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I used cannabis in the past for about a year (though I quit over 5 years ago) to help manage my bipolar mood shifts. I found that responsible use of marijuana is key if it is to be therapeutic. The therapeutic part for me was not the part about getting high, which was a good release and fun, but that it balanced out my moods for the next few days after using. This was immensely helpful because my Rx medications were not in order at that point.

Also, using the right strains was essential, as some tended to cause paranoia and psychosis-like effects, which was harmful. Pure sativa and sativa-heavy hybrid strains could cause a stimulating, euphoric “head high,” which I found caused me to have symptoms of psychosis while using and lingered afterwards. Indica and indica-heavy hybrid strains didn’t produce such side effects and provided the therapeutic balance for days afterwards.

Long story short, the strain of cannabis one uses to help manage bipolar plays a big role in whether it succeeds, and AVOID SATIVA. (It also makes me wonder if most of the research done with bipolar and marijuana used sativa strains, as many claim to say cannabis causes psychosis in bipolar.)

Another key part of responsible use was to use it sparingly. Using too much would cause many of the negative side effects to become more pronounced, such as lethargy, weight gain, and being “constantly stoned.” Using about two times a week was ideal for me.

Also, part of being responsible is telling your doctors that you are using. It is dangerous if they are not aware.

Finally, cannabis is not for everyone, and little is objectively known about it and its effects on bipolar. Getting mixed up on the wrong side of the law can be devastating as well.

I no longer use because of employment, the fact that it’s an illegal substance, and I feel I’m better off without it. I do hope some day that it becomes legal, as it can be a wonderful therapeutic tool to help manage bipolar instead of expensive, questionable medications.

Be careful! When in doubt, don’t do it, and don’t break the law!