Let’s define addiction first: According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Addiction is a chronic brain disease that causes compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences.” So, for a person to have an addiction, compulsive consumption leads to negative consequences (like losing your job or health).
Now, let’s explore what most people think of addiction (aka Physical Dependence): according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “the body adapts to the drug, requiring more of it to achieve a certain effect (tolerance) and eliciting drug-specific physical or mental symptoms if drug use is abruptly ceased (withdrawal).”
Therefore, when people think of an addict as someone who is trembling with withdrawal symptoms until they catch their next fix, they’re really thinking of an individual with an extreme physical dependence! While someone might suggest that a medical marijuana patient who uses cannabis so often that they forget to show up for work is an addict, we are uncomfortable with the concept.
After all, addiction is a strong word! We think of nicotine addiction, heroin addiction, or caffeine addiction: in all of these cases, the user will experience withdrawal symptoms that damage their health and wellness because their biological material has been manipulated into thinking that it requires the substance to function “normally.”
So, when it comes to medical marijuana, one is only “addicted” if use is negatively impacting life responsibilities; since using medical marijuana helps patients reclaim their life, happiness, and level of comfort – it’s difficult to see medical marijuana addiction as being something that can actually exist! If your cannabis helps you stay functional, helps you maintain productivity, or enhances your ability to meet and exceed life’s demands – than you can’t be considered an addict!