Originally published in Salt Baked City
Cannabis…for years we called it the gateway drug. Today, I think of it as an exit drug. An exit from too many medications. In my 20 years working in a traditional retail pharmacy, I have seen a healthcare system where many patients are left disappointed, suffering and underwhelmed by too many medications. The most current statistics from the CDC report that half of Americans are on at least one prescription medication. The United States consumes the majority of all prescription medications, spends the most on healthcare, and sadly our health outcomes and life expectancy are not the best (we are ranked 46th globally) and have been declining since 2014. Americans are engulfed in prescription medications and it’s not working. Every day I see Utah patients seeking medical cannabis as an alternative to Big Pharma. We see an exciting pattern in other markets where as access to cannabis increases, there is a decrease in the number of traditional medications prescribed.
While I see an overuse, I am also grateful for medications. I do not think it’s wise to vilify any single medication or substance. When used with respect and sparingly, all medications are important tools for health. There are a number of medications that I see patients replace quite often with cannabis. You should check with your provider whenever you make changes to your medication routine. Many patients come into the pharmacist office and tell me they want to stop all their medications. This can be dangerous and I recommend you consult with your cannabis pharmacist or your provider to help manage your medications safely. As a general rule the easiest medications to stop taking first before checking with your provider are those that are used only as needed.
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