Posted on December 17 2015
We have all been seeing a groundswell of stories and articles in the mainstream press lately about the benefits of medical marijuana. Medicinal marijuana is now legalized in 36 states, in addition to the four states where cannabis has also been legalized for recreational use.
As an outsider, I didn’t personally have much experience with or understanding of medical marijuana. Does it really help? Or is it just a nice-sounding excuse to skirt the issue and legalize a fun drug? I’m sure I wasn’t alone in wondering.
Over the past five or so years the issue has been gaining traction, and we’ve been hearing more about medical marijuana in the mainstream press. Celebrities and “influencers” such as Montel Williams have taken a stand for medical marijuana – Montel Williams suffers from Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.) and insists it helps.
As I started learning more and more about the medicinal properties of marijuana over the past several years, my personal views progressed from curiosity (“Is this just a way to skirt the laws?”) to understanding that weed helps relieve pain, increases appetite (yeah – everyone knows that stoners get the munchies!) and helps you sleep (aka “couch block”).
So for a number of years I, like many folks that I’ve talked to, shifted views to be more open-minded about the “medicinal qualities” of weed, but still sort of scoped to symptomatic relief. Stated another way, I saw weed as being sort of like Tylenol – it’ll help with the symptoms of disease, but Tylenol isn’t going to cure anything.
Then a funny thing happened.
With states legalizing medicinal cannabis, and a handful going as far as legalizing even recreational use, the pharmaceutical industry has started exploring cannabis. Researchers, no longer worried about being arrested for possession, are now increasingly turning their attention to studying marijuana. Over the past couple of years research has exploded and the masses have really gotten a deeper education about the medicinal properties of marijuana, which extend far beyond “just” managing symptoms.
Now, a couple of caveats are warranted. First, I put “just” in quotes because I absolutely do not mean to deride or downplay the value of symptomatic relief. If you’ve ever felt chronic pain, I’m sure you’ve wanted nothing more than to quell it. Immediately. Similarly, for a cancer patient undergoing treatments it can be critical to regenerate their appetite. And so on. But my point is that we now know a lot more than we did even just a few years ago.
The second caveat is that I’m talking about mainstream consciousness in this article. There are those “in the know” who work in the industry and are on the cutting edge and who have been aware of the medicinal value of marijuana for quite some time. My point here is to demonstrate the evolution of mainstream thinking on this issue, and using myself as an example of an average American.
With all of the new research and discoveries taking place in this space now, it has become mainstream knowledge that marijuana contains chemical compounds (called “cannabinoids”) that have actual, provable medicinal properties.
In fact, we’ve learned that the human body is highly tuned, by nature, to cannabinoids – we have “cannabinoid receptors” in our cells! Marijuana flowers excrete cannabinoids (eg THC and CBD, among others) that bind to receptors throughout our brain and body. Essentially, our body has an endocannabinoid system, and the cannabinoids in weed imitate compounds that our bodies (should) produce naturally to maintain internal stability and health.
There are many dozens of different cannabinoids in marijuana, and they bind to different receptors (eg THC binds to receptor sites in the brain, whereas CBN binds to receptors throughout the body), and cause different types of side effects. THC, for example, can relieve pain, relieve nausea, but also is strongly psychoactive – it is the chemical in weed that makes you “high.” CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive but can help relieve pain, decrease inflammation, and so forth.
I mentioned Montell Williams earlier. He has advocated marijuana usage for treating symptoms of M.S. My mother has M.S. and we have discussed medicinal marijuana occasionally over the years. Initially it was illegal and not something she wanted to even think about. Once medicinal marijuana was legalized she considered trying it, but really didn’t want to smoke it (yes, I know about edibles) and really didn’t want to get high. In fact, she has enough problems walking as it is, with her tremors and muscle weakness. She falls occasionally. The last thing she needs is to be high.
