Episode 77 – How the Cannabis World is Dealing with COVID Personally, Economically & Spiritually

Dr. Sunil Aggarwal on using cannabis in palliative care and Michael Monarch on how the pandemic is changing the way his small dispensary does business.

Sometimes in a crisis small acts of individual courage or kindness can help change our culture’s narrative — or at least I’m hoping they can. This week I’m continuing to ask cannabis professionals how they are coping professionally and personally with the ways COVID is changing their lives.

Dr. Sunil Aggarwal is a medical geographer (a profession that has major significance when tracking the spread of infectious diseases) and an integrative physician in Seattle, WA, specializing in palliative care with patients near end of life. He has been an outspoken advocate of cannabis throughout his career and in this interview speaks movingly on the power of using cannabis (and other substances) in this difficult and powerful work.

Michael Monarch owns Green Valley Wellness, a small dispensary in Talent, OR. He joins me to talk about how COVID is changing dispensary life now and perhaps forever. Think about it: One time-tested way of guiding patients/customers to the right variety is by educating them about terpenes and smells – “the nose knows,.” But no one’s nostrils are getting anywhere near a bud these days. So what’s to follow? Michael shares his organization’s approach (including painting yellow dots on the sidewalk to guide people to proper social distancing) as they institute universal precautions.

Six Escapist Strategies: If you’re like me, you’re trying (and failing) to limit your media intake these days. The following reads and videos were sent to me by listeners of this podcast and I have found each other them in turns nourishing, provocative and distracting. Use them accordingly.

Charles Eisenstein is a cultural investigative journalist and writer who always causes me to question conventional and counter cultural assumptions of my thinking. In this essay, The Coronation, he looks at COVID, not so much as an opportunity, but as a requirement to rethinking the crises besieging our planet. “We can normalize heightened levels of separation and control, believe that they are necessary to keep us safe, and accept a world in which we are afraid to be near each other. Or we can take advantage of this pause, this break in normal, to turn onto a path of reunion, of holism, of the restoring of lost connections, of the repair of community and the rejoining of the web of life.” If you find the essay as stimulating, and yes, as hopeful as I did you may want to read The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, one of his most popular books.

Tara Brach is a meditation teacher and lecturer with a big heart and a great sense of humor. In this lecture, Facing Pandemic Fears with an Awake Heart, Tara guides listeners to use meditation as a way of finding refuge in a world beset by fear and uncertainly. “What is going on now feels quite different from personal suffering… Each of us having to face our vulnerability and it can feel out of control and scary…May this suffering help love go viral… to create a clearing in the dense forest of your life…

Noam Chomsky has always been a hero of mine, and at 92 and still growing strong. This interview points out how COVID could have been prevented and how once it is over, we will still be facing two other devastating threats that will change our lives in even more profound ways.

Unorthodox on Netflix, is based on a true story of a young Hassidic woman who escapes the confines of her suffocating religious life in Williamsburg, Brooklyn – the only place she has ever known – to find freedom in Berlin, Germany. It’s not perfect but it features a great performance by actress Shira Haas and I found it a distracting 4-hour escape.

And if you’re in need of a mask, or a mask with a fashion element ,check out these beautiful creations from the independent fashion company threeASFOUR. They are made with traditional Arab and Jewish fabrics and they are washable. If nothing else wearing one will signal defiance of Trump’s churlish refusal to follow scientific advice and cover his mouth.

Finally, someone who knows I enjoy cooking shared this Blonde Puttanesca recipe from the New York Times. I have limited cooking facilities here in my temporary refuge in Tucson, AZ, but was able to hunt down the ingredients and easily pull this together. A delicious balm for the soul and the stomach.

As I’m sure you’ve discovered small accomplishments like cooking a meal (even laundry) can deliver big rewards these days.

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Thanks, everyone
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