By Carl Hedberg

In the summer of 79 I got my mom royally baked. At the time I was a sophomore at UMASS, Amherst, and as a newly minted cannabis fan, I was taking full advantage of the fine herb available in the Pioneer

Valley. Sensimilla was little known and rarely  available, and almost everyone figured prohibition was here to stay. The times they are a changing, but not fast enough to save some of our closest friends and family.

My mom was a painter, photographer, a crewel embroi- dery artist, green thumb gardener, a great cook, and a functioning alcoholic. She had a nice little condo down on the Gulf coast of Florida where I stayed with her between semesters.

Her core issue was depression, which she tried to over- whelm with alcohol and prescription medicines, the only legal choices she had. Her generation was raised on cof- fee, tobacco and spirits. Pot was very illegal and assumed to be worse than it appeared. Pills were the modern solu- tion people took for everything—including addiction to pills. My mom believed in the system, and followed the advice of her doctors.

I was an enthusiastic novice stoner with no clue about the many ways cannabis might have been used to help my mom kick her destructive habits; recreationally, medicinal- ly, and as an exotic, nurturing garden flower she would have eagerly added to her second floor balcony jungle of

My mom was a creative spirit and a great cook. Here she is in the mid-80s creating a line of cheesecakes for the ‘Say Cheese’ restaurant. Her Amaretto cheesecake was voted Best in Tucson.

hanging and potted plants. Whenever I suggested she try weed as a buzz substitute for hard spirits, her response was always the same;

Marijuana is illegal. We don’t break laws; we vote to change laws we don’t agree with. When it’s legal maybe then we’ll talk about it…nuff said.

We got along great, and she fed me well, but her drink- ing was a painful source of friction. The drama and deceptions were taxing, and after yet gun hoanother incident, I drove down to The Oyster Shucker (Jimmy’s long-gone hangout), scored some decent weed and grabbed a little metal bong at the local headshop.

The following day, my mom reluctantly agreed to give cannabis a try. To make sure she felt enough to know whether it was for her, I had her blaze to cinders an entire party bowl (with my help to show her how…). She spent the morning on her dock, drinking ice tea, fishing, and smiling.

While she admittedly enjoyed the experience, using mari- juana as a regular therapy (or ever again) was out of the question. She was a law-abiding citizen from a

respectable family with deep eastern roots; end of story.

I have since learned that cannabis—especially stealthy, non-smoked medicinal preparations—could have safely tempered her use of alcohol—a drug she typically reached for when she was feeling good rather than bad (then couldn’t stop). Cannabis would have provided a safe new means for her to create, release, party and relax.  As  a cook it would have been easy for her to treat herself with cannabis in the privacy of her own life; bake at 420, skip the cocktails at seven.

These days my mom might have found relief in a legal state, which is a sign of the great progress we’re making in the battle to restore the right to treat ourselves with cannabis. As evidence mounts that patients are having success using it to safely overcome toxic addictions , a new approach to substance abuse therapy is in order.

Clean, not sober

Cannabis patients ought to be free to grow their own, and be supplied well enough to be able to explore the full range of therapeutic options; smoked, vaporized, edibles, tincture, oil-filled gel caps, salves, and fresh juice, which by the way, is highly medicinal but not psychoactive . Such is not nearly the case, and yet even in the face of renewed military aggression, cannabis continues to make a name for itself as a safe substitute for pills and alcohol.

Cannabis is not physically addictive and is famously non- toxic, meaning Western sobriety edicts can be unnecessary and counterproductive for patients with a fondness for weed. Getting clean and staying sober is a formula that doesn’t work for them and maybe  doesn’t  need to.  Were it prescribed, cannabis therapy might teach addiction suf- ferers how to make medicinal use of cannabis to back away from destructive behavior and get back in the  game.

With the truth online and in the streets, it’s only a matter of time before cannabis prohibition is little more than a sobering history lesson for all time to come.  By that time

cannabis healing strategies will be known to most and practiced by many, and cannabis immersion spas may be all the rage.

A cannabis retreat would combine the nurturing, free-will ambiance of a luxury health spa with the cannabis supply and life-skills workshops of a top dispensary. Since suc- cessful, driven types who respond well to cannabis are often very creative and like to learn, cannabis spas would feature hands-on amenities like a cannabis kitchen with lessons on the bench, a tincture lab, a greenhouse, music/recording studio, painting/sculpture studio, video editing suite, screening room, and time alone to ponder, imagine, create, and chill… a MacDowell Colony environ- ment featuring the finest green, and no alcohol.

There’s certainly a need for such places, as evidenced all too often by high-profile substance-related deaths of skilled artists like Heath Ledger and Amy Winehouse, and by the mercilessly exploited struggles of talented stars like Charlie and Lindsay. Just like with my mom, when indus- trial age therapies and meds fail these people, they are the ones who always seem to take the blame.

Since cannabis spas would presumably need to be located on private islands and on secluded estates, well, if you have to ask the price… Still, it’d be money well spent if high-powered patients left with the skills to substitute various preparations of cannabis for the stuff that’s hurt- ing their careers and in some cases doing them in. And if some of those recoveries happen to occur in the media spotlight, maybe then the truth will finally reach the mass- es: it’s not pot, it’s medicine.

Mainstreamers do most of the living and dying in this world; many are suffering from ills cannabis cures. So just you watch. Any day now North Americans are going to wake up and see what cannabis really is and what it can do for them. Then they’ll rise up and end the cannabis wars for their own good reasons. Any day now…

Carl Hedberg is a writer, speaker and cannabis use explorer working with film makers to deliver the histori- cal and medicinal truth about cannabis to the big screen. Twitter questions and comments @cannabisrising or visit Carl on Facebook (thefinestgreen). This piece was adapt- ed from blogs on

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