Yes, it’s true. I use Cannabis. And it makes my life better.

I think at first my mother would have been disappointed by this breaking news and against any Cannabis use because of its overall effects on the brain she’d state, it’s gateway drug potential, and “Robert”, she would say, “it is illegal”. And maybe like mom, you agree. And now that me, you and Mom are being honest here, I did too until not long ago. That’s when I began my Cannabis, or ‘Pot’ to Mom, educational journey, and now I want to let others know that there may be another solution to using their pain meds, psych meds, alcohol, and all the other toxic things they’re taking. Take a moment, research, and before you judge that Cannabis, heard as ‘Marijuana’ on mom’s TV is bad, horrible and un-Christian like, let’s chat about it shall we?

As we press PLAY on the ol’ VHS highlight tape, you’ll see, much to the the disappointment of my mother, I tried Marijuana as a young man. I liked it more than the other things that I haven’t done since those experimental, naive and educational days. But somewhere in my twenties, Cannabis lost its appeal as marriage, kids, my commitment to being a good husband, dad and employee took hold. I quit drinking as well. Life was good.

In the early 2000s, I start to deal with chronic pain. It seems, the physician says, I must have crushed a couple of my C disks. I figure I must have been in the wrong place at the wrong time during my 15 years in the demolition business. Two neck surgeries and years of various injections, treatments and prescriptions later, in my frustration I ask my nurse practitioner for suggestions that we haven’t tried. He suggests Medical Marijuana. Hmm. The last time I smoked pot, Ronald Reagan was in office.

In the years between the war on drugs and Obamacare, Medical Marijuana in the US became very legal and very effective, now currently serving hundreds of thousands of patients in 35 states. In 2020, Arizona passed prop 207 joining 10 other states in the U.S. with legal, adult-use sale of Marijuana. State after state, Marijuana has gone from the scary drug everyone KNEW would make you jump off buildings and murder people, to a highly effective and safe health choice. Safe? Yes Mom, safe. Listen to this, “Cannabis is a striking example of a safe and effective botanical remedy that is underutilized and still largely misunderstood by many conventional practitioners.” The well-known Dr. Andrew Weil, the famous integrative health doctor said that! He was on Oprah Mom. Read: Not Big Pharma. Also, studies are coming out every week attesting to not only the safety in the usage of Cannabis, but also it’s use in combating so many conditions. “Ha! Like what?” comes a voice from the kitchen. “The munchies?” Hit Pause.

The “munchies”, a commonly identified experience after ingesting Cannabis appeals to a lot of folks who aren’t watching their hips Mom. Ask someone going through Chemotherapy, or dealing with being chronically underweight. In our family’s situation, because of ongoing health problems one of our adult sons was experiencing, including being underweight, we sought the advise of doctors. After the visits to a gastroenterologist and a nutritionist, it was eventually a wise, well-educated health professional that suggested Cannabis for weight stability with hopes of an actual gain. Here we are, ten pounds heavier and our son reports it helps tremendously with his anxiety. Mom, remember how that one guy, on that one show, talking to that lady said Marijuana gives you the munchies? Come to find out that they were right! An Israeli study in 2013, when cannabis was used as a pallative treatment, cancer patients experienced less weight loss. Another study done with cannabis’ effects on appetite simulation on rats, showed the rats requesting twice as much food as the placebo group without cannabis.

Press PLAY again and we’ll get back to me. As a surrogate choice for pain control, Cannabis was an appealing thought, even though it had been decades since I had tried any. My first night was “illuminating” as I described to a “canna-friend” (real thing) after eating a gummy that had THC (one of Cannabis’ beneficial ingredients like CBD) infused in it. I watched a concert on TV and stayed up way too late. I can’t remember if I ate anything that night. And yes, I do remember you told me it was bad for my memory Mother. Since that first time I’ve used my medical Marijuana card, I’ve asked a lot of questions of smart people, researched credible sources and have tried various strains of Cannabis. Some that really make me want to eat and others that motivate me to write, or listen to music, or call an old friend. A few help with anxiety and pain without making me sleepy. In the first year alone, my pain meds have dropped significantly. The need for Narcan is gone. That’s the stuff you give a loved one when they’ve overdosed on opioids. Lovely huh?

I never thought I’d be using cannabis for pain, let alone anxiety. Why wouldn’t I have thought that? I’ve been programmed from very young to be afraid of the drug. No, I’m not saying  it’s your guys’ fault, because I recall when the subject of my cannabis usage somehow ended up front and center next to the lasagne at dinnertime, Dad would say, “Well, I like my beer.” With that declaration he was tagged with, ‘dad’s cool’. But cannabis for anxiety is more than an idea for today. As we continue our chat with my tape rolling, I sit and stare at the blinking glow of 12:00:00 and think back; I’d tried that, but just not always at the correct time, or in correct amounts. Or legally. However, in the correct dosage of the proper strain of cannabis, I’ve found relief in certain situations where a glass of wine, or a half a Xanax wouldn’t have worked or been desired. Plus, I don’t drink and Zan-nacks is hard to spell.

