Category Archives: Advocate

Cannabis: history, fantasy, medicine

Cannabis: history, fantasy, medicine.

We hear a lot lately about medical marijuana and cannabis. It seems like new legislation is introduced daily. Since 1996, starting with California, 23 states have enacted medical marijuana laws  while 4 states having recreational cannabis laws. However, at the federal level, cannabis is an illegal Schedule 1 narcotic.

The history of the cannabis plant is well documented. Cannabis has been used for thousands of years as a source of fiber, nutrition, medicine and sacred ritual. There are distinctions in what is considered hemp and medical marijuana, although they are both from the parent plant, cannabis. Traditionally, hemp is considered the plant that provides seeds, fiber, juice and other non-psychoactive uses.  Hemp has a negligible THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) content.  THC is the psychoactive component of the plant and is most noted for the recreational high, although there is increasing evidence that THC provides some medical benefits.

Cannabis Leaf

Cannabis Leaf

Hemp seeds are a rich source of amino acids, protein and dietary minerals and fiber. You can currently purchase hemp milk, hemp snacks and protein bars in the food markets.  The oils are rich in essential fatty acids and are contained in hair products, dietary supplements, cosmetics and other products. The fiber, derived from commercial hemp is made into fabrics, paper and building materials.

The United States used to grow hemp commercially in the South where it was used in WWII to produce uniforms, rope and canvas. Today, most of the world’s production of hemp comes from France, while China ranks second. Great Britain and Germany resumed commercial production in the 1990s.  The retail value of hemp, imported by the United States was $581 Million in 2013.
Of note, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp. Ben Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper. Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper.
When US sources of “Manila hemp” (not true hemp) was cut off by the Japanese in WWII, the US Army and US Department of Agriculture promoted the “Hemp for Victory” campaign to grow hemp in the US.

So why was cannabis, in any form banned and classified as a schedule 1 narcotic? Fortunately, there is a lot of documented history as well.

  • Moral outrage. Many considered the considered the intoxication effects immoral. People who used marijuana were considered lazy. It was also associated with jazz musicians.
  • Social prejudice. During hearings on marijuana law in the 1930’s, claims were made about marijuana’s ability to cause men of color to become violent and solicit sex from white women. This imagery became the backdrop for the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 which effectively banned its use and sales. It was also associated with an influx of Mexicans smoking ‘loco’ weed.
  • Financial Gain. There is some debate that petrochemical companies desired ‘rayon’ and ‘nylon’ to replace hemp and other natural fibers.

The American Medical Association (AMA) opposed the act because the tax was imposed on physicians prescribing cannabis, retail pharmacists selling cannabis, and medical cannabis cultivation/manufacturing.
While the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was ruled unconstitutional years later, it was replaced with the Controlled Substances Act in the 1970’s which established Schedules for ranking substances according to their dangerousness and potential for addiction. Cannabis was placed in the most restrictive category, Schedule I, supposedly as a place holder while then President Nixon commissioned a report to give a final recommendation.
The Schafer Commission declared that marijuana should not be in Schedule I and even doubted its designation as an illicit substance. However, Nixon discounted the recommendations of the commission, and marijuana remains a Schedule I substance to this day.

Since that time, most cannabis growing and production has been the domain of the illicit market. Marijuana has been bred for the last few decades to maximize the THC content. However, increasing interest in the commercial applications of hemp, has developed, mostly in Canada and Europe. . This revitalization in interest was also the driving force for medical research. In 1964, at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam – along with his colleagues, Dr. Yehiel Gaoni and Dr. Haviv Edery – succeeded in the very first isolation and elucidation of the active constituent of cannabis, D9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. The initial research was thought to conclude in about 6 months, however Dr. Mechoulam continues to refine and expand his studies.They have since discovered and isolated other cannabinoids, such as CBD (cannabidiol).

For an overview of Dr. Mechoulam’s work, please see this video : The Scientist

Future articles will concentrate on:

-Scientific discoveries, chemical components and the endocannabinoid system
-Research over the past 50 years, past, present and possible futures
-Current use inside and outside the medical system. Why, how, facts and myths.
Current legal status and the implications

Cannabis and Human Medical Trials, Show Me the Data

We’ve been asked that with all the reports of how cannabis and CBD can help fight cancer, there there is actually no human trials ongoing to prove safety and effectiveness in cancer care.  Sometimes, we are told that there are very limited lab tests that have happened over the years, leading may to conclude that there is a big myth surrounding cannabis’s potential role in cancer therapies.
We will explore the lab trials in another article.

