Hundreds of millions of people use marijuana. It is the most popular, but also the most paradoxical drug. Beliefs about marijuana vary from it being harmless to it being a dangerous and addictive gateway drug. Some use it for years without noticing any side-effects, while others become paranoid or even psychotic within a very short time. There are also multiple reasons for its use including to have fun, sleep, manage stress or pain, chill-out or enhance creativity.

These layers of complexity make it a more complex drug to quit as well, you need to know why you use it, so that function can be fulfilled by other means, but also what the side-effects are, so that you can correct these. Chinese medicine (TCM) is the best for this as you can use it can explain how marijuana works, why it has different effects on different users, how it makes you high, whether it really is harmless, in what circumstances it is addictive, and how it can become a gateway drug. Better still you can then use it to ‘reverse-engineer’ and recreate the desirable effects of the drug without the drug. This is the best way to quit marijuana.

Why Marijuana makes you laugh

A big attraction of marijuana is happiness, the feeling of group bonding and laughter. The drug creates this by making your ‘chi’ flow and targeting some special functions of your liver. Your liver is a particularly fascinating organ. It has the normal physiological functions that we understand in the West, but in TCM it is called ‘the General’ because it is responsible for planning your body’s functions and for organizing a smooth flow of chi throughout your body.

This makes you feel happy and marijuana magnifies this. A pleasant, warm sensation begins in your abdominal area (where your liver is located) and then spreads throughout your body. The feeling of happiness intensifies until you find yourself in fits of laughter.

Given that we all want to be happy it is not surprising that marijuana is so popular, and, apart from the red eyes (which happen because marijuana affects the liver’s function of nourishing your eyes) there seem to be no side effects.

But there is no such thing as a drug without side effects, and marijuana does create these and it will stop delivering the goods at some point as well, it’s just a matter of when. Get some insight into why this happens and what to do next, and you can quit without cravings, relapse, insomnia or other symptoms, and you can get back on the happiness cycle.

Why Marijuana gives you the munchies

If chi flows smoothly throughout your body it enhances the special functions of your other organs too, like your stomach which is why you get ‘the munchies’, the insatiable urge to eat. All your senses are heightened including taste (your mouth is the sensory organ associated with your stomach) so food becomes unbelievably delicious, and eating is truly sensational. This is why some people use marijuana in the medical context to stimulate appetite.

When you are high you tend to crave sweet or creamy foods as these resonate with your spleen, and its functions are also highlighted by the chi flow. If you ate the same foods at your desk at work without being stoned, you would barely even register them. Chi flow amplifies the function of your kidneys, home to your libido, and sexual activities and orgasms can feel much more intense too, and music sounds better.

If you have enjoyed any of these enhancing effects of marijuana, you’ve had a crash course on what your organs are capable of delivering – if your chi flows. More chi means higher quality, which is why everything can feel better, taste better or sound better. This is because chi is actually a combination of energy, consciousness and information so with an enhanced chi flow it’s as if you are suddenly getting all the information, like you’re suddenly downloading a hi-res version of everything.

Think of those experiences as a template, because you can easily activate chi flow yourself without drugs, and get all the positive outcomes and none of the side effects. This is the approach you need to successfully quit marijuana.

Marijuana and the flow state

Plenty of creative types use marijuana when making music, designing or future visioning, because it also enhances the creative or problem-solving process. It does this by magnifying your awareness of ‘growth and expansion’ (an attribute of the Wood Element which is associated with your liver), but also because the increased chi flow puts you in a ‘flow’ state.

All the latest studies into peak performance have revealed that creative and fast solutions in every field come from being in flow. This is that zone where everything comes together, where you access loads of options and information and process and problem solve at warp speed. There’s plenty of cutting-edge research into flow states, as the potential for its application in every field is limitless, but no directions for achieving it.

Microdosing hallucinogens, which separate body and mind (or yin and yang) thus setting your mind free, has become a popular strategy employed by many professionals to get into this zone. But hallucinogens are unreliable (a bad LSD trip anyone?) and relying on a hallucinogenic drug for flow is ultimately the recipe for failure.

Marijuana is a hallucinogen so your mind can be happily writing a song, coming up with a great solution for world poverty or an amazing new business idea while you’re lying back in the beanbag, but you don’t actually need the marijuana to do this. You just need the chi, because energy, information and consciousness are the ingredients necessary for the flow state to work. This is the recipe for success.

If you rely on a drug it will be creating imbalances behind the scenes. In the case of marijuana, it is simultaneously sabotaging the future you are envisaging by triggering yin and yang imbalances. These lead to demotivation and slowly undermine your ability to carry out your plans. If you want to launch a music studio, do a home renovation or a new business plan, but don’t act on it, your chi becomes stagnant, the opposite state to flow. You’ll start feeling frustrated, angry and bitter, the opposite state to happiness.

Plenty of people get caught in the subsequent cycle of using more marijuana to try and get the flow state again but this, in turn, increases the frustration and inability to act and on it goes. It is an addiction scenario which requires a strategy to rebalance yin and yang or quitting is going to be very difficult.

