For High NY’s December event, “the father of legal cannabis industry” flew east to read from his new book, The Cannabis Manifesto: A New Paradigm for Wellness. DeAngelo is a pioneer of the cannabis legalization movement; he began his career of activism at the age of 16 in Washington D.C, where he organized the first ever smoke-in. Since then, DeAngelo has built a medical cannabis empire. In 2006, DeAngelo opened Harborside Health Center in Oakland, California, which is now considered the largest dispensary in the world with over 120,000 patients. In 2009, he started Steep Hill Labs and co-founded the ArcView Group. MERRY JANE was fortunate enough to talk to DeAngelo about his new book that, alongside his other endeavors, offers the world a “a new paradigm of wellness” for the new year.
MERRY JANE: What can readers expect from your new book? Is the book geared towards novices and cannabis enthusiasts alike?
Steve DeAngelo: I wrote the book for two main groups of people. The first is people who are already in favor of cannabis reform. I wanted to give them a book that would give them all the latest science, the most up-to-date history, and the best arguments, so that they could really be effective activists— the most effective activists they could be. The second group of people was people who are on the fence, or maybe taking a look at cannabis in a serious way for the first time. I wanted them to have a source of accurate, compelling information that was not diluted by stigma and bad science, and would enable them to get a realistic and balanced picture of this plant.
MJ: How do you see cannabis being integrated into the healthcare system? And, how do you believe medicinal cannabis relates to, and works in conjunction with, other forms of wellness?
SD: I see cannabis as one part of an overall shift in healthcare, a huge paradigm shift from this illness-based model of human health that sort of sees us like cars. You know, we’re healthy until we break down, and then we go to the doctor, and the doctor gives us a pill or some kind of procedure, and then we’re healthy again until we get sick again. Right? And the cycle continues. So, instead of that, we look at human health as a spectrum of wellness that occupies the space between perfect health and death! What we know is the food that we eat, the way that we exercise, the holistic therapies we use— meditation, acupuncture, chiropractics—, and herbal therapies, like cannabis, are more effective than the illness-based approaches of pharmaceuticals and surgeries.
MJ: How can cannabis be applied to the treatment of mental health?
SD: So, you tune into TV every night and you see a parade of advertisements for a whole variety of pharmaceuticals. Some of them are for mental health conditions and they come with this list of side effects— like something out of a Stephen King novel! Uh, the night sweats, the liver failure, the suicidal ideation, the stroke, and death. That’s the bulk of “mental health treatment” that goes on in The United States today; feeding people pharmaceuticals which are more dangerous and more harmful than they are helpful. Cannabis is a more natural, safer, alternative that works. Yes, there are people who have mental conditions that they are dealing with who turn to cannabis because it is effective!
MJ: Yeah, and how can you deny someone that?
SD: You can’t. The endocannabinoid system is not only present in every human body, but is present in every single living creature on this planet, with the exception of insects. It’s existence really says to us that nobody ever has or ever will have the right to deny this substance to any creature. Our bodies were hardwired for this substance! It’s not an elective, pleasure-time, pursuit. It is a critical part of human biology, anatomy, and wellness.