Imagine you're 16 again, and you're sick. You've just had to transfer out of a normal high school to independent study, because you can't sit through classes without being overcome by intense, unexplainable nausea. Nobody can figure out what's wrong with you. You can't eat, and you wake up nauseous, and your weight is hitting dangerous lows. Your primary care physician can't figure out what's wrong, and refers you to a specialist. At first, the gastroentirologist diagnoses you with acid reflux. That doesn't explain all of it, and so you have to get an endoscopy. The procedure makes you nervous, but it's necessary to figure out what's wrong with you. When you come out of it, they explain to you that they tried blowing air into your stomach and it wouldn't expand. Turns out, what's making you sick like this, is anxiety. Your body is constantly in fight-or-flight mode. You're given the standard option for treatment: you can take benzodiazepines, a class of drug that includes Xanax and Klonopin, known for its severely addictive tendencies. There's a history of addiction in your family, so this scares you. If you want it, there's an alternative option. You can get a prescription that allows you (and an adult) to go into buildings with bars over the windows. Inside, there's a variety of completely safe, non-addictive medicines, ones you can pick and choose from behind the counter until you determine which is right for you. The medicine will even make you hungry, a feeling you haven't been able to feel for months. But this option is highly stigmatized, looked down upon by the general populace. Would you still choose it? I know I would.
The story of what led me to medical marijuana isn't the most dramatic there is. It's well-documented that cannabis helps with things like chronic pain and seizures as well as mental illnesses. As a medicine, it has helped countless numbers of people. However, as the cultural tide shifts, it's becoming clearer that its medicinal uses aren't necessarily at the forefront of everyone's mind. That's okay, too—the same properties that alleviated my anxiety allow for people who may not be similarly afflicted to come home, light a joint, and relax at the end of the day. MedMen, a company that aims to modernize the way we consume cannabis, caters to both crowds.