Author’s Note: This is the first time I’m discussing Medical Marijuana (MMJ) on my blog. My journey into the MMJ world has been a fascinating one. My hope and excitement about the future of Cannabis Medicine, the legalization movement and the coming hemp revolution couldn’t be higher. It took me a while to get comfortable with writing about weed on my site and sharing information about marijuana freely on social media. But, this information needs to be out there and this blog is a great platform for spreading new ideas out into the Paleo and alternative health spaces.
It’s exciting because, just as I’ve witnessed the Connection Revolution grow, evolve and gain momentum within the blogging and social media spaces, I’ve also got a front row seat for the marijuana and hemp revolution. And, I’m offering you a seat right next to me for this world-altering development.
We’re at the very beginning of a marijuana and hemp revolution. It’s a very, very exciting time…
Is Marijuana Paleo?
Back in December 2014 I got my Connecticut Medical Marijuana card. I had spent about a year researching Medical Marijuana and a few months doing legwork to get the actual card. It’s been a fascinating journey as I’ve watched my personal health improve in a variety of ways and on every level – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. I’ve also seen the MMJ industry here in Connecticut grow and evolve in the short time that there’s even been a Medical Marijuana industry here in the state.
As of this writing, there are 5,357 patients registered for the Medical Marijuana program. It’s a small, but consistently growing number.
Medical Marijuana programs are up and running in roughly half the states in the US as of this writing and 2016 is promising to be a banner year for Medical Marijuana policy. Newsweek is even calling the 2016 Election “The Marijuana Election.”
In the coming years politics, economy, the criminal justice system, jobs, healthcare and virtually every other part of life in the US is going to be influenced by legal medical and recreational marijuana. It’s truly the beginning of a revolution.
To me, the movement toward legal marijuana and a sustainable, organic hemp industry are not just about smoking weed and following The Grateful Dead around in a 1960s VW Bus. This is about a return to a more grassroots, compassionate, sustainable and holistic approach to the 21st century problems we’re facing in a world that’s still stuck in too many 20th century paradigms, behaviors and values.
The Marijuana Movement is about solving 20th century problems with 21st century solutions.
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
– Albert Einstein
As we’ve seen over and over in the Paleo community, there are many Big Industry, Big Pharma, Big Medicine and Big Agriculture interests who would like us to keep eating fake food and taking toxic and addictive drugs to stave off the symptoms and illnesses caused by the fake food in the first place. It’s very much in the interest of the status quo to simply keep buying, consuming, sitting and doing what “the man on TV” tells us to do.
The legalization movement is about doing something different and individual patients and a few, forward-thinking doctors working together to find new solutions to our current health crises.
Medical Marijuana in many states is in a somewhat gray area. It’s legal and out in the open enough, but there are still many conservative views and prejudices that can keep patients from exploring MMJ as a treatment option – or even knowing it exists.
Here in Connecticut, the number of doctors who are able to certify a patient for a card is quite small. So small, in fact, that the state even launched a public service campaign to increase the number of doctors registered in the Medical Marijuana program.
(As an aside, in New York state, a recent campaign to sign up doctors for New York’s Medical Marijuana program yielded one willing physician out of 500 contacted. Connecticut isn’t doing so bad by comparison…)
My Journey into Medical Marijuana…
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis way back in 2004. (You can read more of my story and my journey to a Paleo lifestyle here.) This was really the beginning of my journey “down the rabbit hole” and a “peak behind the curtain.” It was the point where I got to see that the glossy images we’re sold all around us in the west aren’t so real. It was when I started to see that a pre-packaged, consumerist life doesn’t always work as well as it seems to in the magazines and on TV.
In 2004 I was doing everything I was “supposed” to be doing. I had finished a BS in Chemistry at UConn a few years earlier and I was working in the Biotech industry here in Connecticut. I owned a big, new house, had a nice truck, new motorcycle and plenty of Ethan Allen furniture. Like a good consumer, I also had a mountain of debt. I was eating all the “healthy” stuff like chicken breasts and rice, Zone Bars, all sorts of shakes and protein powders and taking a ton of supplements. I was working out a lot too – working out a lot is healthy, right?
Once my health crashed in the fall of 2004, I was no longer able to cover up the absolute unsustainability of my lifestyle or my life choices with less sleep, more work, more formal education, more debt and more stress.
