Inside the World of Holistic Cannabis Health
Marijuana’s rapidly growing acceptance is shaping a new cannabis consumer. Businesses, services and entire movements around holistic and socially conscious use have gained traction and are a rising force within the industry.
In California, the medical-use law allows doctors to recommend marijuana for “any… illness for which marijuana provides relief” to adult residents with valid state-issued identification. That intentionally unrestrictive law has allowed patients to receive recommendations for a host of illnesses, from serious conditions like cancer and glaucoma to more common ailments like insomnia and back pain. With adult-use (or recreational) cannabis legalized by the Prop 64 ballot initiative last November, the legal grey area of whether cannabis is being used medicinally or recreationally becomes a question of one’s personal healthcare choices.
A prevailing view among alternative-medicine practitioners is that all marijuana use is medicinal. “When you use cannabis, you’re treating an endocannabinoid deficiency and returning your body to homeostasis,” says naturopath and master herbalist Dr. Lakisha Jenkins, who runs Kiona’s Farm’acy in Merced, Calif. “We get cancer patients from El Portal Cancer Center and Merced Medical Center all the time. We deal with everything from colds and flu to terminal and degenerative illnesses like Parkinson’s.”
Cannabis is just one of hundreds of herbs Dr. Jenkins stocks, although it’s probably the most popular. She sells raw flowers and makes topical cannabis oils in-house, often blending them with herbs such as passionflower, rose and lemon balm.
While medical dispensaries typically sell only cannabis products and services, some, such as Harborside Health Center in Oakland, offer acupuncture, hypnotherapy, tai chi and yoga. Some of the earliest known yogic texts refer to herbal enhancement, including the Yoga Sutras, which are believed to have been written between the 2nd and 4th centuries. Ganja is thought to have been one of those herbs.
Dee Dussault is known as the founder of the “ganja yoga” movement. She began in Toronto in 2009 with a “BYOC” (bring your own cannabis) class, and has since moved to San Francisco, where she personally selects flower and concentrates that are shared half an hour before classes begin.
“Usually, we get a sativa-dominant hybrid for the active part of class and an indica or CBD hybrid for mediation,” explains Dussault, who’s also the author of Ganja Yoga. “I use Bloom Farms vape pens because they’re socially responsible and ethically sourced. They donate a meal to a person or family in need for every pen sold.”
Another San Francisco hot spot for pot enthusiasts, Power Plant Fitness, is slated to open in May. Dubbed “the world’s first cannabis gym,” the facility will couple cannabis consumption with personalized training. Power Plant Fitness’ co-founders are 420 Games creator Jim McAlpine and former NFL running back Ricky Williams, who was suspended several times for failing drug tests for cannabis during his 10-year pro-football career.
Athletes and casual sports enthusiasts are looking to cannabis for both preventative care and to relieve pain and muscle tension. Hiker and marathon runner Chris Franklin uses marijuana as a treatment for muscle spasms that can leave him immobilized. Based in Portland, Ore. where both medical and adult-use cannabis are legal, he applies cannabis topicals to his muscles, and smokes weed as well.
“A major part of being an athlete is letting your body rest,” he explains. “I started using it to help me recover from workouts, marathon runs, heavy gym training and rigorous hikes. It just makes for a more relaxed body. The muscles loosen up, which is what you want so they can heal.”
Massage can also help. Former nurse Jordan Person estimates that 60% of the visitors to her Denver-based massage company Primal Therapeutics are tourists. “I feel a total connection to my patients,” she says. “The empath in me puts myself in the shoes of every person that I touch.”
Another area in which cannabis use has become more accepted is the bedroom. “Cannabis used as an aphrodisiac goes back thousands of years,” says Antuanette Gomez, a tantric sex coach who runs the Toronto-based company Pleasure Peaks. She sells a Cannalube spray, offers “Cannabis Sex Ed” classes, and promotes intimacy in a range of situations from yoni-egg sessions to tantric retreats.
“Cannabis is attached to a lot of wellness ideas because it’s already in the consciousness community,” she says. “It helps couples create stronger intimacy and a stronger bond. The CBD in cannabis lubricants can help women that have a lot of pain in their pelvic area or have really tight muscles.”
By building health-conscious communities in the cannabis culture, consumers are redefining what it’s used for. There’s still room to eat pizza and watch Netflix at the end of a long day, but the 21st century stoner might go to yoga first.
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