Let’s Talk Pot! Everything You Need to Know.
I am not a recreational user of pot but those who indulge and get the gigglies, munchies or chill out have surrounded me. I was one of those kids who when they showed the scary movie about drugs, it worked. I was so scared of drugs so I would not even listen to music from the Beatles ‘as they did drugs”. Ha ha, funny but true. I guess I have had accidental exposure at rock concerts, especially the Pink Floyd concert of “The Wall” when kids behind me were lighting up. And we can smell it here and there on the streets in NYC.
The latest ruling in California has many up in arms; recreational and medicinal cannabis is now legal. Soon it will be the same on our border state, MA. With the opioid epidemic, it is interesting to note that states where cannabis is legal; numbers of opioid deaths and users have dropped. In NY State medicinal cannabis is legal, however it is not that easy to get access to it. I know, because I helped my friend with a serious concussion obtain her ‘pot-card’.
Why the science backlog, research and lack of funding?
Cannabis is listed in the Schedule 1 of Controlled Substance Act:“the most tightly restricted category reserved for drugs that have “no currently accepted medical use, lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision and a high potential for abuse,” has been proposed repeatedly since 1972.” Wikipedia.org.
In May 2017, following a resolution adopted at the 2016 annual convention to support cannabis to treat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder(PTSD), the American Legion petitioned the White House for a meeting to discuss rescheduling or de-scheduling cannabis and allowing it to be used medically.
President Obama said cannabis should be treated like alcohol and cigarettes and reclassified cannabis as a schedule 2 drug. In addition, his administration adopted a lenient policy where federal agencies did not crack down on cannabis trade in states where it was declared legal. Federal intrusion is now back on the table with the current administration…
Years ago I learned about the value of cannabis in connection with chronic illness. In non-conventional clinical settings it has been (medically) used to increase appetite during chemotherapy, lessen pain, and calm a brain that is overtaken 30-40 times with seizures. This is all well documented, yet there is still a great stigma surrounding cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Cannabis and New York State:
- Now that cannabis is legal as a medicinal drug in NY State, it can only be obtained through a doctor’s prescription. And many doctors do not do so as there still a stigma around the use of cannabis or ‘pot’.
- There are select doctors in NYC who will prescribe CBD and / or THC from cannabis. It can be inhaled but also can be put into an edible format.
- Prescribing physicians must undergo some training in order to legally prescribe.
- Doctors must be affiliated with a compounding pharmacy where the specific combination is put together for the patient.
- THC and CBD can be in different delivery systems that include smoking, inhaling, sublingual and oral forms (and suppositories too).
There is sufficient science to support medicinal use, however scientific research has been stifled for many years as one cannot do research on a class 1 drug. (What a mess! And with the current government agencies and attorney general it will stay a mess…)
Here is what is important to know in a simple version:
The whole CANNABIS plant consists of over 400 molecules that have multiple functions. For simplicity sake, two main components include:
- CBD: Cannabidiol – does not make you high. Uses include:
- Pain relief
- Stress reduction
- Helps with Lyme disease symptoms
- Helps with bowel diseases
- Improve motor skills with MS
- Helps sleep
2. THC: Tetrahydrocannbidiol includes psychoactive compounds that make you high. Benefits include:
- Appetite stimulating (can be mixed into salad dressing if not inhaled)
Some patients only need CBD for joint pain. This can be put in a salve.
Someone else would benefit from a combination of THC and CBD if they were experiencing seizure after a concussion or traumatic brain injury. As I mentioned above, I helped a friend get her official medical card, a process done online and the card then shows up in the mail. For her brain injury she vapes with CBD and THC and it has helped her tremors.
It is important to know that even though cannabis is touted as non-toxic, it depends upon the dose and the individuals. Each plant has plant toxins that can lead to side effects. Individuals can experience side effects at a higher dose, e.g. anxiety. Just like a drug (excuse the pun): if it has an effect, it can have a side effect at a higher dose.
Now Let Us Talk About CBD From HEMP = that is LEGAL in all states
It is possible to buy CBD from hemp in ALL states from the hemp. Hemp is classified as an agricultural product and thus is legal in all states as a food-grade supplement. I have tried various forms of hemp CBD from hemp. I must warn you, there is a lot of junk sold out there, sourcing and quality can be questionable, and it is pricey.
So here in NY State we can freely buy hemp CBD products. Some of my clients come back from Colorado or California with pain-relieving salves – that work! So, if you have never been exposed to the world of CBD or THC, now you know more. If you were hanging out at Woodstock, then you probably catch my drift J.
In any case, if your doctor tells you that “more research is needed, or the science is inconclusive”, trust me, the research is there but it is not taught in medical schools. Pharma did try to create a synthetic product, it failed. Why? Because you cannot just take a few molecules from the plant, every constituent matters and Nature is simply brilliant in its design and phytochemical functions. So, it truly is time to go organic!
Thank you for reading,
Rika Keck, FDN-P, NY Integrated Health
Editor’s Note: Rika Keck will be a panelist at our upcoming Renewal Summit. Meet her in person.