Keep It Legal Colorado

Evette Hurd, protesting outside the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Media coverage of Colorado’s quasi-legalization has led to the impression that its citizens have safe, affordable access everywhere in the state.  Sensationalist stories about funding schools, scholarships, and homeless aid programs have made international news.  What isn’t told are the stories of patients still being persecuted, prohibition seeping back into legislation, and that reality is a very different picture.  Here is the story, straight from the front lines of the Front Range.

Medical was voted in around 2001.  For 11 years, Colorado had a functioning, and relatively acceptable medical marijuana program.  Patients had the option of growing doctor recommended plant counts, dispensaries developed a system, and most patients had what they needed.  In 2012, Colorado celebrated a victory with the passage of A64, their recreational marijuana ballot initiative.  This changed everything.  I am absolutely for descheduling of cannabis, and know that cannabis can serve as a safe recreational alternative.  However, legalizing recreational changed the face of everything medical from the industry to the legislation.  Washington and Oregon have also faced these same challenges, and quietly restricted their programs as well.  This change is why patients are once again, on the steps of the State Capitol and in their city’s streets.

Colorado now faces the threat of a prohibition reintroduction.  Four years of legalization has had some speed bumps, and propaganda campaigns have fueled a lot of unrest from non-cannabis users.  All along I-25 in places like Pueblo, Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Spring, Amendment 20 has come under fire.  The strategy is a slow and steady chipping away at the state amendments.  It has gone virtually unnoticed.  What the news doesn’t tell you is that Colorado is a Home Rule state.  Local municipalities can change what they don’t approve of (or they claim will be harmful to their city), and even opt-out of some state legislation.  Most of the local municipalities in Colorado have latched on to that and attacked every part of A-20 they could.  Home grow rights have been virtually wiped out along the I-25 corridor, because of a problem that has been grotesquely exaggerated by City Officials and Law Enforcement.  In Colorado Springs, the DEA presented an extremely passionate doomsday scenario to City Council.  The agent presenting (Tim Scott), was almost yelling and looked as if he could stroke out at any point.  His face was red, voice elevated, and you could even hear the huffing and puffing on the video.  Check it out here at time marker 5:12:25.  When all was said and done, they cited 186 homes that were being looked at for out of state trafficking.  186.  In Colorado Springs, there are over 185,000 homes.  The 5th grade math tells me that 186 homes out of over 185,000 results in 1/10 of 1% of a problem.  Even if the statistics given were quadrupled like Mr. Scott claimed, that still is less than half a percent.  So half of one percent gets medicine taken away, Colorado panics and calls in the DEA to prosecute you, and even more restrictive regulations (that only affect patients – not the intended illegal grows) get put into place.  It is Reefer Madness all over again, and happening throughout Colorado.

On a state level, medical cannabis and patients are being attacked as well.  While there was a huge victory with Jack’s Bill (SB-1373), prohibition measures are starting to get more and more support.  This year there was a bill introduced to restrict potency that lost by one vote on a technicality.  This bill is now being funded by the Anschtuz family and will be reintroduced for the November ballot.  This bill would limit the potency allowed on all recreational sales, so all concentrates, most edibles, and a large amount of flower would be completely banned.  While that doesn’t necessarily affect medical directly, Jason Cranford reported on Facebook that the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) is already starting to put pressure on Denver medical dispensaries to become recreational. In Colorado Springs, Tom Scudder of A Wellness dispensary and a member of the Medical Marijuana Task Force said he would be in favor of reducing the number medical dispensaries in half.  There is speculation that the state is phasing out medical for the profits of recreational. Sadly, a large portion of the cannabis industry is actually lobbying to make these changes happen.  A recreational world would boost their bottom lines, and they all feel they will survive the battle over the monopoly.  Other than their own financial interests, none of the industry leaders seem to be involved with helping protect the eroding patient rights.

Slowly, patients are starting to see what is going on, but not quick enough.  In Colorado Springs, several advocacy groups are working to preserve the basic patient rights,  American Medical Refugees, CannAbility, and Cannabis Patient Right Coalition have all been speaking out against these infractions and been trying to unite the patient community.  Petitions like this one are starting to circulate around the internet, patients are starting to protest, and the community is coming together.  We need your help though.  A federal deschedule and consistent citizen involvement are the only things that will ever stop these types of onslaughts.  Be sure you are registered to vote, you are actively involved with emailing your elected officials (on all relevant issues, not just cannabis), and join the movement to take back our country.

Medical Marijuana Legal Soon?

These were one month of meds not including supplememnts.
This was a one month of meds not including supplements.

Recently a lot has come out claiming that the US Government is going to “make marijuana legal”.  People are raving that all Americans will have access to medical cannabis and our opiate addictions will be solved.  While there is no confirmed decision on cannabis (the government only said they would make an announcement about medical marijuana), there are some pieces of the puzzle that are in place that suggest something may be coming.  However, it doesn’t look like the US will be any closer to a compassionate medical marijuana program any time soon.

In the last 8 years, several new things have happened including: GW Pharmaceuticals completing human trials and garnering patents, half the states have some form of medical marijuana law and more are set to join in, multitudes of patient stories have hit the mainstream creating a fervor from patients, CDC recommended that doctors no longer test for THC when dispensing opiates, and a resurgence of the heroin epidemic has hit the US.  All of these together indicate that something may be coming from the Feds, but it is still all speculation.  If the government does decide to make some decision, it will probably be to move marijuana and cannabinoids to Schedule II (Marinol is Schedule III FYI).  There are a couple ways a Schedule II ruling could go.  One is that every state’s medical marijuana program remains intact and research begins, but the more realistic version isn’t so pretty. Moving cannabis to Schedule II does have some good points, and we know we cannot expect the government to do the right thing immediately.  Change is always baby steps.  In Schedule II, a doctor could actually prescribe FDA approved cannabis if they have the DEA registration, similar to how doctors prescribe oxyorphone.  Arguably, the best thing about Schedule II is that some forms of research will open up for cannabinoid therapy.  Cannabis and cannabinoids are incredibly complex and are excellent multi-performers.  Then add in terpenes, and the end result changes again.  Everything about cannabis has a shared, symbiotic relationship.  There isn’t one function per chemical, which makes studying cannabis tricky.  Definitive science is decades away, and the quicker we can start – the better.