As my fake life started to crumble around me, I watched the Industrial Revolution world crumble around me at the same time. My little life was a microcosm for the larger changes I was witnessing around me in the post-9/11 world. I watched the economy fall apart, the real estate market crash, the Biotech industry in Connecticut all but disappear and the nearly-new house I was living in – that was over-mortgaged by more than $100,000 now – fall apart day by day.
Everything was an illusion in my life and the illusion was fading with the old industrial economy it was based on. It was also taking my health and my sanity with it.
Although the decision to leave my old life behind was made in 2010, it’s taken more than 5 years to untangle that mess. I’ve still got remnants of that life to this day that I need to jettison.
Minimizing your life down from a life of culturally-inspired excess isn’t fast, easy or fun. In fact, de-stressing your life can be pretty damn stressful while you’re doing it…
Addicted, Exhausted and Still Stressed…
A major issue with the “diseases of lifestyle” we face in the modern world is that they’re so multi-faceted and amorphous. Sure, Ulcerative Colitis is a disease of the lower intestine, but my entire gut was compromised when I got sick, my digestion is still on the weak side and I’ve faced a plethora of additional issues. The gut-brain connection became fully evident to me as I dealt with things like debilitating fatigue, terrible anxiety and, at times, near suicidal depression.
None of the mental stress helped my digestion or gut, so a downward spiral got a strong start and took hold.
I made the mistake of seeking help for the psych issues – both mainstream and alternative – and ended up creating more problems for myself. The major one was becoming hopelessly addicted to Xanax by prescription. By the time I was considering Medical Marijuana as a possible solution for me, I was on a massive daily dose of Xanax, the max dose of Lexapro and I was also taking some Adderall. The proposed solution from my “healthcare” provider? An additional prescription.
Seeing that I had gone from zero prescriptions to three with the suggestion of a fourth told me the ugly truth – few who start going down the dark and winding path of “treating” the mental and emotional diseases of modern life end up healthier or drug and addiction free. It’s a constant escalation of more drugs, stronger drugs, new symptoms and side effects and more drugs still to deal with the new problems. It’s a dead end – or a journey off a steep cliff.
Beyond all the prescriptions, I was also struggling off and on with a newly manifested interest in alcohol. I was basically a lifetime non-drinker and spent most of my life sickened by just the smell of alcohol. All of a sudden, I was drinking tequila almost every night and was becoming a bit of a connoisseur.
It was to the point where I was an anxious, depressed wreck most of the time – still relatively high functioning – but miserable and surely not living up to my core, Paleo values. The dichotomy was unbearable and my self-esteem began to erode. I was also waking up screaming from night terrors a few times a month. I suspect some of the issue here was the Xanax, but I was also clearly suffering from PTSD symptoms as well, as the night terrors remained even when I was finally free of the Xanax.
The comical part here is that, when I suggested Medical Marijuana to two different “mental health” professionals, they freaked out and wanted no part of it. Nor would they help me get a Medical Marijuana card. More conceit and hypocrisy from Big Med.
I will never understand how three or four prescriptions is just fine and acceptable – including a script for Xanax which is not only notorious for being terribly addictive, but also enjoys a thriving trade on the black market (as does Adderall) – but using marijuana medically is some kind of big deal, street-drug, dangerous thing. Xanax and Adderall are currently “street drugs” enjoying massive popularity.
This was the turning point for me and it was the point where my resolve became unbreakable. Like I had learned with the Paleo diet back in 2004 – if the Medical Establishment was against something or critical of it, it was probably a good thing and worth looking into.
A vehement and negative reaction to the mere mention of Medical Marijuana from both an M.D. and an APRN told me unequivocally that I was on the right track…
As I started researching Medical Marijuana and Cannabis Medicine, I came upon a body of knowledge that was rich in empirical evidence, passionate activism and evidence of conspiracies and Big Business shenanigans. Surprise, surprise…
Where the Paleo Thing Fits In…
The Paleo community isn’t afraid to try something new. To try something different. That’s why we’re all here. Many of us have been desperate enough at one time or another to turn away from conventional thinking and try something new and something not sanctioned by the mainstream. It was people looking around and saying: “We’re sick and the mainstream approach doesn’t have an answer. Doesn’t have an answer we can live with. What are the alternatives? If the mass paradigm of medicine isn’t working, where are the new and different paradigms that may work?”
