“Cannaphobia,” or the unreasonable fear of cannabis, is a problem for holistic medicine and health freedom. It’s called cannaphobia or cannabias and it’s a problem for holistic medicine. Cannaphobia occurs when a person holds an unreasonable fear or antipathy of cannabis and the people who support it. By not addressing unfair bias against cannabis we threaten the scope of natural medicine in general. Many might be surprised that this bias is a fairly recent phenomenon.
As a medicinal herb, cannabis has been used for several centuries dating back as far as ancient Egypt. As recently as 1942 the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association advocated cannabis as the best treatment for migraine headaches. In 2009, the American Medical Association recommended rescheduling cannabis from a Schedule 1 drug (meaning no accepted medical use) to Schedule 2.
So why is it taking so long for cannabis to be nationally recognised as a medicinal herb, and what’s more, why are so many people (including medical practitioners) weary of advocating cannabis as a holistic treatment?
“It’s the result of a very effective propaganda campaign that has not paid much attention to the input of physicians,” says. Dr. David Bearman author of, Drugs are NOT the Devil’s Tools, and co-founder of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine. “Its clear that this is a political matter when you look at it more closely.”
A Slanderous History
Bearman points to comments from Harry Angslinger, a Republican from Pennsylvania who served as the first commissioner of the US Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics for an unprecedented 32 years (1930-1962).
When Angslinger took his post during prohibition, he claimed cannabis was not harmful and “there is no more absurd fallacy” than the idea it contributes to violence. Faced with the end of prohibition and thus obsolesce of his department, his perspectives on cannabis suddenly shifted. His Bureau asked Congress for a new law that would federally regulate marijuana and its distribution. He also began running defamatory ad campaigns on public radio. The goal was clear:
“By the tons it is coming into this country — the deadly, dreadful poison that racks and tears not only the body, but the very heart and soul of every human being who once becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and devastating forms … Marihuana is a short cut to the insane asylum. Smoke marihuana cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a storehouse of horrid spectres. Hasheesh makes a murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any habit could ever get him.”
“He had many bizarre thoughts that he put forward,” Bearmans says. “I think that Angslinger was probably the greatest bureaucrat of all time because he created a problem where none existed in order to increase the amount of people listening to him. He was extremely successful and his propaganda still lives on today.”
Pro-medical marijuana groups continually fight for cannabis to be recognised as a valid treatment and they are continually shot down by politicians. In 1972 when the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) filed the first petition to have marijuana rescheduled from a Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 drug, President Richard Nixon Responded:
“I am against legalizing marijuana. Even if the Commission does recommend that it be legalized, I will not follow that recommendation I can see no social or moral justification whatever for legalizing marijuana. I think it would be exactly the wrong step. It would simply encourage more and more of our young people to start down the long, dismal road that leads to hard drugs and eventually self-destruction.”
Health Freedom Threatened
Is it any wonder that the American public continues to be confused about the plant’s medicinal benefits and that medical practitioners are quick to overlook its healthful properties? Until the larger health community embraces
cannabis and helps to dismantle the lies surrounding it, our ability to manage our own health is threatened, suggests author and educator, Sayer Ji, founder and director of GreenMedInfo, an online open access website featuring evidence-based information about natural integrative modalities.
“I find that the stigma and the danger associated with cannabis is emblematic of where we stand with access to health freedom as well as the trajectory of natural medicine versus pharmaceuticals,” he says.
“If one believes that for each given situation that certain plants for example are on this planet to help us to maintain homeostasis, then fighting for the access to cannabis even just for very rare medical conditions is a really worthwhile fight. If we lose this fight, mark my words, natural medicine and access to the whole pharmacopeia of herbal medicines will also likely follow that faith. There is absolutely no justification for what is happening with cannabis.”
Education Is Key
Numerous studies show cannabis is effective for treating bodily pain as well as a wide range of health conditions including, epilepsy, PTSD, and autism.
Many of these benefits are associated with cannabis’ ability to mimic the body’s own endocannabinoid system which regulates appetite, mood, and sleep among other things. Bearman notes, however, that few physicians are taught about the endocannainoid system or how it’s impacted by cannabis.
“Very, very few physicians have been educated on either the endocannabinoid system or the medicinal value of cannabis and certainly many are blissfully unaware of the tens of thousands of studies that have been done,” he says. “This is happening even though the University of California San Diego School of Medicine is the headquarters for the California Cannabis Research Center. They issued a report to the state legislature and the people of California on the 18 FDA-approved cannabis studies that had been done in four medical schools in the State of California. At least five of those studies had to do with relief of pain, two of which were published in peer-reviewed medical journals.”
Perhaps educating through tech is the answer, one California-based startup is asking. Isaac Dietrich, founder of MassRoots, a social media platform for medicinal marijuana, is pushing back against cannabis prejudice in the tech sector by asking users of his website to sign a petition advocating for cannabis.
“People in the Silicon Valley talk like they have these very progressive views, but when it comes to cannabis, they are really very regressive,” said Dietrich in an interview with Marijuana Business Daily.
The solution is to raise awareness and educate both the public and the healthcare community about the healing powers of this ancient herb. You can do your part by staying informed and sharing what you know. Hear more about cannabis from Bearman and Ji plus 20+ other speakers by registering for the Holistic Cannabis Summit. It’s online and free April 4-7, 2016!