If the Feds choose to ignore states rights, or if the states use the Federal piece as an excuse – a Schedule II classification could actually harm medical marijuana as we know it.  Schedule II would allow for a doctor to prescribe an FDA approved product to their patients.  GW Pharmaceuticals has 2 products (Epidiolex and Sativex) that are in the last staged of the FDA approval process.  This would mean the only 2 medical cannabis products that a doctor could prescribe would be these two.  No others.  A Schedule II ruling does not allow for the current system of medical marijuana, and leaves patients vulnerable to DEA raids and prosecution.  You can be prescribed morphine, but it is a felony to be caught with opium poppies.  The same would apply here.

Having a product like Epidiolex or Sativex will definitely be a convenient solution for some, but roughly 2/3 won’t get the benefit needed from those 2 products.  Epidiolex is specifically CBD which works amazingly in Dravet Syndrome, but doesn’t show the same track record with other seizure disorders.  In Colorado, most of the non-Dravet epilepsy patients use some form of full spectrum cannabis.  This means that they have to find the ratios of each cannabinoid needed to stop their seizures.  There are children in Colorado who use THC as a rescue medicine when having seizure issues, and others needing CBG or CBN (other cannabinoids).  Sativex does include THC and CBD, but the terpene variety and other cannabinoids are absent.  The Entourage Effect is part of the reason cannabinoids are so difficult to study.  Each reaction from cannabis, depends on the chemical make up of both the plant material and your body.  Having a strain higher in CBD is going to have a different effect than one higher in THC, as is a plant that has a higher ratio of CBN.  All of these plus the terpene make up (terpenes are just as important) will dictate how the cannabinoids work in the body.  Without the option for strain variety and to experiment with full spectrum cannabinoids, the pharmaceutical products will fall short of what patients need.

Cost will definitely increase.  A Schedule II prescription doesn’t last all year like a cannabis recommendation.  According to the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, “Prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances cannot be refilled.  A new prescription must be issued.”.  Every month, you will have to go see a doctor to get the prescription.  This new expense has to be added.  In addition, the Schedule II ruling will actually increase the value of plant material.  With the government admitting medical value yet restricting access to the plant, more and more are going to be seeking black market cannabis.  This could cause a resurgence in cannabis trafficking by violent cartels and an uptick in exactly the type of organized crime we are trying to prevent through descheduling.

Most disturbing is the ability of the DEA to start prosecuting patients again.  Should the government actually decide to do something about the erroneous scheduling of cannabis, they could choose to ignore states rights and refund the persecution of patients.  This would allow them to stamp out home grows (some states allow this, and in my opinion growing is the only sustainable way to treat any illness with cannabinoids), place felony trafficking charges on cancer patients, and would allow government intervention in patient’s lives.

Patients are tired of having to fight like this.  For a non-toxic substance (albeit intoxicating), too many lives are lost waiting for access that often comes too late.  Do not make the mistake of thinking a Schedule II ruling makes cannabis legal or accessible to the average patient.  Be sure you stay up to date on what your local, state, and country governments are doing and how that plays into the existing circumstances in your area.  Several states have started to push out their medical dispensaries in favor of the more profitable recreational markets, and those same states have basically banned home grows.  Without the ability to experiment with the entirety that is cannabis, many are looking at an unsure future.  Stay educated and up to date!

Has Cannabis Helped?

Cairns at Canyonlands National Park

This week, I found myself actually looking forward to my infusion for the first time in a LONG while.  At first, I was thinking that maybe the cannabis was not as effective, but then I really starting comparing why I am sore and swollen this week.

Last year around this time, I just was well enough to come off Arava.  I was weaned off opiates and down to tramadol, and my ability level was starting to seriously increase.  Our vacation is a great point of comparison actually, since we did an almost identical one this year.  At Arches,  I was barely able to hobble the Double Arch loop, and that was it.  I had a terrible photo reaction and that completely killed the trip.  The next day, I was sore and swollen like I had an internal Godzilla on a rampage.  Going to the ghost towns was quite strenuous and Mesa Verde kicked my ass as well.  By the time we went to Mesa Verde, I was able to see the Cliff House – though those ladders were the bane of my knees.  Everything else had to be driven to, and the only reason Cliff House happened was because I refused to miss it despite knowing I wouldn’t be doing much else later.  (In my mind, I kept imagining older Native Americans trying to do those ladders and HOLY COW they were badasses.)  I could hobble about 1 mile of flat land given a decent amount of time and resting points.  That was my Roche limit, before my body spun out of control.  That was also total for a 3 day period.  So for every mile I went, I needed 2-3 days rest to control swelling.   Because of this, last year we broke our vacation up into long weekends for the month of June.  This year, we just took a week and went.  So we crammed everything into one week, which meant we needed as few down days as possible.

Glenwood Springs

The death place of Doc Holliday, 2014 trip

Last year:  We stopped in Glenwood Springs for the day on our way out to Arches, but really only stopped for lunch at the Lost Cajun!  It was delicious, but just walking from the car down was a bit much!

This year: We not only walked the city, but made the walk uphill to pay our respects to Doc Holliday and the pioneers that built the West.  We tried to actually get into Hanging Lake, but that was a blessing in disguise.  I don’t think I could have made that hike based on how I hot it was that afternoon.    Both trips, these were the day before our Arches segment.  While I was worn out this last trip from the Doc Holliday hike, it didn’t affect my Arches performance like the Caverns did the year prior.

Arches

HOLY ROCKS BATMAN.

Last year:  I missed Landscape Arch because I could not make the hike.  Nor did I see Delicate Arch (not on my list so I was okay with it), or anything other than the Double Arch/ North-South Windows that wasn’t visible from the road.  After lunch,  I didn’t really leave the car and we were truly done for the day.  I was swollen, hot, and disappointed because I didn’t see the one arch that I wanted to.   Landscape Arch is incredibly fragile and is actually crumbling rather quickly in geological terms.

Landscape Arch bitches! I made it this year!

