Tag Archives: medical marijuana

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.

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.

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!

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.

How to Find a Strain

You have decided to get your medical marijuana documents, and are finally walking into a dispensary to try your luck!  You have been nauseated, have serious joint pain, and haven’t had a good night sleep in years!  YAY!  You open the door, walk up to the counter, and order….WHAT?!  Suddenly you are looking at cases filled with things like Sour Diesel, Blue Dream, and Granddaddy Purple.  Uh, what is the difference?

First you need to understand that there are a couple different subspecies to the Cannabis sativa group.  For the sake of shopping medically, there are 2 types you will see (indica and sativa) and a mixture of both called hybrids.  Sativas are more cerebral.  Many people medicate with sativas during the day where they report energy, euphoria, pain relief, and muscle relaxation.  Indicas are more body oriented.  Usually, indicas are enjoyed at night  where they provide pain relief, insomnia relief, and deep muscle relaxation.  Hybrids are just that.  They take on the traits of what ever they are dominant in.

Okay that explains a bit, but how do you find a great strain for joint pain?  The same way you would find a pharmaceutical.  This is going to be trial and error, but just like pharma has specific uses, so do types of ganga.  The good thing is that you can try it to see if it works.  You don’t have to purchase a whole months worth at a time.  You can buy a gram and see if it is for you.  Here are some tips to help you begin your journey with medical marijuana.

  • Ask your budtender.  While many dispensaries have somewhat counter-culture budtenders, they are very familiar with the product.  Let them know what you are looking for and they will recommend a strain.
  • If you can, do some research ahead of time.  Leafly, Medical Marijuana Strains, and Medical Jane all have databases with reviews of each strain.  Yes, most of these are counter-culture too, but you can get a good idea of the average results.  Keep in mind, you don’t have to use so much that you get incapacitated.  Know that small doses and large doses (of the same strain) can have different results too.
  • Everyone reacts differently, so don’t rule anything out.  Just as we all react differently to medicines, the same is true for cannabis.  Also, keep in mind you will react to various strains differently as well.  There are thousands of varieties, so keep an open mind.
  • There is an adjustment time.  Marijuana is known for its buzz, but like with opiates, over time the buzz gets to be less and less.  While taking opiates, one doesn’t function very well at first – but that changes.  After you adjust, you resume functioning as if you weren’t on pain killers.  Cannabis is the same way, so know you will get high the first couple times if you over do it.  Start with one draw/hit/dose and work up.  With edibles, the standard dose is 10mg THC, but most people take between 10 and 40mg.  Unlike opiates, if you over do it won’t kill you.
  • Use a strain 3 times to gauge your reaction.  Especially if you are not a cannabis user, the first time you use a strain does not fully realize the reaction.   Generally, after the third time, you will be able to see if a strain is a possibility.
  • Different types of strains have different effects.  For instance, anything with “purple” genetics is better suited for pain relief and insomnia, than for depression.  Likewise, Blue Cheese and any offspring are great for depression, but not for insomnia.  Some strains are more like ibuprophen and some are like zoldipam.  It is a good idea to have an idea of what you are looking for, but also to know if something else may be appropriate.
  • Keep an arsenal of different strains.  Don’t always rely on the same strain for insomnia.  Keep several options available, again for several reasons.  The first is that you may not always be able to find the specific strain you are looking for.  Because we are still dealing with an underground market, many dispensaries are limited in where/what/how much they find and can keep on hand.  Having already found several strains to help with insomnia, you won’t have as much of an issue.  Also, you want your body to not build a tolerance to your “go-to” strain, so supplement it with another one to help keep your body on its toes!
  • Cannabinoids aren’t the only chemicals that contribute to the effects of cannabis strains.  The effect on you is a combination of cannabinoid profiles, your body chemistry, and substances called terpenes.  Terpenes and terpenoids are chemicals in the plant mostly responsible for the various aromas that strains have.   Terpenes are present in many plant foods like fruits and wine.  When you use aromatherapy, it is a terpene based treatment.  You are inhaling those easily evaporated, oily chemicals.  Terpenes are known to be quite beneficial to our health and have several antioxidant effects!  When you get each strain, focus on its smell.  This is how you find multiple strains with similar effects!  When I went to find another good insomnia strain, I memorized the smell of Alien OG.  That led me to Granddaddy Purple and Plushberry.  Those had more of a pungent black tea smell and I know those are good for pain and insomnia.  So prepare the sniffer and treat it like sniffing wine!
  • Keep a notebook about all the different strains/edibles you try.  You will get to the point that you won’t remember all the different things you have tried and their effects.  This will be very handy when you need to get different strains than you have been using.  You can always point out which strains are most helpful for your needs and the budtender can recommend similar strains.  I have discovered many strains this way!  In my notebook, I keep a list of strains, uses, effects, smell (so I can find similar ones), and thoughts.
  • Know you won’t react well to every strain.  Some of the first strains I tried, I didn’t react well too.  I got headaches and actually could feel more bone pain.  (I believe it relieved my muscle pain which brought to attention by bone on bone pain.)  I really didn’t think medical marijuana was going to be for me.  Thankfully, I found some strains that allowed me to sleep, and that is why I pursued this into daytime pain management and disease management.  The different strains in the dispensary are the same thing as different medicines in the pharmacy.  Some are for you while others are not.  This is okay.  Just keep swimming!

