Realities of Cannabis Legalization in California

Emotions are high as cannabis legalization comes to fruition in California. There is eagerness as the green rush (or weed greed, as I call it) brings professionals into a market where there was once only “criminals” or outlaws. The pink shirts can’t wait to make money off the backs of those once vilified and imprisoned for fighting for the decriminalization of cannabis. I openly hope that the pink shirts like John Boehner don’t thrive, as some of these hypocrites were the loudest to criticize cannabis users.

There is fear from those that have made their livelihood off of the private cannabis market and aren’t sure how they fit into the new legal industry. Those that have been able to conduct business unregulated and untaxed are now in the most over-regulated and over-taxed industries in the state. In the Emerald Triangle (Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties) where cannabis cultivation has been what keeps the local economy afloat, I have heard many growers say they are priced out because local agencies require absurd regulations that have never been applied to any other industry.

There is also excitement as anyone 21 and over can legally purchase cannabis at retail stores across the state (or will soon once local jurisdictions get it together to grant permits). I will admit that I am stoked that I can walk into a store and buy a sack of weed and a bar of ganja chocolate. It will be even better when the taxes on cannabis are not so high.

As those that participate in the new public cannabis market, we have to work hard to make sure that everyone that is still incarcerated for cannabis related “crimes” are set free. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that with some of the tax money from cannabis, that we pay reparations for those whose lives were ruined when they were busted for cultivating or dealing weed. In this new world of cannabis freedom, we have to remember that it is not equal opportunity for all as we like to believe.

With love and gratitude,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

The Herb Walk Podcast Interview with Brigitte Mars

I am thrilled to announce that my new project, The Herb Walk Podcast, is finally ready to air! It has been a year since I started the interviews, but sometimes good things take a while to come to fruition.

On our first episode I interview Brigitte Mars, herbalist, author, professor, and natural chef. In our hour long discussion, we talk about how she became interested in herbalism, her passion for teaching about herbs and nutrition, cannabis, the spiritual use of plants, and so much more!

Brigitte teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University and The School of Health Mastery in Iceland. She has taught at Omega Institute, Esalen, Kripalu, Sivananda Yoga Ashram, Arise, Envision and Unify Festivals, and The Mayo Clinic. She blogs for the Huffington Post and Care2. She is also a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild.

Brigitte is the author of many books and DVDs, including The Home Reference to Holistic Health and Healing, The Country Almanac of Home Remedies, The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Beauty by Nature, Addiction Free Naturally, The Sexual Herbal, Healing Herbal TeasRawsome!,and co-author of The HempNut Cookbook. Her DVDs include Sacred Psychoactive, Herbal Wizardry for Kids of all Ages, Natural Remedies for Childhood Ailments, Overcoming Addictions, and Natural Remedies for Emotional Health. Her latest project is a phone app called iPlant that helps budding herbalists to identify plants in the wild.

Stay tuned for more interviews with other special guests like Mindy Green, Lisa Ganora, and other fabulous herbalists and educators.

Check out The Herb Walk Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play!

I’d love any feedback, suggestions, or requests for those you’d like to hear interviewed. This podcast is meant to inspire, educate, and preserve the science and art of herbalism for generations to come.

With love,

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Wild Humboldt Tea Recipe

Among the old-growth Redwoods of Northern California, my herbal journey began in the late 1990s. Having thousands of acres of ancient forests to explore, my primal self was awakened.  

I wanted to live off the land, eat wild foods, wildcraft herbs and make all my medicine. And so I did that blissfully for years. Then a desire to become an acupuncturist came over me and I completed a four-year master’s degree and passed the licensing boards. I opened a clinic and worked closely with my community to provide much-needed healthcare. Seeing clients and helping people heal themselves is the most rewarding experience, but I knew I had to share the wisdom of herbalism and Chinese medicine with as many people as I could.

And so I left the comfort and shelter of the wilderness to live in Denver, with views of towering downtown buildings instead of majestic forests and Mother Ocean. It is now easier to teach at conferences throughout the US and abroad, and I have the opportunity to work at Colorado School of TCM and Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism.( Not to mention I now actually have consistent, high-speed internet which was hard to get anywhere I lived in Humboldt County, Cali.).

