CANNABIS CULTURE – In my mind, the answer to this question is simple. “Yes, all cannabis use is medicinal.” The reasoning for this? Because, even if you’re using cannabis “recreationally”, the cannabinoids and terpenoids in cannabis are working together and providing their health benefits. Lowering inflammation, busting stress, eating a full meal and getting to sleep properly – these are all huge benefits, and one needn’t be a medical marijuana patient in order to get the goodness out of cannabis. Just because you eat an apple for fun, doesn’t mean that you don’t get any of the fruit’s vitamins and minerals. Many people have or had similar ideas, including PROP. 215 mastermind Dennis Peron (R.I.P.).
Yet, despite my belief that all cannabis use is medical, there are some people who still believe in a distinction between “medical” and “recreational” usage, even if they still believe cannabis has medical benefits. Why? Quite simply, it’s a matter of intention and diagnosis, i.e. has the person using cannabis been diagnosed with a particular condition, and are they using cannabis (and, in particular, specific cannabinoid-terpenoid profiles) to treat or help treat this condition? A person who does not have such a diagnosis could therefore be using cannabis “recreationally”.
Another way to look whether or not cannabis is being used medically is the method of ingestion. Those who use cannabis for medical purposes may well need a specific dosage of cannabinoids and terpenoids, as well as specific cannabinoid-terpenoid profiles. Patients need an ingestion method that is safe, reliable, easy to control for psychoactive effects and consistent. Sadly, smoking, most edibles, bongs and vaporizers do not tend to be able to fulfil those requirements. Other methods of ingestion, such as tinctures, patches and transdermals (as well as prescription drugs such as dronabinol, which is usually available in capsules), are generally (but not always) the preferred ingestion methods for medical cannabis patients. Creams that can be applied directly to the skin – and will therefore likely have no psychoactive effect whatsoever – are another method of using cannabis for medical purposes.
In the past, many breeders and growers were also looking to increase the amount of THC their plants produced, as the psychoactive effects were often seen to be the most “desireable”. However, nowadays, such thinking is out of the window, on the most part. The discovery of other cannabinoids and their health properties, as well as the concept of the “entourage effect”, means that many people look for a more “mixed” cannabinoid profile, with not only THC, but also CBD, CBG, CBC, a whole host of terpenes, and so on. This is in order to “balance out” the negatives that arise from using high amounts of THC (e.g. anxiety, paranoia), whilst retaining some of THC’s anti-inflammatory, antiemetic, painkilling, and yes, its pleasurable qualities.
Now, some would argue that those who are using high amounts of THC are using it for its psychoactive properties. However, even high-THC extracts can have their medical purposes. Those in pain may need the effects high amounts of THC can provide, and as such may function as an alternative to opioid-based painkillers. Those who are addicted to opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates or amphetamines – prescription or otherwise – may also find some use in high-THC extracts. Now, although it is likely better to have a more “mixed” profile, I cannot say high-THC extracts, strains and products have no use whatsoever when they clearly do; and as far as we know, little-to-no toxicity, even at high concentrations.
However, even if all the above methods of ingesting cannabis are not adhered to, I still believe all cannabis use has medical properties of some sort. Why? Well, other than the reason stated in the first paragraph of this article, it’s because everyone has an endocannabinoid system (ECS), and using cannabis/cannabinoid-based medications appropriately may well indeed help keep the body in homeostasis – regardless of whether or not you’re sick. Now, this is the realm of theory, but due to the ECS’s intimate relationship with the brain, the body and homeostasis, cannabis could be seen as preventative medicine. To quote from this interesting study on bladder cancer in men:
“Overall 34,000 (41%) cohort members reported cannabis use, 47,092 (57%) reported tobacco use, 22,500 (27%) reported using both, and 23,467 (29%) used neither. Men were followed over an 11-year period and 279 (0.3%) developed incident bladder tumors. Among cannabis users, 89 (0.3%) developed bladder cancer in comparison to 190 (0.4%) men who did not report cannabis use (P < .001). After adjusting for age, race or ethnicity, and body mass index, using tobacco only was associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer (hazard regression [HR], 1.52; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.12-2.07), whereas cannabis use only was associated with a 45% reduction in bladder cancer incidence (HR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.31-1.00). Using both cannabis and tobacco was associated with an HR of 1.28 (95% CI, 0.91-1.80).”
So who knows? Cannabis may be able to help prevent tumors from occuring in the first place! This is definitely an area we need more research in.