When I first started looking at the science and data behind medical cannabis I was fascinated by what I saw, what information was available and what we still don’t know. What I didn’t expect were the patient stories, how powerful, eye opening and passionate they are. Many patients turn to medical cannabis because they’ve exhausted other traditional therapies or can’t tolerate the serious side effects of those medications. What do you do when you’re at the end of your therapeutic rope?
Every patient has a story and every person in this industry has a story of how or why they started looking at medical cannabis differently. I got the opportunity to sit down today with one such young man who was nice enough to tell me his story and kind enough to allow me to share it with you.
C.G. is a young man in his mid twenties who started taking medical cannabis for wasting syndrome. He couldn’t eat and at 6’2″ he weighed just 115lbs. When you’re done reading this, search “cachexia” or adult wasting syndrome for a visual. He told me of his turbulent childhood and how he suffered for many years with anger issues, anxiety, depression, ADHD, bipolar and schizophrenia. Don’t worry, he says, the voice in his head doesn’t tell him to hurt anyone else, it just puts him down and calls him names constantly. His hands and fingers, he says have been broken many times from punching walls and he held up his hands to show evidence of not all those breaks healing perfectly. “I don’t like being angry, that’s not who I am but none of the regular meds helped me.” He didn’t want to punch anyone else so he hit walls and played guinea pig for whatever medicines they hadn’t tried yet. His psychiatrist would put him on meds but when they didn’t work, he’d have to withdrawl from them before he could start anything new, then those wouldn’t work and he’d have to repeat the same painful process. The side effects left him feeling terrible and one medicine even gave him gynecomastia. As if middle school years aren’t hard enough, he was the boy wearing a shirt in the pool during gym class and the meds still weren’t working.
He spoke with his psychiatrist about medical cannabis but she was skeptical. She felt it might worsen instead of improve his symptoms but he tells me she was wrong, it has made a huge improvement. Cannabis with high CBD works very well for his anxiety and a good Indica helps him relax, sleep and get some much needed rest. He wanted to make sure I knew how important that was, the meds he was on before left his body exhausted but his mind racing and unable to relax, rest and sleep. I get cranky after a couple nights of lousy sleep, I can’t imagine what C.G. went through to be honest. Cannabis allows his mind to relax he says and takes away the anger impulses. He said with a smile and a knock on the table that it even quiets the voice in his head that puts him down. It allows him to relax, to sleep and helps him to be the calm sociable person he is and wants to be. He’s also been able to start eating again and he tells me and with a smile tells me he’s up to 158lbs. On a 6’2″ frame, 158lbs still looks thin, I can’t imagine how he looked at 115lbs. “Cannabis makes me a productive member of society instead of a destructive member of society,” he said. As we talked he wanted to make sure he said, and I wrote, that “cannabis might not be for everyone or fix everything but it might be an option for someone in the same boat” he was.
While we wait for more research on the benefits of medical cannabis it’s important to remember what got us here, the patients and their stories. Yes, we need more research data but what we have plenty of is case study data. Thank you C.G for taking a few minutes and sharing with all of us.