Will Recreational Use of Cannabis Impact Medical Use?

Will Recreational Use of Cannabis Impact Medical Use?

By Ellen Lenox Smith.

For the past decade, I have been actively advocating for medical cannabis rights across the country. I have never spent energy on the recreational battle but instead have been working to help secure equal and fair medical use for all. It isn’t that I disagree with access for all, but as a chronic pain patient, my priority is to see everyone have equal rights and access to affordable cannabis as a choice to consider for medical use. As the country is becoming more and more accepting of cannabis as a legitimate medical treatment, I do harbor serious concerns relative to what might happen as we observe states voting to allowing recreational use.

Here are my concerns that you may not be aware can be an issue for the medical user:

  • We do not all respond to the same strain of product. It is a hit and miss process so when a medical patient finds the right match what will happen if that strain is sold out to the recreational user first?
  • The cost of cannabis can prove exorbitant, especially when a high profit margin or high taxes are factored in. So, will the expansion of allowing all to have the rights to grow and/or purchase bring our costs up or down? Remember, we do not yet get any reimbursements from our insurance for what for many like me, is my lifeline medication Many patients, just like me, are unable to metabolize synthetic medications. We do not have the luxury of calling our doctor and trying an alternative medicine, if for some reason our source of effective medicine is unavailable. Thus, affordability and access remain critical issues for us.
  • What protections will be put in place to insure a medical user will be able to continue to obtain medicine as needed? For those unable to grow themselves, it is a long process to grow and harvest the product, as long as three months or more. So, when one is out of a strain, will they be sure to have a new crop ready soon?
  • We all have experienced the process of one wanting to make a buck – so the reality is that there is a better chance of selling to a recreational use for a higher price than to maintain an adequate supply for those in medical need, which may produce less profit. Are we going to set any laws with rules to follow to be sure the medical patient is secure and protected with their needed medication or will we sit back and allow the product to go to the person who can pay more?
  • What protections will be instituted to be sure there are no chemicals or mold on the cannabis?
  • As more can grow, will they be able to keep up with the demand?

Suggestions we should consider for all states:

  • Remove cannabis from Schedule I listing – allowing for research and thus encouraging all states to include its medical use
  • By removing from Schedule I, we would be able to advocate to insist for insurance coverage, so all can afford to have their relief.
  • Be sure that dispensaries have secure, continuous product for the medical patient always and not be allowed to get selfish and sell product to the recreational user for a bigger profit.
  • Provide safe and easy access parking along with a private entrance for the medical patient, if the recreational user will be purchasing from the same building.
  • Allow all medical patients the options to grow their own medicine so they can be sure to have the strains they need.
  • Stop all the exorbitant fees the states are charging medical patients to register, purchase and in some cases, grow. All the hoops we must jump through to then learn about some recreational states allowing all to grow? Why do we have to pay so much and go through all this for medical use when the rest of you can just go to a pharmacy or even order online your medication and then get reimbursed. What is wrong with this picture?
  • Be sure regulations are standard for all to provide safe medication without mold and chemicals being allowed.

This excellent article shares what is already happening to the medical patient in Canada:

How does Canada’s legalization of cannabis affect the medical cannabis patient? One Canadian’s Perspective

As life moves forward with this trend of opening states to recreational use, may all involved take the time and effort to be sure to protect the medical user that depends on use of cannabis for better quality of life.

May Life Be Kind to you,

Ellen Lenox Smith

Author of: It Hurts Like Hell!: I Live With Pain– And Have a Good Life, Anyway, and My Life as a Service Dog!

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report.

Ellen Lenox Smith and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical cannabis advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation, along with Ellen on the board and they both also serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. For more information about medical cannabis visit their website. https://ellenandstuartsmith.squarespace.com/

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Authored by: Ellen Lenox Smith

Ellen Lenox Smith and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical cannabis advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation, along with Ellen on the board and they both also serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. For more information about medical cannabis visit their website. https://ellenandstuartsmith.squarespace.com/

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I’d just like to add to Her suggestion list is to allow patients who are prescribed opiate meds to have the freedom to use cannabis without the fear of testing, and being “abandoned”

Excellent Article and Thank you for all you do for medical cannabis!

