When Mark struggled to the seat facing the Vermont House Judiciary Committee meeting he clearly had weakness on his left side. And as he began to speak it was apparent that he lacked awareness of much going on to his left. After twenty-five years of Neurology practice it was impossible to avoid making such observations. How could someone so impaired endure the stress of testifying to this humorless group? He was telling these people he regularly violates the law smoking illegal drugs. They had questions. His answers were articulate and no-nonsense. He appeared as a poster child for Medical Cannabis, one who was given a hand in life that was a really bad deal and who was coping with that hand with a positive energy. Numerous encounters since that day confirm that this guy is a survivor. Mark survives with the aid of crutches, nerve stimulators and cannabis. He also has a beautiful mind.

Why another book on Medical Cannabis? On growing cannabis indoors? This one is tailored for the restrictions of Vermont law. Patients and their caregivers need to know it is easy. Many patients who might benefit from Cannabis respect and fear the law, have no experience growing plants for harvest indoors, and may not live long enough to learn what the growers of recreational cannabis have to say about watts per square foot or pH or parts per million of key elements. Mark was asked to write this book because Vermonters like sensible straight talk and Mark is a straight talker uniquely experienced in growing Medical Cannabis in the state’s legal setting.

On the surface, Mark’s style resembles the stream of consciousness style popularized by Virginia Wolf, James Joyce and William Faulkner. But Mark’s words are colloquial, succinct and most importantly, accessible. This is written for sick people who need a little encouragement and hope. If later they have the time and resources to explore the arcane world of hydroponics and maximum yields, there are other compendiums of such knowledge.

So when Mark asked if I would contribute a foreword, I said sure and set about searching for something to add. Perhaps something about which cultivars help with which symptoms. I contacted a seed company in Holland to find out which cultivars had more cannabidiol; a beneficial constituent of cannabis resin that should be useful for pain, neuroprotection and a host of other disorders. I contacted the director of a compassionate use group to see if there were cultivars preferred by patients with specific symptoms. I contacted an activist patient who uses cannabis for medical problems, an author on cannabis in medicine, and some user blogs.

An unintended consequence of the prohibition of recreational use of cannabis, it seems, is that the old “Cannabis Indica” medicine carefully cultivated for thousands of years is almost impossible to find. The commercial value of breeding for recreational users has resulted in numerous cleverly named, colorful, very high THC cultivars that compete well for the Cannabis Cup (an international competition for recreational users), but lack the diversity desired for medicine. The range of effects and benefits is wide because there are variations of THC, some of which block cannabinoid receptors in the brain thereby modulating the effect of the high. Some patients recommend Indicas which are available because they may avoid some of the undesirable side effects of high THC Sativas. For now, Mark’s suggestions of Blueberry or White Widow are as good as any to start. You, the patient, will find some seeds that grow a plant that works for your symptoms, with only good side effects. Someday medically directed breeding will result in more knowledge and better variety.

Read. Enjoy! The information here is what you need, free of hype.

Joseph W. McSherry, M.D., Ph.D.