About the Plant Medicine Coalition
The Plant Medicine Coalition is comprised of local growers/farmers, entrepreneurs, professionals and advocates dedicated to building a just, sustainable, locally-based and prosperous plant medicine industry in Pennsylvania. Our purpose is to build local, self-reliant communities that have the capacity to grow and produce their own medicine and the knowledge of how to effectively use it. We develop and strengthen local supply chains that offer safe, healthy, accessible, and affordable plant medicine as an alternative path to achieving greater wellness.
A special focus is given to cannabis as an emerging field. The Coalition advocates for adult use cannabis legislation that will create a locally-based and equitable cannabis industry in our state. We seek to connect with prospective entrepreneurs from communities harmed by the war on drugs and help them catalyze new businesses.
There are as many plant medicine traditions as there are cultures, and at the core of these approaches is the wisdom to observe the natural world, recognize patterns of harmony and disharmony, and restore balance. When practiced skillfully, plant medicine is not a retreat into the past or opposed to Western medicine. Rather it is a powerful set of tools that can be integrated with the best parts of modern medicine. Western medicine specializes in understanding disease, and provides immensely valuable emergency medicine, whereas traditional medicine understands health and wellness, and holds crucial keys to help us rebuild our broken healthcare system.
The U.S. has the most expensive and least effective healthcare system in the industrialized world. Iatrogenic deaths (caused by hospitals and medicine) are the third leading cause of death. Within our generation 1-in-2 people will be diagnosed with cancer. Autism rates have increased from 1-in-5,000 in 1975 to 1-in-36 today. Chronic and auto-immune diseases are rampant. Opiate abuse is a national epidemic. Bacteria are becoming increasingly immune to our antibiotics. Beneath all these trends, Western medicine often takes a reductionist approach that falsely separates physical, mental, and social health.
Plant medicine offers a powerful complement and alternative by addressing whole systems instead of isolated symptoms and emphasizing the role of prevention and nutrition. For hundreds of thousands of years there was not even a separation between food and “medicine”. The human and plant species co-evolved as parts of a highly interdependent ecosystem. Our epigenetic needs were embedded within our food and the knowledge of health and healing was passed down through the generations, often maternally. Even the word “prescription” comes from the French word for recipe, and the Rx symbol has the same root in Latin.
Today we are still very much using plants as medicine. The majority of pharmaceuticals are extracted or derived from plants. We self-medicate with coffee, alcohol, nicotine, and sugar. A new wave of medical research is validating the therapeutic value of psychotropic plants. The political landscape is shifting and medical marijuana was legalized in PA in 2016, the 2018 Farm Bill deregulated hemp production, and P.A. Bill S.B. 350 has recently been introduced to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana. Plant medicine are largely unregulated by the FDA, so it’s especially important to work with local, trusted growers and practitioners who are trusted for integrity, quality, and clinical success. As cannabis becomes increasingly legalized and normalized we have a responsibility to understand how to use it — and all plants — responsibly and safely. Plant medicine traditions can provide us invaluable wisdom and guidance here. Approaches such as Ayurveda, Western Herbalism, and Chinese Medicine are tested through thousands of years of rigorous empirical observation and clinical application.
These traditions provide not only a safe and powerful approach to plant medicine, but also a pathway to see clearly what is broken in the world — in individuals, families, communities, and nations — and empower us to start healing ourselves. - Benjamin Bruckman
What We Do
Plant Medicine Coalition Steering Committee
Steering Committee Chair:
Cherron Perry-Thomas, Co-founder, Diasporic Alliance for Cannabis Opportunities (DACO), wearedaco.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Traditional Medicine Advisor:
Benjamin Bruckman, ben@alltogethernowPA.org
Steering Committee Members:
- Desirre Ivey, owner/CEO, Medicinally Jointed, Philadelphia, www.medicinallyjointed.com,
Co-founder, Diasporic Alliance for Cannabis Opportunities (DACO), wearedaco.com
- Shawn Wilson, CEO, Veterans In the Hood/Suite 4102, Philadelphia
- Bill Brittain, owner, Shadyside Nursery, Pittsburgh, www.theshadysidenursery.com,
- Val Chavenson, cannabis activist/consultant
- Skip Shuda, founder, Soulful Cannabis, non-profit cannabis education & consulting
- Judy Wicks, founder,
All Together Now
Want to get involved in the Plant Medicine Coalition?