A 2021 survey conducted among more than 360 cannabis users reveals a number of interesting things, including why certain people use the drug. The survey didn’t get much play in the media. That is unfortunate. Understanding why people use marijuana, particularly when they choose it over prescription medications, could go a long way toward helping us understand where we are in terms of accepting marijuana consumption.

The survey in question was conducted by The Cannigma, an organization that seeks to educate the general public on all things marijuana. They decided to run their survey in hopes of better understanding how recreational pot users viewed themselves in relation to public policy. Interestingly enough, they discovered some things about marijuana consumption that shed a whole new light on the medical side of things.

More Than Half Were Medical Users

Right off the top, more than half of the survey respondents said they used cannabis for medical purposes. Among the female respondents, 72% acknowledge medical consumption. Males reported medical use at a rate of 55%. Throw both groups together and you have a medical rate of just about 65%.

That much isn’t surprising if you follow the medical cannabis industry. Here’s the surprising part: the respondents who indicated medical consumption said they used marijuana in place of other prescription medications. That’s big. It is bigger than most people want to acknowledge. Why? Because of the long list of medical conditions for which people use cannabis to begin with.

Pain Is the Number One Reason

Utahmarijuana.org is an organization that helps patients with qualifying conditions obtain their Utah medical cannabis cards. They say the number one qualifying condition in the state is chronic pain. Guess what? Utah isn’t alone. Pain is the most frequently cited medical reason for using marijuana. Now, let us apply that to the Cannigma survey.

Let’s assume that the 65% of survey respondents acknowledging medical cannabis consumption follow national norms. The majority of them probably use cannabis to treat chronic pain. If they have chosen cannabis over other prescription medications, what prescription medications do they want to avoid?

Use your imagination. There is a good chance that narcotic painkillers are on the list. It is highly likely that patients would rather use marijuana than prescription meds they believe are either dangerous or just don’t work as well as they should.

The Prescription Med Problem

Western medicine relies almost exclusively on a pharmacological approach to restoring health. It is an approach based heavily in prescription medications and approved medical devices. To put it more bluntly, people go to the doctor expecting to walk away with a prescription for something. There is a real problem here.

Prescription medications do serve a purpose. But they are not the be-all and end-all of good health. They certainly aren’t the only option for treating injury, illness, and disease. Relying too heavily on prescription drugs tends to create problems that can be difficult to correct. Our ongoing fight against narcotic painkiller abuse is the perfect example.

Non-Traditional Deserves a Shot

Medical cannabis is considered a non-traditional therapy by most of Western medicine. Unfortunately, the ‘non-traditional’ designation also carries with it unnecessary suspicion. It is just assumed that non-traditional medicines don’t work and should therefore be avoided.

In reality, the opposite is true. Non-traditional therapies often work as well, or even better, than their Western counterparts. If nothing else, they deserve a shot. They deserve a place at the table when medical providers and their patients are trying to determine the best course of action. The fact that people choose pot over prescription medications is sufficient evidence of that.