Cannabis, Consciousness, and Healing
Federal drug policy defines marijuana as a prohibited Schedule 1 substance—a dangerous drug carrying a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. This classification is largely due to the drug’s well‐known psychoactive effects (‘the high’). Because of this, even medical marijuana advocates have tended to downplay the consciousness‐altering properties of cannabis when arguing for the medicinal utility of the drug. Advocates instead focus largely on the therapeutic potential of marijuana to relieve physical symptoms such as nausea, weight loss, or elevated ocular pressure. But interviews with more than three dozen seriously and terminally ill medical marijuana patients affiliated with one northern California cooperative, the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, suggest that the consciousness‐altering effects of cannabis may play a significant role in what many patients report to be the therapeutic value of the drug.