Here’s why we need education, not misinformation, about medical cannabis

(Photo courtesy Pixabay)

Why aren’t we treating cannabis like the medicine it is?

I have written an awful lot about marijuana during the past few years. The beauty of it, however, is that I have reported the gamut of research about cannabis, which is what I have decided to call the plant from here on out.

Admittedly someone long fond of bud, I have chosen to abstain from it during periods of a year or longer. That’s not my choice now, as I am finding great relief from my PTSD-related anxiety, nightmares and tendency to withdraw since receiving my Illinois Medical Cannabis card.

In this new era of getting our information on social media, some experts call what I do “Wisdom Journalism.” Wisdom Journalism is when you know the topic you’re writing about so well that even though it may contain nuance that other reports leave out, it is considered acceptable by your audience.

Of course, if you don’t know what you’re talking about, or if you don’t walk the walk, your audience will abandon you.

I’m in a funny position having made a pretty good living the past couple of years writing branded content as a freelancer for some of the finest drug and alcohol treatment centers in America.

In general, addiction specialists traditionally have considered marijuana use a bad thing. The model of abstinence remains predominant in inpatient treatment covered by insurance companies.

Beyond that, true abstinence from all substances really is an ideal foundation for true recovery from drugs and alcohol. That said, it’s not always possible.

My views about marijuana or any topic in no way reflect the views of any of my clients.

Addiction, mental health interwoven

The reason the treatment centers I write for are so good is because they specialize in treating the co-occurring mental disorder as well.

Many people who suffer from various forms of mental illness find great relief from marijuana. But it has to be monitored, and the patient needs to know what they are doing.

Because not only can treatment with marijuana be ineffective for people with mental illness, what’s worse is that it could really screw them up.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t do your research, try to make educated choices in consultation with your doctor and therapist, and then try alternative treatments. We can’t stop flat out lying about the benefits of cannabis any more than we can pretend it’s not addictive or that it doesn’t induce psychosis in some people.

Have you taken anything made by pharma lately? By no means are these perfect alternatives. Some of us, including myself, have determined some chemical treatments to be far worse than any side effects the proper dosing of the correct strains of cannabis might induce.

I am proud to say I am one month benzodiazepine free, but it hasn’t been easy. You can read about that here. It would have been impossible without the cannabis; at least right now given the dose I had been on of Xanax and Ativan before that.

So, we need to be fair and honest about medical cannabis.

And we need to be honest about how it interplays with addiction. While I have written extensively about marijuana having a dangerous role in recovery, the truth is I am finding more and more people – particularly those with PTSD – who have quit or drastically reduced their alcohol intake post medical cannabis card.

That is never a bad thing. Everyone deserves to feel better and break free from substances that are destroying their life. The “addiction” argument as it pertains to marijuana always falls flat with most users because they don’t feel marijuana is destroying their life. In fact, many marijuana users do know what that feels like, which is one of the reasons they smoke marijuana now instead of using other substances.

University of Mississippi garden provides research cannabis

Remove the mental health issue, and medical cannabis has broad, safe applications for an endless number of ailments. The most obvious: Helping the sick to get over nausea and to eat, and easing pain.

Then there are the headlines that tug at the heart strings – epileptic children finally seizure-free after cannabis treatment.

As is so often the case, I first broke into reporting about medical cannabis for my friend Josh Robbins. While I have written for Fortune 500 healthcare companies, major health news sites, and everything in between, Josh runs a little ol’ website like me.

Josh’s site isn’t really little, and it is HON certified. The point is, we have had tons of huge journalistic “firsts” together in the healthcare reporting space, particularly as it pertains to HIV, while working as a team.

I wrote this piece for Josh’s site. It was then that I learned that all the cannabis used for medical research in the United States comes out of a ditch weed garden at the University of Mississippi.

Now, if you’re like me, you’re wondering how medical cannabis is legal in more than half the states, with hundreds of strains, and yet our government only studies a decades-old ditch weed and lumps it into research for all marijuana.

That is just crazy. And it’s a fact. There is no disputing it, even though it is finally changing – after half the states have made medical marijuana legal. In 2014, shortly after I wrote my story, the program expanded. You can check it out for yourself right here on the official University of Mississippi cannabis garden page.

Do you realize that would be like the FDA using only one type of pill as a catch all for all medical research?

Can you imagine the industry backlash!

Writing about cannabis from an informed point of view

From the dangers of making your own dabs to why smoking marijuana is risky for people trying to get off opioids, I’ve written about it from many different angles. And the lens I view all of this through has become much clearer.

People are dying of opioid overdose. People also are sharing their story en masse of how they not only got off opioids via cannabis, but also opioid maintenance therapy. The sad reality is that opioid maintenance therapy also is being abused and people being treated with it still are dying.

Even the tamper-proof opioid maintenance therapy isn’t working because addicts have figured out how to crush it, snort it, inject it and everything else.

We can’t keep lying about cannabis when it’s helping people. I certainly don’t intend to.

The truth is, the Colorado program is more about tourism than medicine, and cannabis detractors are having a ball with that. I wrote this story about Colorado cannabis for Healthline a couple of years ago. I visited Denver in May and did the full-blown Colorado Cannabis Tour.

It still doesn’t seem to have much of a legitimate medical program, from what I could tell, at least not in terms of high CBD levels and THC-CBD ratios. However, for people who had the medical card the cannabis they could get cost next to nothing compared to Illinois prices.

I can get 1:1 ratios at my medical cannabis dispensary in Illinois, for example. The CBD is what brings me relief from my chronic PTSD-related anxiety. I could not work as a medical writer orbiting my house on THC all day!

And I hope to start adding some clients from the cannabis world to my portfolio.

See you soon.

4 thoughts on “Here’s why we need education, not misinformation, about medical cannabis

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