My brother Michael is schizophrenic. He’s been this way for a while, almost eight years now. It robbed him of the better half of his young life: When he should have been learning to drive, leading the varsity basketball team to victory, going to prom, and preparing for college, instead he was in another world entirely. Physically his body was present, but his mind was scattered across a million and one different alternate realities, each more erratic and frightening than the one that came before.
It was as if, one day, a switch flipped in his mind. And you could tell that something wasn’t quite right. His eyes glazed over, his mouth carried a drunken grin, and nothing he said really made sense any more. My parents and I thought he was on drugs or, perhaps, was just acting out. Nothing could have prepared us for what was really going on within him.
People with schizophrenia have been categorized as having extreme delusions about reality while suffering psychotic episodes of paranoia and hallucinations. My brother talked a lot about the voices in his head. After years of trying to snap him out of it, “Baker Acting” him, and his spending some time behind bars, he was able to get the attention of a few doctors who told us what was happening to his mind. They called it paranoid schizophrenic disorder.
3.5 million Americans suffering
Since then, my brother has been in and out of more assisted-living facilities than I care to count. Unfortunately, our country lacks the funding and resources necessary for families to get their loved ones the care they really need. Often, American citizens with mental illness end up homeless, wandering the streets, in jail, or worse. Michael has already been in two of those predicaments. After years of treatment with pharmaceutical medications (featuring side effects that have rapidly changed his weight, appetite, and willingness to comply with his doctors, law enforcement officers, and family members), it feels like everyone is exhausted. There has to be another way.
The pills aren’t working
Life has a strange way of putting things into your path when you need them most. Becoming a frequent reader of and contributor to nextCANNABIS.com has opened my mind to the fantastic healing properties of cannabis, which really should become common knowledge. The truth is shrouded from not only the general public at large, but unfortunately many physicians as well.
Now that half the states plus the District of Columbia have banded together to stand up for legal medical cannabis, countless stories of recovery are coming to light. Cannabis has an almost magical way of combatting the crippling mental symptoms of post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI), ADD, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Who would have thought?
Cannabidiol to the rescue
Cannabidiol (CBD), the main medical molecule of cannabis, is now being used to treat patients with schizophrenia. Its unique mode of interaction with cannabinoid receptors in the brain allows it to counteract or prevent delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia. It promotes and regulates healthy brain function, with none of the nasty side effects that come along with guzzling a cocktail of pills a couple of times a day.
That said, living in the state of Florida doesn’t exactly make it easy for my brother to gain access to his medicine. In fact, the Sunshine State has recently legalized high-CBD cannabis, but only as a “last resort” for patients suffering from epilepsy or terminal illness.
Hopefully, in the near future the U.S. will actually begin to view cannabis more as a solution for many of the health problems facing our people than as some out-of-control drug of “abuse” that will destroy society. Almost anything in moderation can serve its purpose. When regulated reasonably, cannabis could function just as easily in society as alcohol, only without the annoying addiction, liver cancer, domestic violence, and highway carnage.
In addition, consider the billions of dollars of tax revenue and personal wealth that cannabusiness has already generated in the U.S. Now imagine if it were legalized nationwide. It could make a tremendous impact on our economy and overall health of our people.
CBD and the mind
The sad truth is that there are millions of people like my brother in the U.S. who are suffering. The treatment they are provided isn’t working properly, and the doctors know it. There is still no cure. It’s evident every time they greet a patient who has returned in worse condition mentally than before.
Cannabis, or more specifically CBD, can play a role as an effective anti-psychotic, even though tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is found in the same plant. High doses of THC can produce psychotic effects that could worsen the condition of some patients suffering from schizoid symptoms. CBD counteracts those effects. So, it’s important both to focus on CBD and to limit THC in those patients’ treatment plans.
Get out of the way
To this end, government must finally get out of the way of science. It is long past time to downgrade or remove cannabis from the list of controlled substances, enabling researchers to study its unique compounds and formulate ways to use them individually or in combination for the benefit of humankind. The DEA stated months ago that they would have a decision in the first half of 2016. Predictably, they are dragging their feet, as the DEA chief director has called medicinal use of cannabis “a joke”.
CBD can be ingested in food, vaporized, or even used through a patch. The possibilities are endless once the green light is given for people to pursue their right to robust health. When that day comes, MagicalButter could really be a big advocate to a person like my brother. It would be a breeze for him or a caretaker to use the Botanical Extractor to safely cook his medicine into a form that will enhance rather than worsen his health, as pills do.
Who knows, maybe high-CBD cannabis is exactly what’s he’s needed all along, but it just wasn’t made available to him.
Check out the inspirational first-hand account of schizophrenia and cannabis treatment in this video!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh White is a proud father, musician, mixed martial artist, and freelance writer who enjoys sharing his unique perspective on the world. A resident of St. Petersburg, Florida, Josh aspires to travel and write about his experiences via a variety of platforms. He currently freelances for nextCANNABIS.com as well as the Creative Loafing Tampa music column “Earbuds.” Having managed and developed content for dozens of online celebrity blogs, Josh enjoys investing energy into topics that stir his passion.