This year: I made the hobble to Landscape Arch which was 2 miles just in itself.  We also walked along that trail further until it was really dangerous for someone without a functioning ACL or proper ankles/feet.   On the way out, we also decided to follow another trail to see Pine Tree Arch (and the others in the area).  It was slow going for me and we rested as needed, but I was still okay.  That surprised the hell out of me.  Completely.  (It was also cool, so that worked in my favor.)  We decided to head out to lunch and rest after that.  When we got back to Arches, we also decided to see Double Arch again.  I was starting to feel a bit rough at that point, but not bad.  Once we got out to the car, we decided to push our luck and see if we could hike out to Delicate Arch.  That we didn’t make, but I am okay with that!  We saw the hill we had to go up and NO WAY I could do that.  We did end up walking about a mile into it, turned around and did see the petroglyphs.  So, despite the activity and fatigue from the day before, I was able to do all that this year!  (I do want to thank Mother Nature for helping out with the temps too!)   After Arches, we still had the energy to drive through Canyonlands National Park, but we both had hit our max for that day and stuck to things closer to the road.

Glenwood Springs #2/ Aspen

Ashcroft Ghost Town outside Aspen

Last year: Last year we took a weekend and went to the Glenwood Springs/Aspen area.  In Glenwood Springs, we walked a few blocks in the city and saw Glenwood Caverns.  The caves were cool, which helped – but this was really hard for me physically.  I had to rest and really couldn’t keep up with the group on the last cave we saw.  (One was really flat and not very long, and both weren’t more than a half mile combined.)  Even walking along the top of the Caverns was difficult and I was completely out of breath from the elevation/heat.   In the Aspen area, we saw Ashcroft and Independence, both ghost towns high in the mountains.  Independence was pretty difficult for me to walk, because the terrain is uneven and hilly.  I was really struggling to keep up and found Ashcroft a wee bit easier to navigate.  Ashcroft was flatter with better pathways for the physically challenged.

Maroon Bells outside Aspen.

This year: Instead of the ghost towns and caves, we headed into Aspen itself and saw the John Denver Sanctuary, Aspen city, and Maroon Bells.  We made the hike out to the first lake, then along the creek back towards the north.  This segment of the trip was our rest portion.  We rented a cute cabin near Snowmass, and just relaxed near the Roaring Fork.

Mesa Verde/Grand Mesa

Cliff House, Mesa Verde

Last year:  Last year, took a weekend and went to Mesa Verde/Grand Canyon.  We stayed in hotels/cabins the entire time, and actually took a few days for Mesa Verde with a day trip to Grand Canyon.  I was able to see the Cliff House, but after that we drove everywhere else.  Thankfully, in both parks you can see most everything directly off the road.  We would go out in the morning (after having the sun reaction at Arches last year, we changed how we took trips), then rested during the heat of the day.  We say a lot at Mesa Verde, but weren’t able to see the petroglyphs or do much else other than the Cliff House tour.

Grand Mesa National Forest.

This year: We didn’t go to Mesa Verde this year, but in between our Arches segment and the Aspen segment, we primitive camped in Grand Mesa National Forest.  This meant gathering our own firewood and supplies without fail.  We did get caught in a storm the first night, so we had to also be sure the camp was weather proofed.  Camping above 9,000 ft. was incredibly interesting and a lot of hard work.  I was able to help set up camp, get firewood, walk to get help when the SUV got stuck on a snow bank, and track moose.  The activity level was far greater than what we used at Mesa Verde, and to even get to camp – we had to climb cardiac hill!   That hill probably wore me out more than anything, but it was really nice to be in the middle of nowhere camping.

 

Last year, we had to break up the vacation into 4 segments on weekends, with serious recovery in between.  This year, we did everything back to back, which means my recovery/healing time has gotten significantly better!  When we got back, we immediately planned another primitive camping trip to a BBQ festival the next week (so delicious) and 2 days after I got back from the fest, I took my youngest daughter backpacking for the first time.

Leadville BBQ Fest! So delicious!

Now I am sore, and really have hit a limit, but I was able to actually do over twice what I could a year ago with less recovery time.  My infusion is also 2 weeks late now (we have been gone), so that is a contributing factor to my soreness!  During the last 2 weeks, cannabis oil has been what is keeping me moving!  Without a doubt, my inflammation reduces better than any NSAID I have ever taken when I  use the cannabis oil (indica).  I will be curious to see how much the oil helps when I make my own this fall!  We have enough plants to do it, and I am hoping to use several whole plants for it!  So, I would say despite being sore, my activity level and quality of life has been improved beyond what I would have ever hoped for.  Definitely not a cure, but it is a game changer for me.

You Might Be a Bigot If…

Shared by someone fighting for gay marriage who didn’t see the bigotry in this. Claimed millions of slaves were killed under the Confederate Flag. False. Confederate Flag was only around for a short while, and the atrocities took place under the AMERICAN flag.
Shared by a bigot for absolutely no discernible reason with no intellect involved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we have two examples of American bigotry.  Now for some more, Jeff Foxworthy style.

If you cannot admit the Confederate Flag is now seen as a racist symbol….you might be a bigot.

If you compare Southerners to Nazis, or think anyone who identifies with that flag is a racist…you might be a bigot.

If you think all Muslims are jihadists…you might be a bigot.

If you think all Christians are homophobes…you might be a bigot.

If you cannot have a discussion without attacking the other side…you might be a bigot and are definitely an asshole with no credibility.

If you think all Latinos are illegal…you might be a bigot.

If you feel a gay couple should not be married through the state…you might be a bigot.

If you are a gay couple expecting a Christian church to cater to your marriage…you might be a bigot.

If you are black and use the word “nigger” as in “hey my nigga” then call out others saying it….you might be a bigot.

If you feel only “whites” are racist…you might be a bigot.

*****Submissions from readers on Facebook*****

If you feel anyone on food stamps is a freeloader…you might be a bigot.

If you feel the only acceptable use of a handicapped placard is for those who cannot walk…you might be a bigot.

If you feel any issue is one sided….you might be a bigot.

If you feel any patient using opiates is an addict…you might be a bigot.

If you consider medical marijuana patients “stoners”…you might be a bigot.

If you don’t admit cannabis can be intoxicating and dangerous for some…you might be a bigot.

