Recently, the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs published a study concerning the average medical marijuana patient. The study observed nine clinics in California and collected data on a pool of 1,746 patients in order to draw statistics on the medical marijuana community. If you’re expecting the results to be surprising, then you probably haven’t been paying any attention to this movement.

According to the study, the average cannabis patient is a male–73% of the sample group was male–between the ages of 25 and 44. He’s likely to be black or Native American, and his stated reason for medicating with cannabis is the ever-generic “pain.” The results list a number of patients’ other uses for medical cannabis. The rest of the top five included sleep aid, relaxation, muscle spasms, and headaches. 51% of the sample group also claimed to use cannabis as a substitute for pharmaceuticals.

Let’s bear in mind here that people who are against medical marijuana already think it’s for people who just want to get baked legally. More than half of the patients said they use cannabis to relax. Can you really get a recommendation for that? Lots of people use other totally legal things to relax, and plenty of these are not prescription drugs: television, music and books to relax. Where can I get my prescription for a medicinal Louis Landon CD?

Now, I’m not saying that pot isn’t good for relaxation–quite the opposite, it’s perfect for relaxing with. But don’t forget that we’re trying to convince people who think that cannabis has absolutely no medicinal use, despite heaps of evidence to the contrary, that it should be legal for medical purposes. Are we seriously suggesting that thousands of patients across fifteen states need legal weed to relax?

Well, let’s try not to get too stressed out here, or we might all have to toke up before the end of this post. The study did have one figure that helps confirm something cannabis users have been saying for ages: medical marijuana patients exhibit significantly lower alcohol and cocaine use than the average population. Now if we can only convince people–who don’t pay attention to evidence–that cannabis is less dangerous than either of those substances, we’ll be made for 2012.

I want to hear from you, folks. Colorado patients, why do you use medical marijuana? Are you more like the average patient, or do you defy stereotypes? Share your story in the comment section.

Austin Wulf is a freelance writer and cannabis advocate who, for the record, knows that pain relief and stress reduction are pretty common and legitimate uses for medical marijuana. Read more of his observations on the pro-cannabis movement here.

3 Responses

  1. samantha

    In all honesty, being the “opposite of relaxed” probably won’t kill you. BUT high levels of stress might lead to a lack of happiness. Fittingly, sadness often places people in dangerous situations.

    If being stressed or unhappy doesn’t threaten a person’s livelihood, that’s great, but it’s still no fun to be stressed and sad. What’s life without happiness??

    So why not use medical marijuana to relax? I’m not saying we, as a country, NEED medical marijuana; however, we take advantage of many things we don’t need, don’t we? At the same time, we can ease some of our debt. Win/Win.

    Interestingly enough, I’ve been observing Boulder’s medical marijuana scene for the past year or so and I find it interesting that the town was named healthiest, most bicycle friendly, most well-educated, and foodiest in the same year that the medical marijuana industry boomed. Hmmm…

    • Austin Wulf

      You don’t read this column much, do you?

      I regularly use cannabis as a means of relaxation. So do many of my friends and peers. My point was that it’s not technically a medical issue, while the study looked at medical patients.

  2. Natalie

    What about people with anxiety disorders? Technically, those patients use MMJ to relax. It might be poor wording on the survey’s part. But being a person with severe anxiety, it can be stifling to the point where I can’t do anything. If it gets bad enough I can have a series of panic attacks. It’s in the interest of my health to find a way to calm down, or “relax.” The pharmacuticals that I’ve used in the past may solve the anxiety, but not the lack of sleep that comes along with it. They actually, from my experience, make my insomnia much much worse. This is why I prefer to medicate with cannabis. But saying my need to “relax” is less a medical concern than headaches is unfair. I think we need to really see the questions asked on that survey. Was it just a check list of things you may use your medicine for? Or was there a line for the sample group to write out what they felt their prescription was for? I think that makes a difference in looking at this survey.


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