Four years ago I moved back to Colorado after being away for fifteen years. Not much had changed, I was still surrounded by natural beauty and great people. But there was one stark difference: a lot of people around me were using marijuana. In my unofficial, personal poll I found that most of them were using it for pain, insomnia, or anxiety and describing really good results. None would be considered the stereotypical “drug seeker,” and all of them held responsible jobs except for the ones that were disabled. This piqued my curiosity, especially since at the time a full nights sleep was a distant memory and my pain levels were consistently extremely high.
My roommate at the time was a medical marijuana patient and he told me that he would go to a dispensary, like a pharmacy for marijuana, and that in the dispensary he could purchase muscle rubs, marijuana flower, edibles (food cooked with marijuana,) tinctures, and teas among other things. I was intrigued so when another friend gave me some marijuana tincture I thought I’d give it a try. I wish I could tell you how it felt but I can’t remember – I was too busy getting a full night sleep for the first time in years! Marijuana, for me, has been the best sleep aid I’ve ever used, one that works consistently and without side effects. It doesn’t impact my pain quite as dramatically, but for my husband, a combat Marine Veteran who suffers from daily headaches and frequent migraines, the effect on his pain has been dramatic. After moving to Colorado and becoming a medical marijuana patient, he was able to get off all four of the opioids that the VA had prescribed for him for over 30 years, two of which were injectable. The difference in effect is most likely because our pain has different causes, and my mechanical joint damage creates a situation that my pain is harder to control. For my husband Todd, marijuana is less effective for his sleep, which again I think points to different causation.
Marijuana isn’t a cure – all, but it is so much more than the “gateway drug” our society has painted it as for way too long. I’m convinced by now that the real criminals aren’t the people trying to help themselves not to suffer by ingesting this plant, but instead the lawmakers who have kept this affordable, easy to grow organically, non-addictive, extremely effective plant medicine illegal. As consumers and citizens we need to know the truth so that we can give our lawmakers informed opinions about our wishes. I look forward to the day when marijuana is no longer highly politicized, because only then will the real discussions begin. The discussions about how to use this beautiful, helpful plant in the way it was designed- to decrease the suffering of so many. There are many good documentaries about this issue, and also some very well done research on medical cannabis happening in places like Israel. As I write this, both of our closest neighbors are taking steps to help improve access to marijuana. In Mexico, legislation is going through that will legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize marijuana possession, and in Canada, full legalization will likely be happening country-wide. Meanwhile, on the federal level, we are taking steps back at the very time patients are suffering from a crackdown on opioid use.
I’m so grateful to the state of Colorado, and for my friends who all took the time to educate me about marijuana and helped me to find the best way to use it. I’m disappointed in the continued misinformation that we are all subject to by our government, but also hopeful that the cat is already out of the bag- even major news outlets are beginning to report the truth, and every day I read new stories about potential helpful uses of this plant medicine. A medicine that has been used by humans for thousands of years and was discovered independently by cultures around the world. A medicine that only became illegal because of Harry J. Anslinger, an opportunistic head of the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Needing funding for his department because alcohol prohibition was crumbling, he put forth a later to be deemed unconstitutional Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. An openly racist man who played upon the growing resentment toward Mexican immigrants and people of color during the Great Depression in the 1920’s, Ansliger ran a very successful national anti-marijuana propaganda campaign with not so subtle racist undertones in order to get his tax act passed and keep his department very well funded. Among many sad and scary quotes from this man is this one: “Reefer makes darkies think they are as good as white men.”1
I hope that anyone reading this who lives in a state that allows marijuana will do their homework and decide for themselves whether or not to add marijuana to their health regime. I use only organically grown marijuana edibles and they work really well. There are times, like when I’m traveling, that I can’t have my marijuana and although I miss my good nights sleep, I don’t have any sort of “craving.” I’ve suffered absolutely no side effects except for the desired one, sleepiness. I personally think that marijuana is an adaptogenic herb, or a natural substance that normalizes body processes like ginseng. I think this is why it seems to work differently on different people and help with their particular weak areas, why it can help one person calm down in order to focus, while the person next to them falls asleep. I think there is a very important reason why we all have an endocannabinoid system which affects physiological processes in many areas including pain sensation, immune function, mood, and memory, among others and helps to maintain homeostasis in these systems; we have had a long history with using this plant for healing. Cannabinoid receptors are found throughout our entire body and are found in cell membranes; there is good evidence that there are more cannabinoid receptors than any other receptor system in the body.2 Instead of being fearful, we all need to be excited about the amazing possibilities of using this plant to heal our bodies on so many levels.
So, yes, green is good.