I heard an interesting quote from a recreational marijuana store owner a couple weeks back. This man, without evidence beyond his experience in managing 4 cannabis shops, stated that “90% of the people shopping for cannabis are looking to feel better.”

He didn’t qualify that, he didn’t go on to say just what they were ailing from or what’s being addressed. He only went on to say “People believe it [cannabis] is helping them in one measure or another.” I thought believe was an interesting choice of words there, almost like he was implying placebo. But really, the truth to what he states is so much deeper than that. People routinely use cannabis and CBD products, but a great deal of them have some sense that this is helping them in the long run, keeping them healthy, or… perhaps just as importantly, feeling better from whatever might be paining them. This trend has people visiting recreational marijuana shops instead of doctor’s offices, talking to a budtender instead of a therapist, and taking cannabis in lieu of of a prescription medication. 

This is polarizing, you probably feel strongly on one of three stances. Maybe you disagree with the owner entirely and think that anyone using cannabis (and running the shop that sells it) is morally wrong, and anyone who says they’re using it for anything other than a high is not being truthful. I doubt that type of person would click this article, so onto the other two POVs.

On one hand, Doctors are trained professionals with an education and a world of medicine at their fingertips that can help in a great many circumstances. They can directly save your life, and tell you things that only a doctor or medical professional could. No cannabis plant can diagnose you. Your wellness and life coule be at stake by not visiting a doctor when you feel things are going wrong with your body. And while reasons for visiting the doctor are many, the reasons for avoiding that numerous as well. 

So the other hand, doctors can be expensive, especially without insurance, but lets face it, insurance isn’t saving our skins 100%. Healthcare can be highly influenced; Big Pharma isn’t just for creating life saving drugs (opioids anyone?). Even your general location can play a large role in your willingness to visit a doctor, be them too far away, or you plain don’t trust small town doctors that don’t have a reasonable check and balance system against them. The benefit of medicine is there, but there are pay walls, and it requires some trust. 

No matter your side, there will always be people who feel they can better measure their own wellness. There will also be people who know full well that they should visit a doctor, but they have other tools to help them manage symptoms, making the need to make a call fall. Those tools can be over the counter medications, braces and canes, and certainly in this case, cannabis and CBD. That’s by no means an exhaustive list.

It’s this group of people that are riding a line. They know they could potentially benefit by visiting a doctor, but for their own reaons, they don’t wish to visit one until they hit a threshold. A point where there’s just “no avoiding it anymore” and until that day comes it’s symptom management. These people are constantly measuring their own wellness. They’re paying attention, and responding how they feel is appropriate. They’re not as well trained as a doctor, but they have a better instinct when it comes to their body’s wellness, and have found ways to feel better. I totally agree that there’s a lot of grey area here. These people might be doing a disservice to themselves by not getting regular healthcare. But when that healthcare system they’d patron becomes increasingly ornerous, expensive, and gated, it’s not hard to see why at least some would consider alternatives. 

Alternative medicine has been out there for centuries, hemp products completely aside. Homeopathy is not a science, but just the same, people will argue that items like these have a measureable impact on their wellbeing. A key difference between homeopathy and cannabis however is that there is plenty of supporting science around cannabinoids. It’s not just anecdotally that we know that differing cannabinoid compounds can have a positive effect on things like glaucoma, epilepsy, and arthritis. The science is there, it’s just not being expanded upon at a rapid rate by a recognizable authority. Many people have sought for themselves just what THC and CBD can do for them, and not just for wellness purposes, let’s be honest. But those who do take up CBD and THC on the regular will often attest there’s a greater cause in taking it than just the immediate sensations associated with the typically thought of cannabis smoker experience. 

Are cannabinoids alternative medicine? Given my understanding of it, yes, completely. People who are looking for other ways to manage the effects of their chronic afflictions instead of visiting a doctor (if you have good reason to not visit) really should give things like CBD a try. CBD being completely legal across most parts of the US, and very commonly found online thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. You can find some with trace amounts of THC so you’re getting the presence without enough of the compound to set on any euphoria by itself. But for those wishing to get high THC products, you’re still obligated to visit or move to a recreationally legal state .

For all of you out there who suffer the effects of ill health, if a doctor isn’t in the cards, truly give CBD at least a shot. Even $20 will get you CBD you can try for yourself. CBD products are no placebo, and while they won’t address everything, there’s something to be said for the associated sensations and related feelings of wellness you can measure. Self Medication is experimentation in many ways, and if you’ve decided CBD is the next stop, go with a hemp oil recommneded by physicians. I wish you Godspeed in your search to feel better day by day.