It is easy to be swept up in the normalcy of cannabis when living amidst the movement in California. Topics like terpenes, cannabis therapeutics, cannabis-themed retreats, infused yoga classes, cannabis cultivation, etc. easily slip into everyday conversation! Seamlessly bouncing from topic to topic, these conversations take a shape of their own. In California, even if you’re not a patient or advocate, you’re probably still fairly well-informed about cannabis. In this post, we’ll cover some of the differences between the cannabis movement on the east coast vs. the movement on the west coast.
Medicine Box Tribe Heads East
Although I was born and raised in Truckee, California, New York City was my home for the beginning of my adult life. There was an extreme difference in how people went about day to day activities; the pace of NYC was like nothing I had ever experienced. I finally got the hang of it by tapping into my NY pace and letting go of the chill mountain town vibes. However, my relationship to cannabis became more important than ever; I needed my daily medicine to keep calm and grounded in the concrete jungle.
In California, I had a direct relationship with the grower. Therefore I could ask important questions about the plant and the strain to find what I was looking for. My relationship with the source of my cannabis from was more than just a buyer-seller relationship. I spent time at the cultivation sites trimming, de-leafing, sifting, smelling, and learning. I had the opportunity to gain insight into cultivation practices which resulted in developing high standards for the medicine. The importance of knowing the medicine is a foundational principle.
Lo and behold, I started delivering medicine directly to people in their homes. I had the opportunity to educate patients on strain specificities and why certain methods of consumption would be best for treatment depending on the circumstance. Working for this service remains one of my favorite roles in the cannabis industry.
Relying On The Underground
After conversations with patients, therapists, and other professionals back east, I gained insight into their medical system. Now that New York is a medical state, patients and caregivers can go to brick and mortar dispensaries and pick up their medicine. Yes, a medical recommendation can be obtained. And yes, there are some amazing advocates for this plant who are creating the foundation for legal access to this medicine.
The flip side of that is it’s difficult and expensive to get your medical card in New York. It’s also challenging to obtain quality information about how to use cannabis. This creates an interesting climate for both medical and adult cannabis users. Reliable sources of information are just not as easy to find in New York as they are in California.
For instance, therapists take a “don’t ask don’t tell” stance with their patients. Even if it’s clear that a patient is using cannabis successfully, it’s still safer for medical professionals to ignore cannabis. This feeds into the secrecy/prohibition cycle. Obviously, prohibition doesn’t work, but how can we expect people to break the cycle at the expense of their safety and income?
Alas, that means the underground is still the most reliable source of information on the east coast. If you can’t tell your therapist you’re using cannabis, who can you tell? And more importantly where is your medicine coming from? This was one of the major standouts I noticed: people are still afraid to talk about using cannabis. And for good reason: there is still a lot of fear, stigma, and misinformation on the subject.
The Cohesion Of The Coasts
Although there are some drastic differences in the accessibility of cannabis across the country, the essence of the plant remains the same. How do we as cannabis advocates support that consistency? Stand true in your relationship with the plant. If that means talking to a family member, friend, or elected official about your use, there is no time better than now. The more normalcy around cannabis as medicine, the closer we get to ending the stigma.
My time back east reminded me that we are still pioneering an honest, reliable, legal marketplace. There are still plenty of professions and systems that do not support cannabis or patients and we’re working to change that. If you or someone you love could use moral support, help finding medicine, or reliable information, please comment below with your needs! We will always do our best to offer guidance!
From east to west,
The Medicine Box Tribe