Walgreens, The World’s Largest Pharmacy Chain, Openly Discusses Medical Cannabis With Its Patients
The powerful negative stigma surrounding cannabis, better known by its derogatory slang marijuana, keeps many from being open-minded on the topic. This stigma, which is woven into our native perception, comes from a lifetime worth of misinformation and fear-mongering. This is why it is somewhat surprising to see Walgreens, the world’s largest pharmacy chain, openly discussing medical cannabis on its Tumblr feed with its patients, in a recent public Tumblr posting. Not only did Walgreens weigh in on this highly controversial topic, they did so in a fair and balanced manner. Big Kudos to Walgreens for helping us all stay well by being educated on the facts of medical cannabis!
It is part of the human condition, to hear what we want to hear, out of what others choose to tell us. Once we understand and perceive something a certain way, we tend to build upon that foundation as we grow older. It is a true challenge to metaphorically tear down the way you understand something, and re-build a new understanding. For many of us, a radical remodel of our understanding of the facts of cannabis is necessary.
Walgreens enlisted a Chicago source for this Tumblr post, Dahlia Sultan PharmD, who is listed in the posting as Resident Pharmacist at Walgreens and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The author opens by recognizing that cannabis ”[…]has been used to relieve pain, digestive and psychological disorders for more than 3,000 years—but the efficacy, safety and legality of the drug are still widely debated.” The first section gives a quick mention of the two most well known cannabinoids, THC and CBD, as well as their most recognized medical applications. The posting goes on to introduce the system in the human body which interacts with cannabis and explain how “[c]annabinoids attach like a key to a lock to your body’s naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors, which make up the endocannabinoid (EC) system.” The endocannabinoid system can be said to like the conductor of an orchestra, and is noted as being understood in “current studies [which] have proven that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in many body processes, including metabolic regulation, cravings, pain, anxiety, bone growth and immune function.” The possible side effects are also discussed, including mention of potential impairment, giving the message a well-balanced tone. There is a quality review of the medical conditions which have been known to respond well to cannabis. The author does not touch on the idea of the entourage effect.
Many doctors have a serious problem with smoking any medicine, as smoking inherently has carcinogenic chemicals present, and can be an irritant to the respiratory system. The posting breaks down the stereotypical idea of cannabis by going beyond the classic of smoking joints, to note some of the possible avenues of today’s medical cannabis. The author accurately noted that there is a lack of FDA blessed research to help the medical field understand dosing. This is mainly because the US Government does not allow federally funded medical studies to research the benefits of cannabis, they are currently only allowed to research the harms. Doctors have no options for the standard prescription route, as they are expressly forbidden from writing prescriptions for schedule 1 drugs. Illinois medical cannabis patients receive a certification, not a prescription, which certifies to the state that the patient has one of the approved conditions.
The schedule 1 classification of cannabis would lead one to conclude that cannabis has no medical value, as this is a required characteristic that is directly written into the definition of schedule 1 itself. One of the most important facts about cannabis history to know is that cannabis was wrongly convicted as a schedule 1 drug by then President Nixon. In 1970 the controlled substances act was passed by the Federal Congress, and created what we know today as the drug scheduling system. As part of the bill, Congress created a commission to study cannabis and ensure that it would be properly classified as schedule one. This commission was known as the Shafer Commission, and released their report in 1972 after two years of exhaustive study. The most important fact to note is that the commission recommended the removal of cannabis from schedule 1, and furthermore the decriminalization of cannabis. Nixon did the exact opposite, and you can read the transcripts here, or listen for yourself here, to understand his motivation from his own words. It would also be quite interesting to note that synthetic THC (sold under several drug names, but mainly Marinol) is currently listed as a schedule 3. By definition schedule 3 drugs have medical value and appropriate medical use. This contradiction of classifications of cannabis (listed as both 1 and 3) speaks to the heart of our country’s misunderstanding of the facts of the medicine. This is why it is so amazing to see a world-wide conglomerate working to set the record straight on medical cannabis.
The most important message of the posting is, “If you’d like more information about the use of medical marijuana, talk with your doctor.” Currently in Illinois there is a bottleneck of patients trying to get their doctors to be open to medical cannabis as a new option. Please do not let fear keep you from starting the conversation about medical cannabis with your doctor.
Do you think Walgreens should sell medical cannabis? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!
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