Feeling Better Is Not a Goal Unique to Medical Cannabis


I have been following the state-legal marijuana debate for some time now. I have noticed so many conflicting positions by people on both sides. Take medical cannabis. Many of its proponents say its number one purpose is to help patients feel better. Such reasoning doesn’t sit well with those on the other side. But here’s the thing: feeling better is not a goal unique to medical cannabis.

There is something interesting about Western medicine, something we don’t like to talk about too often. It is the fact that very few Western therapies actually lead to a cure. Most of Western medicine is designed around the principle of relieving symptoms.

Painkillers do not cure the condition causing pain. They only help the patient feel better. Anti-inflammatories help reduce inflammation, but they don’t cure the condition causing the inflammation. I could cite one example after another to demonstrate the truth of Western medicine. So why would anyone think medical cannabis is different?

Feeling Better Is Important

In a recent post announcing a decision to start carrying the Cookies brand cannabis, Beehive Farmacy stated in no uncertain terms that “medical cannabis in Utah is all about making you feel better.” Beehive has locations in both Salt Lake City and Brigham City, by the way.

Their claim that medical cannabis is all about making patients feel better is not original to them. They aren’t the only ones who say it. The fact is there is still a lot we don’t know about cannabis’ health and medical benefits. There is some speculation that it could eventually lead to a legitimate cancer cure, but that is just conjecture for right now.

What we do know unequivocally is that medical cannabis makes people feel better. Not only is there nothing wrong with that, but feeling better is important. People who do not feel well also don’t perform well. They do not think as clearly, they don’t react as quickly, etc. In addition, some situations of chronic illness lead to additional problems like depression and anxiety. Why would we not want patients to feel better – if for no other reason but to void mental health problems?

Cannabis Isn’t a Cure-All

It is important that we don’t discount cannabis’ ability to help people feel better. We should be especially cautious about dismissing this idea given that so much of Western medicine is based on the same principle. But there is another side to the coin here. That other side is the fact that cannabis is not a cure-all.

To believe some cannabis proponents, their preferred plant is a wonder drug capable of doing everything from mitigating chronic pain to slowing down the negative effects of aging. Plenty of wild claims have been made about cannabis since the legalization movement began in the 1990s. And when wild claims are made, those who make them are no better than the snake oil salesman of the late 19th century.

Feeling Better Is Good

In the end, humanity knows less about human biology and physiology than science would have us believe. Western medicine remains more experimental than anything else. That’s why new drugs and medical devices need to be thoroughly tested and approved before they can be put on the market.

Helping patients feel better is the best Western medicine can do in so many cases. Medicines mitigate symptoms while the patient’s body heals itself. In cases of chronic illness though, healing is often elusive. Medical cannabis stands ready to help patients feel better even though their bodies are incapable of getting well. A lot of us consider that positive.

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