I know it was the right decision because everything has fallen nicely into place since I moved here over a year ago. This year’s teaching schedule is filling in nicely and I have the time to both see a few clients and continue to work on my herb book, “Plant Songs.”

This week I’ll leave you with the tea that made me fall in love with herbalism and our plant allies. It is a delicious and nourishing tea that will leave you feeling more than satisfied. Stay wild!

Recipe: Wild Humboldt Tea (wildcrafted with reverence)

Ingredients:

Handful of fresh nettles

Handful of fresh violet leaves and flower

Handful of fresh plantain leaves

Small amount of fresh dandelion leaves

Small amount of fresh prunella flowers

Instructions:

  1. Infuse all ingredients in the sun in a glass quart jar. 
  2. Infuse one to four hours or overnight on a full or new moon if desired.  
  3. Strain herbs out or be like us herbalists and strain through your teeth or just eat the herbs too.

When energy flows, wellness grows.

Lavender & Ganja Chocolate Truffles

With all the edibles on the market made from butane extracted oils I’ve decided to put out one of my favorite old school ganja chocolate recipes. This one is guaranteed to work those cannabinoid receptors and includes lavender flowers, which are loaded with linolool. Plant synergy is in full effect here! A word to the wise- this isn’t dosed out in 5-10 milligrams like the legal products on the market. Eat one, wait at least 30 minutes and see how you feel before indulging in more!

Lavender & Ganja Chocolate Truffles Lavender Truffle

 3 grams of kief (kief is preferred because it distributes so well into the butter)

1/3 cup organic heavy cream

6 tbsp organic unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 3/4 cups organic bittersweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup organic unsweetened cocoa

2-4 dried powdered organic lavender heads (lavender can taste soapy to some people, so start with a small amount) 

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a low simmer (or put in top of a double boiler to avoid overheating). Add the butter and stir until melted. Once butter is melted add the kief and half the powdered lavender and stir into mixture for 4 minutes and 20 seconds. Make sure mixture is on very low if not using a double burner. Add the chocolate chips and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and pour into a shallow bowl.
  1. Cool, cover, and refrigerate the mixture until firm, at least 2 hours.
  1. Smoke a joint and walk in nature while waiting for truffles to harden.
  1. Use a melon baller or small spoon and roll the mixture into 1-inch balls. You should get around 30 truffles. Roll each ball into the other half of the powdered lavender and the unsweetened cocoa. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  

Always keep these treats out of the reach of children or pets.

Have an irie 420 y’all!

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Our Co-Evolution with Cannabis

I spoke on the The Shift Network’s Plant Medicine Summit with David Crow last Thursday and  was reminded once again of the intricate connection with our plant relations. Listening to all the speakers share their stories and love of herbs filled me with deep joy. Something I realized I haven’t felt in years.

I have been cynical and fearful about the future of our planet and that heaviness has now lifted. Many of us are on the plant path and listening to wise people like Margi Flint, David Winston, and Dr. Vasant Lad, have renewed hope for the healing of so much trauma. We are on a long, evolutionary journey that spans so far into the past and future that most of us can’t even imagine.

I know cannabis is good for our personal evolution. Our endocannabinoid system tells me so. We wouldn’t have so many receptors for cannabinoids if we did not evolve alongside it. Cannabis has been cultivated in parts of Asia for at least 10,000 years and there is some evidence that we may have been using hemp as cordage for 26,000 years. With each plant that gains recognition for its medicinal properties, we move one step closer to healing ourselves and our planet. I am honored to share the medicinal and spiritual properties of cannabis, alongside all of my other herbal allies.

If you didn’t get the chance to listen to my talk on Our Co-evolution with Cannabis and would like to, sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you a link to the talk!

With love,

jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Cannabis & Himalayas  Photo credit: Arne Huckelheim

Do you want to learn more about herbalism and aromatic plants?

If so, join me and other experts for a free online event: The Shift Network’s Plant Medicine Summit! 

