Spend a little while on bouncing around Cannabis-related social media accounts and undoubtedly you will come across the #plantsnotpills hashtag. The insinuation, that Cannabis is intrinsically superior to pharmaceutical drugs, has long been a cornerstone philosophy of the Cannabis movement. In many cases I myself have openly agreed with that philosophy. However, and while a contrary opinion is unlikely to be well-received, and though I myself even spent decades operating under that assumption, lately I have been questioning the wisdom of pushing that same tired narrative.
There are a few reasons why the Cannabis industry needs to stop pushing the #plantsnotpills narrative at this stage of the legalization struggle. The primary reason, though, has nothing to do with the validity of the philosophy itself. This is not about debating whether Cannabis is better than pharmaceuticals, it is about the overall logic behind openly pushing that narrative in the face of an extremely worthy adversary.
Most people reading this are probably aware that Cannabis Prohibition is not about stopping people from getting high. It is about protecting the entrenched industries of the military-technoindustrial complex from the threat that a miracle plant like Cannabis poses. One of those industries, of course, is the pharmaceutical.
While I agree that pharmaceuticals are widely overprescribed in this country, the fact remains that there are people that need those medications, and even if #plantsnotpills happened to be effective more often than not, it could be extremely reckless to be advising people that might need a lot more help than Cannabis can provide to avoid medications that might be in fact exactly what they need. The Cannabis industry should be advertising itself as simply a choice that adults should be allowed to make for themselves, and not drawing arbitrary lines in the sand that will make everyday consumers believe they need to pick sides.
Our industry grows more powerful and influential every day, but it is nothing compared to Big Pharma. Assuming a threatening posture against such a powerful foe could prove unwise. Even if you came to fight, telegraphing your strategy is amateurish and foolish.
The legalization of Cannabis threatens many powerful and entrenched interests in this world. Trying to supplement the pharmaceutical industry will work, trying to subjugate it will not. The legendary freedom activist Voltaire suggested we "cultivate our own gardens" and we would do well to heed that advice.