Why Marijuana is so unpredictable

Yin and yang are opposing but complimentary forces, they balance each other to deliver health and harmony. If they get out of balance though it is a different story, and all recreational drugs mess around with this balance. Some, like cocaine, crack, crystal meth (ice, speed), are yang. Use these drugs and you’ll talk fast, party hard, dance all night or stay awake for days. Others, such as heroin and opiates, are yin. They generate passive introspective states.

Marijuana though, is in a category of its own. It is a yin drug but its action can be either yin or yang, depending on how yin or yang you are. If you are a more yang type – an energetic and engaging extrovert who can skip meals, function on little or no sleep and have a high sex drive – marijuana can make things slow down. Plenty of successful business people who want everything done by yesterday, use the drug for this reason.

But if you are more yin type – shy, introverted, self-conscious, unable to skip meals, often tired and have a lower sex drive – marijuana might initially inspire a sense of movement, of things happening, but it will eventually lead to paranoia or paralyzing self-consciousness.

The mechanics behind this are the marijuana affecting your liver functions of ‘advance and act’, the yang quality which enables you to move forward in life, but also ‘retreat and wait’ the yin quality which enables you to sit back.

Marijuana addiction

It is usually the busy professional yang types, who end up reliant on marijuana as they are much more yang to start with. It is common for success types to start as recreational users, to have a laugh or to relax, but slowly switch to using marijuana during the day to manage stress, as they are also prone to be easily aggravated and annoyed, and at night to be able to switch-off and sleep.

The paradox here is that ultimately marijuana will intensify the symptoms you are using it to control. Sleep is the ultimate yin activity but if you have an imbalanced overly yang lifestyle of rushing, deadlines, high-stress, working late and skipping meals you deplete yin, and getting to sleep (which is a yin activity) will be a challenge. Using marijuana for this masks the symptoms, but it doesn’t fix anything.

Additionally, drug-induced chi flow makes your body think that all its needs have been met, and you can power through the day without eating. But a lot of the yin that we need to balance yang also comes from food. So by late afternoon you’ll be yin-deprived and feeling increasingly irritated and uncomfortable, and probably needing to smoke more to control this. But you are using ‘virtual’ yin, it’s not real. Nothing is balancing yang and it’s running out of control.

Ongoing marijuana use can lead to a condition called ‘yang rising’ where you feel permanently irritated, annoyed, frustrated or angry and lose it at the slightest thing. It can also create ‘heat’ conditions, which can increase sex drive in men, lead to frequent ejaculation to manage, and this sets the scene for erectile dysfunction later in life.

In this context marijuana use has taken on a medicinal aspect to manage symptoms, if you quit cold turkey you become an aggravated, stressed-out insomniac. You need the drug to take away the symptoms, then decide (or your partner decides) that you are addicted and start seeking addiction help. But in these circumstances it’s the imbalances and lifestyle factors that need to be focused on, adjusted and corrected, forget about the drug. Once you get everything else back under control, you won’t have the symptoms and you’ll forget to use marijuana.

Talking not doing

Another common behavioral side-effect of long-term use, that is also often confused with being a personality type, comes from the ever-widening gap the drug creates between ideas and your ability to act on them. If you can’t act you feel frustrated. This needs an outlet so you become critical of everything and everyone from politicians to your partner. The magnifying nature of the drug increases your awareness of negativity, and you become cynical and bitter and withdraw into yourself.

Or you become one of those people who always talk but never do. If you can’t bridge the gap between your ideas and your ability to act on them, you can become preoccupied with the thinking and talking part rather than doing. You need to constantly talk enthusiastically about new ideas to get an impression of movement. But you need someone to provide positive feedback otherwise chi doesn’t flow via conversation. People around you soon realize it’s only talk and stop responding or reject your ideas. You become frustrated and cynical.

As your liver is responsible for movement it is also connected with the perception of time. Marijuana messes with this too. This is why when you are stoned you can’t tell whether one hour has passed or five minutes. Long term dope smokers can eventually lose sense of time, it may take them years (or never) to get around to doing something that others might do instantly, but they don’t realize this. This inevitably becomes an issue in relationships in which one partner is a heavy marijuana user.

Because all these behavioural shifts happen over a long period of time, people assume that you are a negative, grumpy or hopeless person, but all the behaviours above are symptoms not personality attributes, and they can be reversed by rebuilding your organ function.

Plenty of these side effects also create the situation where marijuana can become a gateway drug, because if you use an amphetamine type ‘yang’ drug it will immediately override the stagnation and frustration and you’re instantly participating, partying, confident and outgoing, even if you are a yin type. This is the power of the yang drugs, but their side effects are equally powerful.

Marijuana, paranoia and psychosis

For the introverted yin types, who are naturally more prone to depression, ongoing marijuana use can create an unpleasant zombie-like state known as ‘liver yin excess’. This is where you are completely governed by ‘retreat and wait’, the liver’s mechanism for introspection, and are physically unable to do anything but sit and stare.

