Dr. Benson's Cannabis Corner: Blog 6 - R.I.P. Medical Cannabis?
So, where were we last? Oh yes, “Growers, manufacturers, dispensaries, doctors, and patients need to educate themselves and make better use of the laboratory information that is readily available.” For some reason the Eurythmics' lyrics, “Sweet dreams are made of this… Everybody's looking for something,” keep coming to mind. Is it because I realize that with the onslaught of “adult-use” cannabis, medical cannabis is (at least for now) becoming a sideshow? The big bucks for most players in the cannabis industry are to be found in producing strains and products that get you high and feeling good at the cheapest cost. The expense involved in medical research and analysis of a complex herb is not where the fast money is. What’s in it for a grower, manufacturer, or dispensary to spend valuable time and effort in truly understanding and applying that knowledge? They no longer need the “medical venue” to legally make large sums of dollars, so why bother? In fact, as I have alluded to before, all the expenses related to following all the rules, regulations, taxes, and the increased competition, etc., have made it almost impossible to not keep a keen eye on the bottom line, i.e., ensuring a good profit. Don’t you just love capitalism in action?
As an example of medical cannabis’ diminished stature, EWC recently ended its private consultation services (unique in the Bay Area) because it was not financially efficient to do so in relation to the great number of adult-use customers coming through its doors (more than 60% and rising). Not enough staff and time to handle the longer consultation time needed for these people. And anyway, now it seems that most people coming for cannabis have no real interest in understanding the herb and are primarily interested in the high it can give. Cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids,…huh?
It looks like the epicenter of medical cannabis must shift away from the dispensaries (now officially called “retailers,” by the way) to another location. “Where on earth could that be?” you may ask. Well, in my opinion, where it should have been all along: your doctor’s office. I do not mean the “recommendation mills” where, for a small fee and 10 minutes of your time, you get your doctor’s okay to search for cannabis on your own. I mean a real doctor’s visit with thorough medical history and exam, and then specific prescription for a cannabis medicine that hopefully will alleviate your ailment, or at least its symptoms. And even more important, close follow-up by the doctor until you are successful.
Unfortunately, there are still several problems with this scenario: What do doctors really know about medical cannabis? Where are they going to learn about it? Will the (notoriously conservative) medical community look favorably on this new specialism? Currently only a few medical schools formally teach anything about the endocannabinoid system.
How will doctors overcome the threats from the current Federal Administration (à la Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III)? Prescribe a Schedule 1 substance? Oh, boy!
Who is going to pay for this all? Do you think insurance companies, banks, and the like are going to want to help out under the current situation?
R.I.P. medical cannabis? Maybe, but in the long run, I don’t think so. More next time.