Norma Gonzales

Every state is different in the recreational use and medical use. Like for example, I live in Texas and been proactively fighting for the right for the chronic pain patient to be able to use it. It’s just gets being thrown out of court as of a option. Some conitions will not let the the chronic patient to use it as a pain medication. But, I agree in the use of for other patients if they would like to use.

Kris Aaron

All excellent suggestions! Thank you.

Katie Olmstead

Where I live in MA, I happen to be in one of the two towns who have had medical marijuana dispensaries for several years. It’s a wonderful, caring place with smart, helpful staff. It’s a joy, really. Now that recreational pot is for sale in the same building, the staff has promised (and I believe them) that they will always reserve enough product for us first and foremost. Our pot is not taxed the 20% that recreational users have. The rather small parking lot is reserved just for our use. Everyone else has to park and walk to the dispensary. Plus our very short wait times remain the same while the recreational uses may have long lines. In short, nothing has changed for us. It’s pretty wonderful. Oh, and when you get your expensive ridiculous 3 minute renewal visit to the pot doctor, you bring in your receipt of payment and the dispensary gives you a gift card equal to what you spent (usually about $150).

Paul Bartolini

The problem I have encountered is doctors that are prescribing us opioids is that they won’t allow you to use marijuana to help with the whole pain management process for reasons beyond me. There is absolutely no evidence anywhere saying that there is any interaction that is negative from taking both at the same time. I’m so sick of doctors in this country being so unwilling to treat chronic pain sufferers and using the heroin/fentanyl problem as an excuse to ruin our lives. It is simply wrong and inhumane.

The issue Ellen raises about Strain Availability is horrendously complicated by a complete absence of standardization. In a recent panel discussion given at the California Cannabis Expo, (available on video at https://youtu.be/R1dnLkt4Cus ) a panel of six scientists and growers waded into the morass. Nevada cannabis dealers have trade-named some 200 brands for sale within the State. A genetic analysis of all 200 brands revealed that only 6 genetic strains of cannabis were grown in Nevada, but had been confusingly given 200 different band names. Some brands were a pure strain. Other brands mixed the ground-up plants from two or more strains. And one maker of a “Cannabis Tincture” may well have invented a new Schedule I drug: He mixed 1 drop of cannabis oil in a gallon of toxic industrial paint thinner and sold it to people, said a scientist on the panel. A loophole in the Nevada law made that legal! (It’s unknown if the paint thinner killed anybody).

Truth-in-Labelling laws came to California this month. The truly-recreational experimenter may not care what’s in the weed that’s sold. But many medicinal users are going to the recreational market, because their doctors are afraid to write prescriptions for Schedule I cannabis. That problem will worsen until Truth in Labeling takes effect, because doctors will be afraid to prescribe a substance that may be intentionally mislabeled by some shyster out to make a quick buck.

Lisa Hess

Check with you State Tax agency to see if you can use Medical Marijuana and the prescription/doctor visit costs on your State Taxes. We’ve been able to do it in my state for the past 4 years. Not sure about this year yet as we have a new Governor in place, but in past years we were able to deduct on State, but not Federal taxes. Hope this helps someone to at least get something back from a form of government for our suffering.


Even if you find a specific strain, thats no guarantee of it being what you need. Even with same name. Fed prohibition needss to go.Obviously its not heroin.
Pot was a racial issue ,due to harry angsligher.
Look him up. If you really want info.


I’m a cronic pain sufferer for over 20 years I cant take meds and have been waiting for medical marijuana but now I realize I have to give up my 2nd amendment rights to use this medicine or I’m considered a felon ,I’ve owned and been shooting for over 40 years I’ve taught hundreds of scouts how to handle there first guns now I’m still stuck no meds no chance medicinal marijuana will help without me loose my God given right to protection under the second amendment this is something ohio should have looked at instead of how much money and rights we can screw patients out of.