Because cannabis use falls along the spectrum of recreational to medicinal we can look at other herbs/drugs/vices that fit that description. A simple analogy is red wine. The vast majority of people drink red wine recreationally. They drink a glass or two in the evenings with dinner to “take the edge off.” We also hear our doctors and peers recommending a glass of red wine a day for our circulation. We can’t remember why exactly, but French people live longer and they drink lots of wine, it’s for the heart, etc. etc. Or something like that, we say, and poor another glass.
Like wine drinkers, cannabis users often take it (usually by smoking or vaporizing) at the end of the day to unwind from work, and to enhance their meal or evening, leading to a deeper sleep. Do we know or care that drinking red wine in excess can lead to alcoholism, disease, or worse? Yes, yet most adults can manage their wine intake and therefore get a net health benefit. Adult cannabis users are doing the same thing; deriving nervous system regulating benefits, facilitating better sleep, reducing blood pressure, and (literally) calming their nerves.
In my opinion, cannabis is a more appropriate recreational and medicinal choice than wine. If this is hard to believe, be reminded that millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans risk legal prosecution every day because they feel the same way. I believe millions more could benefit where red wine and other alcohol doesn’t fit the bill. Alcohol produces hang overs, dries skin, pickles livers, makes you drive more dangerously than cannabis does, and generally decreases net health in many adults for whom a single puff of cannabis at night could reduce these symptoms.
With that said, the relationship between cannabis and wine invites a larger discussion. Wine culture itself has parallels to marijuana in that one can find “winos” on the street corner, and oenophiles in Napa Valley. Sophisticated wine culture is a billions a year industry. Volumes have been written about it. Grading systems and contests and awards and medals have been developed around the wine palate. But from the perspective of a cannabisphile, my question for the erudite wine industry would be: Does your product have more to offer me besides taste? I don’t like cheapo wines. I enjoy quality varieties, but no $100 bottle of wine can compare to the deep, three-dimensional experience of a gram of the most mediocre medical cannabis. Does your wine address neuropathic pain? Does a glass of red wine break you free from a week’s old writing block? Perhaps. Can it reduce period cramps, ensure a hang-over free morning, or be grown in your vegetable garden?
Cultural prejudices aside of low-brow cannabis dragging itself out of the black market and high-brow wine culture charging hundreds of dollars a bottle– despite no science to back up the price– wine offers few benefits that cannabis offers in droves.
This is not to say that cannabis is for everyone. Some people hate it, feel uncomfortable when they use it, and get few noticeable benefits from it. Sometimes wine is the better choice for an evening meal. I always stress to my patients that cannabis is neither a cure all nor a magic bullet. Some prefer the experience of wine, in all it’s glorious two dimensionality. But as someone who has advised patients who are sick of hangovers, loss of control, and dry skin to try cannabis as an alternative to drinking at parties and family gatherings, I know millions could benefit from its three dimensionality.