So.

Weed.

Ganja, dope, grass, pot, blunts, splifs, spleefs, the herb, marry jane,  etc.  Or Cannabis.  Lets talk about it.

My experience with marijuana was four incidents ever in my life without a prescription.  I say marijuana because I’m talking about the times I did not ingest it medically.  That’s now in the thousands as medicinal cannabis.  But yes, I’m not going to waste your time with the Bill Clinton “I didn’t inhale” bullshit.  But it also wasn’t something I was all that familiar with.  And I never took it once out of pressure.  I was the guy that my buddies eventually stopped offering it to because I never said yes.  Of the four times, once was in Amsterdam where it was legal, once was in brownies I ate unknowingly while already drunk at a party (yes should have known but wasn’t thinking) and that one almost took me down.  Couldn’t stand. Couldn’t speak properly.  Ugly.  The two times I ever intentionally consumed it illegally were once on the skytrain in my early 20’s going to a monster truck show, and once more around then at a party.  Never before those incidents, and never again.  Till I was 35 and I was medicinally licensed.

So here’s my experience with pharmaceuticals, and of course why I was taking them in the first place.  Most of you know of my dealings with an OSI (PTSD), but along with that is a nasty little gastro intestinal bug I caught in Afghanistan that attached to my colon wall, and infected it.  Hospitals, IV’s, severe dehydration in the desert, scary shit. The results were it permanently dried out that portion of my gut, which may some day need to be removed.  In the meantime, it fails to function in its nutrient and water absorption roles, and instead bleeds a lot.  And the cramps are a bugger .  Digestion for me of anything is always a little bit painful, but when it’s bad it’s awful.  And stress makes them bleed, alot.  The toilet can look like an episode of CSI with a poop on top.  I have some progress on it now, but it will be with me for life and at its worst the cramps were so bad and constant that the urge to go to the bathroom was felt but no longer recognized by my brain.  You can figure out the details I’m sure, but if not, I can draw you a sketch at a later date.  I lived my life by plotting bathrooms like the way a 90 year old man lives his life.  Along with the gut problems were the traditional gifts that an OSI gives you such as lack of sleep by both inability to fall asleep and no control over nasty nightmares.  During the day, I had hyper awareness and hyper vigilance that tired the shit out of me.  I still have to take naps on stressful days, again like a 90 year old.

So the pills began, and I resisted them at first, but in the military if you resist medical treatments you can be punted out.  So in the quest to remain in the military first, and get healthy second, I let the pill regimen begin.  First was sleep meds, which I will admit was the one grouping of pills that did their job.  The sleep was awful, but it was sleep.  I still take them.  But everything else was shit.  There was the ones that worked a bit for anxiety, but the effects on my body were not worth it.  There was the bowel movements that were like bricks, there was the bowel movements like rocket fuel, there was the erectile dysfunction, there was the raised heart rates , the tunnel vision etc.  Then it was the anti psychotics they put me on, not for their targeted concern of psychosis that I didn’t suffer from, but for the supposed sleeping aid qualities.  And the daytime anti anxieties and the sleep pills.  And then to recover from the zombie like state in the mornings I had to take a pill called wellbutrin just to get me going and drop the irritability a bit.  If you’ve got some time to kill , go look up seroquel as a sleep aid, and wellbutrin basically being used as a morning coffee and see what you come up with.  But that was the army prescription.

What made me take cannabis wasn’t actually peer recommendations, even though I had plenty.  It was the fact that in october of 2014, the military told me in no uncertain terms that they were kicking me out due to my conditions.  A 3b medical release is the polite way of saying, your getting the punt.  So with no career in the military to protect anymore,  I took a chance.  I flew across the country to a doctor that many other vets went to and talked to him.  And then met him face to face.  And then bounced what he said off other vets. And then met him again.  I left with a prescription for medicinal marijuana that I then filled from a licenced producer.  I flew home and a day later, Mr Purolater delivery man was asking for my signature for a parcel.  It didn’t smell, which I found odd.  So I opened the box, and theres another layer of wrapping in plastic.  This time, a little smell.  Then I opened a container and that smell of every concert or backyard party you’ve been to hits.  But it didn’t look the same.  It was a lighter green with little copper coloured strands in it.  It was called “strawberry cough”. I had bought all my gear, which means a grinder and a vaporizer so I ground up a wee bit and vaped.  And then i went to bed.  With no alcohol, with no pills.  And I woke up a bunch of times but got back to bed.  And then I think i was up around 4 or so.  Which may sound like shitty sleep but trust me, it was glorious.  I also didn’t feel like garbage in the morning, so the first thing that really really changed was I didn’t need wellbutrin to spark my body awake that day.

