Like all addictive drugs cannabis has an agent provocateur. The main active ingredient is Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC for short. It is often assumed that because cannabis presents no physical withdrawal pain it is a non-addictive drug. Ironically, cocaine presents no physical withdrawal pain either but few would argue that it isn’t addictive. THC in fact plays a subtle but pivotal role ensuring we will remain under its spell for what should otherwise be the best years of our lives.
For a modern analogy there is none better than a pay as you go mobile phone to explain how THC controls us. When you have credit the mobile phone will function to its maximum potential. That is to say you can make local and international telephone calls, send text messages and even connect to the Internet. But the moment you run out of credit your phone no longer functions to its maximum potential. Of course, you can still use it to receive calls – you just can’t use all of its functions. To get it back to a fully functioning phone again you have to top it up with credit. This basic principle is what happens with THC in our bodies.
When levels of THC run low (usually after a period of 1 or 2 days) it creates a psychological state similar to what smokers undergo when they haven’t had a cigarette for a while. Increasingly we become uptight and restless, until that is, we go to our dealer’s house and top-up with cannabis. Only after lighting up a joint or bong do we suddenly feel like our normal selves and a fully functioning human being again. But if cannabis is not readily available it ignites the fear we won’t be able to relax or enjoy the rest of the day or evening without it. In this respect cannabis is no different from any other form of drug addiction.
When you run out what matters most is searching out a supplier. Eventually when you manage to get hold of some the sense of relief and relaxation upon inhaling it feels genuinely pleasurable. But the point is it isn’t genuine pleasure or relaxation at all. All we are really doing in fact is temporarily removing the tension that THC itself creates. Before taking up cannabis the need to control how we feel, think and function with regular doses of a drug does not exist. It should be remembered that cannabis artificially creates that need to get back to feeling calm and relaxed again.