Title: Cannabis – Medical versus Recreational Use: An Emerging Mindset
Written By: Dr. Kamal Morar, MD, MBA
This blog post is the fourth in a series of posts from Dr. Kamal Morar, co-founder of Duber Medical and interventional pain specialist. In this series, Dr. Morar examines current day hurdles and solutions that medical marijuana can offer patients as they seek alternative and effective solutions to their chronic medical conditions.
Now that we’ve explored the differences between Marijuana versus Hemp, CBD and THC, let’s look to the dynamic between medical and recreational use of cannabis.
What are the differences between medical and recreational cannabis? The most obvious factor distinguishing the two categories of cannabis is intent. People who use marijuana recreationally are typically aiming to achieve a high, rather than to ease chronic pain or other medical conditions.
A 2019 survey by High Yield Insights showed that 40 percent of U.S. adults age 21 and over were interested in trying marijuana products for medicinal purposes. The Cannabis Industry 2017 Annual Report has predicted that sales of medical and recreational marijuana are going to reach more than $20 billion before hitting $24 billion in 2025 and 55% of this market is predicted to be medical marijuana products .
So why has it taken so long? The potential medicinal properties of marijuana and safety of its components to human health have been the subject of research and heated debate for decades. The stigma of marijuana use to treat medical conditions still exists and is cannabis is not widely recommended by many physicians as an alternative to traditional treatment.
Another reason medical marijuana is often rejected by the public is the belief that it leads to addiction. This, with the lack of systemic clinical studies, remains highly debated. However, other products, such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco and opioids, remain widely available in the U.S., despite the fact that they clearly pose very high risks for addiction and/or overdose.
Whether it is a problem with tobacco, alcohol, opioids, cocaine, or any other substance, addiction kills thousands of Americans every year and impacts millions of lives. More than 70,000 Americans died from drug-involved overdose in 2017, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids. Cigarette smoking is responsible for even more deaths per year in the United States. In contrast, 0 death has been directly attributed to cannabis-related death.
With cannabis, research has shown that THC itself has proven medical benefits in particular formulations. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved THC-based medications for the treatment of nausea in patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy and to stimulate appetite in patients with wasting syndrome due to AIDS. Most medical marijuana users utilize (or have utilized) other medications aside from cannabis – in fact, only 11% have not done so. However, according to a survey in 2017, 42 percent of the respondents in the U.S. and abroad agreed that they now use cannabis instead of other products.
Changing patient perception and attitude toward medical marijuana products is undoubtedly bolstering revenue growth.
We are now seeing that the market share of “real patients” wanting functional products (Non-Psychoactive) stands to dwarf the existing OTC market and opioid use.