Big Pharma vs. Cannabis: How Legalization May Change Our Healthcare System
Marijuana is still a hot topic, and it’s going to continue to be so in the following years. More and more countries and states are legalizing or at least softening the legislation about the usage of cannabis for medical use. And with a good reason too! Cannabis has a lot of positive benefits such as relieving nausea from cancer, helping with epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, fighting depression, drug abuse, PTSD, chronic pain, anxiety, and much more. If used properly, cannabis can help out many people and make their lives easier and it’s pretty easy to detox from weed when needed.
Last year, Canada legalized recreational use of cannabis and it was the second country to do so after Uruguay. The point was to reduce the underage access to weed and educate the population on how to safely use it. These two countries have recreational use of cannabis allowed, but all the others where cannabis is legal it’s only for medical purposes. There are some countries that are expected to allow the usage of medical cannabis soon and one of them is Mexico.
When it comes to America in the latest period, the two most talked-about items are health care and marijuana. More specifically, the attention is put in the overlap of these two and there are many predictions of what might happen and how can cannabis influence the health care system. The fact is that legalization is spreading across the U.S and so far 7 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and 22 states have legalized medical marijuana. However, on federal level marijuana is staying officially illegal induces many questions on the legalization status of marijuana in separate states. What’s inconsistent with this is that botanical marijuana is disputed, while synthetic versions of it are produced by the Big Pharma corporations. As marijuana becomes more and more legal for states, Big Pharma will be facing big competition which means that they won’t advocate for it at all. What’s even worse, there is evidence that points out to Big Pharma making anything that they can with their financial power to slow down or stop the legalization of marijuana. They are even preventing research that is proving and informing customers about the positive effects of using botanical marijuana as opposed to its synthetic counterpart.
Is botanical marijuana then better than its synthetic counterparts?
Yes, and no. Depends. According to this article, synthetic marijuana products are somewhat superior to botanical marijuana in the sense that they are more safe and effective. They are made on a principle where pharmaceutical companies are isolating only one cannabinoid (THC, CBD). However, it can be argued that marijuana which contains over 525 components has a cumulative effect that won’t be achieved by what the pharmaceutical industry is synthetically producing. The effectiveness of the botanical marijuana plant depends on many specifics such as the strain, the maturity, and others that can’t be copied by the produced marijuana. Patients receiving therapy with synthetic marijuana reported negative effects and problems with digestion. Botanical marijuana is generally smoked, which of course has its negative effects but it’s generally superior consumption. Also, patients are in control of how much they will smoke controlling the dosages. Another thing is that botanical marijuana is generally cheaper than synthetic, so it’s more affordable for patients.
All of these reasons influence the Big Pharma in drastic ways. That is why their involvement in the legalization processes is expected.
Ways in which marijuana is disrupting the healthcare system
- Fewer opioid overdose-related deaths in states with legal medical marijuana— we have all heard about the opioid epidemic and how it is one of the biggest health-related problems that the U.S is facing in a long time. In 2016, more than 64.000 people in the U.S alone overdosed on opioids. These numbers are devastating! One way of coping with this crisis is medical marijuana which proves to be successful. In fact, in 2014 a study found that countries, where medical marijuana is legal, to have a 25% lower death linked to opioids as opposed to states where cannabis is illegal. This is due to the fact that cannabis can be used as a substitute for opioids and can help out with the same symptoms that opioids are used for. That is why prescriptions for opioids are drastically falling.
- Lower need for mental health medication— cannabis is not only substituting pain-related medication but also medication for improving mental health since marijuana can help out a lot with anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and much more. In states where marijuana is legal, doctors prescribe up to 260 doses of antidepressants and 560 doses of anti-anxiety medication less than in other states on average. Although marijuana is not curing all mental illnesses, it helps a lot in some of them and it helps without the huge negative effects that antidepressants often have.
- Better quality of life for patients—overall, the biggest problem with modern medicine can be found in the often awful side effects. If we take account cancer patients and the brutal chemotherapy treatments that they go through leaving them with side effects, we can understand how those people would want to somewhat relieve those horrible symptoms and have a better quality of life while fighting for it. The same applies for patients that have other horrible conditions such as multiple sclerosis, AIDS/HIV, Parkinson’s, and many others.
In conclusion, lower costs for botanical marijuana means lower profit for Big Pharma which is against their interests and it’s one of the biggest reasons why legalization will impact the way our healthcare system is functioning currently. Patients that are affected by conditions that can be made easier with cannabis will do it for a much more affordable price, which is why all the opposition for marijuana legalization is coming. The same applies to research about cannabis that can be further used into even better ways of helping the people who need it the most.
Gary Peterson is working at NCSM. He was born and raised in New York. Gary is a professional writer who specializes in SEO, social problems, email marketing, and healthcare. He likes traveling and taking gorgeous photos of nature. Rock music is something that inspires him. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter.