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Marijuana: Helping or Hurting?

The endless debate about the general benefits and risks of marijuana use for medical and recreational purposes could fill a library. So, let's make this more personal.

  • What is your motivation for use?

  • What types do you use and why?

  • How do you use it and why?

  • Where do you get it and why?

  • What problems may you experience?

  • What problems would concern you?


All behavior is goal-directed. We do what we do because we believe it will do something for what we want or need. Experimenting or using any substance is driven by some motivation. For example, I drink coffee in the mornings because I believe that it will wake me up, give me energy and help me be alert, and it tastes good. For marijuana, many people cite similar reasons:

  • Help me sleep

  • Treat pain or other medical condition

  • Increase my appetite

  • Help me focus

  • Help me relax

  • It's fun

If it's all benefits and no risks, then there's no problem. Yet, sometimes when our motivations are strong, we overlook the risks until the problem becomes so large we cannot escape it. For example, if I'm drinking 10 cups of coffee per day and I notice problems with my blood pressure, but ignore it until I experience a stroke... there was a problem that I was ignoring and now it's really bad.

Types of Marijuana

Marijuana use has evolved dramatically over the last 50 years with specialized strains designed to accomplish different effects, and modifying the strength of THC and CBD.

It's important that you know what you are using and what the intended effects are so that you can safely make decisions about your use.

Methods of Use

Consumers have a wide array of options for use today. Smoking remains the most controversial and hazardous. This may have a strong effect on the benefits you wish to receive from marijuana, so it's best to be informed about the pros/cons of your chosen methods. Some forms of marijuana carry heftier legal charges for possession than others. For example, in Florida, if you have even a minuscule amount of concentrated THC (dabs) it is an automatic felony whereas up to 20 grams of non-concentrated THC is a misdemeanor.


Not all distributors are the same. There's a big difference between what you receive from someone growing in their basement, a legitimate business or dispensary, and a friend of a friend. Receiving marijuana from a non-regulated source increases your risk of receiving a bad product. Worse case scenario, it's laced with something dangerous.


Most people automatically think of the legal consequences of involvement with marijuana. Federally, ALL uses of marijuana, even medical, is ILLEGAL. Yet, 34 states legalize medical and 10 states legalize recreational use. In Florida, medical marijuana including smokeable marijuana is legal. Yet, there are restrictions in all of these states about possession limits/types, age, legal distribution, and where you can use. The heart of the law is to keep people safe, so concerns about individuals under the influence of any mood-altering substance driving vehicles, caring for vulnerable individuals (children, elderly, someone with a disability), operating dangerous machinery, and engaging in activities that require alertness and judgement (performing surgery, police and judges) are valid.

However, ANYTHING can be abused. If someone drinks too much water, they deprive their brain of the sodium it needs to function and they slip into a coma. So whether a substance is legal or not is really not the main issue. It's considering how this substance is HELPING or HURTING you and those you care about. I always ask my clients, "Is this getting you closer or further away from your goals?" Here's a quick assessment to consider, which applies to any substance:

  • Do I use more often or in larger amounts that I intended?

  • Do people complain about my use?

  • Has my use ever cost me something I wanted (e.g., job, relationship, money, health)?

  • Do I ever lie about, make excuses for, or try to hide my use?

  • Do I feel like I need it to function normally (e.g., relax, sleep, eat, socialize, work)?

If you answered yes to at least one of these questions, it's time to re-evaluate your use and find more helpful ways to get what you want. We're here to help you through that process.


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