Should You InhaleThe dope on marijuana as a performance-enhancing trail drugs
Do you want some of this?” my running partner says as he extends his hand with a joint after we reach the summit on our run.
“No, thanks, ” I say, tearing open my gel packet. I don’t smoke marijuana, but don’t mind if someone else does. Having grown up with an alcoholic father, I sometimes wish he’d had a propensity for marijuana instead.
This particular runner and marijuana user told me, “I use it to settle my stomach on long runs, and being high on the trail just enhances the experience. It makes for a better run.”
Laws recently passed in Washington and Colorado have made recreational marijuana use legal; 18 other states and the District of Columbia allow its use for medical purposes. Today the most compelling medical use is treating the ravages of chemotherapy, especially nausea. It’s also been shown to help patients with AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and chronic pain.
However, since I’ve been a trail runner, there have always been a few people in my running circles who pack a one hitter or joint in their running kit right next to their carefully counted gels. We don’t think twice about ingesting a drug like caffeine—with its well-known and potent ergogenic effects—to help us train, but can marijuana also offer benefits for runners?
Marijuana is the common term used for the dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds and flowers of the plant with the scientific name Cannabis Sativa. The active chemicals in marijuana are called cannabinoids. Delta-9- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary active chemical, which causes a psychoactive effect and results in changes of perception, mood, consciousness, cognition and behavior. Marijuana can be imbibed in a variety of ways, including mixed in foods (e.g. brownies and cookies), brewed as tea, vaporized and, of course, smoked.
Marijuana is the most-used illegal drug in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, yet there is not a single reported case of death from overdose. The same cannot be said about its casual-consumption counterpart, alcohol, which causes approximately 5000 overdose deaths per year.