I would like to ensure readers start with a clear and common understanding of the subtle differentials between three terms.
Food, supplements and medicine.
Food is something we ingest which contains a variety of substances that our body processes, some useful, some not so. Beyond the basics of sustaining life, the useful substances can improve our general health and thus quality of life. Those that are not so useful can cause illness, mostly over an extended period. Our diet has been explored in great detail to gain understanding of how to maximise input of the positive substances and minimise the negative.
Supplements are specific concentrations of one or many of those substances found in food or can be manufactured, that we ingest or absorb and are similarly processed by our bodies. Again as these are targeted to supplement intake to counter deficiencies, they are also seen to improve our general health. Taken to excess they can still cause damage.
Medicines are akin to supplements as they generally contain specific concentrations of one or many substances. They also generally have useful and not so useful effects on certain specific or general ailments or diseases that humans can suffer. When taken improperly or to excess, they can cause illness over an extended or very short period, even to the extreme of causing instantaneous death.
It is worth briefly touching on poisons. Poisons cause reactions in our bodies, mostly negative but in some cases people may ingest a non-lethal dose of specific poisons to experience a certain reaction. This may be with recreational, spiritual or medicinal intent. Poisons, in the main are not processed well by our bodies and manifest this by impacting various systems’ functions. Mushrooms provide a perfect example where differing varieties can be either edible, intoxicating or fatally toxic. This fourth definition is included as a subset or vast exclusion covering items that would never be considered for ingestion (lumps of metal/minerals/plastics). Also as foodstuffs can include items that were poisonous before preparation, it helps to add to the comparisons in terms of what many humans tolerate ingesting and see as perfectly normal and legal.
Cannabis must therefore be defined according to aspects of one or more of these three definitions.
It is a plant that can be ingested safely by humans and contains substances that our bodies can process with little negative impact. The substances have uses in our bodies as they are a very close facsimile to the substances created by our own bodies and they can mimic these substances to trigger responses from the systems designed for them.
The plant therefore most closely resembles food, since by contrast to many medicines or supplements and certainly poisons, the lethal dose is approximately equivalent to ingesting an entire pound of flowering plant matter.
When simply refined, not altered by any complex scientific process, it can be used in a concentrated form. Somewhat similarly to how one could extract vitamins or minerals to make other supplements. So it is a supplement also.
Regardless of waiting on empirical medical testing to prove current claims, many people who are using Cannabis for medical purposes are enjoying a better quality of life. By that merit, it is medicine. That is not to say it cures what anyone says it does but taking the premise that even a placebo can, in certain cases, relieve certain conditions, to improve even the mental state of people who are suffering, is medically beneficial.
When considering set next to alcohol, the general consensus is that alcohol is a foodstuff (unless when considered medically), yet the immediate and clearly negative effects of it are the stuff of social commentary every day all over the world. The noted effects when taken to excess would even suggest it is more of a poison based on natural body processes seeking to expel it.
It is also interesting to note that the negative social aspects of alcohol have been reflected back for many years on Cannabis users, who, in fact, bear little resemblance to those inaccurately cast defamations. Then again people who don’t use Cannabis wouldn’t know that because that is the point, you can’t actually tell when a regular user is under the influence (hence what is all the fuss about??).
As an example, after a night out, it is generally the alcohol abusers who have fallen asleep, at best not in a pool of human excreta but prior to smokers and normally after talking incoherently for several hours. Cannabis users at that point are still fully aware, capable of coherent conversation and don’t have to look forwards to the painful side effects of imbibing their chosen intoxicant the night before. Not least as they will be able to find their bed, not urinate, defacate or vomit on it and can enjoy the entire next day without impediment (even whilst still under the influence of Cannabis).
Interesting to note the statement “Take your medicine” when applied to alcohol also. Cannabis smokers rarely push their chosen intoxicant on others, the most they will do is be courteous and share what they have, with others who may ask them. If you drink alcohol, try publicly stating that you don’t drink for a year. You will then see how extremely people will push alcohol on you, never once even asking or considering you may even be an alcoholic. Funny how that behaviour has always been blamed on those evil skanky ‘drug’ users isn’t it?
So, in conclusion, is it the concern over what free access to this plant might do to our society that is delaying the legalisation of Cannabis? Or might it just be that it is impossible to define a mostly harmless and beneficial foodstuff as a medicine and so capitalisation in that market by those purely interested in gathering money into their fat little hands, is impossible?
Food, supplement, medicine, it has the holy trinity. No need to spend billions to develop it*, thus no way to put a ludicrous price tag on the treatments it can naturally provide.
* This is not to say that there is no point in medical research attempting to create more advanced medicines from Cannabis based compounds. It would be inconceivable that scientists would not welcome another potential weapon in the battle against disease and decrepitude. Then again in my opinion doctors are complicit in breaking their Hippocratic Oath by denying medicine to people that could improve their health, by allowing a bar on research to have existed.