For those who have found their way to Paleo through a chronic illness, Medical Marijuana may be another piece to their health puzzle. The majority of the diseases Medical Marijuana treats are the same ones many of us came to the Paleo lifestyle with. There’s an overlap in interests between the Paleo community and the Medical Marijuana community.
Marijuana appears to have a therapeutic effect on chronic inflammatory, autoimmune and stress-related illness – the very same types of illness that many come to the Paleo lifestyle for help with. Paleo eating and living connects perfectly with medical and recreational use of marijuana.
I personally believe that the use of marijuana and a local, whole foods-based Paleo diet and Paleo-inspired lifestyle are a valuable combination for treating many chronic illnesses.
And, as hemp becomes unregulated, there’s also the potential for a number of sustainability and environmental benefits. Industrial hemp can be used to make Biodiesel fuel, building materials, paper, clothing and a lot of other stuff. For a number of political and financial reasons, hemp was made illegal right along with marijuana. Legalization is addressing this hemp issue too.
There’s also a local and organic component. Local weed, marijuana “farmer’s markets” and local strain names that are truly brands in their own right. There’s an entire cottage industry surfacing in states around medicinal and recreational marijuana. This is good for jobs and it’s also good for the local, sustainable, artisan industries in every state with legal or medical status.
There was even a pot “farmers market” held in Los Angeles.
Paleo Edibles – A Side Note…
Edible marijuana products are becoming more and more popular as the marijuana boom continues. Edibles seem especially appealing to patients who aren’t able to smoke or vape marijuana – or are simply put off by the idea of “smoking a drug.”
The only edible I’ve used to date is the marijuana infused coconut butter from Curaleaf.
As a “Paleo guy,” the idea of eating something that’s full of flour, sugar and/or gluten – or simply ingredients that are potentially inflammatory to the gut and the rest of the body – for an inflammatory disease is pretty crazy. Not a good idea at all from my perspective. This is a “whole lifestyle” thing and, personally, I won’t touch an edible with sugar, flour, gluten, grains, dairy or nuts. For me, the negative reaction I’d have to the food part would completely negate – or worse – the benefits of the THC and other cannabis components.
Clearly, I’m not the only one who’s thinking this way. My friend Karen Pendergrass, Founder and Executive Director of The Paleo Foundation, just recently worked with Jambo Super Foods to certify their line of marijuana edibles as Paleo through the Paleo Foundation using the Certified Paleo label. The overlap and mutual interest is there for sure. And, further, the Paleo community is embracing this new idea of medicine in spite of the Federal Government still considering marijuana illegal.
In Karen Pendergrass’ words:
“…I didn’t care what the [Federal Government’s] USDA Organic label will or won’t touch, because to us, ‘Paleo’ transcends the subject of legality.”
Paleo, new politics, freedom and people getting the medicine they need. It’s beautiful.
But, Does it Work?
Obviously, this is a very personal, individual experience and this is my personal blog and story. None of this should be taken as medical advice or as anything other than my own anecdotal experience. My own n=1 trial of Medical Marijuana.
But, yes. It works. Or, at least it worked for me. I no longer take any psych meds of any kind and was able to kick an on again, off again Xanax addiction that I struggled with for almost 5 years.
- My sleep is vastly improved and the night terrors have virtually ended – I’ve had two incidents of night terrors since December 2014. This is a major improvement over several per month before Medical Marijuana.
- My moods are slowly improving and, when I really get into a depressed state, medicating with a high-CBD and/or moderate THC strain I know I tolerate lifts me out of it and helps me relax and sleep.
- I’m less anxious now than I was when I was using 4mg of Xanax per day. (Yes, that’s 4.00mg of Xanax.)
- When my stomach is bothering me from poor sleep or stress and anxiety or whatever remnants of inflammation or colitis I may have, I find that medicating with a high-CBD and/or moderate THC strain puts me back on track, relaxes me and stimulates both appetite and digestion.
Medicine for the 21st Century…
Medical Marijuana isn’t cheap, perfect or completely socially acceptable, but it’s a very, very viable option for anyone with a qualifying condition or few, a state with a good MMJ program and the patience and perseverance to experiment and make the treatment option work for the long term.
Look for a full feature by me on Medical Marijuana called “Marijuana – is the Ancient Plant the Medicine of the Future?” in the Oct/Nov 2015 issue of Paleo Magazine .