By T-Town Terps
As a medical cannabis patient, I understand and agree with our state program’s prioritization of medical cannabis over adult-use recreational cannabis. However, sometimes I feel the debate around this is unfair to recreational users. There is a perception and narrative about recreational use that not only misses a lot of important contexts, but it also perpetuates a general stigma against cannabis use altogether. When we paint an entire demographic of cannabis users as burnouts just looking to get high, we also unintentionally bolster the narrative that medical cannabis is just a rouse for people looking to get high.
Recreational Cannabis is Therapeutic
When you’ve had a stressful, long week at work, and you light up a joint on a Friday night, you’re looking for a mental reprieve—for stress relief. You’re looking for a therapeutic experience. Even the most trivial of cannabis users: the young, un-anxious, fun-seekers just looking to get high for a good time are still seeking a mental release. Having fun is therapeutic. Laughter is therapeutic.
There is a dichotomy being drawn by regulators between people who use cannabis for recognized medical conditions and those who use it recreationally. It’s an increasingly muddled line when you consider that state-by-state, the list of approved medical conditions changes. Some states allow people to treat mental health conditions with cannabis, and in other states, you must be terminally or at least seriously ill to qualify.
The truth is that habitual cannabis users are getting something therapeutic from it or they wouldn’t use it regularly. Maybe it relieves their anxiety or helps them cope with stress. Maybe it helps them to sleep or eases their digestion issues. Maybe it just lifts their mood a little bit and makes life a little easier. Who are we to judge?
Medical Cannabis Equity
While regulators want specific evidentiary-based reports to consider cannabis as a treatment for any diagnosis, they miss the point. Cannabis is so good at treating so many things because cannabis can treat the mind by easing worry and lifting your mood. There is not a single condition, whether it be a toothache, IBS, or something more serious, that a positive attitude doesn’t help. Even if cannabis doesn’t treat the specific condition, it helps users to relax, accept, and distract.
With that in mind, you would think mental health would be one of the primary fields using cannabis to treat things like depression and anxiety. However, Connecticut does not allow psychiatric use of medical cannabis. That’s something I think needs to change.
Cannabis for Recreation is Harm Reduction
Even if you don’t buy that all cannabis use is therapeutic and believe recreational users are just looking to get high, cannabis represents the safest, least socially destructive way for people to achieve an altered state. Alcohol, which is widely accepted and available, is much more harmful to individuals and has greater social and economic consequences.
If more people chose to use cannabis on a Friday night instead of hitting the bar, we would have fewer auto accidents, fewer avoidable deaths, and fewer violent domestic incidents involving police. The weird thing is that none of this is debatable – the statistics are undeniable – and yet cannabis is still seen as more dangerous and more taboo than alcohol.
Do restrictions that make cannabis prohibitively expensive or hard to access actually do anything but ensure higher liquor sales? If not then why do alcohol lobbies spend money to advocate for regulations on cannabis?
Follow the money.
The opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent Still River Wellness, C3 Ventures, or anyone associated with Still River Wellness. Use Cannabis Responsibly! T-Town Terps does not promote or endorse illicit or underage use of cannabis. Consult your local laws and ordinances to ensure you are using lawfully and be sure to always keep all cannabis products away from children.