If you feel any other race or ethnicity is beneath you for any reason…you might be a bigot.

If you marginalize the experience of any human being…you might be a bigot.

If you assume all overweight people are lazy, and did that to themselves…you might be a bigot.

If you think all gun owners are Bible thumping rednecks…you might be a bigot.

If you think we don’t need some regulation with guns…you might be a bigot.

If you think all police are abusive scum of the Earth…you might be a bigot.

If you ignore that we do have abusive police officers…you might be a bigot.

If you believe girls aren’t good at math or sports…you might be a bigot.

If you believe humans don’t have differences and should be the same…you might be a bigot.

If you believe the “privileged, white male’s” experience doesn’t matter…you might be a bigot.

If you don’t understand that “better, truth, and faith” are all subjective…you might be a bigot.

If you use any religion to justify the spread of hate…you might be a bigot.

If you make jokes about the cat population outside an Asian restaurant…you might be a bigot.

If you think black kids are only good at sports…you might be a bigot.

If you think a gay couple shouldn’t raise/have children because they’ll molest them…you might be a bigot.

If you think people aren’t entitled to their own opinions, which come from their own experiences….you might be a bigot.

So basically, if you are an extremist in any form, you are practicing bigotry and part of the problem – not the solution.  America needs to pull its big kid underdrawers up and have an incredibly candid, BUT KIND discussion about how we marginalize anything the media tells us to and not putting a stop to hate.  The general consensus is that hate is wrong, so why perpetuate the polarization of people?  That causes wars, not change.  Until then, keep your mouth shut – because you are part of the problem.  Freedom of speech doesn’t equal freedom from consequences, and any hate speech towards anything is actually NOT in that amendment – learn your history.  By ANY hate speech – I mean ANY hate speech.

Imagine if a car sales rep smacked you hard, and then proceeded to try and happily sell you a car like nothing happened.  Would you act like nothing happened, and listen to him enthusiastically?  OR, would you immediately become defensive and discredit what the sales rep said?  Yeah, thought you would say punch that Mo’fo back.  Words act the same way.  If you come out swinging with things like bad, extremist comparisons or starting your thoughts with “I don’t know why all you Southerners”, then expect every word you said to be discredited and no adult conversations to ensue. Same with “if you don’t like it, move” or “you libtards are just trying to sell your agenda”.  Or even “all you conservative rednecks” is a good one.  We are amazing at mud-slinging, so why not show we can be amazing at compromising too.

Go home America, you seem to be drunk – and honestly need a joint to calm you down.

Why Should You Care?

I get it.  Devil’s Lettuce isn’t your thing.  All the hippies trying to get high off this obscene drug are evil.  So why even consider this issue?

First and foremost, it is the right thing to do.  There is ample evidence now that cannabis is successful as a medicine in many situations including autoimmune diseases, epilepsy, and cancer treatments.  Almost half the states have some type of pro-medicinal cannabis laws on the books and several more are rushing to put something in place.  The US Government and several other private organizations own medical patents on cannabis including #6630507 concerning the use of cannabinoids as antioxidants, and #8632835 about the anti-tumoral properties.  Opposing the legalization of cannabis is no longer the noble way to save the children, because now keeping it from them is actively denying them life saving medicine.    The only legitimate reason someone would oppose cannabis legalization is because they are being paid to oppose it.  I can list more patents on cannabinoids, but if you can read this – you can also Google yourself!

Immigration and the Cartels

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-11174174

This is a hot button topic for many people across the country.  We have millions of illegal immigrants and their families here in the United States with more coming every day.  In 2014, the Pew Research Center noted that the immigration rates were stabilizing after years of growth.  In 2014, 3.5% of our population was considered undocumented.  Mexican immigrants make up just over half of that.    You would be surprised how many stories you will hear where the border crossing has to be paid for by smuggling.  Violence by rival gangs has plagued border towns and has even spread to tourist destinations.  See some coverage here.  According to the (DPA) Drug Policy Alliance,  over 100,000 people have died in the Mexican Drug War.  That is an awful lot of people!  While cartel violence may not be the primary reason people risk the border crossing, you can be very sure it has influenced many people’s decisions!  The single biggest cash crop the cartels have is cannabis, and their largest customer is the United States.

Considering the strain on our cities that cartel fueled violence is causing (work in any Atlanta area school and you will see this blatantly), it makes sense to take their money and power away.  While the cartels will resort to other things for money, they won’t easily find something as ridiculously profitable as cannabis.  Very few drugs grow that readily and require almost no processing.  Logically speaking, legalizing whole plant cannabis in any form (medical or rec) helps to cripple these cartels.    Not all states understand how affected by the cartels they are.  Many of the drugs you find in any city in the US filter through Mexican cartels.  (Not all but a large portion are.)  Whether through 2 middle men or directly brought to the city, even Detroit drug culture runs on cartel goodies courtesy of Sinaloa.    Why are we adding fuel to the fire?  Legalizing cannabis could potentially take millions from the cartels and at least place them into the hands of our greedy politicians instead.  That leads to reductions in violence.

Violent Crime Decreases

This happens for many reasons.  First, cannabis access no longer puts people face to face with violent criminals who deal with a lot more than pot.  Most dealers deal everything they can get their hands on without discrimination.  They have obligations to their higher-ups, who often show displeasure with violence.  The likelihood of your local budtender threatening to “pop a cap in your ass” if you don’t comply with their wishes is very slim.    Cartels also have less of a presence in areas with legal cannabis…except California.  California just seems to be a cartel/gang magnet for some reason.  If there is little money to be made, why would a business spend time to set up shop there?  Cartels are money driven businesses, violent ones, but businesses still.   Lastly, consider that people on only cannabis actually don’t usually commit violent crimes.  As a general rule of thumb, most cannabis users are considered hippies and lazy.  Far cry from the family killing cannabis users described in the Reefer Madness Era.  Here is a study on cannabis and violence.

Money for Infrastructure

With legalization comes tax money.  I am not going to argue whether those taxes are proper, but people do seem willing to pay for their cannabis access.  This brings in another revenue source that can potentially be used to improve community infrastructures and education.  Schools and communities are screaming for funding right now, why not help them?  According to CNN Money, Colorado took in about $53 million dollars in recreational cannabis tax.  We even have a surplus that could potentially be a few bucks back in everyone’s pockets.  That is a lot of money, and could truly help bring many states out of the red.  Why let this money go to Mexican Druglords?  Fifty three million from one state alone is a whole lotta guns the cartels no longer can buy!

