Dr. Rob Streisfeld, ND
To use cannabis, or not to use cannabis? That is the question many people are asking themselves these days. With an obvious increase in media attention, both traditional and social, the eyes of both health professionals and consumers alike are now opened to the numerous medicinal applications and general safety of this amazing plant.
Sounds great, right? Well, to some degree it is. However, there is still a long way to go. Many people are looking for more research studies to be done. While many states are making legislative changes in regard to cannabis, many are hopeful and awaiting a change on the federal level. It’s a typical “catch-22” situation where the government doesn’t want to change their stance until more research is done, but won’t allow access to the materials to get the studies completed. Unfortunately, while the plant remains a schedule 1 drug (defined as having no medicinal value and/or highly addictive), access to the plant to do clinical studies is extremely challenging. Frustrating as that is, that’s just the tip of the current Cannabis Conundrum.
Another big factor to consider is Big Pharma. Billions of dollars spent on pharmaceuticals are looking to be replaced by a plant people can grow in their own homes or backyards. Cannabis has been used safely and effectively for thousands of years by numerous cultures, treating a wide range of ailments and conditions. With the recent resurgence of this plant as medicine, pharmaceutical companies are either shaking in their boots, as cannabis replaces a plethora of drugs on the market, or aggressively working to lock in a cannabis compound for specific drug treatment or to make a synthetic copy for patent. They want control so they can continue making lots of money off the sick and desperate. The money made from cancer drugs alone is in the billions. What is really important to consider is that cannabis can actually help prevent disease, keep people healthy and reduce the need for pharmaceuticals in general. Big Pharma spends lots of money keeping cannabis from the people. They are highly integrated into the allopathic medical system, i.e. the hospitals, insurance, etc and have threatened doctors for recommending cannabis and even warned against taking classes and researching cannabis. This occurs even though the AMA has come out in support of cannabis as medicine.
Next you have the challenge when discussing cannabis and its recreational uses. What is recreational use anyway? Is it the use of a compound or substance which helps alleviate a stress or help a person cope with issues? Is it a desire to take a break from everyday reality for a brief moment of happiness? It is amazing how many people are on anti-depressants, sleep meds, or pop a pill with the slightest headache or pain. How does this differ from those who consume alcohol, have uncontrolled sugar or food addictions, or how you may feel about missing your cup of coffee in the morning? Bottom line, cannabis isn’t taxed so the government doesn’t get their share. The irony is that a very large percentage of the cannabis industry wants to pay their share of taxes and be considered a legitimate business but the Federal government hasn’t allowed big banks to accept money from cannabis companies, therefore making it more difficult to legitimize the industry. The reality is that anything can be used to excess, inappropriately or irresponsibly but that shouldn’t take away a person’s right to use a safe plant to feel better.
That being said, another big factor to the cannabis conundrum is the privatized prison industry in the United States. A disproportionate number of African American and Latino men are currently imprisoned for non-violent offenses related to the possession of cannabis. These prisons make money by having their cells and beds filled. In places where cannabis has been decriminalized there has been a reduction in crime and police resources are being better utilized to address real issues which present a danger to society or its citizens. People should have the right to use a plant which grows in Nature, without the fear of incarceration.
So whether you are a cannabis connoisseur, a medical cannabis patient, or just curious about cannabis in general, please realize that this topic isn’t a simple black or white situation. There are many shades of green.. oops, I mean grey, which need to be discussed and better understood. Change is hard, and the failed “war on drugs” presents a challenging time of transition. The people were misled, lied to back in the 1930s, and we are now just waking up to this reality. The cannabis conundrum is real, but through education and activism, together we can bring this medicine back to the people…because the right to a plant which promotes both health and happiness is no conundrum in my mind. 🙂
Dr. Rob Streisfeld is a passionate consumer advocate and educator with over 12 years of Natural Health & Natural Products Industry experience. A Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and Certified Natural Food Chef, “Doc Rob” as widely known, provides an informed and innovative perspective to support healthy choices for individuals, groups, and more. He is also an industry consultant helping with marketing, PR, and other business development needs.
Over the past decade, Doc Rob has helped to identify and expand key health categories such as probiotics, enzymes, whey protein, fermented foods, whole food supplements, and more. His recent passion is rooted in cannabis, cannabinoids, and the benefits they offer.