Gardening, An Inalienable Human Right!


By Michelle Sexton ND

Recently I had the serendipitous occasion to have a long conversation with Dr. Jonathon Page, who published “The Draft Genome and Transcriptome of Cannabis sativa”.  We were on a bus traveling to the Bedrocan growing facility in The Netherlands.  (Bedrocan is the only licensed company by the Ministry of Health to grow medical grade Cannabis).  It turns out that plants have amazing “genomic resources” (not unlike humans) and Jonathan’s way of summing this up was in the statement “It’s ggod to be weedy, if your’re a crop!”  (Dr. Page published the discovery of olivetolic acid synthase (OAS), an major enzyme in the metabolic pathway of cannabinoids). 

In essence, what this means is that adaptability is important for change.  Plants must be able to survive year after year, in quite variable growing extremes (drought vs. flood; heat vs. freeze etc. . . )  I guess this could be likened somewhat to individuality in humans.  Individuality is an important factor in adapting, especially as we age or deal with disease, for refining our values and “wants”.   When faced with chronic pain or a debilitating disease, simple things may become more valued, just as in times of drought a plant will selectively conserve resources, and only produce the metabolites that are necessary for staying alive.

One factor important for humans’ quality of life, especially during illness is having a source of joy.  It turns out that such a common source reported by those who are ill is nature, specifically, gardening.  Avoidance of a sedentary lifestyle, even if this is by engaging in leisure activity has the potential to increase lifespan.  This has been termed “biopsychosocial benefits, meaning there are benefits to several aspects of well-being.  A reduction in mortality by all causes, enhancement of pain management in nursing home residents, improved happiness, less loneliness, greater life satisfaction, and enhanced psychologic well-being has been reported.  Gardening experiences by women in a homeless shelter, “interupted negative ruminations” and provided stress relief.  This type of “spiritual care” seems to be discounted and often entirely ignored in the current healthcare debate at large.  Healing gardens are used in France to enhance quality of life in Alzheimer patients.  

Obviously, the interactions between humans and the natural environment are complex and always one affects the other.  Tending our environment is a form of therapy, both for ourselves and plants!   The point of writing all of this is to address the recent Draft Recommendations of the Medical Marijuana Work Group from the Washington State Liquor Control Board.  From a perspective of a gardener (with a formal horticulture degree), herbalist and doctor, it is alarming me that the right to grow a medicinal plant may be forbidden.

At the recent International Association of Cannabinoid Medicines meeting in Cologne, Germany, growing one’s own Cannabis was a common theme,  was summed up by Raphael Mechoulam who stated something to the effect of “people smoking Cannabis that we don’t know what is in it, is not medicine”.  It is this sort of thinking that has long frustrated me, since I first became interested in natural medicine at the age of 17.  It has always made sense to me to “live naturally”, peacefully co-existing with the environment,  growing my own food, leaving no trace, etc. . . Our environment has undergone massive change, and we as humans have had to adapt, as has the environment.  

tinctureThe political environment surrounding Cannabis is now changing, and those of us intertwined with the plant must change, just as we have changed this plant.  It’s time for us “weedy” individuals to become more “weedy”!  This may be a time for opportunistic expansion and the development “refined niches” for the cultivation of medical Cannabis plant material.   It will take the collective creativity of us all to not follow a narrow path such as the one in The Netherlands (single-grower system) nor to merge paths with the “adult use” system (I502).  I see the patients who grow and use their own medicine as empowered individuals, and there is no simple scale by which to measure the benefits of empowerment on quality and quantity of life.  We simply can’t let the current climate  lead to the extinction of such a basic human right as the right to garden.


2 thoughts on “Gardening, An Inalienable Human Right!

  1. Growing one’s own cannabis would seem to be one of the better non-violent solution to the politics of greed that enslave and hurt so many. The joy and satisfaction of caring for a seed and watching it grow and come into fruition; to then harvest and finally savor the results during the discontented months of winter. Their are so many benefits if one so chooses to partake of them.Hard to see how this activity would hurt anyone if everyone were “allowed” to grow enough for themselves, friends and family. There would be no need to regulate quantity when everyone can easily grow enough for themselves. It is not necessary to charge and tax so much money from people who face economic stress and uncertainty for the next foreseeable future.The situation of no jobs, no health benefits, anxiety about the future (much of which is beyond our control), is not going to get better any time soon. These are the things that bring social unrest and destructive behavior. If those that want to, choose to grow their own cannabis, they can save money, have control over quality and safety (grown to your own standards), self regulate consumption and become more responsible for ourselves and the well-being of those near to us. When you grow your own it is not about money or greed or taking advantage of others. I wish you all luck in your movement towards the freedom of use and growth of cannabis. I would be happy to support your cause. More public education and dissemination of non-partisan research on the subject would make the world just a little bit better.

    1. Thank you Deborah! We agree that learning from the human cannabis relationship is about making the world a better place for everyone, even when their experience isn’t about cannabis but about inequality, racism, sexism and so forth. Our philosophy is to recognize people like you, locate how we can be of service, and then follow your lead. So the question is: how do you want to be a part of a mission that is much greater than us, and how can we follow your lead as you walk that path?

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