Creates Jobs that Support Communities

Whenever you create a new industry, you create new jobs.  Jobs help to keep our communities alive and thriving.  Seriously, this should be a no-brainer.  Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon are all creating new industries that will funnel money locally, help the communities it supports, and keeps America working.  In case you haven’t noticed, many of our manufacturing jobs have left the country.  America is running out of industries that support people who work with their hands.  Most of America loves to work with their hands, which is why we aren’t overrun with astrophysicists.  If what we were doing is failing, why beat a dead horse?  Create more jobs and security for Americans!

Stop Unnecessary Incarcerations

http://www.occupy.com/sites/default/files/styles/slide_narrow/public/field/image/prison-article_0.jpg?itok=h-4V8KI4
http://www.occupy.com/article/why-private-prison-industry-our-schools

America as an incarceration addiction.  The “free-ist” nation on the planet holds roughly 5% of the world’s population.  Explain to me why we have 25% of the world’s incarcerated population?  According to the DPA, there were roughly 1.5 million arrests for non-violent offenses in 2013.  Of those, almost half (693,482) were related to marijuana.  So let this sink in.  Almost half of the non-violent arrests in the United States are for cannabis charges.  Now even sadder – almost 90% (88%) are only for possession.  We are arresting, processing, and jailing over half a million people for cannabis every year.  The criminal justice system is always going to have criminals to look into.  There are enough violent criminals, burglars, and cyber thieves to keep our systems floating.    Also consider who is targeted for these things.  Almost 60% of these non-violent cannabis arrests are minorities, despite the usage being similar.  Why are we breaking up families over a drug deemed safer than most food we eat?  Cannabis has 0 overdose deaths (yes, you can still die by doing something stupid while intoxicated), and not even water has that record!

I encourage you to look in to how and why cannabis actually became marijuana and became illegal.  There is a reason it was outlawed, and the name had to be changed.  Most people had NO idea what marijuana was, but cannabis was readily available in their local pharmacies.  It was commonly used as medicine, but never referred to as marijuana until the Anslinger onslaught.  Seriously, look it up.   Smoke signals is an excellent book if you want to catch up on the history of all this.  There is no reason we should be spending millions of dollars incarcerating non-violent offenders, or be contributing to the multi-million dollar private prison industry.

Opiate Use/Deaths Decline

The United States has 5% of the world’s population & consumes 75% of the world’s prescription drugs. See text for more info.
http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/popping-pills-prescription-drug-abuse-in-america

According to Newsweek, states with medical cannabis laws see opiate deaths drop by 25%!  That is HUGE!  More than 70% of Americans are on some type of medication, and 52% say they have for non medical reasons.  Unfortunately, these medicines are incredibly addictive, and have created a conundrum for patients.  Many patients, myself included, didn’t have cannabis as an option.  I spent decades on NSAIDS until my kidneys said no more.  Then my only option was to move up to opiates.  They are my only option right now if the cannabis doesn’t work.  Legalization offers a middle ground – something to try BEFORE opiates.  This will lead to less addiction, which will lead to less illegal supply, which will lead to fewer patients being persecuted for needing them.  From a strictly patient perspective, I need to preserve my organs as much as possible.  Going to opiates caused some permanent damage that I am not sure will reverse.  Eventually, I know my pain is going to need some help, that is the nature of a bone and organ eating disease.  I would like to put that moment off as long as possible, so I can be strong enough to pull through it.  Cannabis helps bridge that gap, and can prevent/delay opiate use for decades in some.

Also keep in mind, many patients on opiates also take other drugs including sleep aids, muscle relaxers, neuropathy drugs, and mood stabilizers.  All those things together can significantly increase the risk of sudden death or accidental overdose.  Using cannabis for one or more of those (I replaced ALL of those with cannabis) can really help improve the quality of life for patients, and reduce the risks of medicine reactions.

POLLUTION

http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/?ar_a=1

Yes I said pollution.   Are you aware that hemp, the nonpsychoactive cousin to marijuana, is also illegal?  Are you also aware that you can replace most petroleum-based products with hemp based products, and produce a lower carbon footprint?  Everything from fuel to plastic can be made with hemp.  Right now, there is a place in the Pacific Ocean called Garbage Island.  Our oil based plastic polymers never truly break down, so we have this massive build up of plastic waste in the lull of the Pacific.  Hemp plastic polymers completely break down.  They are also stronger.  Henry Ford made his first car on hemp fuel, but Rockefeller convinced him gas was the way to go.  It was great for Rockefeller, because gasoline was a waste product in the production of kerosene.  He found a market for his waste products.   Paper can be made from hemp, rather than trees.  Imagine the amount of hemp you can grow in the time it takes to harvest a tree?    Legalizing cannabis has tremendously far-reaching effects!

Marijuana is a much bigger issue than we give it credit for.   It has far-reaching latent effects that most can’t even begin to fathom.   Jack Herer may have been right when he said that hemp could save the world.   Unfortunately, humanity deems it necessary to make the most useful plant on the planet illegal.  Help change that.  Lives depend on it.  They really actually do.

One Year Opiate Free

Went from 13 prescriptions to 3 and cannabis – in the span of a year! Sensi Star

Getting to this point was not an easy journey.  When I started, I was hoping to replace opiates because the DEA was causing shortages of the only opiate I was not allergic too.  My RA damage is severe, and the activity was still in the severe category at the time.  In the back of my head, I truly thought this cannabis experiment would fail.  Decades of raging autoimmune disease is rarely forgiving!  Persistence and being a stubborn horses arse paid off, because  a year ago I woke up knowing I didn’t have to take another opiate, and was not going to have any more withdrawal symptoms!  What a glorious moment!  If this journey ended there it still would have been a success, however – it ended up being SO MUCH MORE. 

