When discussing medical cannabis, people often refer to it as a drug. The assumption is that it is something like penicillin or codeine. But it’s not. Medical cannabis is a plant. It is a marijuana plant harvested for medical purposes.
Calling medical cannabis a drug may not be a big deal to most people. But it is very important when you consider how language is often manipulated to convince people to adopt a certain mindset. Another way to say it is that words mean things. So when we misuse words, we make it difficult to understand what should be easy to comprehend. Enter medical cannabis.
Medical Cannabis Is Marijuana
The terms ‘cannabis’ and ‘marijuana’ are used interchangeably these days. Unfortunately, they are not exactly the same thing. Cannabis is a species of plant grown in many parts of the world. Marijuana is a variety of cannabis. All marijuana plants are cannabis plants but not all cannabis plants are marijuana.
How do you tell the difference? The primary difference is the amount of THC a plant contains. To be considered marijuana under U.S. law, a cannabis plant needs to contain more than 0.3% THC by volume (dry weight). Any plants with less THC are considered hemp.
When people speak of medical cannabis, they are speaking of marijuana products containing more than 0.3% THC. But there is another hit of confusion thrown in when you talk about products other than raw cannabis flower.
It Doesn’t Have To Be Flower
According to modern definitions, medical cannabis does not have to be flower. It doesn’t have to be plant material. Medical cannabis can include everything from vaping liquids to concentrated oils to THC-infused gummies. They are all considered medical cannabis even though cannabis itself is a plant.
Let us say you were a medical cannabis patient in Salt Lake City, UT. You could visit the Beehive Farmacy where you would find all sorts of medical cannabis products. Beehive Farmacy does carry raw flower. But they also carry medical cannabis products, which is to say non-flower products infused with THC.
Do you see why the terms we use are so important? There is a lot of confusion within the medical cannabis community because the terminology is so convoluted.
Then There’s the Hemp Issue
If you are not yet confused by all of this, let us throw in another factor: the hemp issue. Remember that hemp is also a variety of cannabis. It is cannabis with less than 0.3% THC. Hemp plants contain a lot of CBD. In fact, CBD is the primary cannabinoid in hemp.
Guess what? CBD is promoted as a cannabinoid with medical and health benefits. Technically speaking, you could be using CBD to help deal with anxiety or insomnia and you would be perfectly justified in saying that you were using cannabis medicinally. Is that the same thing as using medical cannabis?
How About Alternative Cannabinoids
We can take the issue one step further by bringing alternative cannabinoids into the picture. Take Delta-8 THC. While it does occur naturally in cannabis plants, its volume is not large enough to make extracting it worthwhile. So instead, manufacturers synthesize it from CBD.
Legally, Delta-8 THC doesn’t qualify as marijuana or marijuana-derived THC because it is synthesized from CDB. That makes it legal, sort of. It occupies a no man’s land inasmuch as no one is quite of sure its legal status.
A lot of the confusion could be eliminated if we go back to using accurate terms. The fact is that medical cannabis is marijuana used for medicinal purposes. It is not a drug. It’s a plant.