By Marshall Ogen, Vice President of Business Strategy at CannabisBPO

I had an interesting conversation the other day regarding the differences between adult-use and medicinal use of cannabis. An acquaintance was relaying their story of going to a concert with a friend and how cannabis played a role. One of the concert goers had a medical card and the other didn’t. The person with the medical card was prescribed cannabis for chronic pain. The second person did not have a medical card yet suffered from social anxiety in large crowds.

The good news for both individuals was that they lived in and attended the concert in a state where adult-use is legal. However, this still leads to an interesting point: who was using cannabis medicinally and who was using it as adult-use? I believe it’s a fair position that the individual who was using cannabis to de-escalate their crowd anxiety was also using it medicinally.

The indications approved for medicinal cannabis use are based on a line in the sand drawn by legislators, not by the physicians involved in the direct care of individual patients. However, in states where cannabis is not legal for an adult-use market, self-care users are driven to illegal activities to gain access to remedies that work outside of traditional pharmaceutical solutions. Given the latest news of people becoming sick and some dying from illicit market vaping products, it’s even more important to recognize that many people are using cannabis for their health and some for pleasure. It’s also imperative to realize that self-care users without legal access to cannabis medicine will turn to the illicit market, where there are dangers.

One of the most important, if not the most important, medical discoveries of the 20th century was penicillin. Sir Alexander Fleming is credited with the discovery of penicillin in 1928. We all recognize that the discovery of penicillin changed the world of medicine. Because of this discovery, infections that often become fatal could be easily treated. Can you imagine if the legislative bodies, not the FDA and physicians determined when penicillin could be used and when it could not, especially when it worked for both? This is the world of cannabis today, there are areas where it’s shown to be a successful alternative to traditional medications, yet only a handful of indications are approved for medicinal usage.

Similar to penicillin, cannabis has natural roots. The difference being, cannabis is a Schedule I drug, defined as having no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Interestingly, U.S. Patent Number 6,630,507 is held by the U.S. government on cannabis plant compounds, which doesn’t align with the Schedule 1 rational. To put this into perspective, Schedule II drugs are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence, but some of which are used medicinally. These drugs, such as cocaine and opioids, are also considered dangerous. Yet, according to the schedules, they are considered safer than cannabis. Many people believe that cannabis has the potential to be similar to penicillin as one of the most important medical advancements of the 21st century. Clearly, the US government is giving mixed messages.

By segmenting adult-use versus medical use, there are a plethora of people who do not have access to solutions that may give them a better quality of life. More importantly, we are ignoring the fact that many cannabis users are self-medicating with cannabis versus traditional pharmacological methods. That does not make them a “stoner” or a recreational user, they are patients who are being denied a medication that works for them; it’s still medicinal.

While it’s important for our governments to regulate cannabis, it’s more important to ensure that people who may have a better quality of life are determined by the medical community, not legislators who are making arm-chair medical decisions. Here in the United States, we need to move toward Federal legalization for true Food and Drug Administration approved clinical studies. It’s time to move from medicinal to medicine, giving patients, in conjunction with their health care providers, safe and regulated access to cannabis for a better quality of life.

CannabisBPO is a specialty provider of contact center services for the cannabis industry. With locations in Canada and the US, the company offers outbound and inbound contact center services in a 24/7 setting. The company’s core service channels are text, email, mail, phone, chat and social media for customer service, sales, and technical support projects. CannabisBPO helps cannabis companies drive revenue and mitigate risks. For more information, visit Follow us on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Marshall Ogen is the VP of Business Strategy for CannabisBPO and has over 25 years of experience in outsourced contact centers, quality assurance, having consulted with many of the world’s most recognizable brands to ensure successful customer engagement activities. He is a strategic advisor to the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) Marketing and Advertising Committee and the co-chair of the Mid-Atlantic Professional Association of Customer Experience (PACE).