What is Psychedelic Cannabis?
Many have speculated that the loss of control inherent in psychedelic work may not be necessary for healing, especially among those with trauma or with fears related to loss of control, use of illegal substances, or with potential medical contraindications to using classic psychedelics. Cannabis offers most of the pros of psychedelic work, with few of the cons. Read more below to learn about cannabis as a psychedelic, and reach out today to start working with me as your guide on this journey.
My own experience with medical cannabis led me to the deeper work of using cannabis as a psychedelic. Medical cannabis quickly controlled the symptoms that consumed most of my mental and physical energy and attention. Once that happened, there was space. There was rest. In that new space of ease (after so long in dis-ease), possibilities opened up, and with the intentional and conscious use of cannabis, I began a process of awareness of understanding that facilitated creating lasting changes in my physical and mental health. Beyond that, cannabis began to guide me into deep, psychedelic work, as it’s commonly understood to occur with the use of psilocybin or LSD.
Psychedelics decrease the function of the default mode network (DMN). Maybe you’ve heard the saying “neurons that fire together, wire together.” Basically, this refers to the concept of neuroplasticity- that our brains can and do change. But we’re hardwired to have conditioned responses. When we repeat the same response to the same stimulus repeatedly, the brain is “trained” to continue that pattern, whether or not it’s functional for the individual. Psychedelics reduce the power of the DMN and allow us to see new possible responses to the same old stimuli.
A common analogy for this is the “new snow” story. Imagine your brain is like a ski mountain. Every time you get to the same challenging spot, you take the same path because you know it, and it’s familiar, and it’s scary to go another way because you don’t what’s there or where it goes. So you keep skiing the same route, creating a well-worn path, even if it keeps leading you to a dysfunctional outcome. This happens to many of us, in obvious and less obvious ways that impact our relationships, careers, health, and more.
A psychedelic session, according to most experts, lays a new fall of snow on our mountain. In this space, we can look at these challenges we face and see other possibilities and other paths we might take.
With intentional, guided preparation and following up with integration, we can tailor our psychedelic experiences to address issues that are impacting our lives and use the opportunity to make real, meaningful changes.
But classic psychedelics like psilocybin (magic mushrooms), LSD, and MDMA have significant risks such as:
Can have interactions with meds (SSRIs which are very commonly prescribed, lithium)
Can worsen generalized anxiety disorder and/or bipolar disorder
Can worsen or trigger schizophrenia (maybe) in those pre-disposed
Potential cardiac complications, especially in those at risk
In addition, people with a history of trauma often may not be ready or able to relinquish control. Trauma often results from incidents in which the victim has lost a sense of control, and when they enter a psychedelic experience where they feel a loss of control over what’s happening, triggers can lead to bad experiences or a risk to self or others.
Psychedelics are not without risk: especially for those with mental health "disorders" or trauma.
But cannabis IS a psychedelic! My work is based on that of Daniel McQueen at the Center for Medicinal Mindfulness. I also have training in facilitation from Baystaters for Natural Medicine, and I follow the work of TahKole and their Condor Approach. These three sources, along with my medical/nursing background, my own inner wisdom, and guidance from entheogens, inform my work with psychedelic cannabis. Using the concepts of "set and setting" from traditional work with psychedelics, along with a combination of ritual, guided meditation, breathwork, and other practices, you will depart on a journey deep within. Here are some of the benefits the humble cannabis plant can have when used in this manner as observed by Daniel McQueen in his book on the subject):
Increased awareness of the physical body (synesthesia, visual proprioception/perceiving our body’s position in space)
Deep muscle relaxation/trauma resolution/nervous system regulation/clearing energy
Capacity to travel through memory as an observer. Increase awareness of mental habits, judgments, and anxieties. Can resolve unhealthy patterns.
Deeper awareness of emotional processes and activation of emotional discharges, release and healing.
Extreme creative problem-solving and increased intuition
Transpersonal phenomenon/ visitation or deeply spiritual states/ Unity consciousness (Feeling at one with the universe, feeling a part of something greater, seeing God)
Activation of synchronistic transformational growth experiences in the external world (Spontaneously relating once subjective experiences to some significant underlying, personal meaning)
A deep sense of presence and body awareness- as opposed to the dissociative state of being “out there,” “somewhere else,” or “out of body” associated with classic psychedelics- experiences that can exacerbate some conditions (think someone who’s major problem is being dissociated, someone with trauma that requires maintaining control)
Development of a sense of agency, feeling more in control of life situations, more accepting, a feeling of having choice, a deeper connection to the world, greater sense of purpose. (from "Psychedelic Cannabis" by Daniel McQueen, Ch. 1)
Have you ever experienced these effects from cannabis?
Can you imagine the potential for deeper work with this plant ally if you were to add intention, ritual, and integration to your use?
There are so many more benefits of working with cannabis as a psychedelic, benefits that are very individualized and personal.