Recreational access affects medical cannabis

How recreational access affects medical cannabis according to BDSA

BDSA’s latest report suggests that recreational cannabis access affects longer standing medical market. Access with a medical card encourages patients to buy heavily taxed adult-use cannabis. But is recreational access a benefit or hinderance on medical cannabis?

Why patients move into recreational markets

This author asked Roy Bingham, BDSA’s CEO and co-founder, about the pros and cons of adult-use access for medical cannabis patients.

Well, in mature states in the US, anyway, people are saying — Okay, well, I don’t need to maintain my medical card now because stores are in my locality. And they have most of the products that I would want. 

And it’s a nuisance and a cost to maintain a medical card. So those people are still addressing a medical need. They’re just not bothering with renewing their cards or getting new cards. And that’s a very significant factor as adult-use stores, you know, become more and more widespread unless there’s a major tax differential. If there’s a fairly major tax differential, then some people will say — No, I need to keep a medical card — and keep purchasing in the medical market. 

But in certain markets, it doesn’t seem like that tax differential has been enough for people to go over the nuisance factor of a medical card. And there are also people who don’t actually like the idea of having to have a medical card and being in a record system, as well.

Roy Bingham
Recreational access medical cannabis

Scientific advancements on a taxed medicine

Recreational access should provide benefits that negate an unjust division for medical cannabis patients forced to pay tax, according to BDSA’s co-founder and CEO.

I think it is true that the majority of the attention for the industry went to adult use. And people haven’t been thinking as hard about the medical applications of these products because a lot of the growth has come on the adult-use side.

But I think that there is a medical underpinning, as I mentioned before, for a significant number of important patients. And so, in due course, I think there will be a lot more medical and scientific work that is ongoing, but it will start to bear some fruit.

For example, we saw Pfizer — the most mainstream of pharmaceutical companies — invest in a cannabinoid company — [Arena Pharmaceuticals.] To any other company, that would be a huge investment of six billion dollars. 


Pharmaceutical companies have attempted to develop a CB2 receptor agonist for the past two decades with a price tag in the hundreds of millions.

So, they’re going to take a traditional mainstream route there. But I think there are many other smaller companies with different applications and conditions that they’re pursuing. They will be hybrid and not mainstream pharmaceutical.


Challenges for medical cannabis

Cannabis legalization poses no threat to alcohol sales, according to an earlier report by BDSA. But a scientific study published in PLOS One (1) detailed how pharmaceutical industries are poised to lose $3 billion to the plant. Andy Seeger, Director at BDSA, discussed the clinical challenges facing medicinal cannabis.

Relaxation, creativity, calm, all those things are tough to prove when you have to go up against the FDA. It’s one reason why medical cannabis is going to be in trouble following federal legalization. They’re making a much higher claim of what the product does.

Andy Seeger

Despite the lack of clinical proof, (2) separate brick-and-mortar access for medicinal cannabis patients is a concern. And Health Canada‘s ears are open, at least given a meeting they coordinated with Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club.

VCBC is an illegal cannabis dispensary. They continue to fight to operate in Canada’s legal market to provide patients with brick-and-mortar access to tax-free, affordable medicine.

Let us know in the comments how you think the recreational market affects medical cannabis.

  1. Bednarek Z, Doremus JM, Stith SS (2022) U.S. cannabis laws projected to cost generic and brand pharmaceutical firms billions. PLoS ONE 17(8): e0272492. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0272492
  2. Hachem Y, Abdallah SJ, Rueda S, et al. Healthcare practitioner perceptions on barriers impacting cannabis prescribing practices. BMC Complement Med Ther. 2022;22(1):237. Published 2022 Sep 8. doi:10.1186/s12906-022-03716-9