My earliest memory of drugs, any kind of drugs, is the Nancy Reagan campaign, “Just Say No”, and also the ubiquitous public service announcement with the frying pan: “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?” The thing is, they didn’t say what kind of drugs. It was just…all drugs.

Maybe that’s why I don’t like going to doctors. Maybe it’s why I don’t even take over-the-counter allergy medicine during oak season here in central Florida, which my doctor thinks is just insane. Maybe it’s why I have a hard time just taking aspirin that doesn’t have a thick coating.

Crack is wack, E is whee?

Crack is wack, E is whee-

I was a child in the ’80s, so I learned that “crack is wack”. But I was a child of the ’90s, when EDM (electronic dance music) and ecstasy took hold of the nation’s youth—the youth that I hung out with, anyway. And I tried it. I also tried acid, mushrooms, and cannabis. And out of all of them, I liked herb the least. It either made me tired or paranoid. So, when my friends would offer it to me, I would turn it down.

It was a puzzle to my pals. I didn’t like chocolate, either, so my friend Flower worried for my happiness. She thought I was perhaps the weirdest raver she’d ever met—and that is saying something, especially for Orlando during the early 1990s. But once she figured out that I wasn’t interested, it became a non-issue.

After about a year of experimentation and revelry, it was time for the party to end. Maybe it was the MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or ecstasy), maybe it was a really rough breakup I’d gone through, or maybe it was just time to grow up. But, after having used those substances on a fairly regular basis, my body and spirit were fading.

Puff? Pass

Puff- Pass

I moved to Colorado and found a new life, a new home, and a whole bunch of new stoner friends. We had bonfires in the mountains, we had bonfires in the yard, we hiked, and we biked. I learned to snowboard. I spent more time outside in Colorado than ever as an adult, and I still didn’t like to smoke weed. My new hippie friends didn’t mind; it just made more for them. I never understood the attraction. I was an outsider looking in.

After a couple of years in the mountains, it was time to move on. My then-girlfriend found an apprenticeship with an artist on an island off the coast of Massachusetts, and together we built a new life, one of tides and seasons; there was tourist season and not-tourist season. There was work, work, work, and then for about three months, not so much work. And New England winters are great for potlucks as well as pot.

One thing about those who like to smoke herb, they really don’t mind when you don’t join in. It’s actually kind of cool to them. Sure, they’ll offer it; but turn it down often enough, and they just stop offering. It’s no big deal. So, the peer pressure that Nancy Reagan and the politicians of my youth warned me of was simply not there. No one got mad or pouted or stopped inviting me to hang out just because I said no.

Gateway to a great way of life

Gateway to a great way of life

Herb wasn’t the “gateway” drug they made it out to be, either: I didn’t smoke it, yet I tried other stuff. [Gateway to what, exactly—safer substances? Drugs like ketamine, cocaine, morphine, and meth are all on LOWER schedules, meaning the government believes those needle drugs are LESS dangerous than a doobie. Even more ironic: For many recovering opioid addicts and PTS (post-traumatic stress) patients, cannabis actually IS a gateway—one that leads OUT of hard drug abuse and premature death, back to life and health. —Ed.] “They” had said that cannabis was just as bad as heroin or crack, so doing any of it was just as bad as doing all of it. They cracked down on crack, set harsh minimum sentences for any drug possession, and kept cannabis listed as a Schedule I narcotic.

But this isn’t about what “they” did. It’s about my relationship with the plant. I had tried it in a variety of situations, states, and times. I frankly didn’t see what all the fuss was about—on either side. I’d get annoyed sometimes, trying to talk with someone who was high or having to wait for them to complete a task, but for the most part it was just no big deal.

When I moved back to Florida, I was in a corporate environment; if my new co-workers took part in cannabis, they didn’t talk about it or do it in front of me. It just kind of faded from my periphery until I was given the opportunity to write for a company called MagicalButter® .

Mission of mercy

Garyn Angel, the inventor of the Botanical Extractor™, or “MagicalButter machine”, came up with the idea to help a friend of his who was suffering from Crohn’s disease, a.k.a. ulcerative colitis. The disease wreaks havoc on the digestive system, and the patient’s appetite wanes away to nothing. Angel’s friend had heard that smoking cannabis was a popular Crohn’s remedy to help increase the appetite and decrease the pain, but he couldn’t smoke it due to his asthma. Angel researched the extraction process and devised a way to infuse the medicine from the plant into butter, alcohol, or cooking oil with just the push of a button.