First, it is completely correct that there are no human cannabis and cancer trials currently happening in the United States.  To understand that, you must understand that the current laws make it extremely difficult to conduct human trials using a Schedule 1 substance, such as cannabis.

Combined with some other considerations, it is virtually impossible. Recently, we discovered this excellent video and report, published by The Brookings Institution
We fully agree with Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn, ” We need the research to make sure medical marijuana is safe ”

Please watch and the follow the link below to a commentary on how marijuana is being legalized in an upside down fashion.

Report: The upside down world of marijuana legalization

Becoming A Cancer Conqueror

Karen Garcia, a guest blogger, is 5 and a half years out from her breast cancer diagnosis.

She decided to use ‘alternative’ therapies rather than the standard of care prescribed by her oncologist.  We asked her to write a series of articles surrounding her decision and the subsequent practices she has used.  This has got to be a scary place.  Much of what you decide to do, guided by intuition is not covered by insurance. Since our site is based upon making choices for what you feel is right for you, we feel this and other articles should support that point of view.

We invite you to discuss this by submitting comments below and on our social media pages.

I am more than halfway through my sixth year as a cancer conqueror, which is what I call myself. Every time I hear of someone receiving the news that they’ve got cancer or I hear of someone who has had a recurrence of cancer, I think about how the choices are made as to the treatments and therapies that will be used.

I have to admit, just like probably everyone else who receives a cancer diagnosis, my initial reaction was one of fear and disbelief. I did what I imagine a lot of people do — I cried, curled up in a ball at a friend’s home, until I couldn’t cry anymore.  And then, as I drove home, I called another friend to let her know what the doctor had told me. It wasn’t too long after that call – and because of that call – that I was able to move away from fear and feel somewhat empowered.

My friendship with the person I called that day – Linda – began in a very serendipitous way. One afternoon, several months before my diagnosis, I received a call from this woman I didn’t know from the man in the moon. She had gotten my phone number from someone else — who I also didn’t know — and to this day I have no idea how he had my phone number to give! Linda is a very holistic, spiritual person who contacted me thinking I might know like-minded women in the community she could interact with. We developed an immediate rapport over the phone, and I asked if she would like to meet.

We quickly became friends and spent quite a lot of time together over the months leading up to my cancer diagnosis. Because of how close we’d become, it was just instinctive that she be the one I called on my way home. I told her the surgeon had explained to me the lump was malignant and that my options for treatment were surgery, chemotherapy and, possibly, radiation.

On that call, as I headed home, Linda made a statement to me that changed the course my life would take. She said, “You do know those are not your only options”!

Well, you can imagine my surprise at hearing those words. Obviously, no, I did not know those weren’t my only options! She proceeded to give me a couple websites I could visit to find out more information. Being the information junkie that I am, I began doing hours, days, and weeks of research … and I haven’t stopped.

At this point, I began to notice other “messages” being given to me (the first being the way in which my new friend had come into my life).  Being a spiritual person, I believe the “Universe” was guiding me on this unexpected “journey.”

I moved into a new apartment five days after my diagnosis. While unpacking a box of books, I found two on top of all the others in the container that I didn’t remember buying: “Making Miracles; An Exploration Into the Dynamics of Self-Healing” by Dr. Paul C. Roud, and “Love, Medicine & Miracles; Lessons Learned About Self-Healing From a Surgeon’s Experience with Exceptional Patients” by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel. Both of these books opened my eyes to how miraculous our bodies are given the right tools for healing.

I also read a book called “Getting Well Again” by Dr. O. Carl Simonton, an oncologist, who, along with this wife at the time, Stephanie Simonton, had founded a clinic for cancer patients to help them understand the importance of the mind/body connection in conquering the disease. This book also explained that there is a gift in having a diagnosis of cancer and that I needed to figure out what mine was.

I did figure it out. But that is a topic for a future blog post.

At this point, I made the decision to fight and conquer cancer using alternative, holistic treatments and therapies, rather than the traditional ones that had been explained to me. Of course, my surgeon (and some friends and family members) was none too thrilled to hear I was refusing to do the standard, allopathic treatments. However, I have never doubted whether or not the path I chose was the right one. It has been the right one for me.

And that is what I feel each person who faces a diagnosis of cancer must determine — what is the right path for the journey ahead. The decision should be made having as much information as possible, along with the love and support of the people important to him or her.

After all, it is your life, to live out for as long as you have, in whatever way you are “guided” to do and conquer cancer on your terms! (

By Karen Garcia