Note: Names and locations have been changed in this week’s Drug Peace Bumblebee column.
New Mexico naturopath and traditional curandera (healer) Esmerelda Martinez was 19 before she realized that her grandmother’s famous tinctures were cannabis based. “When I was a girl and we visited the family ranch down in Sinaloa (Mexico), I knew she was a healer: we’d see ranchers ride in from hundreds of miles in all directions for her medicine, which she cooked up in the kitchen. She just called her main tincture ingredient ‘la hierba buena’: the good herb. Once I realized what it was and she saw that I was going to be a healer too, she began teaching me her recipes.”
Fast forward three decades, and now the 50-something Martinez, after studying modern herbalism in Santa Fe, finds herself helping patients – including “a lot of veterans” – navigate New Mexico’s medical cannabis program.
Welcome to herbal medicine at the beginning of the Drug Peace Era. “It is strange to be teaching how to deal with paperwork so that someone with PTSD, cancer, a war injury or severe arthritis can have access to a medicine that my grandmother used to make without electricity or running water,” Martinez told me when we met in a south central New Mexico enchilada joint. “She lived to be 89, by the way.