Masty, A. (2023). Cannabis-induced holotropic states of consciousness and healing: An interpretative phenomenological analysis [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Liverpool John Moores University.

Research shows cannabis can induce non-ordinary states of consciousness (NSC) similar to psychedelic experiences under appropriate conditions. However, this aspect of cannabis is not well recognized or studied. The present study aimed to understand how NSC induced by cannabis in therapeutic settings may contribute to the person’s healing process. These states are described as cannabis-induced holotropic states of consciousness (HSC) (i.e., states of consciousness with healing potentials). I interviewed six participants (four females and two males, aged 23-38) who experienced cannabis-induced HSC in sessions that followed a protocol that is similar to psychedelic-assisted therapy, which includes preparation, dosing and navigation, and integration. I analysed the data using a qualitative method, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, to understand how the participants experienced these sessions and how they contextualized the experience in their healing journey. The findings indicate that an appropriate set and setting with the agency (a unique quality of cannabis) can create a safe container for exploration. This allows the person to be present to and engage with direct experiences of various sensory, transpersonal and intrapersonal phenomena. These experiences inspire insights into oneself through new awareness, acknowledgement, and acceptance that allows the person to connect and to tend to themselves in a new way. The study also revealed that cannabis-induced HSC has qualities similar to psychedelic-assisted therapies, mindfulness and body-oriented trauma healing modalities. While further research is anticipated, this study explored participants’ accounts of cannabis-induced HSC and addressed its potential to support a person’s healing journey.





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