So, as many of you know, this is Dig In--the greening/gardening/food blog on Lansing Noise from community food activist Gabriel Biber. Amid the mayor's cries of Go Green! encouraging a local, sustainable economy and ecology, and a widespread interest in grow-your-own- and natural-foods, Lansing has witnessed another sort of green on the rise as a commercial focus under the State of Michigan's recent provisions to allow for the lawful growth, use, and sale of cannabis.
Why marijuana? As far as herbal healing goes, there is a plethora of natural substances that can be administered simply, in decoction, or by other means to treat myriad conditions. Far from being a fringe 'alternative' to mainstream/pharmaceutical medicine, treatments direct from nature--the wise use of plants--are the source of damn near every commercial medicine. The traditional knowledge and oral communications that carried on this invaluable knowledge through centuries is more endangered than ever. There are many species native to MIchigan which hold potent curative powers. (Phyllis A. Bach has a wonderful layman's pharmacopeia of such materia medica and usage in her book Prescription for Herbal Healing.)
Marijuana does not appear in her book. Needless to say, the cannabis laws of the last hundred years or so in the U.S. have not been conducive to a popularization of its use outside of the underworld. But now that you can draw a straight line through a map of Lansing and hit a dozen weed dispensaries, the question is:
Is marijuana ruining the herbal healing reputation for all other herbs out there, the one's without Cheech-and-chong connotations?
The recent commercialization of the product as it fits into traditional retail is highly visible on the Lansing scene. City Pulse even has the shameless Ganja Guy segment, which talks of tastes and highs, not symptoms, doses and alleviation. One local establishment was recently robbed not long after opening '24/7' to dispense so-called medical marijuana. And there's the other rub--if an herb--grown with harmful chemicals and improperly prepared--is passed of as medicinal, what next? My Celestial Seasonings tea seems more medicinal than a tarry sack of reefer.
I'll even pass on the dramatic posturing about the over-ubiquitous shops, kids walking home from school, lax practices, and the whitewashing of legalization under the guise of medication.
Bottom line: real herbal healing has everyday benefits from mint for sore tummies to a number of more complex ailments and treatments. The ways and means to employ such healing are important human rights that must be preserved. But slapping a price tag with a "Medical" tag on something grown in your basement for a profit? That's not the holistic revolution I was picturing. Let's focus on the food, medicine and craft species we can grow ourselves, and not degrade medicine any more than we already have.