Increasing acceptance of medical cannabis is poised to have a major effect on the healthcare industry in general – beyond just giving patients another option for treatment.
Think about it: this broad cultural movement toward a natural, plant-based medicine – one that many doctors still need to learn, although it’s been utilized by humankind for thousands of years – is poised to change the entire landscape of healthcare in the U.S.
Healthcare, like every other major institution in the U.S., has been warped by cannabis prohibition. And we are going to change all of that.
A democratization of the healthcare industry has begun and medical cannabis + education is the catalyst.
The Beginning of the End for Industrial Medicine?
For about the last hundred years, the medical establishment – Big Med and Big Pharma– has had a monopoly on healthcare.
If you’re sick, you go to a doctor or the hospital. Never mind which doctor or hospital – treatment is that standardized and industrialized. Disease X gets Treatment Y. End of discussion.
It’s an “assembly line” system where patients are processed in a mechanical, industrial way.
Everything in our existing healthcare system is standardized, systematized, measured and optimized for speed and profit. It’s an impersonal approach to a very personal issue – your health.
This antithesis to personalized medicine becomes even more problematic in that many of the health issues we face in the 21st century are much, much different than in the past century.
We have seen a massive rise in chronic “diseases of lifestyle” in the West: diabetes, obesity, chronic pain, and more.
Or how about the other physiological challenges we face: addiction, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Most of the pill mills erected in and around these health challenges have caused us a lot of trouble.
Industrial medicine is not always so effective at treating modern, chronic disease. And in cases like the addiction-to-opioids epidemic, the industry has caused this – 91 people dying from opiate overdose every day, according to the CDC.
This lack of efficacy is creating a situation where patients are more open to doing their own research and pursuing treatment options that are outside of mainstream healthcare. Many of them are working with professionals who can help them to build personalized solutions.
That cannabis is a natural, whole plant utilized by humankind for thousands of years only adds to the anti-industrial nature of the medical cannabis movement.
As patients pursue their own information, choose their own treatments, lobby for the medicines they want and need and demand better, more personalized healthcare, the business of medicine will be forced to adapt and change.
Businesses must serve their customers and, make no mistake, patients are customers.
Medical cannabis is driving a new paradigm of the patient/consumer taking control of – and responsibility for – her or his own care, treatment and health.
The fact that each and every one of us has an endocannabinoid system, perhaps one of the most important systems in the body for human health, further unites us in the cannabis sea change.
This is why cannabis education is so critical, sorting out the facts versus misconceptions and better understanding how this plant can play a role in our pursuit for health and wellness. Learning what cannabis can do, and what it cannot do.
New Century, New Diseases and New Medicines
Authors like Caroline Myss have proposed that humankind is at the very beginning of a new age of spiritual enlightenment and awakening.
The evolution of humankind is now more on a spiritual and energetic level than in ages past when we began to walk upright, developed language and learned to make tools. In the 21st century, our evolution is on an entirely different plane.
Our illnesses are different now too. To a large extent, we’ve mastered the physical universe. Man has learned to fly, a broken bone or accidental injury is no longer a death sentence, and the microbes that were once invisible killers of our Paleolithic ancestors are rarely a problem for us today.
In this new age, our health problems are less linear, physical and Newtonian – like broken bones and bacterial infections – and more of a quantum, energetic nature. In the 21st century our new illnesses are more multi-faceted and complicated.
Depression, PTSD, anxiety, chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, cancer, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Though these illnesses are not new, they are present in Western society in large proportions and they are continuing to increase.
We are in an age where illnesses are harder to define, harder to see and even harder to treat.
One reason they’re harder to treat is because the “one cause, one pill” method of treatment doesn’t work so well with illnesses that have many contributing lifestyle and even spiritual factors.
A wise physician once told me Western medicine is like hitting a nail with a hammer, when, for most health challenges, you don’t always need a hammer.
As the nature of illness is changing, so too is our approach to medicine. And cannabis continues to distinguish itself as an excellent solution.
Why? Because a lot of health issues are directly correlated with a dysfunction in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a system that requires vigorous exercise and nutrition to stay in shape and do its job, which is to modulate nearly every metabolic process in the body.
Cannabis is one of nature’s perfect supplements for when the system goes haywire.
The ECS by the way, helps regulate everything from memory to circulation to reproduction to fetal development. Pretty much the only place in your body you don’t have cannabinoid receptors is the brain stem (which is why nobody has ever fatally overdosed on cannabis).
Many Prescription Medications Are Doing More Harm Than Good
The irony is that while most doctors know very little about the ECS, pharmaceutical companies do know about it, and they try to crack its code with often times harmful chemical concoctions.
We’re reaching a tipping point where many patients are saying enough is enough with many of the prescription drugs on the market.
Many of these chemical concoctions, while they help some people, are an absolute horror show of side effects and possibly deadly consequences for others.
Seeing a doctor for five hurried minutes and leaving with a prescription for a possibly addictive and dangerous pharmaceutical is the norm. This is something that could potentially ruin a patient’s entire life by starting an addiction or dependence on a prescription drug or a “cocktail” of pharmaceutical agents.
Patients are taking control because they must.
More and more patients are doing their own research about health, healing and medical topics as opposed to taking what anyone in a white coat says as gospel. This research can and does lead to an awareness and interest in medical cannabis.
In fact, it’s impossible to ignore cannabis as medicine once you understand how it acts directly and indirectly on the body’s ECS.
Patients are taking back control of their health, treatment and access to medicines. The rapid growth of the medical cannabis movement is a testament to the power shifting back to the patients.
If the vast majority of Big Med and Big Pharma are anti-cannabis – or at the least in a “further studies are needed posture” – then those who use cannabis medically are taking control of their health back and not waiting for “further studies.”
Certainly cannabis must not be considered a panacea. It is however an important option on which we must all educate ourselves.