Enjoy a vibrant you and thriving planet when you join 25+ leading ecological experts, health practitioners and inspiring educators — including David Crow, Dr. Vasant Lad, Dr. Jill Stansbury, David Winston, Sara Crow, Lakisha Jenkins, Matthew Wood, KP Khalsa, Acharya Shunya and more — as they bring to light the curative and evolutionary powers of specific medicinal plants, many of which you can grow in your own garden or neighborhood!

During this unparalleled 5-day gathering, you’ll discover:

A classic approach to reestablishing our eternal connection with Mother Nature
The cutting-edge science — and overwhelming evidence — of plant intelligence
A unique integration of herbology, Ayurveda and astrology — exploring medicinal plants related to the planets and the astrological uses of essential oils
Rare teachings of Ayurveda sages from ancient texts, bringing to light Ayurveda’s stand on environment & consciousness
“Forest Bathing” as a therapeutic practice
The use of medical cannabis oil in treating patients with cancer

Use the Earth as your healing source, March 20-24, 2017.

RSVP at no charge here: Plant Medicine Summit

I hope you join me!

With love,

jessicabaker

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Terpenes are found in plants and animals and are responsible for the aromas that we are all so used to smelling. As terpenes have contributed to the evolution of all life on Earth, their therapeutic value  can not be stressed enough.

Close your eyes and think about peeling a fresh juicy orange. Can you smell that familiar orange1citrus aroma? You’re smelling compounds within the large family of terpenes. Do you love the smell of lavender? Terpenes are responsible.  How about the smell of conifers after a refreshing autumn rain? Terpenes again.

These fragrant compounds not only hold many of our childhood memories, but they have contributed to the formation of our limbic, immune, endocannabinoid, and endocrine systems. Our ability to regulate temperature, mood and appetite are all functions of the limbic system. The limbic system is also responsible for olfaction, or smell!

The connection between plants and humans is so ancient we have forgotten who are ancestors are. I encourage you to go out and smell some plants- allow yourself to let your memory take you places you may have forgotten long ago.

More on the limbic system in Thursday’s blog, when we will explore what compounds you smell when you crush up a bunch of lavender, walk past a pine tree, and peel that juicy orange. Together we’re going to have an olfactory buffet!

With love,

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Jessica

CBD is now a Schedule 1 Drug

It’s a pity that the DEA can’t see beyond their bias and continue to publicly deny the therapeutic value of cannabis. To further their renunciation of cannabis they have had to demonize a cannabinoid dubbed CBD, a THC antagonist (meaning reducing the psychoactive effect of THC), which has helped reduce the suffering of countless people with seizures, pain, cancer, and countless other conditions.

The newest research on cannabinoids is astoundingly positive if you consider neuro-protection, antagonizing tumor necrosis, and reduction of pain without life debilitating addiction a benefit to the medical community. The U.S. Health and Human Services even has a patent on the antioxidant and neuro-protective properties of cannabinoids. The mounting evidence in support of CBD has not stopped the current administration from declaring CBD (cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid present in cannabis) a Schedule I drug.

This decision is right on the heels of entrepreneurs and big business investing heavily in CBD oil and crystalline extract. The ability to sell CBD products online and beyond state borders without restriction seemed an easy way to get into the green rush, without the stigma or taxation of the cannabis industry. The specific scheduling of CBD (cannabis was already Schedule 1), gives no grey area as to whether or not CBD extracts are legal to sell. It appears they have established that CBD products are indeed Schedule 1. This is disappointing and is just another attempt to control the spread and acceptance of legal cannabis.

As a practitioner I am appalled that our government continues to add to the needless suffering of its citizens. As an herbalist I am concerned for what this means for all plant medicine. Making plants and their constituents illegal takes away our right to treat and prevent illness as we see fit. It is our right to have access to herbal medicine. The prohibition of one constituent makes it all too easy to prohibit another.With the recent designation of  hemp and CBD it is even more important that we dutifully educate ourselves on the benefits and application of cannabis.

wcn-jessicabaker-module7-promoI am on the faculty of the Holistic Cannabis Academy and am incredibly impressed with their program. With two tracks- one for practitioners and one for the canna-curious, they provide a high level of education and turn-key solutions for counselors and health providers with modules on business-building and marketing. Their faculty includes prestigious researchers and clinicians like Roy Upton, Ethan Russo, Jonathan Treasure, and Laura Lagano.

