Free speech. It’s on the lips of just about everyone you talk to nowadays, and everyone has an issue with what they can and cannot say about our world.
Well, plant medicine practitioners have their own unique cross to bear, especially those of us here in California who remember another time, back when we were able to make our own unique connections with the consumer. It’s important, as we end this month’s discussion on the distinctions between our two brands, to remind you that if you’re using plant medicine, there’s more than one way to get well, no matter what anyone may insist upon.
Because right now, the world of plant medicine is flooded with generic, substandard product, optimized to make a quick buck, but not for quality or the overall well-being of people like you. The very fact that cannabinoids require their own “PARENTAL ADVISORY” sticker shows just how deep the stigma lies, even for hemp, which is 100% legal. Fact is that the story you’ve been told about hemp and CBD has been oversimplified by people who don’t really care about the plant, and are exploiting fear and misunderstanding for their own personal benefit, not yours. For those of us who have been working with it for years, we see things a little bit differently. Now, that story can finally be told.
The days of the possible
One of Medicine Box’s most trusted colleagues is the NorCal medicinal cannabis brand Aunt Zelda’s. Founded by Mara Gordon, Aunt Zelda’s has prided themselves on making bespoke medical products for seriously ill patients, often working with specific patients directly. This allowed Mara and her team to drill down on precise dosages from plants grown specifically for the patients in question. This all changed after 2016, when Proposition 64 legalized cannabis throughout California. Believe it or not, that’s when Aunt Zelda’s patients got short-changed.
“With the implementation of Prop 64, our physicians and nurses can do an excellent job guiding the patients as to profile, method of ingestion, dose, etc., but once the patient goes to fulfill their recommendation the guidance at the dispensary level is by individuals with varying degrees of knowledge who are incentivized to upsell and move specific products whether the best match for patients or not. Also, being able to work with smaller farmers who were dedicated to growing our patients’ medicine is no longer possible. Minimum acreage and cost of licensing has put most of these small farmers out of business, leaving behind an industry focused on biomass and ROI instead of patient outcomes.”
– Mara Gordon, Aunt Zelda’s
To be sure, there have always been charlatans within this field, but the management response of the state of California was to utterly annihilate the medical cannabis market, along with all of the important innovations that it developed in-state. Another similarly affected charitable group, the Caladrius Network, supplied cannabis medicine FOR FREE to catastrophically ill children, starting with the founder Forest Hurd’s son. Silas. Over trial and error, Forest determined that while cannabis medicine worked for his son’s seizures, CBD alone did NOT help him— he found his son responded best to a plant with more THC. However, in one fell swoop, Prop 64 not only geared the entire state market towards money-making, adult use products, but it also made donations of cannabis illegal. Groups like Weed for Warriors and Sweetleaf Collective, which gave out cannabis medicine to veterans, the elderly and indigent, could no longer carry on with programs upon which their members had come to depend upon. While the ban on donations was eventually undone by Senate Bill 34, it took years and a change in governors to get changed, and it came too late for organizations such as Forrest’s to take advantage.
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It will take a mixture of convincing testimony and solid data to show the rest of the world that we indeed know what we’re doing. It will also take education that shows THC IS a medicine, and that even those not looking for psychoactivity can work with it through proper education. “There is a potential for psychoactivity that may be uncomfortable for a patient should be taken into account when selecting a medicine for them, and just as importantly, when establishing a titration schedule,” Mara tells me.
“When THC is introduced to a cannabis-naïve patient it is important to start with a low dose and increase it slowly. Many speak of cannabis as a ‘mind, body, spirit, medicine, and I would have to agree. With education and dose modulation we can eliminate the fear associated with psychoactivity.”
– Mara Gordon, Aunt Zelda’s
Similarly, I believe we can eliminate similar prejudices and control obsessions with the same sort of education. Matter of fact, things are even beginning to show signs of improvement here in California. Manufacturing facilities are moving towards more contract manufacturing arrangements, which carves out space for more innovative products, which gives breathing space for brands that can’t yet afford to own the means of production. Still, people are suffering now, and the bureaucracies in place to ensure safety are woefully unequipped to meet the challenges of our times. That’s why we’ll continue to let people know, whenever possible, how it’s all about the Plant, the Whole Plant, and nothing but the Plant. Anything less, and you’re just not letting nature take its course.