Right now, I am off 7 daily prescriptions and 2 that were as needed.  So cannabis replaced 9 prescriptions total!  As a result, I lost almost 70 pounds!  Let me emphasize – I lost over 70 pounds of prescription side effect weight.  That led to being able to lower my infusion, which was a good thing considering how it is effecting my cholesterol and neutrophils!  I did consequently add in Lipitor for the cholesterol that Actemra is steadily rising, but hoping that lowering the dose will also improve the results!  (I was 95% vegetarian in between results, and my cholesterol has always been in the 120-150 range prior.  Side effects of biologics!)    All this sounds great, but how am I functioning?

Last January-May, I was in such complete flare and misery that I withdrew from most of the world.  This site was the only social media that I had the energy for, and people were actually worried about me.  My disease was still in the severe activity level range, and functioning was SOOOOOOOO HARRRRRRD.  I spent most of my days binge watching History Channel or YouTubing from my bed.  Hiking was an automatic NO and I was about 80 pounds overweight from medication.  January through May in Colorado is absolutely insane weather wise.  We get snow storms, hail storms, and things are rapidly changing with the air pressure.  There are also these storms that come in from the south that the mountains can’t buffer, so they hit hard.  This past week we had rain, massive hail/electrical storms, tornadoes, snow storms, and flooding (actually I think this was ONE DAY LOL).  So turbulent stuff for these months!  This is my “autoimmune season”.  This year I have actually been outside, maintaining my friendships better (energy for social media), keeping up with my Granddaughter who moved out in November, and have actually been able to function better.  This season, I have had several autoimmune days and suffered from germ warfare – but I am OKAY.  Am I running and jumping and climbing mountains?  Absolutely NOT.  My hands are hurting just from typing this, my knee is still deciding whether it wants to hold my weight today, and my feet are just being assholes.   Because I have increased my activity level, I am starting to see some extra hand pains and my feet are mad as hell – BUT I AM USING MY HANDS AND FEET!  That is an amazing thing!

I have a garden attempt going, have been out hobbling with friends, typing a LOT more than I would ever type before, and am enjoying this new recession in disease activity!  Winter/Spring transition is tough, but nothing like Hurricane Season, Tornado Season, The Yellowing, and Satan’s Armpit Season.  So over all, this has been a success.

While I am still living with RA, lupus, Sjogrens, and Reynaud’s, I am living.  My disease activity has significantly decreased, and my labs have been almost normal for the last 4 runs (watching cholesterol and neutrophils which were high and low respectively.)   I actually feel good enough to deal with some of these other symptoms/issues that were lingering in the background like neuropathy (improving s-l-o-w-l-y) and some deformation issues.  No, I am not cured.  I still have to plan everything I do, and half of what I plan never gets done because of pain or fatigue.  After each PT session, I usually have to rest several days to heal my joints good enough for the next session.  Cooking dinner and showering kick my butt as far as activity level goes, so I am still way behind what anyone would consider average activity.  But I am getting there.

Everything we do is temporary.  At some point, I know I will lose every ability I have.  Even this increased but underwhelming activity level is a blessing and an opportunity for me to collect an experience, pain or not.   I truly love life and can say hands down that cannabis is extending my activity level and allowing me to live.  My quality of life isn’t “normal” (that word needs to be stricken from every autoimmuner’s vocabulary) but it is good.  Happy Cannaversary to me!

Life is Too Short for Dry Socks

Not many adults jump in puddles.  It seems that once we hit middle school, we are conditioned to conform to societal norms and shun anything that could possibly be deviant.  Therefore, things like puddle jumping become a thing of our childhoods.  But why?  Why do we stop playing in the rain or anywhere else for that matter?  There are certain aspects of our childhood selves we should keep, like the ability to dance in the rain or see the positive in what is perceived negativity!

Rain is going to happen.  It needs to happen for things to grow.  No human on this Earth has escaped the inevitable storms that rock our psyches.  Everyone will suffer.  Everyone will age.  Everyone will struggle with something.  Unfortunately, those with chronic illnesses seem to have hurricanes.  They find themselves drowning in other people’s expectations, their own expectations, their doctor’s expectations, and the glaring eyes of friends and family.  Because autoimmune arthritis is marginalized by so many including our doctors, we are forced to fight harder.  So hard in fact, that we forget to play.

Don’t get so wrapped up in what you cannot do that you ignore what you can.  So often we place our value in what we don’t have rather than those amazing things we do have!  Dare to enjoy something, despite the pain it will bring.  Jump in those puddles while you can.  Sooner or later everyone will lose that ability, we are just aware of that much sooner!  Jump, hike, paint, garden, color, and exist like today is the last day you have.  If you knew, I guarantee you would not spend that day moping about something you cannot change.  Treat each day as if it is the best blessing on Earth.

Life with autoimmune disease is hard.  Why make it harder?  Dare to be happy, and say FURA! 

Mary’s Medicinals CBN Pen Review

Mary’s Medicinals CBN Gel Pen

Today is a gloomy day here in Colorado, so it is a great time to write a review.  Thankfully we are getting rain, because my plants really needed it!  There are so few bad days here, so I am just now writing this!

Cannabinol (CBN) is one of those compounds that is usually only found in small amounts within the flowers. and is the product of breaking down THC as it oxidizes.  According to Medical Jane, “Cannabis is widely used as a sleep-aid for those who suffer from insomnia and cannabinol is the reason why. By all accounts, CBN is the cannabinoid responsible for the sedative effects of cannabis. Because of this, I tend to reserve high-CBN strains for night use.”    PERFECT.  Insomnia is one of my biggest issues!

Over the last 2 weeks, I have been using the Mary’s Medicinals CBN Pen 5 days out of the week.  ( I wanted to have those extra 2 days as controls and to compare.)   The first thing that surprised me was the smell.  I actually think it smells really good!  No cannabis smell at all!   While I know some would love walking around smelling like their favorite dispensary, I am not one of those!  (Though my dispensary is my second favorite smell after coffee.)    The size of the tube is actually ideal for geriatric hands as well.  I can’t grip and am missing half my knuckles, so ease of use is important.  You can twist the base to lock and unlock it (hardest thing to do), and all you have to do is push up.

This is the hand that has to use the pen! They are actually beautiful now – 2 surgeries later!

