Is Medical Marijuana Still Necessary?
With the expansion of recreational marijuana in the State of Colorado, we are seeing a massive increase in marijuana users. Since 2014, multiple states and local municipalities have legalized recreational marijuana. This November, many voters will legalize marijuana in their home states across the nation. With over 61% of the United States pledging to help the fight for legal cannabis, over 26 states have decriminalized cannabis use and more than 1 in 10 people in the United States have used marijuana product. Hopefully we will see a mass increase in cannabis legalization in the coming year.
The dawn of recreational marijuana has shed light on many consumer regulations that are continually added to and updated. Regulations to protect the public safety from moldy or expired product. Regulations to keep marijuana in the hands of safe users and not illegal drug operations. Regulations to keep businesses legal and their finances protected. Regulations to help keep kids away from this misunderstood medicine. With these and many, many other new guidelines set forth by local, state, and federal agencies, the cannabis industry took its first step into the everyday life of American’s across the country.
With all these new safe guards, can’t patients purchase their medical marijuana with their recreational marijuana? Not exactly. While the market will dictate the large variant in prices, the science behind marijuana is still a topic of debate. Most recreational marijuana centers are unable to provide the high level of patient care needed to refine cannabis therapies. With this high volume of consumer traffic, the recreational market doesn’t tailor to the true medical cannabis user. With required caps on total potency and quantity, many medical users cannot purchase the required therapies for their ailments at a recreational store. Seldom will a consumer find a recreational marijuana shop with one staff marijuana scientists. This is where the consumer will start seeing half/half dispensaries, one side for recreational customers and one side for medical patients. The recreational side is a place to stop by to pick something up for a fun afternoon or evening, either alone, with friends, or at a gathering. The medical side for one-on-one sessions with budtenders and higher potency and quantity.
The question still stands: with the expansion of recreational marijuana will there be a need for a separate medical market? The Answer: Of Course. With all the advancement in the cannabis industry, marijuana itself will always have a place in the medical industry. On-going research continue to ask new questions. Questions that lead to answers for some and more questions for others. The cannabis industry continues to expand the qualified ailments across the board. In States like Pennsylvania, the regulations only allow patients under the age of 21 to use non-psychoactive cannabis (marijuana that produces minimum to no traces of THC) concentrates and topical for ailments ranging from terminal conditions to neurological disorders to patients with disabilities. With the miraculous possibilities cannabis offers, medical advancement will be a top priority for many. Whether you are looking for a new cancer treatment or seizure relief, the medical side of the cannabis industry will be there. Something the State of Colorado understands well.
In El Paso County, Colorado we have seen a steady increase in medical marijuana users, despite the legalization of recreational marijuana at the beginning of 2014. From over 18,000 patients in mid-2013 to now with over 19,000 patients. That is 18.7% of total medical users in the State of Colorado about 1% increase a year. El Paso Country and Colorado Springs, Colorado still hold onto recreational marijuana prohibition for a myriad of reasons. This makes the data for other counties show a slow decline in medical users through-out Colorado. In the past five years, 2016 is the first year we see a slight decline in total numbers of registered medical marijuana patients. While we see an increase in recreation users in large metropolitan areas like Denver, this is caused in part by medical reasons. Many families have uprooted their lives in search of this new medical alternative. As a result, The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has started their own research arm for purposes of consumer data. What we see happening are regulations for recreational marijuana industry coming into effect as a result of lessons learned and facts found in the medical cannabis industry. New patients are coming into the industry every day, however most are labeled as recreational users. The truth is contradictory. It is true these individuals use recreational cannabis, but the thing that brought them to the industry was the medical side for one reason for another.
Matters of opinion will vary. Oceans will rise, and empires will fall. One truth: Cannabis will always grow. The medical uses of cannabis have extended to the American people and continues to expand. New treatments and therapies will be discovered. Side effects will be learned. The call for innovated solutions for patients will be loud. And the cannabis industry will be there to answer the call, whenever, wherever.