A prominent author and cannabis physician, Dr. Rav Ivker from Boulder, Colorado says he is worried about the dangers of marijuana concentrates consumption.
He says addiction is not a fabricated myth, but is rather real and is concerned about the dangers of powerful concentrates that contribute to addiction. Cannabis prescriber warns young users on dangers of using concentrates in his own practice as well.
Shatter and marijuana waxes contributing factors
He believes these concentrates, like shatter and marijuana waxes, which can contain from eighty to ninety-five percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), should be banned completely.
“I think they should be illegal,” says Ivker. “In fact, I hope they become illegal. The only thing they’re good for is getting really high. But they’re high-risk, and there’s really no benefit from them.”
Many advocates of the drug, however, argue that cannabis is not addictive, but studies have shown time and again that nine percent of users will become dependent — and that number rises to seventeen percent for those who began consuming cannabis while in their teens.
But according to Ivker, the argument that cannabis is not addictive comes from decades ago when the drug was not as potent as it is today.
“[The idea that cannabis is not addictive] goes back to maybe a decade or two ago, when the highest potency marijuana flower probably contained five percent or maybe ten percent THC. But today — and we’re talking about just the marijuana flower — the highest sativa strains can contain twenty-five to thirty percent THC. That’s what most people are smoking. And what they’re dabbing can be two or three times more potent than that.”
He maintains that people using the strong cannabis concentrates are adolescents and young adults in their twenties. What he finds is most concerning is that the brain is still developing until mid to late twenties, so the teenagers who use cannabis at an early age risk developing schizophrenia, and decreased brain function.
Medical marijuana for chronic pain
But Ivker still states he is a strong proponent of cannabis as a medical treatment for certain conditions.
“I advocate for cannabis as a medicine for treating chronic pain. That’s the title of my book, and Fully Alive is predominantly a chronic-pain practice, a holistic medical practice. The vast majority of my patients have chronic pain and are using medical marijuana to treat their problem, along with other modalities. And because I teach my patients how to use cannabis appropriately as a medicine, I don’t see the addiction problem among my patient population.”
He advises his younger patients who smoke cannabis on a daily basis to avoid using it everyday unless they need it for pain, and even in those cases, he recommends topicals and creams. He also strongly advises his patients to use cannabidiol (CBD), which is not psychoactive, and is proven to be effective in treating a variety of symptoms.
“Most people with chronic pain have some degree of inflammation, and CBD along with a topical is excellent as pain relief with no downside whatsoever. There’s no psychoactive effect, no addiction problem, so you can use it multiple times a day — and that’s what I’ve been doing with the younger patients, and some older patients as well…It’s really a remarkable medicine. I’ve been a family doctor for 46 years, and I’ve never seen a medicine as effective for pain without any downside.”
Mental state of user important to consider
He does, however, put cannabis addiction in context by saying that it can be the vulnerable individual who is susceptible to problem use, dependence, and possible addiction. He states a patient’s mental history needs to be taken account before determining cannabis to be a problem. Whether someone has had previous diagnosis of depression, anxiety, or has a family history of addiction serves as a marker for cannabis addiction.
“…it’s not the drug, but the user of the drug that is the major contributor to addiction — and rather than emphasize the dangers of marijuana, I would focus on the the mental-health history of the user and the risks of concentrates.”