This is a transdermal gel medicine, meaning it goes directly on the skin.  Their website has these directions:  Placed directly on the skin and gently rubbed in, the transdermal gel delivery method has the same bioavailability as our patch, but is faster acting and shorter lasting. Our gel pens are accurately dosed with 50 (2mg) pumps of active cannabinoids. Each gel pen uses our unique child safe dosing mechanism. Simply rotate the top portion of the pen clockwise to unlock the child safety mechanism, and back the other direction to lock it after dispensing.

After rubbing it on the tops of both feet and wrists/tops of hands, it took about 40 minutes before I noticed any effect.  I wasn’t high or buzzed, however my eyelids would start to feel heavy.   Of the 10 nights I used it, this happened all but 2.   When I went to bed, I actually slept longer by about 2 hours.  Normally, I am up several times a night and am an extremely light sleeper.  The nights I used the CBN, my first sleep was about 5 hours straight, compared with 3 hours on a normal night.  I also got back to sleep easier after waking.  Over all, I am highly pleased with this product!

The bad part was cost.  Unfortunately, this pen averages about $40 for a 50mg tube.  Using 8mg (my “just right” dose) a night adds up quickly.  Unfortunately, I am not sure how many patients are blessed with the finances to keep that up!  Maybe ending prohibition would drive the pricing down, so be sure to come out in support of green soon!  Health should not be cost prohibitive!

Life Lesson #4 – Unrealistic Expectations

While I wanted to make it to the end, I didn’t expect to and was happy with what I did do! Snowy trail I hobbled in sandals!

 

Commercials show us people building playgrounds and golfing after taking their miracle RA drugs, movies always show the perfect romances we are supposed to have, TV shows us that most of us should expect upper-middle class, healthy lives, and somehow we are under the impression that life is not supposed to be hard at all.  It is human to have goals and expectations.  We expect that this life will be one of happiness and relative comfort.  I am still trying to figure out the “0.5” in the “2.5 kids” we are expected to have.  My third child was actually a whole kid, so guess I passed the 2.5?!    Unfortunately, these completely unrealistic expectations also contribute to a lot of our stress and unhappiness – thus impacting our illness in a negative way.  Life lesson #4 is to temper those unrealistic expectations.    This will help your mind and body more than you ever know!

  • Life is hard.  Don’t expect anything else.  Take a look at life realistically through the centuries.  Life is the “easiest” it has ever been in the history of man, yet we have this illusion that life is way too hard of a struggle.  Yes we have disease – been around for ages (mostly without treatments), yes we have war, hunger, struggle, suffering, and injustice.  All of these have been around since the existence of humans.  Media in the developed world has created this illusion that we deserve and should never have to struggle or weather storms.  Life is a series of storms with some incredible breaks of amazingness in-between.  It always has been, and it is those storms that allow for the true beauty of life to shine through.  How we perceive these “storms” ultimately decides how we weather them.    No trial has ever been permanently bad.  Even the disease has brought so many positives into my life, and I would venture to say it has into yours as well.  No one wants to be sick, struggling, and dependant on someone else.  However, I expect to struggle.  I am sick.  I know that my life has to be planned very differently than most people’s.  So when something goes wrong (like my photoreaction at Arches), it becomes easier to roll with the punches and be thankful for what I did accomplish, rather than what I did not.   It is unrealistic to expect that my life will be anything but hard, but I think most struggle more than they let on.
  • Doctors aren’t Gods.  We often expect our doctors to have all the answers and treat us with a magic bullet.  Considering that we can go to 15 different doctors, and end up with 20 different diagnoses means that doctors don’t have all the answers.  Many are winging it!  While they are trained in the rheumatics, keep in mind there are over 400 of those diseases that they have to keep up with!  Reasearch on the few that are autoimmunes is relatively new and most doctors training predates this information.  Unfortunately, we still have doctors that won’t recognize the potential fatal complications associated with most autoimmune arthritis diseases or that any major body trauma could kick in a flare.  Disheartening is what it is, especially when trying to get answers!  While, we should expect quality care from our doctors, we forget they don’t have the Googling time we do, nor do they have the time to haunt social media support groups for perspective.  Doctors also have over-filled practices, leaving us with very little face time and often with substandard care.  We have a responsibility to help our doctors in this situation.  When you find a good doc (hard, I know), help them out by keeping up with the research yourself and educate them!  Don’t expect them to have all the answers!  Expect that your treatment will be trial and error.  Expect that your doctor will be human.  Expect that many meds won’t work.  These will make it much easier to handle all these roadblocks as they come up, and they will come up!
  • Expect to hurt and expect to get worse.  This is a degenerative disease.  Whether by age or illness, we will all get sick and deteriorate.  Autoimmuners just do it quicker than others.  Even with the best meds out there, very few of us escape the daily pain, fatigue, and strife associated with autoimmune diseases.  We will never go back to where we were before the disease hit.  So much depression is caused because of this single expectation to life a pain-free life.   Because of the nature of autoimmune arthritis, we will also consistently get worse over time.  The most advanced medicines out there are only effective for about 1/3 of autoimmuners, and by effective, I mean “shows some positive effect” not cured.  There is no cure for our illnesses.  We will get worse, and we need to live life expecting to get worse.  Everything we do is temporary, and this is especially true for Autoimmuners.  Every repetitive motion (like typing) destroys our joints and tissues.  When I was injured and tried to learn a desk skill (PHP/SQL), within 4 months of consistent typing I needed a new knuckle.  Every step I take is slowly crushing my knee, and I think I just dislocated my navicular this last PT round.  (Navicular is a bone in the arch of the foot.  I no longer have arches in my feet.)  However, I expect this and have decided I want the memories.  The bones will muck up regardless of whether or not I hike, so hell – I want the memories.  I also know that this ability is very temporary.  I am one bad flare or major body trauma away from losing it again, so I suck up every moment I am hobbling.
  • Expect no one will understand or even care.  People can only understand what they have been through.  Again.  People can only truly understand what they have experienced.  So when you complain about the pain of autoimmune arthritis, most people equate that with a stubbed toe.  They simply have not felt the constant pain of having their bones dissolved or deformed.  Likewise, unless they have a personal reason to care – most won’t.  We are the ones stuck between what is considered to me a mild illness and those who have immediately terminal illnesses.  Autoimmune arthritis is a long-term terminal disease (trying to coin a new term here).  It is potentially fatal, but kills over a long period of time.  Again, most of the research is within the last 20 years so most doctors have not been fully updated on this.  (***At 14 I found out RA was fatal in an Arthritis Foundation brochure, so the information was out.***) Most people these days are consumed with the daily struggles they deal with (that have been blown way out of proportion as far as seriousness goes).  Since we are not dead, this truly can’t be that bad – right?  Sad as it is, this is where humans are.  Very self-absorbed and completely ignorant of the interconnectedness we have.   They feel immune to the struggles we have, and somehow justify our diseases as something we did to ourselves.  Clearly we have not eaten enough cherries, turmeric, or ate too much gluten.  While this is disheartening, it is reality.  Utopia where people actually care doesn’t happen.  We cannot expect anything other than reality.  We can hope, but not expect.   I have found dealing with healthy people much more pleasant now that I don’t expect them to have empathy.  Those that do are pleasant surprises, and the stress of an ignorant person no longer boils my blood.  It is one of those “Bless your heart” moments as we say in the South!  (That means you are an idiot.)

