Cannabis Use Disorder: The Dark Side


Cannabis is a very good and ancient medicine that can help and heal many ills. Yet nothing, including cannabis, is ever all one way. When its plant properties are used correctly, cannabis heals but when over-used/abused it can totally ruin someone’s life.

The difference between medicinal and recreational use is like the idiom about comparing apples to oranges; they are not the same.

Dysfunction these days is not uncommon when it comes to food, exercise, sex, work alcohol, accumulating things, Internet use, pharmaceutical drugs, cannabis, gambling, etc.

“… to be classed as an addiction, any such behaviour should comprise a number of key components including overriding preoccupation with the behaviour, conflict with other activities and relationships, withdrawal symptoms when unable to engage in the activity, an increase in the behaviour over time (tolerance), and use of the behaviour to alter mood state. Other consequences such as feeling out of control with the behaviour and cravings for the behaviour are often present. If all these signs and symptoms are present I would call the behaviour a true addiction.” [1]

A mostly unspoken cultural agreement in North America, that more is better, renders the act of over-consuming as normal behavior. Add to this the overt rise of stress, anxiety and depression in a challenging social and political climate and you get the perfect storm of people falling off into the deep end.

The person who is always looking for a way to calm themselves down via over-consumption of their favorite substance or process, at same time avoids identifying and addressing the core personal issue that keeps them enslaved to it. As a result many suffer insidious symptoms undermining the quality of their physical, mental, emotional and relationship health.

This is where therapeutic cannabis can help. However, when unchecked, partakers can stumble down the slippery slope to a ‘cannabis use disorder.’

I have personally known, and known of, cannabis addicts who did not have a psychological sense of ‘who they were’ unless they were high. Their deepest identity was tied to the visceral experience of cannabis intoxication. Their alter-ego led to the ruin of their marriages and left others behind to pick up the pieces in their wake.

Marijuana Dispensaries

The rise of the recreational dispensary in states where cannabis is legal contributes to the dark side of cannabis use disorder, as far as I can tell. It’s as if, for those so predisposed, legalization equals a green light to either begin or resume over-consumption, legally.

Recreational dispensaries naturally keep the dark side to themselves, much the same as do liquor stores. Sales people, called budtenders, and no matter how proficient they are in the cannabis space, encourage repeat business and multiple purchases. After all, it is still a business needing to show a profit.

My direct research informs me that most dispensary (recreational and medical combined) sales in the part of Washington State where I live are 60-70% recreational and 40-30% medicinal: the majority of which contain a substantial amount of CBD along with THC and other cannabinoinds. Most I found go for super-high THC (20+ %) while the medicinal lags behind.

To be fair and contrary to popular belief, most dispensaries in this state are not high rollers. On top of the state sales tax of nearly 9% there is a 37% tax on marijuana products not to mention other Washington State Initiative I-502 taxes specifically for marijuana retailers. Who rakes in the big money? The Washington State Government does while also making the stringent regulations.

We humans, once again in the final analysis, are at choice as to why and how and we use cannabis, or anything else, for that matter. In my view the optimal use for cannabis is responsible moderation for wellness and healing of the body mind and soul.

9 Responses to “Cannabis Use Disorder: The Dark Side”

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  1. This is a point of view that I feel deserves more conversation and more research. I read one survey of the use reason of customers in WA, CO and CA and the survey found that 44% of the shoppers in cannabis stores are using it for health related issues, many of which are not registered as medical patients.
    In truth I think the indicators I see even from regular “recreational” users. There is usually an underlying mental, emotional or physical imbalance that is being managed with cannabis rather than prescription drugs. Most of these individuals are not like to pursue counseling or therapy for their condition, particularly since those options usually are cost and/or time prohibitive if they actually resolve the issue.
    Thanks for opening the door to explore this more fully. Well done.

    • Susan Boskey says:

      Good points, Nancy, and I agree. I do, however, have seen how easy it is to go over the line. I wonder how many folks you are referring to know to take a 3-4 day “holiday” when it seems like they are losing control. It not only helps to reset the receptors but also means lower amounts needed to get the same effect, doing more with less and thereby costing them less for their medicine.

  2. Paul Llewellyn Gray says:

    Hi Susan
    How i see it from the day dot with humans and gunja
    We all in our subconscious mind have an understanding that we are all being controlled or affected by our egos
    Wether we realize or not that the matrix scenario is a fact
    And until humans turn this around there will always be a need to misuse or over use nature’s medicine
    Maybe we were meant to be as free as the weed itself was when it was first discovered by man😁🙂😎

  3. In the quote from Mark Griffths, PhD, above, he suggests that all the indicators be present in order for an addiction to be indicated. I would say that awareness of any one of the indicators in an individual’s life could well be a sufficient red flag.

    As far as using marijuana to mood alter, duh. I eat food to alter my mood. I sleep and walk and workout to mood alter. I listen to music to alter my mood and listen to funny stories. The list of mood altering activities and substances is endless.

    • Susan Boskey says:


      So true. I wonder what the distinction would be in the case of cannabis in terms of turning addictive?

      Appreciate your comment,

  4. John says:

    Great post. Very insightful. Love the way you look at all angles and show how in the end once again this is a business that is incentivised by the government (not any different than alcohol or tobacco).

    Again, it is up to us to be responsible. We definitely have the choice and the power to choose correctly.

    Great work.

    • Susan Boskey says:

      Your comment broaches the question: Can someone find moderation in a world of surround-sound sales and marketing without having to first over-induldge themselves before they figure it out? I wonder.

  5. Cat says:

    I think one needs to make a commitment to being healthy. Unfortunately many wait until serious illness or mental anguish forces them to think about it. Turn off the TV and phone and go for a walk. Stop programing yourself.

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