Cannabis legalization has had a couple of booming decades. The legal cannabis industry has expanded and is continuing to grow exponentially as legalization spreads. However, I believe pro-legalization organizations and many cannabis advocates, including myself, have missed the primary target. Before understanding the full benefits of cannabis, I fell into this trap.
Now, as I use cannabis daily for health and wellness, I question… is our focus for the priority of cannabis legalization exactly as it should be? There are multiple arguments for legalization, but are we placing emphasis where it can best gain support, legitimacy, and integrity in society today?
For more than 2 decades now, multiple states have been taking the necessary steps to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. California was the first in 1996, but today, only 4 states don’t have some type of medical marijuana law on the books. This approach has been extremely effective, because who can deny an innocent child the opportunity of a normal life?
With nearly a half-million children living in the United States suffering from epilepsy, this is a powerful approach. In fact, children have been the driving force behind many medical marijuana laws. Parents are uprooting their entire lives and families to move their severely epileptic children half-way across the country just to have access to potentially life-saving medications.
Yet, while 500,000 kids are clearly motivating factors, 100 million people in the United States today are suffering from chronic pain. An incredible 142 people each day are dying from opiate overdose, and no one hardly bats an eye. While the medical approach to legalization worked well for many years when sympathetic lawmakers saw the children suffering, however, lawmakers aren’t as sympathetic about the middle-aged man who is broke-down after years of physical labor… it’s not as persuasive. While the medical approach is certainly valid, adults just don’t get the same level of empathy.
This faction of die-hard cannabis lobbyist are those who are shouting,
“Legalize it! Regulate it like alcohol and tobacco!”
Admittedly, I used to be a member of this group of cannabis advocate. I argued, if drinkers can have their vice, and smokers can have theirs, then dammit… cannabis users should be able to have their vice, too! However, is this really the best approach to cannabis? I have my doubts now. Cannabis provides a whole host of added benefits for the consumer whether its being used recreationally or not… the body doesn’t know the difference… it only knows it’s endocannabinoid system is happily humming along searching for road blocks on the road to perfect homeostasis.
What are the health benefits of alcohol? What are the health benefits of tobacco? There aren’t any. I mean, we never look at someone drinking a beer and think “Hmmm, suppose they are treating cirrhosis?” Do we look at a cigarette smoker, and think “They should go to jail for giving themselves cancer.” Long-term use of either of these drugs will likely lead to disease, if not death. In addition, 15% of people who try alcohol once, and 37% of those who try cigarettes will become addicted. In comparison, only 9% of those who try cannabis develop a dependence. Yet, we sit back and quietly let people destroy themselves without hesitation, simply because alcohol and cigarettes are legal. There is no silver lining to alcohol or tobacco use. Both destroy organs and have absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
Cannabis, on the other hand…
Cannabis as a Health Supplement
With as health and vanity obsessed as our society is today, I believe the true way to gain support for full legalization, is by displaying the exact qualities which differentiates cannabis from alcohol and cigarettes… health, wellness and nutrition. Through “Franken-foods” like aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and GMO nonsense, we all have poor diets and few people consume enough nutrients (Omega fats) to produce enough endocannabinoids. We are all endocannabinoid deficient to a certain extent.
While you may think my vision is a little far-fetched, I truly believe the day is coming where consumers will be able to pick up cannabis supplements at health food stores and pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS no differently than we do with vitamins, minerals and herbs today. For example, many people today purchase items like Melatonin for sleep and St. John’s Wort for mood support. We take a daily vitamin to make up for poor diets, and we might take ginseng or caffeine to boost energy.
Imagine being able to walk into WalMart and pick up a bottle of CBN caplets to help combat insomnia, or maybe a THCV supplement in place of dangerous diet drugs. Maybe there will be a combination of CBD, CBG, and CBC to help treat the common cold, and lotions and salves containing cannabinoids and terpenes will be more prevalent than BenGay and BioFreeze. Maybe there will be cannabis greens to add to our smoothies, and a multi-supplement we take daily to keep our endocannabinoid system running in optimal condition.
The Future of Cannabis
While sick kids, reports of cancer remission, and the possibility of treating other chronic conditions has definitely led the battle for cannabis legalization, there is more to this magical herb than helping those with severe illnesses. With further research, the far-reaching benefits of cannabis supplementation could mean the prevention of many conditions all together.
We have been taking vitamin supplements since the 1940’s to make up for minerals and vitamins we don’t get in our normal diets to help prevent disease and malnutrition. Since the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the early 1990’s we have started to learn just how important the endocannabinoid system is for biological function. Will the day come when we supplement our endocannabinoid system, with the intent of preventing fibromyalgia, auto-immune disorders, and other chronic illnesses from onset?
I believe the answer is, “yes.”