And then it hit.  Not a high feeling or anything.  But that feeling of “how do I explain this to my kids, my irish catholic family with a history in law enforcement, my buddies who are either in the military still or now in law enforcement “.  And I can tell you now,  I have lost friends over this.  And I have family that gives me the weird eyebrow over it.  And you have to learn to wash that away, but it’s hard at first.

The second night I decided to take an actual amount.  Not a wee bit but two full sessions of the vaporizer , which meant it burnt for 2 cycles of 8 minutes on the green level (which I’ve since learned is around 255 degrees Fahrenheit) .  So,  first break from storytelling to give you advice.  If you go to cannabis, learn about each strain and the recommended temperature you are trying to get it too.  They are all a bit different, which is also a reason I’m an advocate of vaporizing  as my prime means of ingesting as fire (smoking joints) is not a controllable temperature.  Neither is cooking.  Yes the baking, but not the making of the oils.  When you vape, you are not burning it and breathing in the smoke.  You are toasting it, to get it to dehydrate and crack which releases the moisture and air trapped in the bud.  It also seems to hit the body as quick as smoking for me, largely because its not using your digestive system like eating does.

Back to story telling.  I slept like a baby.  The sleep of the dead kind of sleep.  It was the first time in years that I’d had actual sleep and I was near crying the next day for how much I needed it and how nice it was to not have to fix my shitty wake ups , with more pills.  That feeling of actually sleeping allowed me to take better advantage of the other treatments in life as well.  Working with your therapist is difficult when your so bag-assed tired you barely function.  There was one session years back with my therapist where he talked to me for 10 minutes and the rest of the hour i just took a nap on his couch.

So. The biggest dragon that was fought for me with cannabis was sleep.  But I was also new to cannabis.  Next advice point.  There are huge huge differences in strains.  The stuff that is on the street is normally high in THC.  But its also often laced with other non desirables to get you hooked.  So, no, cannabis itself doesn’t get you addicted to drugs, but yes, the shit you buy on the street may get you hooked on drugs because sometimes they soak it in other products, then dry it, then sell it to you.  That doesn’t happen from licensed producers.  And yes, the stuff that helps me with sleep is rather high in THC, so it did get me a bit of the high feeling.

Kate comment: I hate the smell of cannabis it literally sends me straight back to times and places in Africa I’d prefer not to go.  When I first met Brian in Aurora, Ontario August 2016, he had been told that I couldn’t handle the smell and was fine with them using it (he and others were staying with me having been through a gruelling trip to Ottawa) just to keep the smell away from me.  I think that must have been hard for him and the others.  I now understand just how debilitating the prejudice of others can be for those who find it helpful.  I don’t really understand those who hold to this view since it very clearly reduces the use of some seriously toxic drugs like seroquel and benzodiazepines, dangerous drugs that should be FDA banned.  I shake my head in disgust when I come across ignorant comments on medical marijuana and I don’t always have the patience to gently educate, rather remove heads instead.  My bad.  Brian has on two occasions since then taken seroquel and I will not allow him to do it again, the side effects of that toxic drug are appalling.

From there I was slowly able to loosen my need for pharmaceuticals and went from 5 drugs a day down to two, zoplicone and cannabis.  The next big step was edibles.  For this I ended up going with a medium strength CBD strain called AVIDEKEL.  Smoking it or vaping it didn’t do anything for me but eating it did.  The issue with that is that the making of the oils is messy, even with the machines that make it into oil or butter.  Since that though , licensing producers have been able to ship you your own oils and I still take them today.  Simply put two drops in my coffee.  And it doesn’t have the weed smell at all.  It looks like the cod liver oil that your parents gave you in the eighties.  Anyhow, this stuff takes the edge of my cramps off in a big way and stops the cycle.  By the cycle I mean I get stressed, then I’m in pain, then I’m bleeding, then I’m cancelling all life activities and living in the bathroom, which stresses me etc etc.

Kate comment: if Brian’s stress and symptoms get out of control he ends up in Emergency which is a whole other thing.  It’s why I will drop everything and I mean everything to grab him, pull him home and do whatever is needed to stop it escalating.  He isn’t always aware that it’s going south in a hurry, I know the signs and more than a few of his friends have been given very specific details of what to look for and ‘what to do if’, when he’s out without me and I know it could go pear shaped.

