The past year and a half have been anxiety-inducing for many of us. A recent study found that the prevalence of major depressive disorders grew by 27.6%, and cases of anxiety disorders rose by 25.6% during the pandemic.
These statistics speak to the massive effect of a global health crisis on public health and are a reminder that many physical illnesses are rooted in mismanaged stress.
As we cautiously return to “normal,” it’s clear that we shouldn’t go back to a past where we simply allowed people to suffer without the treatment they need.
Instead, we must continue to advocate for the decriminalization of cannabis as we tackle social issues.
Here are a few ways the changing world can help push the cannabis narrative.
Increase in remote working
The pandemic forced us all to stay home and start working remotely, and a recent survey found that 58% of workers prefer remote work.
Both large and small businesses are now working from their home offices and this change in the workplace can be leveraged as a way to increase cannabis legalization to improve public health.
However, remote working can blur the lines between work and life.
Employees who work from home often suffer from work-related anxiety. They find themselves logging into emails and checking messages when they’re supposed to be clocked out and can have a hard time distinguishing between work and life.
Studies support the use of cannabis as a treatment for anxiety. This is great news for remote workers who are stressed out and are struggling to maintain a work-life balance.
By using cannabis for post-work stress management, remote workers can create a clear distinction between work and life, while avoiding the harmful effects that other drugs like anti-depressants and alcohol can have on the body.
We’re experiencing a nationwide physician shortage. Over 80 million Americans do not have adequate access to a primary healthcare provider, and the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of up to 122,000 physicians by 2032.
This problem has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, as chronic stress has put a greater strain on healthcare.
Unfortunately, this means more people will turn to self-medication more than ever before. Traditionally, this has meant that millions have become hooked on the active ingredients present in over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
The cannabis industry can respond to this shortfall in physicians by offering a low-risk, stress-reducing alternative to OTC drugs.
Cannabis is proven to help treat those suffering from PTSD and cancer. While cannabis is not a replacement for medical treatment by professionals, it can help fill the gap left by the physician shortfall.
Social justice and cannabis
We’re finally starting to confront the issue of racism in America. While most solutions don’t go far enough, critical conversations are occurring across the nation and public support for anti-racist measures is increasing.
One of the most well-documented examples of population control and racism is the unrepresentative persecution of minorities based on cannabis use.
Statistics show that although 13% of the population are African American, 26% of drug arrests made were of African Americans.
The cannabis industry should unite with community activists and leaders like Ru Johnson and advocacy groups like Mikelina Belaineh’s The Last Prisoner Project to show widespread support for the end of the war-on-drugs and the promotion of anti-racist policies in society.
Cannabis can offer real solutions to many of society’s current problems. Millions around the globe are feeling the stress of change, and are still experiencing the trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, movements in social justice advocacy can be backed by cannabis stakeholders who should seek to create an equitable future in the cannabis industry.
This ever-changing world can be leveraged to help push the cannabis narrative at all levels of government and industry.