Study Reveals Connection Between Marijuana Use and Yoga, Highlighting the Role of “Set and Setting” in Cannabis Experience

A groundbreaking study has uncovered a fascinating link between the use of marijuana and the practice of yoga, shedding light on the significance of “set and setting” in shaping the mental health benefits of cannabis. This in-depth research, conducted by Sarah Elizabeth Ann Daniels and published as a psychology dissertation at the University of British Columbia, delves into the crucial impact of contextual factors on the well-being outcomes of cannabis. While these factors are extensively studied in the realm of psychedelic therapy, their implications in the context of therapeutic cannabis use have long been overlooked.

Exploring Contexts Influence:

The primary objective of this study was to delve into how the surrounding environment, one’s mindset, and individual behavior can influence the experience of using cannabis. In the domain of psychedelic therapy, these factors are well-documented as powerful determinants of therapeutic outcomes. While in the realm of therapeutic cannabis, they have not received the same level of attention.

Key Findings:

The results of this study emphasizes the pivotal role that an individual’s activities during cannabis use can play. Much like in the case of psychedelic substances, this research underlines the concept that “set and setting” during cannabis use significantly impacts its therapeutic benefits.

To examine this theory, Daniels conducted a comprehensive study involving 47 participants, each self-administering cannabis on two separate occasions, one week apart. During one session, each individual engaged in yoga and pursued typical activities that they enjoy when using cannabis, such as eating, watching TV, doing housework, socializing, or hobbies. Participants’ experiences were assessed using measures of “state mindfulness,” “mysticality of experience,” and “state affect.”

Mindfulness and Mystical Experience:

The study revealed a compelling finding: participants reported significant improvements in mindfulness when combining yoga with cannabis. Moreover, their experiences took on a more mystical quality, a phenomenon usually associated with the use of psychedelic substances. Despite cannabis not being traditionally classified as a piece of psychedelic, recent evidence suggests that it shares several commonalities with psychedelic-induced altered states.

Emotional Impact:

Notably, there was no significant difference in state affect (emotions and mood) between the sessions that included yoga and those that did not.

Implications for Cannabis Therapy:

Daniels highlighted the importance of scrutinizing “extra-pharmacological factors,” such as set and setting when evaluating the therapeutic potential of cannabis. She emphasized that adopting this approach was pivotal in clarifying early research on psychedelic substances.

The outcomes of this study could have far-reaching implications for optimizing the advantages of cannabis use and minimizing potential risks, particularly in therapeutic settings. Offering specific behavioral guidelines and education regarding the role of set and setting may significantly enhance the clinical outcomes for individuals using cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

Significance of the “High”:

Daniels pointed out the value of altered states of consciousness induced by cannabis. In contrast to the trend in pharmaceutical development that seeks to eliminate psychoactive effects, this study suggests that the “high” itself may possess intrinsic therapeutic value.

In Conclusion:

This study underscores the vital importance of considering contextual factors, notably “set and setting,” when assessing the effects of cannabis use on well-being. By understanding how these factors influence the cannabis experience, researchers and healthcare professionals can better harness the potential therapeutic benefits of the plant. While the combination of marijuana and yoga is not a novel concept in the cannabis community, it may present a promising avenue for enhancing the mental health benefits of cannabis. However, further research is needed to validate these findings and ascertain their applicability in clinical settings.

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