One of the most awful aspects of being a medicinal cannabis user is getting lied to by doctors and mental healthcare workers who deny the emotional and spiritual benefits of cannabis use. The problem isn’t that they won’t help you get hold of cannabis medicine (because there are plenty of people who will) – it’s that they refuse to have an honest conversation with you about the benefits and side-effects of using it.
It’s impossible, in most places, for a sick person who uses medicinal cannabis to expect that their doctor will listen honestly to what they have to say. If the patient mentions the benefits of their cannabis use, the doctor will insist that the patient must be mistaken when they believe that cannabis helped them. Even if the doctor goes as far as conceding that cannabis has some medicinal value, they will almost always attribute all manner of ghastly side-effects to using it.
Worst of all, it’s impossible to change the mind of your doctor by presenting evidence from jurisdictions that have legalised medicinal cannabis. It doesn’t matter that medicinal cannabis was made legal in California in 1996 after the doctors there looked at the evidence – those doctors are simply presumed to be wrong, and recklessly so. End of story.
This refusal to speak honestly with patients is, from the patient’s perspective, a dehumanising experience. It’s a way of saying that your experience can be discounted, because you are worth less than a normal human being. With almost every other medicine it’s possible to tell a doctor that it alleviates your suffering and have it considered enough to get a prescription.
This is even true of opioids, which kill 1 in every 10,000 Americans every year, and which have been so recklessly overprescribed that the opioid crisis now has its own Wikipedia page.
Not so with cannabis. Somehow cannabis has the mysterious property of causing suffering that only doctors, politicians and pharmaceutical company lobbyists are able to see. A patient might feel that their suffering is reduced from using medicinal cannabis, but unfortunately for them, they are not considered full human beings on account of the claim that cannabis causes psychosis. Therefore, their belief that cannabis alleviates suffering can be dismissed on account of it being a belief held by a psychotic person.
It’s a vicious Catch-22: you might feel that the cannabis takes your suffering away, but this can be trumped by the declaring that using cannabis robs you of your ability to reason, and then anything you say can be dismissed as the ravings of a lunatic.
If a person is suffering psychologically, and they take a substance that they believe to be medicinal, and their experience of using this substance is that it ameliorates psychological suffering, then how can anyone else possibly presume to judge otherwise?
It might be that the side-effects of using some particular medicines are so great that, on balance, it’s better to look for an alternative than to prescribe them, but significant side-effects from cannabis use are non-existent.
The feeling from the patient’s perspective is that doctors are saying that ameliorating your suffering, in particular, is not worth pursuing because you are not valuable. Elderly Baby Boomers are getting stuffed full of opioids at the first murmur of complaint, but if anyone else wants to use some cannabis they have to risk several years in prison.
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