Yes, it’s true. I use Cannabis. And it makes my life better.

I think at first my mother would have been disappointed by this breaking news and against any Cannabis use because of its overall effects on the brain she’d state, it’s gateway drug potential, and “Robert,” she would say, “it is illegal.” And maybe like Mom, you agree. And now that me, you and Mom are being honest here, I did too until not long ago.

That’s when I began my Cannabis, or “pot” to Mom, educational journey, and now I want to let others know that there may be another solution to using their pain meds, psych meds, alcohol and all the other toxic things they’re taking. Take a moment, research, and before you judge that Cannabis, heard as “marijuana” on Mom’s TV, is bad, horrible and un-Christian like, let’s chat about it shall we?

I tried marijuana as a young man. I liked it more than the other things that I haven’t done since those experimental, naive and educational days. But somewhere in my 20s, Cannabis lost its appeal as marriage, kids, my commitment to being a good husband, dad and employee took hold. I quit drinking as well. Life was good.

In the early 2000s, I start to deal with chronic pain. It seems, the physician says, I must have crushed a couple of my C disks. I figure I must have been in the wrong place at the wrong time during my 15 years in the demolition business. Two neck surgeries and years of injections, treatments and prescriptions later, in my frustration I ask my nurse practitioner for suggestions that we haven’t tried. He suggests medical marijuana. Hmm. The last time I smoked pot, Ronald Reagan was in office.

In the years between the war on drugs and Obamacare, medical marijuana in the U.S. became very legal and very effective, now currently serving hundreds of thousands of patients in 35 states. In 2020, Arizona passed Prop. 207, joining 10 other states in the U.S. with legal, adult-use sale of marijuana. State after state, marijuana has gone from the scary drug everyone KNEW would make you jump off buildings and murder people, to a highly effective and safe health choice. Safe? Yes, Mom, safe. Listen to this, “Cannabis is a striking example of a safe and effective botanical remedy that is underutilized and still largely misunderstood by many conventional practitioners.” Dr. Andrew Weil, the famous integrative health doctor, said that! He was on “Oprah,” Mom. Read: Not Big Pharma. Also, studies are coming out every week attesting to not only the safety in the usage of Cannabis, but also its use in combating so many conditions. “Ha! Like what?” comes a voice from the kitchen. “The munchies?”

The “munchies,” a commonly identified experience after ingesting Cannabis, appeals to a lot of folks who aren’t watching their hips, Mom. Ask someone going through chemotherapy or dealing with being chronically underweight. In our family’s situation, because of ongoing health problems, one of our adult sons was experiencing, including being underweight, we sought the advice of doctors. After the visits to a gastroenterologist and a nutritionist, it was eventually a wise, well-educated health professional who suggested Cannabis for weight stability with hopes of an actual gain. Here we are, 10 pounds heavier and our son reports it helps tremendously with his anxiety. An Israeli study in 2013, when Cannabis was used as a palliative treatment, cancer patients experienced less weight loss. Another study done with cannabis’ effects on appetite simulation on rats, showed the rats requesting twice as much food as the placebo group without cannabis.

Going back

As a surrogate choice for pain control, Cannabis was an appealing thought, even though it had been decades since I had tried any. My first night was “illuminating” as I described to a “canna-friend” (real thing) after eating a gummy that had THC (one of Cannabis’ beneficial ingredients like CBD) infused in it. I watched a concert on TV and stayed up way too late. I can’t remember if I ate anything that night. And, yes, I do remember you told me it was bad for my memory, Mother. Since that first time I’ve used my medical marijuana card, I’ve asked a lot of questions of smart people, researched credible sources and have tried various strains of Cannabis. Some that really make me want to eat and others that motivate me to write, or listen to music, or call an old friend. A few help with anxiety and pain without making me sleepy. In the first year alone, my pain meds have dropped significantly. The need for Narcan is gone. That’s the stuff you give a loved one when they’ve overdosed on opioids. Lovely, huh?

I never thought I’d be using Cannabis for pain, let alone anxiety. Why wouldn’t I have thought that? I’ve been programmed from very young to be afraid of the drug. No, I’m not saying it’s your guys’ fault, because I recall when the subject of my cannabis usage somehow ended up front and center next to the lasagne at dinnertime, Dad would say, “Well, I like my beer.” With that declaration he was tagged with, “Dad’s cool.” But Cannabis for anxiety is more than an idea for today.

In the correct dosage of the proper strain of Cannabis, I’ve found relief in certain situations where a glass of wine, or a half a Xanax wouldn’t have worked or been desired. Plus, I don’t drink and Zan-nacks is hard to spell.

But now, even as the voters in the Grand Canyon State voted by good margins to make medical Marijuana legal and available, and they’ve said that it’s also legal for adults to consume it recreationally, I have to be careful because of the ignorance that persists in the minds of those who won’t even listen to the facts, or the new word, the science.

Cannabis bias

The bias against the remedies of Cannabis are rampant. Most of it caused by ignorance largely based on what were we taught years ago. But since then, the research, er, the science, indicates that there’s so much potential for the benefits that we should invest more time and take a look. Who was it that took Cannabis off the U.S. Pharmacopeia despite being safe and effective for a multitude of conditions in the first place? Was it the American Medical Association? No. They fought for it. It was our federal government.

I know what you’re thinking and no; I wouldn’t jump off a cliff if all the other adults were jumping off cliffs, Mom. This isn’t about fitting in or being in a group. Lord knows this little chat of ours will thin out the friends category on my Facebook page. This is about quality of life. Alcohol isn’t such a great choice as the CDC’s stats show, around 90,000 deaths a year due to excessive alcohol use. Their opioids stats show that from 1999 to 2018, more than 232,000 people died in the United States from overdoses involving prescription opioids. Cannabis? Deaths? Zero. Is it 100% innocuous? No. But neither is ignorance. You remember back in 2016, Arizona had Prop. 205 on the ballot (recreational marijuana). It was voted down. I voted it down along with others. I was against it, totally, and I didn’t seek any cliff-jumper advise.

Why so much negativity toward the Cannabis plant anyway? Is it not a gift from God? If you recall, back in the 60s we were using a pasty substance for cuts and bruises that was from a native plant long before it was available in stores. You remember? Anyone? Mom? It was aloe. But ignorance has a way of sometimes coming all the way around the cul-de-sac to kick you in the butt. If you look into the numbers as I have, work in the business of helping people with Cannabis as I do, (did I mention I’m licensed by the state to do just that), and talk to scores and scores of folks that use cannabis to help stay away from alcohol and stay away from opioids and other harmful drugs, you can’t, with any smidgen of decency and love in your heart, deny that this little plant, when used smartly, helps people who in many cases I have found, have no other place to turn.

So, Mom, even though you left this Earth a few years ago, I want you to know I miss you and I remember what you told me: “Robert, God gave you a brain to use, not to just sit and play with it. So use it!”

Bob Deyoe is an Arizona licensed dispensary agent, Cannabis advocate, educator and podcaster at bobtender.com.