March 8: An essay by Lester Grinspoon, MD, provides the hook for an interesting piece by David Bienenstock in Vice called “What Weed Means for the Future of Sustainable Healthcare.” Bienenstock credits Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD, with being the Jackie Robinson of “Cannabinopathic Medicine” (Grinspoon’s term for the emerging specialty):
In the 1970’s, Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather became perhaps the first licensed MD to practice cannabinopathic medicine, albeit secretly, and with far less knowledge of the plant’s true medical potential than we have today.
As house doctor for legendary counterculture commune The Farm, Hergenrather tended to a flock of more than 1,000 stone cold hippies, who all felt perfectly comfortable confiding in their long-haired physician that smoking a joint helped relieve their chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, menstrual cramps, migraine headaches, and a slew of other ailments.
The Hergenrathers at the Farm —Harry James, Nell Anne, Samuel Barton, Starr and Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD. (Oliver Milo being carried by Starr) — Summer, 1977
“I’m surprised at how slowly attitudes have changed amongst physicians,” Hergenrather told High Times in 2011. “I’ve come to realize that I had unique life experiences, and that I’m also fairly unique in my willingness to say, ‘I don’t care what the Feds think —this is medicine, and I’m going to recommend it to people.’”
Today, Hergenrather serves as president of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians. He no longer resides at The Farm, but the commune remains perfectly viable, rolling on into its fourth decade in Summertown, Tennessee.