Hopefully this helps you go forth and find some medicine!  It isn’t easy at first and can be very overwhelming, but I think once you adjust and get into a groove – you will  find this is exponentially better.  While it won’t be for everyone, once you discover the clarity of not being on medicines that are just as life threatening as the diseases we have!  Ultimately, CBD is known to help regulate the immune system and have anti-inflammatory properties, so you may find that it helps to halt the progression of your autoimmune arthritis or any autoimmune disease!

 

Getting the famed “Red Card” and Becoming a Believer

I won’t lie, I was hesitant when it came to applying for the famed “Red Card”.   The propaganda of the last 40 years was playing out in my head and I was having some trouble reconciling it.  In the past, I had used mmj for a number of reasons, but for some reason I was still hesitating.  To be sure, (and I knew this experiment would not work) I even got some from a recreational store to prove that this was not a real treatment.  When the different strains of mmj gave me consistent restorative sleep, I couldn’t ignore that maybe there was something to this beside the nausea and glaucoma benefits!  First, I read a general book on Medical Marijuana called Medical Marijuana 101.  Then another book followed, and another.  All of the research was pointing to significant anti-inflammatory benefits, and the possibility of not needing narcotics.  Time to consider the Red Card.

Of course, the last of my skepticism was pretty noisy.  I booked my appointment online, and told myself this was a “pot mill” every step of the way.  Never mind that by this point, I had read countless articles and a couple books, and KNEW there was proof that cannabis was effective for a host of ailments!

Completed paperwork for the state medical marijuana program
Completed paperwork for the state medical marijuana program

When I showed up for my appointment, instead of a bunch of wannabe stoners, I saw amputees, autoimmuners, cancer patients, and a bunch of people like me.  Among those was an 84 year old woman diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and Raynaud’s.  She used cannabis to control her pain and inflammation.  This woman was still bike riding, dancing, traveling coast to coast visiting her children, and living life to the fullest.  She ate 1/6 of a cookie every day at bedtime, unless she was traveling.  She was on methotrexate (a chemotherapy medicine used to treat many autoimmune arthritis diseases), but without the cannabis, her inflammation got out of control.  She had recently visited her son in Texas and was visiting the doctor to as about pain management to avoid a flare.  This amazing woman also told me about how she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Her doctors had scheduled her for a double mascectomy 9 weeks later.  She consulted the doctor who recommended Rick Simpson’s hemp oil treatment, so she started immediately.  She went in for the pre-op scans 8 weeks later and the lumps had decreased by 2/3!  Instead of a mascectomy, she had successful lumpectomies.  That was 8 years ago.  She fully believes that the hemp oil helped treat her cancer, allowing for the less invasive procedure.