But now, even as the voters in the Grand Canyon State voted by good margins to make medical Marijuana legal and available, and they’ve said that it’s also legal for adults to consume it recreationally, I have to be careful because of the ignorance that persists in the minds of those who won’t even listen to the facts, or the new word, the Science. To think of it, I sure hope, and pray that our youngest child’s school is understanding as they read this. Oops. It is true though. The bias against the remedies of cannabis are rampant. Most of it caused by ignorance largely based on what were we taught years ago. But since then, the research, er, the Science, indicates that there’s so much potential for the benefits that we should invest more time and take a look. Who was it that took cannabis off the U.S. Pharmacopeia despite being safe and effective for a multitude of conditions in the first place? Was it the American Medical Association? No. They fought for it. It was our federal government.

I know what you’re thinking and no, I wouldn’t jump off a cliff if all the other adults were jumping off cliffs Mom. This isn’t about fitting in or being in a group. Lord knows this little chat of ours will thin out the Friends category on my Facebook page. This is about quality of life. Alcohol isn’t such a great choice as the CDC’s stats show, around 90,000 deaths a year due to excessive alcohol use. Their Opioids stats show that from 1999 to 2018, more than 232,000 people died in the United States from overdoses involving prescription opioids. Cannabis? Deaths? Zero. Is it 100% innocuous? No. But neither is ignorance. You remember back in 2016, Arizona had proposition 205 on the ballot. It was voted down. I voted it down along with others. I was against it, totally, and I didn’t seek any cliffjumper advise.

Why so much negativity towards the cannabis plant anyway? Is it not a gift from God? If you recall, back in the 60s we were using a pasty substance for cuts and bruises that was from a native plant long before it was available in stores. You remember? Anyone? Mom? It was Aloe. But ignorance has a way of sometimes coming all the way around the cul-de-sac to kick you in the butt. If you look into the numbers as I have, work in the business of helping people with cannabis as I do, (did I mention I’m licensed by the state to do just that), and talk to scores and scores of folks that use cannabis to help stay away from alcohol and stay away from opioids and other harmful drugs, you can’t, with any smidgen of decency and love in your heart, deny that this little plant, when used smartly, helps people who in many cases I have found, have no other place to turn.

So Mom, even though you left this Earth a few years ago, I want you to know I miss you and I remember what you told me, “Robert, God gave you a brain to use, not to just sit and play with it. So use it!”

You got it Mom. And press STOP.

I must admit it is quite disturbing to me just to type the words, “Worldwide Pandemic”. The reactions and responses around me have the potential to strike so much anxiety and fear, that at times I have to leave conversations, locations, and simply turn off the radio. And the TV. And the computer. And work on my “virtual hugs and handshakes”. Whatever those are.

I am a dispensary agent in southern Arizona, I quite literally work next to a retirement community of thousands of elderly retirees. The average age of the patients we serve is 71. Many are even older. Considering all the facts from the CDC and of the virus ravaging the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions (read Medical Marijuana patient here) I’m not afraid of Covid-19 killing or hurting me or any family member of mine. Am I concerned? Absolutely. But it’s not the virus that has been getting most of my focus lately. It’s my response to the hysteria happening all around this incredible event. It’s the only thing I can control.

As a budtender, it’s my responsibility to give every patient honest, up-to-date and reliable information. And along with all the scientific information of which terpenes do what, how to do proper dosing, and which delivery method is best that I give, one of the greatest things I can share with every patient is Hope. I have the opportunity to give Hope to patients everyday I work. Whether it’s questions from a new patient who’s trying to stop using opioids or a young person looking to decrease anxiety, it’s imperative that along with their medication, they leave with hope. Hope that their meds will do what they want, hope that we will have more medication in stock, hope that they know they can expect at the very least, my smile, my factual knowledge and my positive attitude. Hope. Now is the time for us all to rise to the occasion and provide every patient with the best and exact information we have, and with that give Hope. However, I have no right to share my emotional response to this crisis or any other that I might be going through with a patient who already has their own worries and health issues. Piling on my worries only adds to the chaos. Their chaos. This is the time to show and share with every patient, potential-patient and every vendor, congressman, stoner and soccer mom we care and we’ll make it through this. I want to keep doing what I’m doing and bring Hope, in whatever measure, into everyone’s life. It’s important. It’s right.

Trite? Self-righteous? No. I don’t think so. Considering many patients have their medical marijuana card for chronic pain, cancer and PTSD among the qualifying conditions listed by the Arizona Department of Health Services, this time of uncertainty is especially hard on them. They need reassurance. They need to know we’re there for them. I’ve seen this now for the last week or so in the eyes of my patients. And after I answer every question truthfully, “will you stay open”?, “Do you have enough in stock”?, “Can you deliver”?, I remember to trim off their stems and seeds of worry and uncertainty I find and replace it with a large bud of Hope. “It’ll be ok” I say, “What strain can I suggest to help reduce your stress”? Even the suggestion and recognition of everything everyone is going through opens the door for dialogue, a smile and medicine that relieves his ailment and yes, provides Hope.

With the world changing every few minutes, more than ever, I find the respite of ten minutes with my thoughts and prayers, with or without my medication, and I have better perspective on things. I also operate with intelligence and wisdom rather than fear.

