By John Novak
Written July 19, 2015
It has been incorrectly argued by large corporate interests that no more than 150 or so varieties of the cannabis plant handled by one or two corporations will be enough for every health condition.
This argument is inaccurate as it clearly lacks the most basic horticultural knowledge of maintaining an expanding, dynamic gene pool.
Access to stabilized varieties, especially heirloom and landrace, provides a large gene pool for horticulturists worldwide.
One real world sad example outside of cannabis is the Cavendish banana. Lack of genetic diversity has placed this kitchen favorite in a precarious position, and the danger posed to its continued existence by disease is well documented.
Patients rely on a large variety of varieties being made available because of the unique properties of each plant’s phytocannabinoids & terpene content.
Not only is each variety different, but each plant is unique.
Over time, the desirable genetic qualities break down and access to a large gene pool is mandatory for the ongoing science of finding variety to condition match for the best possible relief or potential cure.
While stabilized varieties offer the best for medical purposes, the cloning of female plants off a stabilized mother will not stop genetic degradation over time.
New seeds and people to breed them will always be needed to perpetuate the existence of stabilized standards and new varieties.
Even the “small guy” in his own basement, garage or backyard horticulturist makes a contribution to the continued existence of the species.
That is why in the present age we have all the wonderful varieties of flowers, vegetables, fruits, trees and shrubs available for use today.
That is what will be needed alongside “mom & pop” businesses and even the bigger corporations.
More so than most plant consumer groups, cannabis patients need control over who grows their plants and how they do it.
This is critical for those who can’t grow it themselves due to financial, health or residential restrictions.
Those who want more direct control over the varieties and the types of fertilizers and pest control methods need home horticulture, designated providers and the ability to participate in non-commercial, non-regulated collective horticulture with other patients, family and friends.
Having direct interaction and commerce with commercial horticulturists is also helpful in acquiring seeds, plants and low cost, high quality products when no other option is available.
One of the biggest arguments patients and medical cannabis advocates have used in the past to keep home horticulture within local laws is the cost of production.
Patients can grow the plants together or by themselves for less money than what the commercial industry is charging.
This argument is starting to be defeated is some areas, like Canada, that are considering having insurance companies pay the costs so it’s even free or next to nothing and still shut down home horticulture.
We are now left with having to defend ourselves over why we need to save the compassionate use model.
And that is maintaining and expanding the variety of choices to match the personal conditions that current world-wide market makes available.
It is so important to preserve because big corporations can never match that kind of need for everyone.
They’ll be able to work alongside and even take advantage, but never completely monopolize.
It’s just too personalized.
The more the science on the endocannabinoid system and the entourage effect of phytocannabinoids in whole plant therapy and medicine advances, the more it is realized how many conditions cannabis safely and effectively treats.
All adult use, especially the elderly, can be seen as a medical/therapeutic preventative, intended or not, in relation to US Patent #6630507, awarded to the Department of Health and Human Services, which states, “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”
Even if a person believes they using cannabis for “recreational” purposes, the bottom line is that varieties have different effects on the user.
That is the point of compassionate use: more choice of effects means a greater chance for superior effective relief, cure or prevention of disease.
Using the same math probability of less choice of available varieties means less chance of superior effective relief. .
It is clear to those who look at the math with an unbiased view: a good match is possible at 15000+ choices where limiting that to 5, 6 or even 800 choices insures that some patients will not get superior effective relief, prevention or cure of their disease.
It is already happening in Washington State where medical shops that provide a vast variety in a near free market are being closed down in favor of the over-regulated I-502 “recreational” shops.
Patients are beginning to give anecdotal evidence that they can not find the same variety and find this out for themselves without knowing the math, they are not getting good enough relief.
The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, Articles 4 and 28 gives allowances for Industrial, Medical, Horticultural and Scientific uses of cannabis.
With this knowledge in hand, the term “illicit” defies common sense in relationship with the use of cannabis for adult use or a superior and effective relief, prevention or cure, especially when it has never been the direct cause of death in all of recorded history.
This is why the laws must change and the species itself protected from over-regulation and monopolization schemes.
In today’s world of on-demand consumerism, we must not so easily forget the decades, and in many cases thousands of years of history of selective breeding.
There would be no named varieties of flowers, trees, veggies, fruits and herbs that bless our society today if those that came before us had such apathy.
We can not give up on protecting and expanding the vast genetic heritage simply to line the pockets of a few who have no sense of integrity on this issue.