Utopia is a nice concept, but isn’t reality.  A healthy, upper-middle class life is nice, but not reality for most.  A pain-free, struggle-free life is also not reality.  When we expect these things, life becomes a lot more bearable.  Mental stress is notorious for aggravating our diseases, and this is something we can actually control (with some practice).  Why add the stress and anxiety from unrealistic expectations into the mix?  Frustrations will happen and someone will annoy the living hell out of you at some point, but this will help to curb as much as possible!  Remember: You can only control your actions and thoughts, not those of anyone else.  So temper your expectations.  It starts with you!

Why I Cherish April 20th

Shamelessly stolen from http://www.colorado420.com/

 

April 20th is known as “The Stoner’s” holiday.  Cannabis Cups from around the world gather on the sacred ground that allows them to consume a single plant that is banned in most of the world.  The holiday usually comes packed with younger people clad in the standard “Bob Marleyesque” attire, giggling about munchies or discussing heavily philosophical topics like which constellation looks more like their dog.  This is all awesome, but doesn’t sum up my holiday.  For me, 4/20 is life.  It is health.  It is hope.

As a patient, I see cannabis very differently.  Before coming to Colorado, cannabis was that hush-hush thing you did in your garage to relax.  All your neighbors used cannabis, but it was a recreational thing.  Then I was put on methotrexate and had 2-4 days of nausea depending on the week.  I was aware that cancer patients used it for their nausea, so I started using cannabis differently.  Even so, I had no idea just how medicinal cannabis actually was.  Then I moved and my world changed.  That January, things went south with finding the only opiates I could take, and I started actually researching cannabis as a medicine.

Cannabis is life.  I mean this in a very profound sense too.  Our endocannabinoid systems are one of our most essential when it comes to our ability to heal.  Cannabis is one of the few known substances that interact with this system (and led to its discovery) and can help to regulate it.  Healing and repair is essential.  Cannabinoids are needed to protect the neurons (nerves and brain cells), and to help regulate our immune systems!  Cannabinoid therapy has been around for thousands of millenia, helping to heal our bodies from what ever stupidity we could throw at it.  Until now.  Around the mid 1900’s something changed.  We started introducing weird chemicals into our foods, water, and bodies at rates never before seen, and increasing exponentially every day.  Everything we touch now has chemicals and petro-chemicals at that.  We have modified our foods and added pesticides directly into the plant.  Then we wonder why we are ailing as a species and our world is suffering.  Enter cannabis.  Cannabis protects our cells, and can tell them when to switch off or on.  It promotes the healing that our bodies so desperately need.  Cannabis is life.

Cannabis is health.  Notice how sick our developed world is, but mainly the US?  The United States actually has the highest pill consumption in the entire world.  According to the World Health Organization, ” In 1999, the 15% of the world’s population who live in high-income countries purchased and consumed about 90% of total medicines, by value. This concentration in the pattern of global sales and consumption has increased over the past 15 years, with the share of the low-income countries falling and that of the high-income countries growing. The market share of the USA alone rose from 18.4% of the world total in 1976 to over 52% in 2000.”    That is HUGE.  Something in the developed world went terribly wrong and has caused ridiculous increases in illness among its population.  Autism, autoimmune disease, cancer, and many more illnesses are being diagnosed at rapidly rising rates!  This is fantastic, but how does cannabis fit in here?  Oh how I love the CB2 receptors!  Those snazzy little things are prolific within our immune systems and even have this uncanny way of popping up on damaged cells waiting for a substance to interact with it!  Our bodies actually make a compound called 2-AG that regulates our immune systems.  2-AG doesn’t have a singular function, but seems to be able to decide what action needs to be taken and executes it.  CBD is the cannabis equivalent to 2-AG.  Ahhhhhhh – see the connection?  CBD hype has been all over the news for its amazing healing powers!  This compound has even been touted as a cancer killer (as has THC)!  Clearly, the endocannabinoid system plays a significant role in our health and wellness.  Cannabis is health.

Because of this, cannabis is hope.  I was really sick when I came to Colorado.  Honestly, I came for the weather – not the pot.  The cannabis just found me, and thank goodness.  Now I have hope that I will get better and maybe not deteriorate so fast.  I have hope that I may be walking at my granddaughter’s graduation, and I have hope that I can still live my life.  Hope is the singular thing that keeps us going everyday.  We hope things will improve, regardless of how bad they are now.  We hope to find the right medicine/lifestyle combo for the fabled “R” word – remission.  We hope to live and not just exist, even if it isn’t today.  Without hope, all light in human eyes fades.   Cannabis has given me hope again, and in a big way.  This last year, I have improved so tremendously, but I haven’t even touched regular high dose oil or juicing.  (I have used oil for occasional use.)  Cannabis is hope.

For these reasons I will always love and cherish 420, which is now my second favorite holiday.  (Not by much – Halloween will always reign supreme in my home! Costumes and candy!)  April 20th is a day to celebrate life, health, and hope.  So blast the Bob Marley and smoke some George Bush – because 420 is so much more than getting high…..though most will get high.