Empower yourself and your community by becoming a Holistic Medical Cannabis Counselor or Holistic Medical Cannabis Practitioner through the Holistic Cannabis Academy!

With love,

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Jessica

Photo credit: Vote Hemp

A Celebration of Cannabinoids

This blog post continues my interview with neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher, Ethan Russo. Ethan has worked with cannabis extensively since the 1990’s img-dr-ethanand continues to pioneer the research on the human endocannabinoid system. He is the former Medical Advisor to GW Pharmaceuticals and Past-President of the International Cannabinoid Research Society. What I like most about Ethan’s work is his ability to scrutinize down to an individual constituent all the while understanding the importance of the synergy of whole plant medicine.

In my final questions with Ethan,  we speak about terpenoids, the future of cannabis laboratory testing and how the FDA is responding to the labeling of CBD products.  It is my hope that these interviews help dispel the deception that has surrounded cannabis since its prohibition and help create a more informed future.

You can read the first part of the interview here Herbal Pioneers Interview with Ethan Russo

JB: The number of terpenes that are significant in lab testing is constantly changing.  Which, if any, chemical constituents are responsible for the enhancement of CBD? THC? 

ER: There have been over 200 terpenoids isolated from different cannabis chemovars, but certain ones predominate, especially myrcene in modern strains, which largely accounts for the “couchlock” that is all too common nowadays, even with cannabidiol strains that should actually be slightly stimulating, but for that.  When limonene is included in sufficient amounts, it tends to “brighten” the effect and exert a pronounced mood elevation that can be quite helpful in many chronic conditions. A rare component these days is pinene. It has a remarkable ability to counteract the short-term memory impairment engendered by THC, an effect that makes cannabis treatment problematic for patients that still need to utilize it while they work or study.

CBD is still a difficult commodity to find in many states. When present in high amounts, it will delay and blunt the peak high of THC somewhat, prolong its effect, and reduce its tendency to increase heart rate and anxiety. Beyond that, it has remarkable benefits on pain and inflammation.

JB: Since pinene is a rare component in cannabis today and has the benefit of counteracting short-term memory loss, and other herbs like pine contain pinene, is research being done on the synergist effects of other herbs with cannabis? 

ER: There may be a lot of experimentation going on out there along these lines. I have current plans for formal clinical trials to examine cannabinoid-terpenoid interactions. The protocol is all set to go—we merely need funding to initiate the experiments.

JB: I have seen the same sample of Cannabis test at different levels from different testing laboratories.  Are you familiar with the laboratory standards of establishing THC and CBD percentages? Are these percentages even remotely accurate?

ER: We need to keep in mind that virtually all the analytical labs are actually contravening federal law by doing these assays. I’m afraid the quality control in the industry is quite hit or miss, with many examples of poor work and extreme variability. There are laboratory certifications available now, and these should be encouraged. Assays of cannabinoids are difficult, and hampered often times by lack of good analytical standards from industry. The best labs develop their own. Terpenoid analysis is even more technically challenging, and few labs offer that at the present time.

JB: The FDA has sent cease and desist letters to some CBD product manufacturers stating that there is some evidence of medicinal use and so cannot be sold as a dietary supplement.  Do you believe research has proven that Cannabis has several medicinal properties? 

ER: It is certain that cannabis has many medicinal properties. Just as a simple example, Sativex® (USAN: nabiximols), a cannabis-based oromucosal spray is approved as a prescription pharmaceutical in 27 countries for spasticity (muscle tightness) in multiple sclerosis. In Canada, it is also approved for pain in MS and in cancer unresponsive to optimized opioid treatment. Another cannabis-based medicine, Epidiolex®, an almost pure cannabidiol extract should be soon approved by the FDA in the USA for treatment of intractable epilepsy in children. However, approval of such a pharmaceutical form of cannabis will not influence the scheduling of other cannabis products. The FDA first went after CBD producers that had no cannabidiol in their products. Now they are issuing cease and desist letters to other companies that are exaggerating the CBD content, or making unsubstantiated medical claims. Rather, structure-function statements should be the maximum claim, as is currently the situation with other herbal products in the USA.

