Healing for Body, Mind and Spirit – a Defense for Holistic Cannabis Use

A cannabis user doesn’t necessarily have to be the one writing this. This is an appeal for the legitimate use of cannabis as a personal spiritual sacrament to connect to the living world. It’s for those among us who use cannabis as a way to connect to a deeper reality that this world doesn’t always connect to. There are various uses for every thing under the sun, and the focus of something tends to be its dominant use – and thus, the focus on the use of cannabis as either a way to have fun, relax, or heal. There is less focus on the use that the place of its origin recognizes, as “all of the above” but very importantly a way to transcend the material world and connect to a deeper spirituality. This is a very Indian (we’re talking Hindu, not Native American) way of thinking and for various reasons has deep discord with the dominant thinking of the West which is very materialist. I’m trying not to make this sound too cliche because obviously this is the subject of countless riffs on this divide, but the important part is this – one recognizes that there is a greater mass to creation than what meets the eye, and looks for it – the other is consumed by the reality of “what is” and what we’re able to objectively demonstrate in a laboratory or on a balance sheet. Thus, the deep divide over cannabis. The actual history of the world shows that several ancient cultures, many of whom are still around, have used this herb for thousands of years. (Not that it matters to those already convinced it makes you “dumb” or “unmotivated”, recently they also found it in William Shakespeare’s tobacco pipe..) One of these cultures is alive and well, a cradle of civilization whose written works are some of the oldest known and many of whose modern members are word-renowned for their scientific, medical and spiritual knowledge.

Don’t ask yourself “should cannabis be legalized” for this or that purpose, ask yourself “why is it illegal in the first place?” Honestly, is it because it’s “dangerous”, “addictive”, and leads to the decay of brain cells and motivation – according to the same FDA that regards wholesome breakfast cereal like Frosted Flakes as more “nutritional” than an avocado? Is it because it causes social conditions like depression, mania, schizophrenia, or any number of other labels the pharmaceutical industrial complex has come up with to describe humans reacting to the craziness of the world? Is it the cause of so much social decay and economic depravity as observed in places like the third world – or, our domestic version, the inner city?

Or,

  • Does it have more to do with the fact that it heals the environment of the planet, body, mind, and spirit?
  • Does it have to do with the fact that as it grows it neutralizes gamma radiation, reducing the instance of cancer (and, thus, a multi-hundred-billion-dollar cancer prevention industry)?
  • Does it have anything to do with its incredible capacity to fix carbon dioxide, reversing the effects of climate change and stabilizing areas of the globe stricken by human-caused drought and plague (shucks, bummer for the arms industry..)?
  • Does it have to do with its tendency to expand consciousness, relieve anxiety and depression that encourages excess consumption,  encourage introspective thinking and inner emotional resilience, reduce violent tendencies, and resist central authority structures such as the military-industrial complex?
  • Does it have to do with the gradual transformation of certain Vietnam soldiers into pacifists after they turned to it as a last refuge from the horrors of a bloody, pointless war?
  • Is it a handy way to write off whole populations and economic groups, imprison and/or deprive millions (if not billions) by associating an ancient tradition with criminality and mental disease – then blaming them for “their own problems”?
  • Does it have to do with the fact that it is a free, easy to grow plant that has immense potential to do all sorts of actual good for everybody, independent of the industrial complex that has dominated our food, medicine, manufacturing and lives for years?
  • Does it have anything, perhaps, to do with William Randolph Hearst – the essential founder of yellow journalism – and his campaign to illegalize and stamp out cannabis everywhere?
  • Does it have something to do with Hearst’s newspapers to demonize and destroy the production of non-medical hemp in order to industrialize and deforest huge sections of the Midwest for the very same newspapers?
  • Does it involve a then-booming opium pharmaceutical industry which Hearst helped promote? (Yes, the one that still dominates Western medicine today.)

I really could go on. But now I will put away the gavel and pick up the plow… Now let’s get productive and talk about solutions for those who do happen to use this plant and feel like they might be spiritually persecuted in their homes, work, country and lives in general for taking its sacrament personally. People who feel like they constantly need to lie to or avoid certain family, friends, neighbors, bosses and landlords about something which they deeply identify with, means something profound to them, but others seem to judge, glass over or worse. Not that I’m among them…

If hypothetically I was in the position of defending cannabis use personally as a totally legitimate spiritual sacrament, I would consider it part of my First Amendment Right to practice freedom of religion (in this case, spirituality) independent of any agency’s definition of it. Providing spiritual cannabis users are doing no harm to themselves or others, there is nothing wrong with this and it is, as I have been brought up in school to believe, protected by the very US Constitution our military works tirelessly to protect. (God forbid, separate of the government or massive industries or huge morally bankrupt religious edifices, somebody should actually get some insight into the nature of this reality and use it to inject some meaning into this distressing post-modern nightmare.) The use of this assertion has met with mixed reactions, with cases being decided each way. The more people stand up, however, and speak truth to power, the more this will get noticed and sway the course of society – as the results of the movement to legalize for recreational and medical purposes clearly show.

Recreational and medical legalization of cannabis, for those people who use it on a daily basis, has offered some freedom from the structure of a scheduled substance – but doesn’t even approach the truer, deeper reasons many use cannabis, as a spiritual communion with a living collective spirit that exists in the here and now.  Its cultivation goes back almost beyond memory, to the time when the first Neolithic farmers were learning to plant the grasses that would become our Rye and Wheat. It’s been used for over 3,000 years in India as a way to increase longevity and promote general well-being. In some ways it’s somewhat of an insult to some to even consider it in the same category as a vice or a glorified band-aid to cure what ails you; it decries the connection many feel exists there with a deeper, older state of consciousness. In this way, they may see the use of an herb that grows after its own seed, for thousands of years, as many ancient cultures have – an access plant, something that allows a key to open a door in consciousness and allows the individual to in a sense, become part vegetable. If one sees the whole of the natural world as a source for inspiration and deep meaning, this is a good thing. For those people, I write this in solidarity.