To us, cannabis is something of a singular case when it comes to alternative medicine. In a lot of ways, it’s the ultimate alternative medicine. Due to antiquated laws, information, and attitudes about the drug, the DEA continues to classify cannabis as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. For this reason alone, it can’t be considered a mainstream medical treatment. On the other hand, in many states, it’s possible to find a doctor and have an honest conversation based on the latest medical evidence and a personal health evaluation about whether cannabis is a medically appropriate treatment, as well as the potential hazards and benefits associated with its recreational use. It’s culturally accepted in a growing number of contexts and yet outside of the law in many jurisdictions.
Cannabis is also like a lot of alternative medicine in that, even outside of a traditional healthcare provider, it’s widely available to a lot of people who must make a personal choice about whether or not to use it. And, unfortunately, this choice has to be made with limited information and an incomplete understanding of the potential consequences. Of course, this can also be said about a lot of widely accepted medical treatments, too. It’s not like you or your doctor can know for sure how you’ll react to a painkiller, especially if you’ve never taken an opiate before.
One of the things we consistently advocate for at Alternative Medicine Channel is more research. Not just in the number of studies but also in the replication and honest inquiry into the basic questions of health policy and medical practice. In other words, when, how, and at what cost can cannabis be used as an effective medical treatment? Surely, this is another thread that ties cannabis to the larger history and movement of alternative medicine: What would we know and where would be now if we had invested in more research and development of alternative medicine?