Fast forward to 2015. Her son (i.e. me) has gotten into the business in a related, tangential way – manufacturing and selling smoking supplies, such as pipes and ashtrays and padded travel pouches (to protect glass pipes) and so forth. As such, I spend quite a bit of time in the space and have learned a lot about the medicinal properties of marijuana. You can’t work in the space, selling products to headshops and dispensaries, and NOT be constantly exposed the all of the information. Plus, it’s part of my job to get educated on this stuff and understand what’s what.
So I started hearing an awful lot about CBD Oil, and began investigating it further. Now, those of you on the West Coast are probably chuckling at this point – “oh, how cute. He didn’t know about CBD Oil.” But keep in mind that I’m in the northeast, which is several years behind the West Coast trends – this is all new to folks out here, who aren’t “in the industry.”
So I did some poking around. I started exploring. While there are over 80+ cannabinoids in marijuana, there are really just a handful of “big ones” that get most of the attention – THC is what gets you high. And then there’s CBD, CBN, CBG and THCa. Most of very high-level (pun intended) attention is on THC and CBD.
CBD Oil is a liquid that is extracted from marijuana. CBD has many medicinal properties – it can lower inflammation (think treatments for Arthritis), reduce pain, and has many neurological benefits.
The more I researched, the more interesting it was to test CBD Oil. CBD Oil is legal in all 50 states. It’s actually the THC that’s illegal and regulated – the psychoactive ingredient in weed. If you extract the CBD, that’s entirely legal. It’s treated as a supplement by the FDA, so it’s not heavily regulated. As such, I wondered – “is this just a bunch of crap, like the latest supplement craze that’s entirely unprovable?” But my mom’s M.S. issues are serious enough that it was worth exploring. And every day, it seems, I’m seeing more and more articles confirming that cannabis is being shown to actually CURE certain forms of cancer. It attacks and kills cancer cells, reduces tumors, and more. There’s something to all this…
So I did some more research and found a brand of CBD Oil that I felt was trustworthy (remember – CBD Oil is unregulated and treated like a supplement. So it’s important to find a reputable source of clean, pure, “medicinal quality” CBD Oil.) I bought a bottle of 300mg CBD Oil from Green Garden Gold (although it has “Green” in the name, there’s zero connection between myself and this company aside from a coincidental similarity in business names). I have NO affiliation with these folks, and I am not expressly recommending them, I'm merely factually stating where I bought the CBD Oil.
I visited mom and we tried vaping the CBD Oil. It vapes nicely and is “no big deal” in my eyes, but my mom hated vaping, and couldn’t handle it. She preferred to just take it orally, with a spoon. This was all a journey and we were already learning!
After that first evening, she had taken the equivalent of a ¼ teaspoon and felt that it did help with her tremors – they were noticeably reduced. Not gone, but reduced. Our approach was to only take it “as needed,” and play around with the dosage.
Over the course of the next several weeks we learned that the ‘right’ dosage for her was 1 teaspoon. At that level, the tremors ceased (not reduced – ceased!), the nerve pain was greatly reduced, and her mobility was significantly improved.
At this point, she takes it only “as needed.” She has good days and bad days. Some times she can go weeks or months feeling great, and then go weeks or months with constant pain, tremors, and all sorts of issues. (This is known in medical circles as remitting/relapsing).
She is now averaging about once a week where she gets bad and needs to take the CBD Oil. One teaspoon, taken orally, of 300mg CBD Oil eliminates both the tremors and the pain.
The CBD Oil is not cheap – it’s a pretty small bottle for $60. If she had to take it daily it would get expensive. But she’s only taking one teaspoon here and there, as needed, about once per week, so it’s not too bad. And it works far better, so far, than the pharmaceutical meds she’s been prescribed over the years.
This story is far from over, and we are actively researching different manufacturers now, looking at quantities and pricing breaks and more. We’re still researching and still learning. But one thing that I can say with certainty: we are now both firm believers in the medicinal properties of marijuana. It’s real. It works. And it’s not about getting high.