“If we stop thinking about cannabis like a medicine, and start thinking about it like a food, the whole notion of how we approach it changes.” – Nathaniel Morris
A crucial concept that is vital to fully appreciating and benefiting from cannabis hasn’t been making the headlines like it should. The notion of cannabis as a food is still a recent one to Nate, he admits. Now that he sees the plants true potential more clearly, he and Emily envision a new route to help spread the word. Dr. William Courtney, an MD known for his youtube videos and website advocating for juicing cannabis, has been a hero for the cause and many of his ideas are at the heart of rethinking cannabis. Dr. Courtney began treating his terminally ill wife, Kristen almost ten years ago with juiced cannabis. Kristen now lives pain free as long as she drinks her juice every eight hours and they have produced three beautiful children.
Cannabis: Food For The SoulWhile Dr. William Courtney is one of the few doctors who understands the power of raw cannabis, the rest of the medical world has yet to catch on. Nathaniel Morris has a theory as to why that is.
“Most doctors are very reluctant to accept cannabis as medicine because it’s not how they’re taught to treat medicine. It’s very easy to criticize these doctors but I feel like the way bigger problem is that both the cannabis community and the doctors, we’ve been claiming this dichotomy where it’s either this dangerous drug or this highly effective medicine, when in reality it’s a food. When you actually embrace that as a concept, and actually play out the implications of what that means, it changes everything. The real problem with clinical trials not working for cannabis is because they tend to ignore the entourage effect.”
Nate dove right into the deep end of a serious debate we face when moving forward with how to utilize cannabis safely as a society. For those of us who have been eating cannabis for years, ‘cannabis as a food‘ has already been a natural part of our paradigm. To those only familiar with marijuana as a drug, it feels like a big leap to equate it with spinach after seeing or feeling the psychoactive effects. This is when understanding the process of decarboxylating your cannabis becomes very important. If the plant is never exposed to heat and consumed while fresh, the plant will not have converted the THCA (tetrahydrocannabinol acid) into THC (the cannabinoid credited with the psychoactive effects) yet. The ‘A’ stands for acid or in layman’s terms, the plants natural fresh juices that dry out not long after being cut. THCA won’t get you high when consumed raw. Cannabinoid acid, which includes all of the cannabinoids, has been shown to cure a wide array of ailments from cancer to pediatric epilepsy. Cannabis is not simply a drug that only serves one purpose. It is a wonder plant full of potential that we are just beginning to unleash.
Nate believes there is a key obstacle cannabis has faced in earning further recognition in the modern medical world. He shares, “The way doctors are taught to practice medicine and the way the FDA approves drugs is by isolating specific chemicals and doing clinical trials on those chemicals.”
The magic behind the way cannabis treatments work is in the entourage effect. This is more easily understood as the interdependent relationship the different types of cannabinoids share and their coexisting performance in our systems. No isolated cannabinoid works as effectively as the combination of them all. This fact disqualifies cannabis from a vast majority of studies recognized by the FDA. Some doctors see this as the end of the road, while others are using it as an opportunity to explore a new way of looking at medicine.
Nate continues, “I’ve done consulting with firms that were trying to isolate a handful of cannabinoids and then fixing them in the facility where they wanted to do the study. If you accept that it’s a food, that all goes away. There’s no expectation of doctors performing clinical trials on a food and it’s not that they’re being unscientific, but that’s never been how we approach food.”
After consulting with Dr. Bonni Goldstein, MD who specializes in treating pediatric epilepsy with cannabis in the Los Angeles area, a general consensus is agreed upon: the way we research and understand medicine needs to evolve.
After I shared Nathaniel’s quotes with Dr. Goldstein, she quickly replied, “I agree with him! I see cannabis as a food that can be used as medicine – I see people who are curing disease with the natural foods that they eat and cannabis is just another food plant. Doctors are not taught one thing about how real food can cure so its no surprise that they, as a group, can’t (and won’t) accept cannabis as a food that is a powerful medicine!”
At this point, it’s just a matter of spreading the word so we can update our practices. Rethinking cannabis is all about promoting the concept that nutrition and medicine often are one and the same.
“Treating cannabis as a food also means rethinking how we regulate it.” - Emily Morris
“Treating cannabis as a food also means rethinking how we regulate it. The activism community has had great success demonstrating the medical benefits of consuming cannabis. Unfortunately these victories have been bitter sweet. Regulating cannabis as a drug often results in the high cost of cannabis, which keeps it out of reach for the people who need it most. It could also lead to a takeover of the industry by big pharmaceutical firms. If we regulate cannabis like a food, these problems disappear,” says Emily.
At first glance, the idea of cannabis as a food can feel silly, almost forced. If you then consider the form we have grown accustomed to seeing a cannabis flower, you realize how unnatural our standards have become. By taking the plant indoor, hidden from any real world exposure, etc. is all highly aberrant. Historical cannabis in the wild would be filled with seeds, natural breeding processes, and the flowers would rarely get the opportunity to be properly dried and cured. The reaction to psychoactive effects of THC have hindered the progress of the approach of cannabis as a food and medicine for the past 80 years.
As Emily puts it, “Cannabis has been fetishized by our culture. Both sides of the debate put it on a pedestal. The anti legalization side call it a dangerous gateway drug. The pro legalization side call it a medical breakthrough. We believe it is actually a dietary essential.”
Nathaniel admits that his obsession with cannabis did not originally stem from eating cannabis. He is in the process of rethinking cannabis personally and he wants you to join his journey. He is reaching out to the strongest members of the cannabis community and asking them to rethink cannabis despite their in-depth chemical and botanical understanding. We have been so focused on legalizing cannabis, we have eagerly walked down any path that would seemingly result in “free cannabis,” yet “medical cannabis” has shown to be anything if free. Real organic food can’t be patented and it is easier to keep in the hands of the people.
“Words are powerful. Just switching from the term “Pot” to “medical cannabis” forced our society to rethink how we approach this plant. Now its time to reframe the issue again,” Nate assures me with wholehearted belief in their mission. ”I had very different ideas of where this movement was going two years ago than I do now. I’ve really had to reevaluate what I want to push for as an activist and I just encourage our whole movement to do that. That’s the concept behind Rethink Cannabis,” says Nate.
The Morris family is asking everyone to share photos of how they are rethinking cannabis on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also email them to firstname.lastname@example.org for a possible feature. They want you to make it your own thing and tell your story. Rethinking Cannabis is about bringing out the activist in all of us.