Calgary·Q&A

Weed probably won't make you fat, according to book about pot's benefits

Writer Amanda Siebert says her research suggests cannabis not only won't make you gain weight, it will help you sleep, potentially improve your sex life and a lot more, in her new book The Little Book of Cannabis: How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life.

The Georgia Straight's cannabis writer, Amanda Siebert, separates fact from fiction

Amanda Siebert's The Little Book of Cannabis: How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life brings together 10 case studies that illustrate the benefits of the formerly illegal drug. (Susan Holzman/CBC, Greystone Books)

Writer Amanda Siebert says her research suggests cannabis not only won't make you gain weight, it will help you sleep, potentially improve your sex life and a lot more, in her book, The Little Book of Cannabis: How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life.

As The Georgia Straight's weed expert, Siebert has brought her work together in a book with 10 thoroughly researched case studies.

She shared her thoughts with The Homestretch recently.

This interview has been edited and paraphrased for clarity and length. You can listen to the complete interview here.


Q: Why write it?

A: When I worked at The Georgia Straight, I spent a lot of time writing about patients and how they found benefits from cannabis use. This is an extension of that. I've taken 10 topics, I've got case studies for each one and research to back it up and it's an expansion of my work there.

Q: Some health experts say they'd like to see a lot more research on this. What are your thoughts on that?

A: I think there's a lot of research out there, that a lot of people haven't made sense of, so we do have a need for increased research, definitely. Why not, now that it's legal? We can really delve into this subject matter in a much deeper way than we have been able to before. But there is historical evidence, there is modern research that backs up a lot of what I have put into this book. There are experts in Canada that believe cannabis does have a place.

Q: How does cannabis help people sleep?

A: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) does a couple of things. It can increase melatonin production in the brain, which makes you sleepy. It also decreases sleep latency, the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. Depending on what you decide to use and how you use it, if you find yourself waking up a lot in the night, it can reduce that as well.

Q: What about the munchies? Does cannabis use cause weight gain?

A: The CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) Study followed cannabis users for 15 years and found those who used cannabis, compared to those who didn't, actually had smaller waistlines, had lower markers for heart disease and their weight had been more stable throughout that period. In the book I interview Ross Rebagliati, the Canadian snowboarder, and he said it helps him with that as well.

Q: You cover cannabis and improved sex lives. Talk about that.

A: Lisa Kirkman — she has a book of her own out called Sex Pot — says it reduced some of the anxiety around sex, it puts you more in touch with your body and perhaps the needs of your partner. That was definitely a fun, exciting chapter as well.

Q: Some doctors are still a little leery about prescribing it, why do you think that is?

A: I think it's a general lack of knowledge. It's been prohibited for so long, we really haven't been able to study it. Every physician I have ever spoken with, ones that prescribe it, they all told me that the only reason they took that step is because so many of their patients are asking about it. If you feel your doctor may not be into it, definitely broach the subject with them anyway.

Cannabis was legalized in Canada more than three months ago, but there are still several questions to be answered about the pros and cons of marijuana use in this country. Amanda Siebert examines some of the benefits in her book 'The Little Book of Cannabis: How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life'. Amanda is a journalist and photographer, she was the Cannabis editor at the Georgia Straight in Vancouver. 6:25

With files from The Homestretch and Susan Holzman

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