BY AMANDA FLETCHER
Rachel Knox always knew she was going to be a doctor, just like her mom and dad. Still, there was a time when she almost turned her back on medicine. As an African and African-American Studies major at Duke, she discovered just how misled she’d been, growing up black in America. “I felt deprived of an opportunity to grow my identity,” she says. “I decided I wanted to be a professor or start a school where black kids could learn their history and get some perspective.” Ultimately it was her mother, an anesthesiologist, who urged her to continue on to medical school, telling her she might better effect change from within the system. Rachel took her advice and joined her sister in earning a dual degree in medicine and business from Tufts.
The crises of faith continued. Rachel studied physiology, pathophysiology, and pharmacology extensively but received only four hours of nutrition education. She saw patients with preventable and reversible conditions like heart disease and diabetes being treated but not counseled on lifestyle changes. It didn’t make sense. Rachel found that her values were so incongruent with the conventional system that she was prepared to jump ship.
Instead, she settled on integrative family medicine. By the time she was done with her residency, her mom and dad were seeing cannabis patients in Oregon, and Rachel and her sister made the decision to join them. The whole family has been captivated by the science of cannabis. “In my opinion,” Rachel says, “the endocannabinoid system helped me better understand the physiology I had rotely memorized in medical school.”
The need to effect change is still Rachel’s driving force. She chairs the Oregon Cannabis Commission and is the medical chair of the Minority Cannabis Business Association. She wants to be sure people of color are not left out of the growing cannabis industry after the War on Drugs decimated communities of color. And she believes that cannabis tax revenue should go toward reparations for those directly targeted under prohibition. “I want to see this plant be used for good,” she says, “for the benefit of our health and for community restoration.”
For more information about Dr. Rachel Knox and her work with the American Cannabinoid Clinics, visit americancannabinoidclinics.com.
This story and many more are available in the Fall "Freedom" issue of EMBER magazine. You can grab a copy at your local MedMen store, Barnes and Noble, or Hudson News.