Bailey Rahn


Cannabis has been an integral part of sacred rituals for more than 2,000 years. In Hindu culture, a cannabis brew known as bhang cleanses the spirit and transports believers closer to Shiva. “In the ecstasy of bhang the spark of the Eternal in man turns into light the murkiness of matter or illusion and self is lost in the central soul-fire,” J.M. Campbell wrote in an 1894 essay, “On the Religion of Hemp.” Such benefits were attainable only to those who treated the plant with proper reverence. Drinking bhang in excess for pleasure was a sin.

Ancient Hindu tradition wasn’t the only one to bow its head to cannabis. Evidence of its ritualistic use has been linked to early cultures from all over Asia and Europe.

Today the sacred spiritual context of cannabis has been largely lost — but it’s not entirely forgotten, thanks to a handful of practitioners like Daniel McQueen.

McQueen is a 39 year-old healing practitioner based in Boulder, Colorado. In 2012, he and his wife Alison founded Medicinal Mindfulness, a grassroots consciousness organization dedicated to “supporting individuals and communities who choose to use psychedelics and cannabis with intention.” This year they’re forming the Medicinal Mindfulness Foundation, a nonprofit organization promoting psychedelic harm reduction practices and the therapeutic uses of cannabis.

A former political activist, McQueen shifted from the political to the personal by earning a master’s degree in transpersonal counseling psychology from Naropa University, the liberal arts college that integrates Eastern wisdom studies with traditional Western academics. After Naropa, McQueen worked as a clinical intern on one of the world’s first studies of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, conducted by the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). At the time, the idea of psychedelic-assisted therapy seemed radical. Now it’s beginning phase three of an FDA-approved clinical study, the last phase before being approved as a prescription medication.

When Colorado legalized recreational use of cannabis in 2012, McQueen saw an opportunity to share the therapeutic use of psychedelics with the public. After the law was enacted in 2014, he began facilitating Conscious Cannabis Circles, guided group meditation ceremonies that harness the power of specific cannabis blends. These take place either indoors to the sound of music and a guiding voice or outdoors by firelight. They can last up to six hours.

After hearing about McQueen’s ceremonies, I reached out to him in Boulder to see if I could take my cannabis experience to a higher plane. McQueen welcomed my interest and agreed to guide me during a one-on-one session.

So I hopped a flight to Colorado.

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Bailey Rahn

Bailey is an editor at Leafly, specializing in strains and health.

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