In what might be the best cannabis cover since Bob Marley & The Wailers' “Catch A Fire,” the American Botanical Council features the plant on the front of Issue #97 of its journal HerbalGram for the first time in the publication's 30-year history. The cover treatment, a glorious close-up image of Cannabis sativa by Johnny Wiggs, reflects an important milestone for ABC and is symbolic of the progress being made by the global medicinal cannabis community.
For years, ABC did not publish as many articles on medicinal cannabis as they might have. “During that time — in the late 1980s and early '90s — it was our editorial opinion that if we were to have done so, many people might have misinterpreted our mission as being 'to legalize pot,'” writes ABC founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal in Issue #97. “Because we were so passionate about ensuring coverage of many other medicinal plants — e.g., chamomile, echinacea, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, ginseng, milk thistle, mint, turmeric, and hundreds of other traditionally used and scientifically researched plants — we did not want to be painted into the corner of being perceived merely as a marijuana legalization organization, which we are not.”
Today, cannabis is legal for medicinal use in 18 states plus the District of Columbia. In November, Washington and Colorado residents voted to legalize the herb for recreational use. In the Mile High City, dispensaries outnumber Starbucks (though not all coffee shops combined). As legal opportunities to use cannabis have increased across the country, ABC opted to unroll increased coverage of the herb. “There is obvious growing social demand for, and acceptance of, medicinal cannabis, and for this, and other reasons, ABC has increased its cannabis coverage,” writes Blumenthal.
Other herb organizations are doing the same. The American Herbal Pharmacopoeia is developing a Standards Monograph and Therapeutic Compendium and the American Herbal Products Association’s Cannabis Committee recently released draft recommendations for regulators on the legal dispensation of medicinal cannabis.
The HerbalGram cover story, written by associate editor Lindsay Stafford Mader, talks about the Israeli government's largely successful and non-controversial medicinal cannabis program, which grants nearly 10,000 patients access to the herb. The piece does not indicate what impact a similar recreational cannabis program could have on peace in the Middle East.