In his comprehensive history of cannabis, Smoke Signals, author Martin Lee tells us that marijuana has been “cultivated by humans since the dawn of agriculture more than 10,000 years ago” (3-4). Early humans were drawn to cannabis because of its many applications and “found uses for virtually every part of the [cannabis] plant” (3-4). Marijuana has served as a source of medicine, fuel, food, rope, clothing, shelter, and more throughout human history and continues to function as a versatile natural resource across the globe.
Three thousand year old written records discovered in China were the first to reference human use of cannabis as medicine. The definitive historical text that records “the first reference to the medicinal use of cannabis” (3-4) is the Pen Ts’ao Ching, “the pharmacopeia of Emperor Shen Nung, the father of traditional Chinese medicine” (4). The Emperor’s inclusion of cannabis in his pharmacopeia suggests that medical marijuana use had been long established and thus deserved a place in the royal medicine catalog.
Flash forward almost 5,000 years and 5,000 miles from Emperor Shen Nung’s China and we find ourselves continuing the Emperor’s ancient work through out support for the legal recognition of marijuana’s medicinal value. Medical cannabis use is now sanctioned in over half of the states in the U.S. and, as more studies demonstrate its healing properties and its ability to serve as an alternative to opioids, I believe there is reason for optimism about eventual federal legalization returning cannabis to its rightful place in the modern Western pharmacopeia.
While recreational cannabis legalization clearly is a good thing, I worry about the potential for greed and recklessness amongst those inclined to exploit the system. For legal cannabis use to survive at the state level and succeed at the federal level, it is beyond imperative that marijuana users, whether medical or recreational, demonstrate responsible consumer practices. Similarly, growers, manufacturers, labs, distributors, dispensaries and other cannabis professionals must abide by legal and ethical business practices or the industry will come crashing down. Taking the long view of national cannabis legalization requires we all play by the rules in the hope that our model behavior will both legitimize and destigmatize marijuana use for all Americans.
Obtaining a doctor’s recommendation is one of the ways I demonstrate my commitment to the future of cannabis legalization in America. I’ve been a medical marijuana patient for several years, and see the same doctor each year for my recommendation. I use cannabis to treat ongoing medical issues and have renewed my doctor recommendations annually because having a recommendation adds legitimacy to my use of marijuana as medicine.
I’ve been seeing Dr. Sean Aldridge in Sherman Oaks, CA, for the past five years or so and recommend him highly to anyone in legitimate need of a doctors’ approval for medical marijuana. “Dr. A” has a keen understanding of marijuana’s ability to treat different ailments and he is sensitive to the subjective nature of pain and physical imbalances. He is interested in hearing about his patients’ experiences with cannabis and listens attentively when discussing patients’ issues. I’ve always felt like I’ve received a thorough evaluation when visiting Dr. Aldridge’s office.
Dr. Aldridge offers convenient and affordable appointments by video, but I prefer to discuss my medical issues in person and interact directly with my doctor and his staff. An office visit includes weight and vital signs as well as the ability to have all paperwork and identification cards prepared on the spot. There are still many medical marijuana doctors operating in the post-recreational legalization environment providing recommendations to patients for a fee. I continue to see Dr. Aldridge because he understands the traditional health care industry and the areas in which it fails to provide adequate medical treatment. He appreciates the importance of his role providing his patients with a mode of treatment otherwise unavailable to them, and he does so with kindness, thoughtfulness and genuine care.
The procedure for obtaining a medical marijuana recommendation from Dr. Aldridge is straightforward and quick. His office has always been accommodating with appointment availability, and street parking in the neighborhood just west of his building has never been a problem. There are usually only a few patients waiting in the lobby, and it only takes about five minutes to fill out legal and medical paperwork. After turning in your completed forms and paying for the plan you’ve chosen, there’s only a few minutes’ wait before you’re called in to see a nurse who checks vitals and takes ID picture.
Once all paperwork and tests are complete, Dr. A reviews a patient’s past medical issues with her and inquires about any new complaints. He appreciates the ways in which cannabis affects his patients differently and takes note of each patient’s particular experiences. After he’s done and makes sure the patient has no further questions, he signs the required forms, has the patient sign, and then provides the laminated photo ID cards and documents. I’ve always enjoyed telling Dr. A about my successes with cannabis and appreciate the care and support he provides. I think he appreciates knowing that his advice is providing relief.
From Dr. A’s website: Sean Aldridge, M.D., has been a primary care and internal medicine specialist for more than 35 years. For over 11 years, he has been medical director of Aldridge Medical Care, where thousands of patients have been seen and evaluated for the use of medical marijuana as an alternative treatment. Widely known for competence, compassion and professionalism, Dr. Aldridge is the first choice of patients seeking excellence in patient care, and affiliation with a physician who is well respected in his community and in the field of medical cannabis.