So. I’m going to wrap up here soon with a couple of points that some may not agree with, but they are my truth.  Cannabis has side effects.  The pro canna crowd loves to claim that this miracle drug has no side effects at all.  Its great great great.  So I’ll tell you how it is for me.  On the stuff I use when I need sleep aid, you get high.  Not stoned and can’t speak high, but a little loopy.  I wouldn’t even think about operating a tool or a vehicle under my THC strain.  I know I’m impaired.  The CBD stuff dehydrates me.  It gives me the “too much red wine” feeling in my mouth so I”m drinking tons of water and peeing like a dog marking territory.  Trust me though, that beats the gut pain.

Don’t buy a cheap vape.  You will be back real soon buying a good one.  This isn’t a fucking bic lighter.  This is something that you’ll need that can reach 250 degrees a number of times a day, and then not light on fire when you want it off.  This is an item that can look discreet like you are talking into a cell phone or using an asthma inhaler, or you can have one that looks like what everyone thinks of when they hear the term crackpipe.  The one I like is the ARIZER AIR, but figure it out yourself.  First, ask yourself what strains you are planning on using and then figure out which temperature you need, and then figure out which machine has a setting closest.  For the stuff I use for sleep, the green light setting on the ARIZER AIR is perfect.

Kate comment: Brian is very moderate in his use of this drug as he is in using the sleep aids.  However, I have seen friends of his who are not and literally use it as a mask to hide themselves from having to actually deal with their issues.  It numbs and it kills the pain, sensations and desires.  Pain is there for a reason, we are supposed to feel it and we are supposed to use it to find the source of the injury, deal with it.

Beware of over eating cannabis if you are a beginner at eating it.  Especially if you’ve had it before by other means because what happens there is the other means ( vaping and smoking) deliver it to your blood stream in seconds.  By your second or third puff, you’re already feeling it in your brain.  And that feeling normally makes you slow down, and stop taking more as you already feel the effects.  With eating it, your putting it into your body like a coffee or a sandwich.  It goes through the same digestive process as everything else, so barely any of it reaches your bloodstream for the first half hour or so.  Because you are digesting.  Because your esophagus and stomach don’t absorb any nutrients.  (Under your tongue can absorb a tiny bit).  Essentially, till the product reaches your small intestine, you won’t feel anything and the tendency for new users of edible cannabis to put more into their system is there.  And then all of a sudden, all of what you’ve put in hits your digestive tract once your stomach is done with it and it can hit you like a 500 pound pillow to the side of the head.  Easy does it.

Kate comment: one of the good things for me about Brian’s using medical marijuana is the ability I have had to discuss this drug with my two girls.  We have talked and they have asked questions about why it helps him and I have been able to cement in their brains that if this drug works on a broken brain, what on earth would it do to a healthy one?  All drugs have side effects, I simply do not understand anybody using this drug recreationally and for me, Brian being so open and able to discuss it has helped me feel a little better about preparing my girls for living in Canada with her odd love affair with this drug.

RANT BEGINS:  Another thing I just have to say is I hate the naming conventions on cannabis.  I get it, the names have a regional flare so things that say KUSH in the name (purple kush, pink kush) reference where they were first discovered in the Hindu kush mountains.  And the ones with a hint of yellow in them will have lemon in the name, and the ones with a reddish copper may have strawberry in the name.  Its dogshit.  If you want to be treated like medicine, act like medicine.  Few doctors are willing to send you to the pharmacy with a prescription note that says 7.5 mg of zoplicone, 100 mg of codeine, and 7 spliffs of Grand Daddy Purps!!!  rant over

So yes, I use medicinal cannabis.  Yes its helped me, and I wish I’d have done it sooner.  I wish I had the ability at the time to think clearly and research the other crap the doctors were willing to shove down my neck.  There’s friends of mine, that are no longer friends of mine over this.  There the family stink eye.  The scorn and stigma are still there , but its fading.  And I don’t give a fuck about what most people think, so that helps.  Conversely, I’ve also made new connections with it.  Many other folks who hadn’t considered it decided to after I did, and most have found some degree of relief.

Thats my two cents on medicinal cannabis for PTSD.  It helps some people with anxiety, so good for them.  It helps some for relaxing, so good for them.  It helped me with sleep, and gut pain, so good for me.  Thats how I see it.

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