Srajan reviewed this book by Leonard Leinow and Juliana Birnbaum, subtitled ‘Healing without the high’.
One of the authors of the book, CBD: A Patient’s guide to Medicinal Cannabis, Leonard Leinow, is a devotee of Neem Karoli Baba. That seemed significant to me offering a degree of ‘spiritual credibility’. Leonard and associates have developed a company, Synergy Wellness, that specializes in cutting-edge medical CBD products. In this book he states: “All life has consciousness, and all life is connected. This is the premise we operate on when crafting and offering our cannabis medicines… we believe the body is an intelligent organism, and it has the power to balance and heal itself. Our holistic view is that CBD allows and actually enhances the body’s self-healing capacity. It accomplishes this marvel through the endocannabinoid system, facilitating balance in the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms.”
I came to the book following my yearly medical exam and the usual battery of X-rays and blood work. The doctor offered his diagnosis – chronic arthritis and osteoporosis. He then prescribed the commonly used narcotic-like pain reliever, Tramadol, to relieve pain and inflammation along with accompanying effects of stress and often insomnia. The diagnosis was not a total surprise as I had sought relief medicinally in the past. I was however, immediately reluctant to start a medicinal process that I suspected could begin a lifelong descent into drug dependency. Internet research confirmed that addiction was a real possibility. A visit to Drugabuse.com had this to say: “Tramadol (another opioid analgesic) was initially thought to be a ‘safe’ alternative to other opiates. However, evidence is showing that abuse rates for tramadol are beyond what anyone expected and that the drug may actually be much more addictive than originally believed.”
It is common knowledge and current news that the opioid epidemic is rampant in the USA. Was I about to become a part of this national emergency, and what would the implications be for my long-range health? I demurred. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse: “Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids – including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl – is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total ‘economic burden’ of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.” While opioids certainly have a useful role to play in certain medical treatment I wondered if there was an alternative.
Fortunately, in my case there is. Cannabis. The plant known as hemp, cannabis, or marijuana, was among the first ever to be used by people as medicine, with records of its use dating back to prehistory. In the more recent US history the use of ‘devil’s weed’, as it was derogatorily labeled back in the 1930’s, was part of the counter culture’s response to the conflicts of the 1960’s in America (along with draft resistance, civil rights issues, inequality, etc.). That it was (and still remarkably is) considered a highly illegal Schedule 1 Narcotic on a par with heroin and cocaine did not deter the young generation’s determination to discover its pleasures. Back then an ounce of ‘pot’, which often amounted to a plastic 1 ounce bag of shaggy, uncut leaves, seeds, and twigs from Mexico could easily be had for about $10. Today’s cannabis has developed far beyond what was available in the 60’s and 70’s.
Declining the opioid option was an easy decision. After receiving the doctor’s OK to request a medical cannabis authorization card, and once accepted to pay the necessary fees, I became a ‘legal’ medical cannabis patient. Being a long-time meditator, I wondered how cannabis would fit in with that part of my life now. I had dropped all interest in smoking pot when I began Zen practice in ’73 and it hadn’t been a part of my lifefstyle since. It wasn’t a part of ashram-living with Osho or for the past almost three decades thereafter. What would be in store for me now? As I became reacquainted with cannabis, it seemed like a whole new world had emerged while I took time away from the plant.
As mentioned, cannabis usage and possession are highly illegal and a federally prosecuted crime in the USA. Nonetheless, 33 of the fifty states now allow medical cannabis usage, and 10 allow recreational usage! Go figure. Currently 64% of Americans feel weed should be legalized. World-wide many countries have seen the value of cannabis and have to some extent legalized it. This includes not just Jamaica and the Netherlands, but Belize, Costa Rica, Argentina, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay. Uruguay in fact is the first “Woke” Country to Legalize Weed for Ages 18 and Up. People there just have to make sure they officially register with the government before they engage in any buying, selling, or growing. As of 2017, you can buy commercial grass in Uruguay from most pharmacies. Other countries include Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal and Spain, Croatia, Estonia, The Czech Republic, Russia, Ukraine, Laos, Cambodia and Australia. Most recently on October 17, 2018, Canada legalized cannabis nation-wide.
Leonard and Juliana’s book covers considerable ground. In Part 1, A Patient’s Primer on Cannabis and CBD are chapters entitled, Cannabis as Medicine though the Ages, The Biology and Chemistry of Cannabis and CBD, and Ways to take the Medicine. With this background they then offer Part 2, CBD for Health Concerns, in which, in addition to CBD as a preventative medicine, they discuss its usage in a wide range of health issues.
Part 3 covers Veterinary CBD. Part 4, Varieties of Cannabis, explains how to match strains to conditions and gives details about 14 different high CBD strains now available. Finally, in Part 5 they discuss the future frontier of cannabis-based Medicines.
Cannabis is a fascinating plant, a remarkable gift of nature, that promises powerful healing potential, as well as emotional relief and pleasure if utilized properly. As quoted in the Epilogue to the book, Eckhart Tolle writes, “Flowers more delicate than the plants out of which they emerged become like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the world of physical forms and the formless…. We could look upon flowers as the enlightenment of plants… temporary manifestations for the underlying One Life, one indwelling consciousness or spirit in every life form.”
As to the question of whether the use of cannabis has enhanced “my meditation” is an interesting question I ask myself. What is meant by ‘meditation’? Is it an act one does in a specific way at specific times? Is it reaching specific identifiable states of consciousness? A state of remembrance?
Reading this book along with additional research has led to my current and evolving take regarding cannabis usage. Cannabis is not a panacea, however, if pain has been largely remedied, and at least de-intensified; if anxiety about a decreasing state of overall health has been relieved; if I am more relaxed; if levity is more prevalent; if it leads me to new avenues of creativity; and if I find pleasure in the world around me that I didn’t before, why would I not want to continue exploring medical cannabis?
Cannabis use and its legalization is a hot topic in the world today. This book offers insight into the plant’s CBD potential, and is an enjoyable introduction to this fascinating topic.
Srajan is a regular contributor
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