The marijuana industry includes two different markets: legal and underground. You would think that the underground market is bigger in states without medical cannabis programs, but I don’t think that’s true. The type of program a state creates — the number of restrictions to access (like cost, taxes, location), and lack of reliability, consistency, and quality — all help to determine the size of the underground market.
As far as I can tell, the amount of police focused on marijuana enforcement doesn’t seem to affect the size of the underground market. Of course, in states where cops have a more enlightened view of cannabis, the underground market can flourish — sometimes, to its detriment.
Every grower (and dispensary) believes that their cannabis is the best, which of course is impossible. In the past, strength would determine value, but that’s changing rapidly. However, for most bud lovers, strength is the most important thing. After all, the stronger the bud, the less you have to smoke. And the less money you have to spend.
The problem with determining the “best” bud is that the effect is so different for every person. If you just want to get high, it seems like any bud will do. But if you’re using it as medicine, then it takes a long time (and a lot of money) to figure out what kind of bud is best to treat your medical condition.
What have I learned in the past three years using medical cannabis? I haven’t found strain names to be helpful, nor the distinction between indica and sativa. More often than not, hydroponically-grown weed is stronger and has a cleaner taste. I’ve tried plenty of strains from personal growers, none of which are worth mentioning. I also haven’t found test results to be helpful, or protestations of THC percentage without back-up. I don’t know when cannabis testing will become standardized — or how patients are supposed to understand it — but after much study, this knowledge hasn’t been helpful to me as a patient.
What I’m saying is that it’s a large learning curve from picking up your medicine at the pharmacy and swallowing some pills, all the way to medical cannabis. If the medication your doctor prescribes doesn’t work or has intolerable side effects, your doctor just prescribes others. And then there are the combinations and off-label uses — a pharmacopia of choices. It took a year and half for me to find the right combination of pills, but even after three years, I’m still learning how to find the right bud. Of course with medical cannabis, my options are a lot more limited.
A problem arises when growers and dispensaries get their feelings hurt when their strains don’t work for some of their patients. They get protective and often blame the patients, when really, it’s no one’s fault. Does Pfizer get mad at patients if their pills don’t work? No, because they know their pills will not work for all patients. That’s just illogical.
What I’d like to see is a more compassionate and empathetic treatment of patients by the medical cannabis industry, both the legal and underground markets. Don’t blame patients when strains don’t work. Like a doctor, help them find other alternatives, even if it means a loss of business. Because what goes around comes around. And there’s plenty of business for everyone.
Dear Marijuana Industry (and government regulators): This might be about money (taxes) for you, but this is about medicine for patients. This is about easing suffering. Try to understand our side of these issues. Because as long as the legal markets treat patients like cash registers, the underground markets will continue to thrive. To be honest, both markets are unreliable enough to drive patients to other, less safer drugs (like Kratom) — and no one wants that.
I don’t know about other medical cannabis patients, but I’m very tired of putting up with all this shit. That’s right, I said shit. And to add to all this shit, the marijuana industry knows it has a problem with being white and male-dominated, and as a woman, I’m here to say I’m tired of that, too.
Dear Marijuana Industry: Get your shit together.