Medicating Down South

Image from Alesia Kozik

Welcome to my blog where I plan to discuss cannabis as a medicine, especially in relation to living in the southeast corner of the US (hereby known as the Land of Prohibition). Before I get too far ahead of myself, I want to do an introductory post to tell you about my story with cannabis as medicine. I began smoking weed as a high school junior in 2008. It started as a nightly treat, to enjoy some snacks and laugh at a good comedy show or movie. It quickly became the highlight of my day and something that I wanted to do more than just at night. Nowadays cannabis is a vital part of my life, daily routine, and journey to be a better person.

I am a thirty-year-old husband and father of two living in the “bible belt” of the United States. While I have always felt and shown symptoms, just within the last few years have I been clinically diagnosed with social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and major depressive disorder. If you would allow me a brief moment to list some of the prescription drugs I can remember having tried on behalf of my mental health over the last several years — Lexapro, Zoloft, Trintellix (current), Wellbutrin, Seroquel, Abilify, Ativan (current), Buspar, and Gabapentin. Most of these drugs made things worse for me, either by causing more severe anxiety/depression symptoms or by causing new physical issues such as hyperhidrosis and vomiting. Despite trying various new medications (and combinations of medications), I still noticed the only time I felt free from my symptoms was late at night when I was enjoying my nightly smoke. Fast forward to 2022.

Cannabis is my primary medication for symptom treatment. I still take a smaller dose of Trintellix daily (to keep me even; fewer ups and downs) plus Ativan (as needed to stop an anxiety attack), but cannabis is my morning/noon/night treatment for my symptoms. Let’s leave work out of the equation and go through a “normal” non-working day for me. Every time I wake up, I start my day with a cup of coffee and a bowl of green. The coffee gets me going, and the weed keeps me from negatively over-analyzing my day before it even begins. From there, I’ll get to about lunchtime before I feel the existential dread coming back. That feeling of being worthless and stuck with no way out. So I load up another bowl, give it a light, and as I begin to exhale my first hit I can literally feel the stress leaving my body. My lunch bowl will last me until around dinnertime (noticing a pattern here) when my wife and I will be juggling our two-month-old daughter, our six-year-old son, making dinner, handling bath times, and of course doing standard household chores. To deal with the volume and energy levels going through the house, I’ll have to step outside and smoke a bowl to avoid getting overstimulated. We tuck our son into bed around 8PM every night, and once he’s down I’ll have my nightly “unwind” bowl pack (or two). This nightly bowl (or two) will save me from hours of predicting and replaying every worse case scenario for tomorrow and the rest of the week. I pretty much become nonverbal and just stuck in a hole of hopelessness at that point. I’ve found myself in some of my lowest, most suicidal points of my life late at night. Without having access to weed, I truly don’t know that I’d still be here today. You can’t tell me cannabis isn’t medicine, I won’t accept that.

Now for the fun part — I live in a southern state where both medicinal and recreational marijuana are completely illegal. We’re not even decriminalized around here yet. Because of the criminal status of cannabis, not only is my medicine a threat to get me thrown in jail, it is also in no way regulated or inspected for safety. Now, some people may think to themselves: “it’s just a plant grown in the ground, why would it need to be inspected for safety?” and I will cover that fully in the next blog post! Just know that if you’re smoking unregulated weed (and sometimes even regulated weed is guilty) your lungs could be inhaling things like bud rot (mold), pesticides (chemicals), and insect/animal excrement (urine and feces) to name a few. So, being that I am fully aware of how important clean cannabis is for medicine, I am forced to make a three-hour drive (round trip) to a reliable source any time that I am in need of medicine. With the cost of gasoline as it is now, that adds more than a few dollars to the already high price of good weed down here.

So that is a brief overview of my experience with cannabis as medicine and why I am so passionate about it. I have lots of ideas for future blog posts, but we’ll see what direction this takes after I get a few more posts under my belt. I can tell you that my next post will be primarily focused on the growing process and regulation (safety standards) for cannabis. With cannabis being used as medicine across the globe, it is vitally important to have safety regulations and standards set for quality and safety purposes. For as long as cannabis remains illegal in various states and parts of the US, having access to clean medicine will be near impossible for lots of Americans.



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