Why I am a member of the Board of Directors for Americans for Safe Access Foundation

September 30, 2012 | Michelle Sexton

Michellerevised.jpgI met Steph Sherer at my first Patients Out of Time conference in 2010.  By this time I had been studying the pharmacology of the endocannabinoid system for five years in Nephi Stella’s lab at the University of Washington.  My background as a naturopathic doctor and herbalist left no question that the whole plant Cannabis was compelling medicine, and I wanted to be a part of helping to educate policy makers and health care professionals on the mechanisms of how this medicine works.  

Having long been an advocate and practitioner of patient-led medicine (as an herbalist and homebirth midwife) and the value of natural and botanical medicine in general,  the prospect of being involved in a grass-roots movement to promote freedom in healthcare was quite appealing to me. I see the right to access Cannabis akin to the right to choose or reject any potential treatment for any disease process.  I also strongly believe that those who advocate and provide alternative treatments (alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs) should be fully educated on how and why these alternatives work, under what circumstances, and how to guide patients in their use.   

I used to work as a patient advocate when I lived in Texas so I can fully relate to ASA’s role as such.   My clinical practice has given me ample opportunity to see the pharmacognosy of Cannabis in action, and how it is a viable, safe and effective alternative to a variety of conventional treatments.  I am an avid advocate for NO plant having a schedule I designation so am an ardent advocate of ending the war on all ‘drugs’.   I am excited to be a part of resolving the current federal conflict, particularly as it relates to the education needed to make this possible.   The endocannabinoid system biochemistry and pharmacology needs to be included in every medical curriculum, complete with dosing information and the variety of preparations.   

Part of my role in moving this type of education forward has been participating as an ASA liaison to Roy Upton, the executive director of the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, in the development of a Cannabis monograph.   This is an exciting project that will form the basis for future curriculum design.   It will be the most complex, complete and up-to-date synthesis of cannabinoid research across continents.  I am quite proud to be a participant in this capacity, as the adoption of Cannabis by the herbal world at large is an exciting statement and places this plant in it’s rightful ‘home’!   I want to continue to be a part of promoting Cannabis as a ‘complementary and alternative medicine’  and integrating this into mainstream care.   I hope to continue to be involved in all of these activist and education initiative and participate in the development of research projects as we move forward. 


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