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The Thin Green Line Between Medical and Recreational Cannabis

  • by Alfonso Colasuonno
You don’t have stage four cancer. You don’t have AIDS. You didn’t return home from three tours of duty in Iraq with PTSD. You don’t even have chronic migraines. Even though you could probably exercise a bit more and eat a little better, you’re still in pretty good health. There’s no medical reason why cannabis would be beneficial for you, right?

Not necessarily.

We all have to deal with stress. Some people deal with stress better than others. Some people have less stressful lives than others. But no one lives such a charmed life that they’re completely immune to stress.

Is the person who chooses to light a joint or consume a few troches at the end of a hectic day using cannabis medicinally?

Of course!

And it’s not just us at Goldleaf claiming it, but this assertion is also backed by prominent scientists and researchers. Scott M. Hyman and Rajita Sinha found that coping with stress was one of the most commonly reported reasons why people use cannabis. Carrie Cuttler, Alexander Spradlin, and Ryan J. McLaughlin of Washington State University found that people had a 58% reduction in stress after using cannabis. They also found that cannabis high in both THC and CBD was best for reducing perceived symptoms of stress.

So if it actually is a medical choice when an otherwise healthy person uses cannabis for reducing stress, and we all have some degree of stress in our lives, then wouldn’t that nullify the idea that cannabis ought to be legalized only for purposes currently deemed medicinal?

In our opinion, absolutely. In the government’s, not quite.

At present, a majority of states allow medical use of cannabis in some fashion. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have medical cannabis programs. Another six states have legalized the sale of CBD oil.

While access to medical cannabis is available for the majority of Americans with qualifying ailments, legalized recreational cannabis is a different story. Only eleven states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized cannabis. If you live in Alaska or Nevada, for example, you can make the wellness choice of mitigating your stress with cannabis. If you live in a medical-only state like Pennsylvania or a state that does not allow any forms of cannabis like Kansas, then your options are limited. You can purchase cannabis on the black market (which we strongly advise you not to do!), find an alternative method to manage your stress, or simply chin up and bare it.

Further complicating the issue is that not every state sets the same qualifying medical conditions for medicinal cannabis.

If you suffer from anxiety and live in Hoboken, New Jersey, you can become a medical cannabis patient. If you have anxiety and live just across the Hudson River in New York City, you’re not eligible.

If you’re a diabetic and live in New York City, you can become a medical cannabis patient. If you’re a diabetic and live a stone’s throw away in Hoboken, you’re not eligible.

An odd system, isn’t it? Furthermore, because federal law supersedes state law, technically all state medical cannabis programs are illegal.

We believe it’s time for a more compassionate approach, one that recognizes that almost all use of cannabis is a wellness choice. The best path forward to help all Americans, whether they suffer from stress or cancer, diabetes or anxiety, or just need to unwind, is to legalize cannabis at the federal level. With a majority of Americans against cannabis prohibition, data that demonstrates vast economic growth for states that have legalized cannabis, and wide-ranging therapeutic effects associated with cannabis, it is our hope that federal legalization is on the horizon.

Do you want to learn more about which organizations are leading the fight for cannabis reform? Check out our post on seven nonprofits on the frontlines of cannabis progress.

Tagged with: Wellness

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