Whole plant cannabis health solutions: an appreciation

by | Aug 27, 2019

The battle lines have been drawn between pure-CBD products and whole-plant cannabis in the marketplace, and every day, people tell me hemp-CBD will be the victor. But as you’ve probably already guessed, I’m confident that the plant, the whole plant and nothing but the plant will reign supreme in this fight.

Why? Because in many ways, our bodies are more like the plant than we may realize. Our endocannabinoid system is distributed throughout our brain and our bodies, and implicates far more than the CB1 and CB2 receptors you have most likely heard about. Many of these neurotransmitters which stimulate these receptors are responsible for regulating mood, pain, homeostasis and appetite. All of these primary functions of the human psyche factor into symptoms and etiology of many of the conditions which make us unwell. In order to regain our equilibrium, we will need all of the 100+ cannabinoids, 400+ terpenes and associated flavinoids that come connected with the plant, because the challenges we face as a species and the changes we need to adapt to simply do not call for half-measures.

For now, the most important discoveries being made with cannabis continue to be on the ground, where refugees from the overpriced and hidebound world of health care are forced by circumstance to examine new healing methodologies. And there’s something to be said about being able to rely simply on a plant you can grow out of the ground for your well-being, rather than a compound either synthesized in a lab at extraordinarily high-cost. No matter what establishment types may insist upon, however, you the consumer always have a choice. You have three, as a matter of fact. Here’s where it stands:

The three lanes of cannabis consumption

Imagine cannabis as a vast superhighway. As those who have read last month’s newsletter have seen, there is currently a surfeit of adult-use cannabis here in California, most recently displayed at the swank Hall of Flowers conference in Santa Rosa. There, you could see stylishly packaged flower, vape pens, mint pastilles, cookies, pastries and other assorted attempts to pass off the product as an aspirational lifestyle. They occupy one adult-use lane, and it’s not only oversaturated, but filled with consumers who ultimately are using the plant for specific wellness goals in mind. On the extreme right of the freeway is the hemp-CBD market that many who were in the adult-use market are currently trying to shift into for any number or reasons: an easier path to market, a certainty . Pretty much every day, someone is bound to suggest to me to make these products and carve out my niche before it’s too late. 

I, however, refuse to do this for two reasons.

  • Isolates just DO NOT have the maximum therapeutic value that whole plant does. They do not activate the ECS as comprehensively as the whole plant can.  It’s that simple.
  • I believe there is a middle lane, in between the adult use and the hemp-CBD lanes, which I call the Intuitive Highway. Again, within the adult-use market, most use it for wellness-based goals. Using the precepts of mindful consumption, products can be optimized for the peace of mind and Equanimity that adult users actually seek.

So as far as Medicine Box is concerned, the current dichotomy in cannabis simply ignores the true benefit of the whole plant and how consumers are using it. Eventually the market will discover the Intuitive Highway, but unfortunately for the consumers, it’s still the part of the road less traveled.

whole plant cannabis vs hemp cbd cannabis

The FDA’s isolated position on cannabis

I’ve known a few herbalists in my time, and they can tell some real horror stories about the FDA’s enforcement actions. Many of them center on surprise audits of their stores, intended to intimidate. It makes me wonder if much has really changed since the days of the Witch Trials, when millions of female herbalists across Europe were tortured and murdered.

Eventually, the FDA will begin to crack down as well on the CBD market – and not for nothing, since as I’ve shared on this blog, the market is filled with charlatans who richly deserve it. But ultimately, all of these people, from the regulators to the academics on down, still see cannabis and its components like every other drug on the market, and insist it should be treated accordingly. So it will be slow and gradual, with cracks in the belief system, such as Sanjay Gupta embracing cannabis medicine on CNN or even John Boehner claiming that his “thinking on cannabis has evolved” eventually breaking through the gestalt. In the meantime, it will be grassroots activism on the ground, such as with the successful Decriminalize Nature movement that decriminalized all entheogenic substances in Oakland, that pushes it even further. Eventually, I imagine the west coast dispensaries shifting onto the Intuitive Highway and transforming into the 21st century herbariums. That affordable, mindful and wholesome model of well-being is being developed from the ground up, and the Boss Herself, Mama Cannabis, will lead the way.

Related articles

Mental health and plant medicine

Mental health and plant medicine

Wellness may reside in the body, but it begins in the mind. Like many before us, Medicine Box has noted the salutary effects plants can have on one’s well-being, whether taken as supplements or tended to in a garden. However, only now are we seeing a movement to fully reintegrate previously stigmatized natural tools into the pharmacopoeia.