ETA: 9/16/2018 This post was written over two years ago, before I discovered herbalism, before I really even fell down the rabbit hole. Some parts of this still hold true, some I'd surely expand on - but I'm leaving it around because reflecting on how far we've come can be powerful healing in its own right,
Mny people involved in the Cannabis Revolution we are currently experiencing will tell you they grew up with the plant; their parents used it medicinally and to them, that sweet earthy smell reminds them of home. I want to be completely transparent with you throughout this blog, so…real talk…that is not even close to my beginning.
Hi, I’m L, and in 2001 I was my sixth grade class’ proudest DARE graduate.
That might be a slight exaggeration, but in all terms of the phrase, I was a “late bloomer.” I began using Cannabis in 2007, my senior year of high school. At the time I had an unlimited prescription to Vicodin, a heavy opiod narcotic for pain stemming from multiple arm surgeries. I quickly realized that if I smoked Cannabis, I didn't need to take as many painkillers.
I wish I could say that in that moment - realizing I could trade laboratory-crafted pills for one of Nature's plants - I was convinced that Cannabis is a medicine. But like all good stories, mine doesn’t end there; it just skips ahead.
January 22, 2014 was a slow day in Philadelphia, PA. At the time, I was co-owner of a BMX and Streetwear store located on the famed South Street, and most of the day was spent chipping away at the foot of snow that had blanketed the city the previous day. By nightfall, I was ready to embrace my post-college age and spend some alone time with Netflix. That's when I got THE call.
Well, kind of.
In truth, it was three social media messages from the friends in California my boyfriend, P, was visiting. They needed me to call them because they didn’t have my number. Millennial inconvenience. Movies, update your scripts.
“Motorcycle accident…need insurance…can’t move his legs...helicopter...need insurance…” The call itself was disturbingly calm, as if time simultaneously sped up and slowed down leaving no way to fully comprehend what they were saying, and after we hung up I spent a good half-hour tearing our apartment apart before I remembered the insurance card in question didn’t exist.
The diagnosis: C5-C7 Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury. By medical standards he got lucky; an injury that should have resulted in a head down paralysis of all four limbs and life on a ventilator spared him his lungs and his arms. Within a few weeks I had shut down our store, packed up our apartment, and moved our dogs and what belongings would fit in the trunk of my Land Rover to California.
The following year was full of ups-and-downs as we learned the ins-and-outs of our new reality. We went from living with friends in Los Angeles, to living on our own, to an opportunity to reside on a small farm in Santa Cruz, CA. It was here that I truly began to realize the magic of the Cannabis plant, and that was first in the form of a topical application.
As a result of his spinal cord injury, P experiences intense muscle spasms in his legs and occasionally hands. We’re talking to the kind of spasms that, if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, could result in a swift kick upside the head. That’s when I started researching. And experimenting. Then researching some more and experimenting some more.
Transparency: the first “topical” I gave him was simply 'activated' cannabis infused into Coconut Oil. The crazy part – it worked! Within a few minutes of application, his clenched fists would release, or he’d be able to sit up in bed without kneeing himself. To this day, it still blows our mind how well topical application can calm his spasms.
That first trial was almost two years ago, and from that point has come more research, more experiments, followed by even more research and experiments.
From that point, CARE was born. An acronym for Cannabis Apothecary Research and Education, it’s an acronym that really embodies everything we’re about – learning about Cannabis’ role in herbal medicine and sharing it with anyone and everyone that will listen.
It took a long while of reflection and self-searching, but I’ve come to terms with the idea that I did not choose to work with Cannabis. Instead, it chose to work with me. Let me explain.
In my last post, I told you about how an odd series of unfortunate events led me to discover the magic of topical cannabis in treatment of my boyfriend’s muscle spasms. Thing is, the plant wasn’t ready to leave my experience with it at the front door. So a few months into my research and development on our lotions, my digestive tract blew up.
Figuratively speaking, of course, but a few months of excruciating pain and a handful of hospital visits later, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and Gastritis – in simplest terms, inflammation of my stomach and large intestine. Post-diagnosis, it took a month-and-a-half for my doctor to convince my insurance to cover the $500 a month co-pay for my medication.
Lucky for me, that month and a half provided me with time to research Cannabis use in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders and see how it worked for myself. I quickly realized that if the food I was eating had Cannabis in it, my body wouldn’t throw it back up. I realized that my pain was significantly reduced, and I didn’t constantly look like I was in my third trimester despite having lost twenty pounds.
My insurance eventually came through, and for a week I traded my Cannabis consumption with sulfur based pills and high hopes of remission. It didn’t work. I’m sure it can be argued that I didn’t give the pharmaceuticals time to do their job, but the side effects I experienced were bad enough to send me back to the moderate results I was seeing from Cannabis.
At this point, there was no choice but to learn everything I possibly could about this plant. I wanted to know about Cannabinoids, I wanted to know how to utilize the medicinal components of the plant, without necessarily needing to feel the psychoactive affects. Fast forward months of research and trial, and I can proudly say my disease is almost entirely in check.
I ingest Cannabis daily, either through edibles or capsules, and am free to eat 75% of the foods I previously enjoyed. Occasionally slip-ups do occur though, such as last week, when an evening out to eat turned to two hours of constant vomiting. The solution? A 125mg cannabis infused drink taken over the course of a few hours. The vomiting stopped, the pain eased, and when I awoke the next morning it was as if nothing had ever happened. In the off chance that a UC or Crohn’s warrior is reading this, you’ll feel me when I say that just doesn’t happen out of luck.
My point? When I stopped believing what I had been taught as an impressionable pre-teen and started listening to what nature had to show me, a whole world of magic opened up. Spare the melodrama, but if it wasn’t for shitty spinal cord injuries and auto-immune flare-ups, I’d still be working in the fashion and retail industry in Philadelphia, PA; literally miles away from where I am today.
So, Cannabis chose me, and in return I promise to do all I can to share her magic with the rest of the world. From my research findings, to my experiments, to products and how-to’s, CARE is here for everyone.