Okay let’s recap.  This spunky woman twice my age is heathier than I am despite having the same illness and having beat cancer?  How does she achieve this (according to her)?  Her DAILY use of cannabis.  I WANT TO BE THIS WOMAN AT 84!  Who wouldn’t want to be?!   This woman was proud to be someone who stood up for what was right and challenged the stereotype of a medical cannabis patient.   This wonderful woman and every other patient sitting in the waiting room.

This is how I went from a skeptic to a full trusting believer.  I have done my clinical research.  The last thing I want to do is FLARE my condition or make my health worse.  I knew the science and knew what was propaganda, but still had my reservations.  This was the moment that changed those hesitant thoughts, and I started taking cannabis as a medicine seriously.  As a result, I am sleeping restfully almost every night without prescription sedatives.  Before there were times I would be awake for 7 days straight.  Because I chose to see if cannabis was indeed a medicine, I have reduced my need for narcotic medicines by 70%.

Telling the Teens

I can think of few things more intimidating than telling your teenage and adult children that you are trying a medicine that is illegal federally.   We spend so much time conditioning our children to avoid “drugs” and marijuana being the most talked about.   Our kids are teens and adults already, so there is no hiding what is going on.   Younger minds have a more difficult time reconciling the propaganda taught in health class with the reality that is cannabis.

The idea that the government may not be telling the whole story is something most don’t learn until college.  Until that point, they blindly assume that what they are being told is truth.   Most parents (unless they have a passionate interest in this subject) just roll with what the kids are being told and let them learn this on their own.  So doesn’t this mean we are just perpetuating the lies and propaganda when we don’t correct them?

For this reason, we decided that it was best to be honest with the kids.  Telling my adult daughter was simple, since she is now a mother herself.  She has always been very supportive of anything that will help my autoimmune diseases – so I was not worried.   I was a little more concerned with telling our 2 teenagers.   Whenever the kids would make a comment about marijuana, I would always have an open and honest discussion – but I stopped short of giving them some of the facts.  Honestly, I didn’t know many of these facts until this happened.  I had never been exposed to a legal medical market to open my eyes to it.  Everyone knows that glaucoma, nausea, and wasting are helped – but that was the extent of my knowledge!

I decided to sit down with my youngest daughter first.  Like I said, my kids are always supportive of anything that could potentially make my illnesses easier.  For this my kids are awesome.  She is 16, I allowed her to ask any questions she wished, and even showed her what I was doing.  (I didn’t do it in front of her, nor will I ever.)  To my suprise, she was not only supportive – but she has decided to do some research herself and form her own opinion.  My stepson was a bit trickier, but was just as supportive.  We talked about the WHY (he saw both times when I couldn’t get my medicine) and what I was hoping to see from this.  In all, both conversations were excellent teaching moments.  It was neat to be able to explain about the high CBD strains and how they were designed with less psychoactivity in mind.

Every conversation is going to be different, but here are some good talking points:

  • The nervous system has a network devoted to interacting with cannabis in different ways.  CB1 receptors are in the brain and are responsible for psychoactivity (among other things) while CB2 receptors are in the peripheral nervous system and are responsible for our immune systems (among other things).
  • There are over 80 known cannabinoids in cannabis, but there is limited understanding of their functions due to laws.
  • Chocolate interacts with the same receptors as cannabis.
  • Cannabis is nontoxic.  In over 3,000 years of use medically, there is not a single record of an overdose death.  (One was JUST reported in UK, but they have proven otherwise.)  This allows for one to adjust dosing as needed without worry, and if you can’t find it – NO WITHDRAWAL.
  • Strains are now being developed that don’t get you high or stoned.  Discuss Charlotte Figi and children who use cannabis for things like Dravet’s Syndrome or muscle spasm disorders.
  • Tell them that the cannabis is your medicine.  Just as you expect them to respect your NSAIDS, they need to respect your cannabis.  You and your family should treat this like any other prescription.
  • Explain specifically how this will help YOU.  Your children love you and want to see their parents well.  While they will still be concerned because of the laws, we need them to be aware because of the laws!  Someone has to work toward changing the Draconian system we live in now.  Unless we raise a generation that is aware, patients will still have to visit drug dealers to get their medicine.
  • Watch Sanjay Gupta’s documentary Weed on CNN or Youtube.