It is like that feeling you get in those dreams where something is chasing you but you can’t move because you are stuck in quicksand or cement. You feel this in dreams because every possible interplay of yin and yang already exists in your subconscious, but if it manifests in your conscious mind and reality it’s another story. It is emotional torment.

This initially only happens when you are stoned, but if you keep using marijuana, it can become chronic and can lead to the pathological progression Western medicine refers to as marijuana-induced schizophrenia.

In TCM, marijuana might trigger this, but it doesn’t cause it. A precursor has to be there. Either a lifestyle that has been creating a yin / yang (or body / mind) separation or other factors. The same applies to marijuana-induced psychosis which is becoming more common now, generally in younger users.

Psychosis is a spiking of yang, a powerful force that pulls thoughts, ideas and beliefs which are usually deeply hidden in your subconscious, into your conscious mind. It is an involuntary action but your mind thinks it is real so you act as if it is real. Physical or emotional conflict arises with people around you because you will see confrontation or rejection of your beliefs as a threat.

In a psychotic state you are operating in a primal survival mode and need to maintain your position as being correct at all costs. Your sanity depends on it. This is not rational and your actions are not controllable. The solution is though, just start building yin to establish balance and control or counteract the spiking of yang.

Medicinal Marijuana

Medical marijuana is getting lots of media coverage lately and legalization of the drug is spreading. As a result many people will be deliberately self medicating. Plenty of people already use marijuana to stimulate appetite, alleviate anxiety, treat insomnia or depression.

Chinese medicine has used marijuana for healing for millennia. But that use was based on a profound holistic understanding of the plant’s transformative properties and its cosmic significance, in conjunction with the constitution, chi and even destiny of individual patients. Additionally, Chinese physicians were dedicated chi practitioners so they had the skills to harness the transformative potential of the plant, and override toxicity. Self-medicating without that knowledge and chi training, can make your symptoms worse. A better option is acupuncture. Western research has confirmed that acupuncture works with the endocannabinoid system of the body, and specific acupuncture treatments can heal anxiety and depression, but also deliver that great stoned feeling!

Marijuana, sleep, dreams and insomnia

Your liver is connected with multiple sleep functions, with dreaming while you are asleep (visionary guidance) and with pursuing your dreams while awake (visionary quests). This might sound farfetched, but if you have ever used the ‘sleep on it’ strategy to solve a problem, or have had one of those premonition dreams, it is connected with visionary guidance.

As for visionary quests, marijuana enables you to experience the dream state while you are awake. This also means that while under the influence of the drug you may well have envisaged a plan or come up with an idea that is connected with your purpose or destiny. It is absolutely essential to follow up on this.

If you’ve been using marijuana to be able to sleep, you could end up with weeks of insomnia after quitting, which is often mistakenly identified as a withdrawal symptom, but it’s not. Insomnia is a lifestyle disorder. It is the outcome of everything you do from when you get up in the morning. Your body (yin) controls your mind  (yang) if you have sleep disorders it is because your lifestyle plus the drug use has let yang run the show. Focus on correcting that rather than on the drug. Build yin by making lifestyle changes, taking Chinese herbs, and through a ‘medicinal’ diet – foods like congees or porridge, that build or store yin during the day which can then be drawn upon in the evening.

How to quit marijuana : go with the flow

If you are a marijuana user and find yourself frequently feeling irritated, annoyed, frustrated, angry or have the sensation that you are not moving forward in life and that everything sucks, it’s well past time to quit.

The best way to quit is to first remember what you initially wanted from marijuana – to laugh, feel happy, be creative, be able to sit back or listen, be present or consciously feel a dream state – because these are all positive things that we should all be aiming for, then make it your goal is to get what you wanted again by other means.

Flow is the key to this. Follow the chi-cycle, what I call my ‘flow chart’. It allocates times for yin and yang activities so you can start to rebalance these forces. Also take up chi-gung or tai-chi or yoga, as these build chi and make chi flow. Get Chinese herbs to correct organ imbalances and liver conditions, and acupuncture treatments to reduce the blockages that create frustration, anger and depression. Chi can then suddenly flow again, you can get a blissful drug-like rush.

As marijuana plays around with the dream states, it affects you physically, emotionally but also spiritually, and TCM treatments such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs and remedial massage, facilitate healing on physical and metaphysical levels.

Finally, remember to quit the drug but keep the dream. Get a vision board, write your great ideas on it and follow up on them. Your chi will flow smoothly and you will feel happy. People spend billion of dollars every year on marijuana, I see this as billions of dollars worth of dreams waiting to be activated to change the world.

7 tips to quit Marijauna

  • Identify why you use marijuana
  • Get a replacement for the drug’s actions
  • Treat your imbalances
  • Get weekly acupuncture
  • Take Chinese herbs
  • Do Chi-gung or Tai-chi
  • Find flow in your life

I have written several book on how to quit drugs, and highly recommend reading The Rebel’s Guide to Recovery for the full chi-cycle recovery lifestyle.