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Cannabis. The people's medicine.

Originally published on Herban Cura on April 20, 2019
By Sarah Wang

Cannabis, the powerful and versatile master plant, is believed to have co-evolved with humans. It finds “a way to produce chemicals that give us pleasure, like THC, thereby seducing us into cultivating it and spreading it – a strategy that allowed cannabis to piggyback on humans as we’ve settled all over the world.”

Almost 5,000 years ago, the earliest reference for cannabis was written by the Chinese Emperor Fuxi. He was said to be a shaman who could tame animals with telepathy. He received much of his inspiration from nature and invented and perfected arts like fishing, trapping, cooking, the calendar, angular measurement, music and writing. He referenced cannabis (大马) as having both yin and yang qualities.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the energetic qualities of plant medicine is very important to consider before used for any condition. Cannabis is a very versatile ally if you consider her qualities in aiding with either energy or sleep, the ability to be administered to children or elderly, treating mind or body, or used to relieve stress and anxiety or spark creativity.

Archaeologists discovered a Chinese shaman’s grave from almost 2,700 years ago in the Northwestern region of China and discovered nearly two pounds of dried plant material along with the shaman’s tools. The dried flower was believed to have been harvested at the time of the burial and contained high traces of psychoactive THC which converted into high levels of CBN over time.

The use of cannabis spread from China to India to North Africa then Europe.

$10 bill from 1914 printed on hemp paper

$10 bill from 1914 printed on hemp paper

In the US, our forefathers cultivated cannabis for both industrial and medicinal use. Thomas Jefferson smuggled cannabis seeds from China to France then back to the US (as noted in his journal). Industrial hemp was used for the production of textiles, paper, oil, paint, and industrial plastics, while Henry Ford of Ford Motors pioneered hemp gasoline and plastic hemp paneling for a model of cars. In 1914, the $10 bill was printed on hemp paper and the back of the bill portrayed farmers plowing hemp.

In Virginia, it was considered illegal at one point in time for farmers not to grow hemp and farmers who didn’t comply were taxed heavily…

So when did our love affair with this giving plant take such a drastic turn?

In the 1920s, there was an influx of Mexican immigrants coming into the American Southwest post Mexican Revolution, some of whom smoked recreational cannabis. Sailors and West Indian immigrants also used cannabis and brought the practice to port cities along the Gulf of Mexico. The plant was used by African-Americans, jazz musicians, prostitutes, and underworld whites. The 20s was also the era of the Great Depression and this, coupled with racism and anti-immigrant propaganda, sparked fear of “reefer madness”.

This led to the establishment of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930 and in 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act was written into bill, thus making cannabis illegal in the US.

To this day, cannabis is still considered a Schedule 1 Drug on the federal level, disproportionately affecting communities of color even though many states are already or are on the path to medical and recreational legalization.

How do we reconcile and heal our communities who have been affected by the criminalization of this plant? For one, we can support small businesses owned by people of color to allow them an equal playing field with wealthy corporate investors, big tobacco and liquor tycoons who are inevitably investing in this growing industry.


We can honor this master plant by using her medicine holistically and creating supportive communities with one another to share resources for helping our loved ones who suffer from ailments in which cannabis can be of aid. Medicine can be expensive especially once big pharma gets their hands on it. The most expensive cannabis medicine is that which has been extracted to a point beyond recognition, (ie: the isolates and concentrates) but There are many ways to make our own herbal preparations at home.

Just as our ancestors have done long before us, we can infuse flower and/or trim in oil, alcohol or tea and extract its medicinal properties with the processes of heat or time. Whatever your method, remember that even through decades of prohibition and bureaucracy, cannabis still remains the people’s medicine worldwide.


Below are several organizations advocating and creating space for diversity in the cannabis industry listed below:

CANNACLUSIVE SUPPORTS DIVERSITY, INCLUSION, AND EDUCATION IN THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY.

WOMEN GROW FOCUSES ON FEMALE LEADERSHIP IN THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY.

MINORITY CANNABIS INCREASES REPRESENTATION OF MINORITIES AMONG CANNABIS BUSINESS EMPLOYEES, OWNERS AND INVESTORS.

SUPERNOVA WOMEN IS AN ADVOCACY GROUP CREATING SPACE FOR WOMEN OF COLOR IN THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY. 

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