Letter from the Publisher: On Medical Cannabis
Categories: Health & Healing
The first time I visited the Harborside Health Center cannabis dispensary in Oakland, CA, I happened to park my car next to a van. At first I paid the vehicle little mind, eager to meet with the founder of the dispensary as a potential new author. But as I looked closer, I noticed that the van was a public-transportation service for senior citizens. As I watched women with walkers and men with canes make their way across the pavement and into the dispensary to buy their medicine, it struck me that the story of cannabis in America has truly changed.
With 26 states passing laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form and 60% of Americans favoring its legalization, there’s no doubt a significant shift has occurred. Gone are the days when marijuana was seen as a recreational hazard, something that merely made people giggle or gorge. “This is your brain on drugs” the TV ads told us, and marijuana was locked in the black box of substances that ail society. Meanwhile, the legal use of pharmaceutical drugs skyrocketed, with promotional ads and doctors’ scripts lubricating a growing epidemic of patients either addicted to opioid-based painkillers or grappling with the scores of side effects these “modern drugs” often bring.
Fortunately, due in large part to new scientific research and lobbying from advocates, both medical professionals and public officials began to widen their perspectives on cannabis, seeing its potential as a healing agent and ultimately opening doors to access that for decades had been closed. What is available on the other side of that open door has expanded exponentially; it’s not just “pot” anymore: it’s tinctures and balms and lotions and oils; it’s THC-heavy buds, sure, but it’s also non-psychoactive capsules being used to treat everything from epilepsy in children to insomnia in middle-aged adults to chronic pain in senior citizens.
This is not to say that cannabis is a panacea. Like any medicine, it can be misused, and it is not for everybody. Finding the right strain, dosage, and delivery method takes research, close observation, consultation, and experimentation.
This is where we step in. As a book publisher and educational nonprofit, our mission is to bring necessary information about nontraditional sources of healing and wisdom to the public consciousness. We want to deliver vital and fresh perspectives on medical cannabis to readers, especially in the face of our nation’s exploding opioid epidemic. And so we’ve published books that explore cannabis from a variety of angles, from the historical and cultural importance of marijuana elucidated in Steve DeAngelo’s The Cannabis Manifesto to the new ground being broken in cannabis research, captured in Uwe Blesching’s compendium, The Cannabis Health Index. Coming soon is a book focusing exclusively on the healing effects of CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana, and a book that investigates using cannabis for mental-emotional conditions such as depression and anxiety. We’ve also just launched our first online course, in which students can learn interactively the basics of our human body’s native endocannabinoid system.
Over its 40-year history, North Atlantic Books has always published on the edge, helping usher what was once seen as marginal into public legitimacy. Cannabis today is no different—even though culturally it has entered the mainstream, its nuances as a healing agent are still relatively in the dark. We are honored as ever to play our part in shedding some light.