The merging of Medical Cannabis and Recreational Marijuana

As of today, we have approximately 35 days before the medical cannabis market merges with the recreational marijuana adult use market in Washington State: the end of one era and on to the next era and what that looks like has me concerned. I am concerned when a retail owner tells me that people just want to get high. His assessment saddens me on so many levels and unfortunately, he is not the only one that believes people just want to get stoned. Are there some people who want to recreate and get stoned, yes, I will not deny that but I also know that if people knew and understood what other cannabinoids can do to help their overall well-being, this would be a different story. In all fairness, retail staff are not legally allowed to discuss medicinal use of cannabis, and their background is not rooted in medical.

As a patient first, I refer to my medicine as cannabis because that is the scientific and medicinal term. I will continue to advocate the medicinal use of cannabis because it saved my life. Additionally, I am mainly a medicinal user and I, too, need to know what legalization means to me. I am sad that the new market celebrates getting stoned while relegating medicinal use as null and void and to the back end of our minds. As a lifetime patient, I struggle with the retailer’s assessment because he misses the point of what cannabis provides our human endocannabinoid system. But, what this means to us, as patients, is that we have to continue to educate the masses what we have known for decades.

Unfortunately, the only familiar cannabinoid is THC, tetrahydrocannabinol and that it is outlawed by the federal government. THC is the psychoactive component in cannabis and while considered psychoactive and evil by some, it is still necessary to experience the botanical effect of whole plant medicine and its entourage effect, which provide overall wellness. Again, THC is just one of many components that help, in conjunction with other cannabinoids our bodies can heal itself and function.

For example, CBD’s chemical make-up is known to provide antiemetic, anticonvulsant, anti-psychotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-tumoral, anticancer, anxiolytic and anti-depressant. In addition, CBD is one of many cannabinoids in the cannabis plant that is helpful to our overall health and wellness. We also have CBN, CBC, CBG and so forth. All of these cannabinoids are part of the genetic make-up of cannabis and have medicinal value, and to experience the true entourage effect of healing, we need THC. Please read:  https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/biology-potential-therapeutic-effects-cannabidiol   

Now that patients will be buying their medical cannabis from retail marijuana shops, it is important to try and understand a little of what to expect. What legalization means is that people can buy and partake, and businesses can produce, process and sell, not donate cannabis without the fear of arrest, as long as you are in the confines of Washington State. Cannabis remains illegal federally so crossing state lines is a BIG no-no.

Under the Adult Use market, some of what you can expect is the following:

  1. There will be many more products for patients to choose from in order to fill their needs.  This is a positive thing but also may be a bit more confusing for the patient who needs specific strains and products to help their medical issue. Having a variety of products to choose from will require the patient to be proactive and ask more questions but patients should do their own due diligence on the products they are buying on the market and trust their own instincts and experience.
  2. All products sold at retail stores are tested for potency, microbial and now there are issues with banned pesticides. The approved pesticide list is through the FDA for agriculture, not cannabis and as we know; research is ongoing and so is the discovery of harmful pesticides.
  3. I like that patients will have the option of speaking to a state certified medical cannabis consultant on staff to help answer their questions regarding their medicinal needs but as always do your own diligence on what works best for you.  Please note that not all stores will have the availability to speak to a state certified consultant. I believe this is optional and strictly for retailers carrying state certified medicinal product which is another conversation.
  4. I believe that if you are a qualified patient, you may be able to get a tax break.
  5. The most interesting thing is that recreational users are not tracked by the state but medical patients are. To be considered a patient you will still need a medical recommendation but now you will be required to participate in a state registry. The reason they may be doing this is for tax breaks but I am not sure.

These are just some things to consider in the adult use market. I implore you to not only expect the best products for your medicinal needs, but service as well; ask many questions and please do your own due diligence on the products you find in stores before buying them. Also, do not be discouraged if you do not receive good-side bed manners; remember not everyone uses cannabis medicinally and they may not understand what it means to be sick. I recommend you be the educator on your medicinal needs and you will come out better for it in the end.

Moreover, unless the retailer has a medical cannabis consultant on staff, you will most likely be left to your own devices, and they may not be able to help you with your medicinal needs so be proactive and still ask questions and let the retailer tell you whether or not they can help. I wish you the best of luck with your cannabis use.