The Harvard Health Blog posted a fascinating piece by Dr. Peter Grinspoon, M.D. back in 2019, a post suggesting a rather compelling question: should medical cannabis products be made distasteful? In other words, should we stop making things like gummies and tinctures taste good?
I remember taking cough medicine as a kid. I didn’t like what it tasted like. I am now in my late fifties and still don’t like its taste. Likewise, I remember taking an oral antibiotic in my early thirties. It was a liquid that allegedly tasted like banana. I say ‘allegedly’ because it tasted nothing like banana. It almost made me vomit every time I had to take it.
The point here is that distasteful medicine is tolerated because you want the benefits of that medication. Yet you don’t go out of your way to consume it. Grinspoon makes a compelling case of treating medical cannabis the same way.
1. From Vapes to Edibles
Visit the Beehive Farmacy in Brigham City, UT and you will find a variety of medical cannabis products. You’ll find your typical vape pens and cartridges. You will also find gummies and tinctures. What you will not find are chocolate bars, cookies, and cannabis-infused beverages. Those are illegal in Utah.
That being said, you will see these other types of edibles in other states. Some states allow them, and others do not. But in the states that do, we ought to ask why.
Grinspoon points out in his post that we wouldn’t even think of putting ibuprofen into a chocolate bar. So why do we sell THC-infused candy as a medical product? His observation is spot on. It is incredibly contradictory to treat cannabis as both a medicine and a candy simultaneously.
2. Going After Nicotine Vaping
For purposes of illustration, let us compare this to another polarizing practice: nicotine vaping. When vaping first came to our shores about a decade or so ago, anti-smoking advocates went ballistic. They began a crusade against manufacturers and distributors, accusing them of marketing to children.
One by one, states began lining up to outlaw vape juices with sweet and fruity flavors. After all, a vape juice made to taste like sweet cherries could easily be marketed to children. If you believe that’s true, then isn’t it also true for cannabis? Forget medical versus recreational. If we are selling cannabis as chocolate bars and gummies, are we not marketing cannabis to kids?
3. Trying to Appeal to Consumers
In fairness, manufacturers are doing what they do. They are simply trying to make their products attractive to consumers. That is not a problem. That’s how free enterprise works. It really is a matter of consistency for the rest of us.
If we are willing to rail against the nicotine vaping industry for selling flavor liquids, we ought to apply the same standard to cannabis products. Likewise, if we present vaping as unsafe when nicotine is involved, we need to present the same truth about cannabis.
4. Treat Medicine like Medicine
Grinspoon’s argument is ultimately one of treating medicine like medicine. If medical cannabis truly is no different from pain relievers, antibiotics, etc., then we ought to treat it just like any of those other drugs. We ought to legally prescribe it with specific dosages and instructions. We ought not be selling it over the counter as candy bars and cookies.
A failure to do so only reinforces the belief among some people that medicine has nothing to do with it. It’s the belief that medical cannabis is only used to get a foot in the door on the way to full and total legalization with absolutely no restrictions.