addiction:

  • Fact: Today’s weed is 3-5 times stronger than it was just 25 years ago. 
  • Just because weed doesn’t have strong withdrawal symptoms doesn’t make it safe
  • Weed addiction is a fact of life. Not every pot smoker will become addicted, but many do.
  • The idea that THC isn’t habit forming or addiction is a MYTH. 

Is it Safe For People in Recovery to Use Weed or THC Products?

It’s easy to see weed as “harmless” or at least much less harmful and addictive than so-called hard drugs than heroin or benzos. We’re not going to lie to you — marijuana use is less dangerous than those drugs. You cannot have a fatal overdose by smoking too much weed or consuming too many THC edibles. 

Weed also doesn’t have the intense withdrawal effects associated with alcohol, opioids, or benzos. But, there are withdrawal effects. Ask anyone who smoked weed every day and then suddenly stopped for a week or more. Almost anyone who does will experience some irritability, insomnia, anxiety, boredom, and depression. Those are withdrawal symptoms. 

Just as a person recovering from heroin addiction would be making a huge mistake if they experimented with alcohol — using weed or THC products of any kind is a bad idea for anyone in addiction recovery. 

Is it safe for people in recovery to use weed or THC products? In our opinion — absolutely not. 

Why Should People in Recovery Avoid Weed and THC 

People in recovery from addiction should not smoke weed or use THC in any form. They should also avoid CBD products because most of them contain at least small amounts of THC. The bottom line is that marijuana in any form is an intoxicant. Unless you’ve got glaucoma that can only be treated with Marinol or cannabis, then there is no legitimate medical reason why a person in recovery should be ingesting any marijuana or hemp/CBD products. That’s it.

Even if your drug of choice was heroin, Xanax, coke, or alcohol — weed is NOT a “safe alternative” so get that idea out of your head right now. We’ve watched countless recovering people go out that way. Best case scenario, they become stoners — habitual marijuana users who lose their motivation, stop coming to meetings, and stop going anywhere in life. Worst case? Using weed gives them the idea that they can “use successfully” and they eventually turn to harder stuff. It happens way more than you probably imagine. 

Two simple reasons why people in recovery should not use cannabis or THC:

  1. THC is addictive and it is a mind and mood-altering substance, if you use it to get high, then you’re practicing the principles of recovery and you’re not sober anymore.
  1. More often than not, experimentation with other substances leads you back to your original “drug of choice” or something even worse. We’ve seen it happen hundreds of times. 

What About CBD? Can People in Recovery Use CBD Products?

So-called “hemp” or CBD products come from the same cannabis plant as marijuana. The only meaningful difference is that hemp or CBD can only have up to 0.3% THC by volume, whereas conventional marijuana has anywhere from 5-15% THC or more. The fact is that you can still catch a buzz from this stuff.

Most CBD products are what is called “broad-spectrum” CBD, which means they contact 

Unless it is what’s called isolate CBD, then it has THC in it, which is the active ingredient in weed that gets you high. But even true isolate CBD contains other cannabinoids, such as cannabigerol (CBG) or cannabinol (CBN) — otherwise, it would have no effect at all.

Addiction is about intent — be honest with yourself and others: Why do you want to use CBD? If you tell yourself the truth about it, the answer is likely that you’re looking for a head change. You want a mild buzz that you can not feel guilty about. We’re not here to shame you. We’re here to save you from making a big mistake. Could you use CBD and not relapse on harder stuff? Quite possibly. Is it worth the risk? Come on, you know it isn’t. So, don’t do it. 

Redemption Recovery: Help for Marijuana Dependence is Here

The help you need is at your fingertips, if you’re reading this on your phone — the help is right in your hand. Just call us. If you’ve tried to quit smoking weed or using THC more than once and you’re not getting anywhere, it’s time for a different strategy, don’t you think?

Redemption Recovery has a range of substance use disorder treatment options to fit your needs and lifestyle. From partial programs to intensive outpatient and regular outpatient.
One phone call to (419) 528-8007 can change the direction of your life for the better. Do it now.

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