Growing up, my first love was athletics—baseball, to be specific. I found my way onto some quality teams through my high motor, which far exceeded any natural talent. At 15, I was covering second base during a double play; I caught the ball, pivoted to throw it to first, and a player sliding into second plowed directly into my left knee.
I heard a sickening pop—what I would later learn was the sound of ligaments being ripped away from bone. When I tried to get up, my knee felt weirdly empty and buckled under my weight.
Pre- and post-surgery, I was prescribed Vicodin, which was excellent for masking the acute pain I was experiencing. But after recovery, I realized that it had also masked many of my emotions—the shock of my body giving way, the fear of losing my ability to play sports or perform at the levels I was used to.
For my doctors, the process was mathematical: You have X injury, we have Y solution. For reconstructing a blown knee, that seemed to make sense. But it wasn’t a holistic solution—one that took my mental state or emotions into account.
In the west, we tend to treat allopathic medicine as a science. The thought is, if we reduce symptoms to their individual components we can isolate and cure them. For that reason, medical cannabis—an herb with both healing capacities and some accompanying subjective effects—is rarely embraced within that framework.
It was recently reported that 50-60% of NFL players use cannabis to manage pain. While not a “cure” for a concussion, a broken rib, or a torn muscle, the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of medicinal cannabis have been touted to help recovery without the toxicity of pharmaceuticals.
In spite of the fact that some of the most lauded professional sports figures reportedly consume cannabis, the word ‘marijuana’ can still set people adrift on an avalanche of negative associations. But now times are changing, particularly as it is so easy to buy weed online canada (obviously only if it is legal where you live). So although there are negatives about the stuff, it’s becoming more acceptable. If you would like to find out more about cannabis, then you could check out something like this green society blog to give you a bit more information.
It’s a stigma that forces us to defend the legitimacy of cannabis consumption strictly by discussing cannabis as a medicine. Alluding to the proven medical benefits of CBD-rich cannabis strains, for example is a more palatable entry point for skeptics.
But, what is “medicine?” Last summer, Alex and I were invited to a cannabis symposium on San Juan Island, where we shared ideas, discussed our vision for the cannabis industry, and debated the potential of cannabis as medicine and beyond.
Dr. William Courtney, who has studied cannabis for the past decade, was one of the guest speakers. Though he has focused primarily on cannabis’ applications for cancer, he also encourages the introduction of juiced raw cannabis as a daily dietary supplement. Much as one would take a vitamin, Dr. Courtney recommends that cannabis be consumed for all-around wellbeing.
I believe that much of the cultural backlash against cannabis is rooted in our relationship to western allopathic medicine. The idea that cannabis could be a potent tool for wellness and life enhancement is still taboo.
However, attempts have been made to isolate cannabis’ healing properties. In the mid-1980’s, a cannabis extract called Marinol, with an isolated form of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), was heralded by scientists. It carried some of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis in a more familiar form. However, studies later showed that patients observed better results by consuming the whole cannabis plant, as opposed to the distilled synthetic version.
As a plant, cannabis is made up of more than 480 natural compounds, including 66 cannabinoids and over 120 terpenes. Together, they form the “ensemble” or “entourage effect,” which scientists and doctors, such as Raphael Mechoulam, the Israeli researcher who was the first to isolate THC and later cannabidiol (CBD), and Dr. Lester Grinspoon, think are instrumental in its therapeutic success. CBD products are becoming increasingly popular, people can even get cbd gummies if they wanted. It all depends on what sort of product you think you would benefit most from.
More recently, GW Pharmaceuticals, a British company that gained recognition for Sativex, the first cannabis plant derivative to gain full market approval in any country, has furthered the connection of cannabis with western medicine. Bayer, the original purveyors of aspirin, recently formed a partnership with GW for North American distribution.
When we limit ourselves to this notion of medicine—problem X being treated by solution Y—we neglect the concept of overall wellbeing or wellness. What’s more, this notion frames the current medical cannabis industry as a Trojan horse—a false and strategic play on the path to legalization.
In this way, many are forced to fabricate symptoms to receive their medicine. A patient whose anxiety could be alleviated through cannabis consumption must feign a back injury. A cannabis retailer is prohibited from answering questions regarding ailments that fall outside of those chosen by each state—different, mind you, for each state. Under Initiative 502 in WA state, companies are unable to discuss medical conditions with patients altogether.
The first mention of cannabis, found in Chinese history books written thousands of years ago, was as a medicine. Over time the conversation has shifted from something that makes you well, to something that gets you high.
If you were given a glass of Everclear alcohol with no labeling or guidance, told it was an average-proof alcohol, you might have a very unpleasant experience. The same is true for cannabis, with this exception: cannabis won’t kill you and its long-term effects are significantly fewer.
Day-to-day wellness, quality of life, and personal comfort are worthy of support and attention. Furthermore, education about proper dosage, accurate labeling, and rigorous testing will help consumers better understand how cannabis interacts with their bodies. At Solstice, we believe that higher industry standards, self-aware consumers, and a more expanded understanding of wellbeing make for very good medicine.
Will Denman, Solstice Co-Founder
Will Denman is President and co-founder of Solstice, a Seattle-based cannabis production company specializing in high quality, responsibly grown cannabis. At Solstice, he oversees processing, finance, and brand management. Will Denman helped craft the “Collective Garden Model” under RCW 69.51.A, which facilitates current medical cannabis access in Washington state. Will was a founding member of the Coalition of Cannabis Standards and Ethics, whose mission is to develop ethical guidelines and quality standards for the legal cannabis industry. He has been a key advisor to the Washington State Liquor Control Board, regarding the implementation of Initiative 502 on topics such as taxation, banking practices, compliance, traceability, and best practices. This advice includes co-authoring Legal Cannabis Production Costs: Estimating Costs Based on Medical Cannabis- a research paper establishing current costs of cannabis production under a variety of commercial applications.