Mainstream Medicine vs. Cannabis

As a cannabis advocate and writer, I am very outspoken about the health benefits of cannabis. I use social media as a platform, and cannabis-health often comes up in conversation. One of the first questions I frequently get asked is “Do you have a medical background?” To which, the answer is always...

“No - I have not studied medicine, I have never been a nurse, I have absolutely NO formal training in the medical field at all.”

I am not a doctor, and I don’t pretend to be one.

Medicine is Missing Out

Ask any doctor what they learned about marijuana in med school and they’ll likely tell you stories of addiction, abuse, and a gateway drug which will lead you into the perils of society. I encourage you to ask your doctor what he or she knows about the endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids, and their effects on the various systems in the human body. The endocannabinoid system was only discovered within the last 3 decades, it isn’t taught as part of mainstream medicine, and reefer madness has left a lingering stigma in traditional medicine.

One of the top cannabis researchers in the United States, stated in an interview for the Medical Cannabis Report,

When you start to see medical schools finally embrace this idea about sharing information on the endocannabinoid system, I think you’re going to see a lot of things change in this country. But it has to start with our core curriculum. That’s the first thing that needs to be fixed in this country. That information, which is highly legitimate scientific material, is definitely as compelling as anything else I learned in physiology. It needs to be implemented immediately into this curriculum so that we don’t nurture another generation of physicians and other health professionals who are clueless about ECS, and uninformed about the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids.
— Dr. Sue Sisley for Medical Cannabis Report

Where is the Desire to Learn?

Mention marijuana to a physician outside of a legal cannabis state and you’ll likely be met with skepticism and looks of disapproval. As medical professionals, if they haven’t started to take notice and at least attempt to understand the role of the endocannabinoid system then I question where their passions truly lie. Are they in this profession to help people and save lives, or are they in the profession for the money and the kick-backs?

Research from all over the world and anecdotal stories from hundreds of thousands of people deserve more than a second glance. In fact, I find it offensive. If a doctor, far more educated than I, cannot at least devote a little time to investigate groundbreaking research which could save lives, then why are they in the medical industry?

As I stated, I don’t have a medical background, but let me tell you what I had when I came to the cannabis industry…

As of 2014, I had a father, sister, and mother in ‘Rural America’ who all died from cancer, in that order, in 6 years. Sitting in Nowhereville, Iowa, I watched increasing doses of morphine and Ativan slowly shut down what was left of their organs, I often wondered if there was any truth to the stories about medical marijuana putting cancer in remission.  I wondered if I had done all I could do.

I had a husband who was being legally fed more opioid medications than should ever be allowed and I watched his physical and mental health deteriorate progressively.

I had severe anxiety and chronic depression. I was prescribed pill after pill, none of which ever helped, and a couple nearly took my life.

Together, we had a failing marriage.

Fortunately, I also had a college education, a passion for research, and a desire to learn. So, when I landed in the cannabis industry I did what I’d do at any new job… I learned. I listened when the vendors spoke and took notes. When I would get home, I would research everything I heard to understand it better. I completely immersed myself in cannabis education.

Through this self-guided study, I learned enough to save my marriage. I helped my husband walk away from a 10-year opiate addiction without withdrawal. I helped myself find a safer way to treat my anxiety. Together, we found a healthier way to live without doctors or prescriptions of any type. Through responsible cannabis therapy, we rediscovered health, fitness, and nutrition.

Although I may never know, I am 90 percent sure what I’ve learned could’ve saved my parent’s lives; and this is why it offends me when a licensed medical professional doesn’t understand at least as much as I do about the endocannabinoid system.

Combining Cannabis Resources

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying ditch your doctor and run out to find the nearest budtender or cannabis adviser to cure whatever ails you. Rather, I simply believe it is time to open the discussion, put stigmas, judgments, and misconceptions behind us and move forward together… cannabis industry and medical industry hand in hand. While some people are finding wonderful solutions in pharmacology, others are finding their miracle in cannabis. Aren’t they both ok? Isn’t the overall goal to be healthy?

While the rest of world is practically throwing money at cannabis research, the United States remains dreadfully behind the curve. The approval process for researching cannabis requires extensive review and few have been approved. In fact, researchers at John Hopkin’s recently backed out of a study because the federally supplied marijuana (which is required for any research) was poor quality and mold infested, so they felt the research would be frivolous.

In the meantime, the United States has multiple states growing quality, medicinal marijuana readily available – which can’t be touched for federally sanctioned research. Legal states have expert growers, experts in cannabis education, scientists and laboratories consistently advancing cannabinoid therapy. Rather than wasting resources fighting against each other, we could be pooling our resources to save lives.

Education is Key

As cannabis advocates, activists, and patients… our stories count. We have something to teach doctors, lawmakers, and other skeptics. By telling our stories, sharing our information, and educating our friends, neighbors, and anyone who is willing to listen… We are blazing a path for the future of cannabis. We can argue our “right to get high” until we are blue in the face, but we will sway disbelievers with success stories, images of health and vitality, and heartwarming stories of children and adults who have survived and thrived with cannabis supplementation and nutrition.

Ending the cannabis stigma starts with you. If you have a success story… Tell it. If you use cannabis to medicate… Educate your doctors. Want to support the cause? Share the success stories you read and see while scrolling your social media feed. Together, we can forge a better path.

More by Kristina Etter