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Holy Smokes: Cannabis as a Catalyst for Spiritual Growth

Catherine Goldberg

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Holy Smokes: Cannabis as a Catalyst for Spiritual Growth

This Rosh Hashanah, I’m thinking about the concept of tikkun olam: to repair the world. For some, this call to action reads as an imperative to social justice or education. For others, healing bodies, minds and hearts, whether through medical work or religious leadership, serves this sacred purpose. For me, cannabis is a clear catalyst to repair the world, and this New Year, I’d like to share some reasons why.

As we enter 5778, we’re faced with unrelenting challenges, both individual and collective. We have the opportunity to learn from past mistakes and move toward a new way of doing things. Cannabis legalization, along with consumer education and empowerment, will go a long way towards solving problems we face as both healthy and sick individuals.

The stereotype of the lazy, stupid stoner is way out of date.

I view cannabis as a nutritional supplement, and athletes, parents and professionals of all types have found microdosing keeps them more calm, focused and collected in facing the challenges of everyday life. With the vast array of available products, cannabis users avoid smoking, fine-tune their consumption and stay inconspicuous with products like KinSlips, which dissolve instantly on your tongue like Listerine Strips.

MountJoy Sparkling Water, at 12 mg per bottle, makes a great argument for itself as an alcohol replacement in social situations. As a non-drinker, I was seeking a community space, so I started a series of Let’s Get Chai (pronounced high) parties to bring smart, curious adults together to talk about changing the world. I always come away from events like these feeling energized and inspired—never regretful or embarrassed, like when I used to wake up after a night of drinking.

My friends and I used to spend our money at restaurants and bars, but now I’m more likely to treat myself to an Elevated Shabbat, a five-course fine-dining experience paired and infused by Chef Holden Jagger of Altered Plates.

And as I’ve written before, cannabis can be a game changer for professional and amateur athletes alike. I used to dread going to the gym—and at the same time, I’d feel guilty for spending time working out, never able to stop thinking about what I “should” have been doing instead of taking time for me.

One day, I went to the gym high, and I never looked back. I’ll have one Moonman’s Mistress paleo cookie before my workout, then recover with a medicated pineapple slice from Hello Fruit Farm, and to be honest, my lifestyle with cannabis looks a lot healthier than it did without.

If cannabis changed my life for the better, those benefits pale in comparison to the changes in the lives of thousands of sick individuals who have used cannabis to help heal or ease their suffering from cancer, autism, arthritis and chronic pain.

Companies like Mitzva Herbal Co., the first kosher approved edibles company, help heal entire families dealing with autism. Mitzvah Herbal was founded by Shifra Klein, a member of the Orthodox community in Los Angeles and a mother of four. Two of Shifra’s children have special needs and experience symptoms that cannabis has helped alleviate, and their lives have been greatly impacted by the medicinal use of CBD oil.

Medical marijuana advocacy was pioneered by AIDS patients who used weed to alleviate symptoms and to die with dignity. Pain management can give dying patients a few more lucid moments to communicate with loved ones. And appetite stimulation can be a key factor in improving quality of life. As my mother always says, first we eat. If you can’t eat, you can’t accomplish anything—let alone repair the world.

It’s clear that in many ways, cannabis is a more humane, more effective alternative to current treatments for opioid addiction. States in which cannabis is legal see 25 percent fewer deaths from opioid overdoses. Cannabis could be used as an exit drug to help fight this epidemic; instead, it is still banned from Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous.

Treatment can evolve with the right kind of education.

Cancer treatment, as well as medical care for hospice patients, is currently archaic and frankly inhumane. Every cancer patient should have the right to use cannabis oil, regardless of where they live. Just ask people like Tracy Ryan, whose daughter was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer. I watched her talk at the Women Grow Leadership Summit two years ago about giving parents the confidence to advocate for their children’s needs and to push for appropriate medical care.

Cancer doctors make money from selling chemotherapy. Sadly, we live in a for-profit society, and people’s health and survival is not protected or guaranteed. Pharmaceutical companies have a lot to gain from owning the treatments for everything from cancer to anxiety. Imagine if one-third of cancer patients used RSO oil, how many billions of dollars would be lost.

Of course, the medical and health aspect is only one side of the coin. The other side is manufacturing, which may contain the key to tipping cannabis into the mainstream.

Clothing, plastic, building materials, fuel, food and cosmetic products can be made with industrial hemp. It grows much faster than cotton, requires less water and produces more material per plant.

Forbes predicts the marijuana industry is projected to create more jobs than manufacturing by 2020.  One of the largest cultivars in Southern California, THC Design, launched a 12-week cannabis cultivation paid internship designed to give military men and women the training they need to succeed in the cannabis industry.

Tonight is Yom Kippur: the holiest day of the year.

Usually, it’s easy to focus on the fasting. But really, what the day is about is the opportunity to reflect on the beginning of the new year by drawing closer to God. By drawing ourselves away from the material world, in order to focus on the sacred. To think about how maybe this year, we can do a little better.

When my friends ask me about Judaism, about the meaning of holidays like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I like to start here. In Judaism, there’s this concept called tikkun olam, which means: to repair the world. I believe cannabis is the catalyst to do just that.

Once we heal ourselves, we can heal our friends and family, and they can turn and do the same. There’s a massive amount of sickness and sadness and suffering in the world.

Cannabis can’t fix any of those problems.

But it can help us feel calmer, smarter and more focused. It can help us eat to be stronger and feel less pain. It can help put us in the mindset to perform at our best in order to take on the challenges of the world. I wish you a healthy and happy New Year filled with calmness and peace. If you know someone who is suffering, tell them about the power of this plant that God created—that literally grows like a weed.

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