The resulting herbal infusion can then be used in almost any recipe. When I was in Colorado, I had the opportunity to enjoy some of the classic ‘magical brownies’. Surely, those and the idea of edible cannabis in general are nothing new. But the ease of the extraction—that is where the genius of the Botanical Extractor™ lies. It enables someone without the time, inclination, or skill in the kitchen to make perfectly consistent medibles every time.

This machine is being used across North America and beyond to help treat a variety of patients, from cancer survivors whose treatments are destroying their bodies as well as their cancer, to children with severe epilepsy, to those enduring chronic pain as in SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus) or fibromyalgia, to veterans with PTS, to terminal patients, who deserve their time to be made more bearable. And through I have the opportunity to help tell their story.

It really works

But, what do I know, this girl who always says no at parties? Well, I know that there have been times when the agony of menstrual cramps has had me doubled over, when regular over-the-counter pain relievers didn’t work…and at those times the only thing that helped me was a couple of tiny tokes. In fact, since most pain relievers make me a little nauseous, it was the only thing that really worked well.

And I had heard about the children in Colorado who were trying a new strain of cannabis called Charlotte’s Web. These children had tried everything their neurosurgeons had recommended, but nothing could stop the epileptic seizures in their brains and bodies, sometimes up to 400 per day.

So I researched, and I wrote. I wrote about Vivian Wilson, the toddler whose family moved to Colorado with the hope of managing her life-threatening Dravet syndrome; under traditional care in her home state of New Jersey, she was experiencing unrelenting seizures. In Colorado, with the help of medical cannabis, she got down to one or two per week. I shared my findings with my network of friends and associates. Suddenly, folks who I had never suspected of using cannabis for medical purposes privately messaged me. They told me also of their parents, whose later years were made better by use of cannabis, despite their initial major reluctance to try it.

I was informed by more than one friend that the indica variety was the only thing that helped with their insomnia. I learned of a girl who has severe anxiety, and the only medication that has helped her deal with the outside world is cannabinoid oil. I found out that a friend and teammate from high school was in a bad car accident and was prescribed extra-strength Vicodin, up to eight pills per day. They tried giving her another powerful opioid, OxyContin, but that made her violently ill. The Vicodin did, too, but only for the first few days; after that, they made her irritable and mean. But that was what the pharmaco-medical establishment said was good for her.

Another life saved by cannabis

Her wife insisted that the doctor look into something, anything else. Luckily, they lived in Washington state, where medical cannabis had been made legal. And it worked, as it has for so many other opioid users. She said that if her wife hadn’t put her foot down and said “It’s me or the pills”, she probably would have headed down the path of addiction. My friend told me point-blank that, if medical cannabis were not on the table, she would likely be dead or addicted to heroin right now.

And that is precisely what is going on in our country right now. Prescription-drug abuse is skyrocketing, seemingly with no end in sight. Addiction to these drugs quickly becomes hard to manage; it’s very expensive and usually difficult to get enough prescribed to satisfy a growing craving. The unwanted side effects of the painkillers, especially opioids, are just as bad as the pain: nausea, somnolence, and chronic constipation are just the main side effects. Withdrawal symptoms, though, are where the real dangers lie: muscle aches, anxiety, excessive sweating, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, cramping, and more. It gets so bad that users will do anything to make the pain and torment go away.

That’s where heroin on the street comes in.

It’s cheaper. It’s more potent. You don’t need a prescription or an insurance card. Dealers don’t care if you’re using too much; they just want your money. And if you’re addicted to heroin, you don’t care about anything but the next score. Crime rates and death rates by overdose, disease, or violent crimes go up exponentially with heroin use.

Conversely, not one death in recorded history has ever resulted from cannabis overdose. The debate about whether it is addictive continues, and conclusive evidence is lacking. Still, it’s safe to say that any withdrawal symptoms are non-existent—for the vast majority of even daily consumers—or, at worst, extremely mild in comparison with other painkillers and recreational drugs. Psychiatry professor Julie Holland, M.D., editor of The Pot Book, puts it simply: “Cannabis is remarkably non-toxic.”

So, that is why, even though I don’t care to use it recreationally, I continue to keep the medical option open and be an advocate for legalization. There are a plethora of non-life-threatening illnesses and conditions that can and should be treated with cannabis.


Have you or a loved one had an unusual relationship with cannabis? Tell us about it in the comments section below!