While we’re at it, for better or worse, cannabidiol is still a Schedule I forbidden drug in this country. Claims to the contrary, such as “Our CBD is derived from hemp and is legal in all 50 states,” are a function of tortured legal logic and wishful thinking.

JB: Ethan, thank you for participating in this interview and for your diligence in spreading the truth about cannabis.

To see Ethan Russo speak in person, attend the Medicinal Cannabis Conference in Arcata, California April 23-24, 2016 http://www.medicalmarijuanaconference.net/?page_id=246

For more information on Ethan’s work and our endocannabinoid system, check out

researchgate.net/profile/ethan_russo/contributions

phytecs.com

Happy 420 everyone!  We have witnessed the end of cannabis prohibition and an evolutionary leap of consciousness.

When energy flows, wellness grows

Abundant Blessings,

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Jessica

Herbal Pioneers Interview with Ethan Russo

img-dr-ethanI am honored to begin my Herbal Pioneers Interview Series with an interview with neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher, Ethan Russo. Ethan has worked with cannabis extensively since the 1990’s and continues to pioneer the research on the human endocannabinoid system. He is the former Medical Advisor to GW Pharmaceuticals and Past-President of the International Cannabinoid Research Society. What I like most about Ethan’s work is his ability to scrutinize down to an individual constituent all the while understanding the importance of the synergy of whole plant medicine.

This became a two-part series as I like to keep my blog posts short and I encourage readers to take the time to follow the links Dr. Russo provides for more in depth answers to the questions.  In the first interview Ethan describes how he began researching cannabinoids, debunks the terms “sativa” and “indica” and explains how those descriptions have nothing to do with the effects attributed to them. (Thank You-this has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time!)  In next week’s blog we discuss terpenoids, the future of cannabis laboratory testing and how the FDA is responding to the labeling of CBD products.

JB:  Ethan, thank you for participating in this interview and for your diligence in spreading the truth about cannabis.

Aa young scientist, what inspired you to research the constituents present in the Cannabis plant?

ER: After several years in practice, I came to believe that I was giving increasingly toxic pharmaceuticals to my patients with less and less progress. Some of my patients were employing adjunctive cannabis to treat their illnesses even back in the 1980s, especially multiple sclerosis. This caused me to look back to my teenage interest in medicinal herbs. I then embarked on a mission to find herbal agents to treat migraine more effectively. The greatest abundance of herbal agents is found in the Amazon, so I took Spanish classes once a week for a year and a half before two trips to Peru. The second took place in 1995, when I spend the bulk of a three-month sabbatical working with the Machiguenga tribe in Parque Nacional del Manù. They had a great abundance of psychoactive agents and migraine treatments. Shortly after my return, I became embroiled in the clinical cannabis controversy. Over the next several years, I experienced continual federal roadblocks to that research and began writing, editing and lecturing on the subject, and eventually, in 2003, it became the primary focus of my work.

JB: Have you published (or will publish) anything on your work with the Machiguenga tribe? 

ER: Yes. I wrote an article on the Machiguenga tribe’s diet and its pertinence to Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It is accessible here: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/machiguenga-peruvian-hunter-gatherers/

JB: What is your opinion on the debate on whether there are two different species Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica (more if you include ruderalis or afghanica) or if all cannabis plants are Cannabis sativa

ER: I have personally been on every side of this issue. The botanical taxonomists will never agree. To be sure, the way that the terms “sativa” and “indica” are applied in common parlance is absolute nonsense. What consumers need to know is the actual chemical composition of the cannabis, both cannabinoids and terpenoids, in an accurate fashion by a reliable laboratory to have a better idea of its likely effects. I recently was interviewed on this subject at greater length, which is available here: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/can.2015.29003.ebr

Read next weeks 420 blog post with the second part of the interview and celebratory post!

To see Ethan Russo speak in person, attend the Medicinal Cannabis Conference in Arcata, California April 23-24, 2016  Medicinal Cannabis Conference Website

For more information on Ethan’s work and our endocannabinoid system, check out researchgate.net/profile/ethan_russo/contributions and phytecs.com

When energy flows, wellness grows

Abundant Blessings,

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Jessica