Cannabis flowers for sale at the Healing Harvest Farms dispensary in Laytonville, CA.
Cannabis flowers for sale at the Healing Harvest Farms dispensary in Laytonville, CA.

About a month ago, I visited Humboldt County in admiration for its agricultural economy and the people who have optimized cannabis cultivation. I talked with passionate cannabis growers, met with members of the California Cannabis Voice and learned how the best medical strains are grown at Garberville’s Wonderland Nursery. In the midst of prohibition, federal intervention and misinformation, Humboldt County residents continue to produce a plant they know does little harm and moreover helps many who are ill.

After years of avoiding government funded thugs similar to the notorious union busting Pinkerton Guards of the late 18th century, cannabis and its supporters are taking another step toward legalization by creating a Humboldt County land use ordinance.

My Personal and Medical History With Cannabis, in Brief

I first used cannabis in recreation. A friend introduced it to me, and we spent time sharing stories, laughing and building our friendship. Years later, I realized cannabis relieved my general anxiety and insomnia. Now I am a medical doctor and I am founder and president for MediCann. We are a group of physicians and medical staff who have examined and recommended cannabis to well over 200,000 patients over the last 10 years.

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam’s discovery of the Endocannabinoid System produced a realm of understanding and laid the foundation to how we practice medicine. Patients with chronic pain experience relief without addiction to pharmaceutical opiates. Cancer survivors report how many years they have been in remission. We get excited voicemails from patients who no longer experience epileptic seizures. Even common ailments such as osteoarthritis, headaches and menstrual pain are improved with cannabis use. And yes, it’s also helpful for generalized anxiety and insomnia.

The Big Question: What is Cannabis Good For?

So what is cannabis for: recreation or medicine? It may seem too obvious, but it’s both. As Humboldt County creates an ordinance legalizing its possession and legitimizing its production, participants in the industry must understand that medicine and recreation need different forms of cannabis.

Why Getting a Patient the Right Strain Can Be Tricky

I recently coached a patient with a rare connective tissue disorder on best use for his daily muscle spasms. After extensive review and discussion on which strain might work best, my patient went to a dispensary and received conflicting advice. Instead of choosing a low-THC strain as we discussed, he ended up with a higher THC product on the advice of the dispensary staff. The resulting effect was paranoia and unease.

Medical Cannabis Industry Needs Standardization, Measured Doses

Growers, dispensary owners and patients must understand that medicine is a complex and precise practice. Cannabinoid receptors up-regulate or down-regulate depending on the dose that is used. Some medical conditions require consistent low doses and others respond to brief use at higher doses. A truly scientific approach requires a physician to document how many milligrams of THC and CBD were used.

When I hear that a patient has taken “some” cannabis, I’m frustrated. I can’t help another without a better measurement than “some.” As legitimization approaches Humboldt County, I ask participants in the cannabis industry once again to take the lead. I’m certain that every patient we have evaluated is grateful to still have access to herbal cannabis as medicine. Humboldt County can lead the way to compassionate use with more consistency, precision and better dosing.


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