Hey everyone, I just wanted to sit down for a bit and talk to you about my trip to the 2019 Cannabis Science Conference East. Wow! I honestly feel like I learned so much, and there is so much more now that I want to learn about. I am sitting here looking through some of the cards, pamphlets, and magazines that we took home and I feel like I could write a whole new blog just about the conference!! First, let me say that this was not a conference about getting high or recreational marijuana. This is a science conference and the foundation of it is education and patient advocacy. This conference was filled with scientists, doctors, and educators. But, that being said… I left this conference with a new way of thinking about Cannabis use and advocacy. I was a believer in CBD, but I didn't have enough information about THC and terpenes. Now I am so excited to share what I've learned and keep growing in my understanding. We took a lot of great photos… and I'll share those as soon as I get them off the camera. But I wanted to share my first thoughts while they are fresh.
Take Away #1 – Take away the taboo about Cannabis use, and let people treat themselvesOne of the most powerful statements struck home with me came from Montel Williams. Cannabis, marijuana, weed, whatever you want to call it, is treating something and people who use it are treating themselves. For recreational or medicinal, people need to stop judging others about how they choose to relax, heal, or find relief. This was a message that really summed up how I feel about cannabis use and it was emotional to hear someone like Montel Williams say it loudly and with such passion. If you enjoy a beer, a glass of wine, or a soda because you enjoy it, don't judge anyone else for smoking weed or enjoying edibles. Period. Nobody has died from cannabis overdose, weed does not contain harmful ingredients like sodas, and if you have your own vices that you enjoy, you don't get to tell anyone else they shouldn't consume cannabis. I choose not to drink alcohol. Do you know how many strange looks I get when I go out and everyone is having a beer, wine, or cocktail and I am sipping water? “You aren't drinking?” Drinking has become so mainstream, that I know more alcoholics than ever before. And that's socially accepted. BUT, smoking weed is unacceptable? People are more likely to be involved in a vehicle crash while under the influence of alcohol or pharmaceutical drugs than they are with marijuana. Yet we have bars filled every night with people who will be drinking and driving. And many of those same people will vote to prevent our veterans from access to a medicine that has been proven to relieve them from their trauma and pain. Montel spoke briefly about his line of CBD products available here:
Take Away #2 – Cannabis has been used as medicine for 3000 years, but only in the last 70 has it been demonizedBig Pharma does not want to lose control of you. If people turn to holistic medicines, like cannabis, it loses billions of dollars. They will do whatever smear campaign they can to prevent you from treating yourself and your animals with something that can not only take away pain without addiction but can also heal many conditions that they have been unable to do themselves. Animals instinctively trust the cannabis plant. People have used this plant for thousands of years. But the demonization of this plant has not only turned against the plant but its users. This damnation has prevented doctors from effectively treating patients, stereotyped users as “stupid” or “lazy” and filled our prisons with innocent people seeking relief. This has to stop. Montel Williams is passionate about advocating for cannabis and patient rights. “I feel no one has a right to get into the middle of a conversation between a doctor and a patient,” he said. “If a doctor recommends cannabis, then everyone else needs to shut up and get out of that conversation.”
Take Away #3- We need more cannabis researchIn order for doctors to be able to prescribe cannabis as a treatment option for a multitude of ailments, we need more research to be done. We need to demand as citizens that our research is done with full healthy plants, not old moldy samples that have been stored in vaults for 30 years. (Yes, that is what the FDA finds acceptable.) We need to allow our medical professionals to treat their patients without the threat that their medical licenses will be revoked if they determine that cannabis is an option. Doctors are also trying to fight the opioid crisis, but effective pain management drugs are expensive, addictive, and have severe side effects that do more harm to the patient. For my fibromyalgia pain, I've been prescribed opioids, muscle relaxers, naproxen, acetaminophen, anti-inflammatories, and more. Each of those come with liver damage, kidney damage, addiction, insomnia, anxiety, drowsiness, thyroid and adrenal issues, nausea, weight gain, and the list goes on. What's the side-effect with cannabis? Relaxing, inflammation relief, elevated state of mind, and I find people less annoying. ( Hmmm.. which would YOU choose?) But I still want more research to be done. I want this to be done so that people don't have to go bankrupt to be able to afford the drugs that may save their child from dying of cancer because it is covered by insurance. I want this research done so we can prove why all states should repeal ridiculous laws surrounding cannabis and release innocent people from incarceration.
Take Away #4 – Not everyone will believe, and that's okayOne of the things that I took away from these conversations and sessions was the fact that while most of us were there because we wanted to learn more, because we do believe that cannabis can improve lives, there were also people who do not believe that cannabis is a viable option. Many people hold on to the belief that people who advocate for cannabis just want to get high. They believe that they have been told that cannabis doesn't have any value and they don't want it to be accessible to the public. Everyone is entitled to their thoughts and beliefs. However, we should be allowed to make up our own minds about cannabis based on our own research, experiences, and see for ourselves if this is the right thing for us. 300,000 pharmacists in the United States are prevented from offering cannabis as a drug option. Yet almost all of them prescribe opioids in spite of overwhelming proof that the drugs they are selling are addictive. You don't have to believe in cannabis as an option for you. Look, I don't think Kombucha is an option for me, it's nasty! But thousands of people swear it is a healthy option for them. I'm not going to drink it, but I sure as hell am not going to stand by and let my kombucha loving friends be sent to jail for it either. And if you are still reading this, I want to believe that you are also going to be the one who stands with me and demands that we decriminalize cannabis and allow it to be available for people to try for themselves without the fear and stigmas associated.
Last one…I walked into the conference knowing that I supported cannabis use. That didn't change. But I left empowered and excited about the future of cannabis and my role as an advocate. I had the opportunity to hear Rylie Maedler of Rylie's Smile speak about her journey from cancer patient to a cannabis advocate. Rylie is 13 and already succeeded in persuading Delaware lawmakers to ease regulations around pediatric access to medical cannabis. I've been following her adventures for a while online. Rylie and her family are helping children to be able to not only have access to cannabis medications but to take them while at school like any other medication that is dispersed under the nurse's watch with a prescription. After speaking with her and her mother, Jaime after Rylie's session, I walked away knowing that I wanted to do more to support their fight. I want to ensure that kids like Rylie can live in a world where they can have access to the medications they need and not have to worry that their parents may go to jail. My head is still swimming with all of the information I gathered at the conference. I am inspired, I am angry, and I am ready to fight harder for what I believe in. We have to start with us, change the way we talk about cannabis use, how we share our own messages about our journey to health with it, and not be afraid of what others might say about it. We can't make waves if we are afraid to step in the water. Please share your own stories in the comments and stay with us as we keep trying to fight towards better wellness for everyone.