I’ve seen this reality-based behavior happening as other industry leaders set aside the hysteria, the ridiculous, irrational toilet paper buying and medical mask price gouging mentality and take a moment to inhale and come up with ideas. Lord knows we need it! In Oregon the police are asking the public to stop calling them about “toilet paper issues”. But in the midst of it all, I see our vendors responding amazingly. Stopping their vendor days, utilizing strict cleaning policies and supporting their staff. One of my favorite vendors and friend, is Nick with Select. His infectious smile, er, make that cheery and encouraging smile, is truly a reflection

 

of those above him in the company. Focused like a laser, but chill like a Friday afternoon ice cube. In the middle of all this, while they’ve cut out all their vendor days at dispensaries to reduce viral exposure to their patients and employees, they’ve moved Nick into packaging. Something of which Nick will pick up quickly. Nice job Select.Nick with Select

I applaud the many companies and dispensaries responses way too numerous to mention here and now. The small company I work for has taken broad steps with best practices updates, emails to managers and employees that detail their responses and agent requirements in response to the Virus. So far. Our delivery capabilities have been more than doubled, and you’ll see that our lobby layout now holds only a few people spread far apart. If you’re like me, you’ll instantly notice when you walk in, instead of that familiar “dispensary” smell that patients and visitors always comment on, the building emanates the odor of a neighborhood hospital. And sales are steady. Less patients are buying more product.

In the next few days and weeks as our lives are turned upside down, I may be in the store working, or maybe at home, hunkering down with my family and practicing Frisbee catch with the dog. But amidst all the hand-washing, mouth-covering and social distancing, I will share hope in a manner that is received well and executed through whatever media there is, with or without my physical handshake. For now, *{HUGS}*.

 

During the course of my day at the dispensary, I talk to dozens of patients. Many who are very knowledgeable about cannabis. As a matter of fact, I believe many of them could easily get an honorary degree in marijuana. Even the cool cap that comes with all those credits. But what if you really could? What if you really could get the cool cap and a degree in Cannabis? Well, now you can.

Cannabis, Biology and Chemistry

New UCSP program title

You heard me right. The University of Colorado State at Pueblo is now offering a college degree in Cannabis. The new program entitled “Cannabis, Biology and Chemistry” will be unlike anything elsewhere in the US. And with sales of Cannabis said to be in the $15 billion range, the program will no less capitalize on that growth and the recent legalization of marijuana in many states with more on the way with this year’s ballot.

The Denver Post reports that the course, which is approved by the state, will be available for undergraduates wishing to study the science behind the cannabis industry with classes planned to start in the fall. The program has been described as similar to a double major in biology and chemistry, and features a lab licensed to grow industrial hemp so students may work with cannabidiol (CBD) derived from the plants.

University officials say they are neither pro nor anti-Cannabis. They are simply responding to a huge need for the education and are anticipating high demand for the program. It follows the announcement of a new research center built to study the chemical compounds in hemp, which is due to open in the College of Natural Sciences on Colorado State University’s Fort Collins campus in spring.

In this blogger’s opinion, that it’s a great first step in creating college level courses, curriculum and degrees that will create intelligent, well informed, and hopefully, well-funded scientists. Intelligent chemists and biologists that can further research in an industry that literally changes day by day. And with the recent vape crisis along with the evolving recreational market, this is a critical time for the industry. If implemented correctly, this program will be essential to the future of professional and ethical responses to such challenges.

 

Mayo Lid

As we were helping patients and having our general fun, Monday morning laughed and sharing, a patient mentioned about years ago buying what he called “A lid”. I started thinking about how archaic the word is. Lid. Not only have I not heard the word used in forty years, I thought, I wonder if any of the younger bobtenders even know what a lid is.

I started by asking one of my friends and one excellent tender and dude, Olen a question. “How old were you when you learned what a Lid was?”  He easily admitted he hadn’t ever heard the word well into his thirties and years after starting smoking cannabis.

Do you remember? Can you close your eyes and see in that baggie from the 70s or 80s, it’s stuffed with a good amount of Mexican weed, or to be exact, a four finger lid?

A lid was what is an ounce is today. Yes, yes. I know the stories about the mayonnaise jar and the lid and that a lid is based on all those ’60s stories. But when I was a young dumb 20 some year old, a lid meant an ounce. Four fingers or roughly 28 grams. For those who grew up around Southern Arizona, that Mexican grass we got was full of seeds, and stems, and Lord knows what other dirt and crap was in there. We loved it! We loved our lids! If we didn’t have enough, we get a “Dime” bag.

Oh no! Now you have to find out what a Dime bag is!

 

Girl Scout Cookie Table

More than our love of famous strains like Platinum GS Cookies, Pie Face OG and Wedding Cake, is our love for 100%, genuine, Girl Scout cookies. The kind you enjoy with a glass of milk.One young entrepreneur (along with Mommy manager) was thinking pretty sharply when she decided to scope out our dispensary for a location. Word has it she did very well and hungry patients were delighted as they headed home with their Thin Mints and Samoas.

Well done my young future entrepreneur! Well done!