LDS Church: Failing on Cannabis, Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, LDS Church: Failing on Cannabis, the topic of the opposition of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, based in Salt Lake City, to the legalization of medical cannabis in the state of Utah was introduced.

It is strongly suggested that readers check out this introductory article prior to reading the piece below.


Who Deserves Help?

Concerning the topic of medical cannabis, is a four-year-old girl with epilepsy somehow less deserving of relief than a 68-year-old diabetic who the Church would encourage to take her pharmaceutical drugs to maintain her health?

How can Church leaders live with themselves or sleep at night, knowing they have deprived patients so sick that mobility requires a wheelchair? Many of these patients cannot speak or even care for themselves. Given scientific and anecdotal evidence, how can the Church justify its stance?

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What if this was your daughter and she had late-stage cancer?

Are life’s most unfortunate participants, many of whom are members of the LDS Church, getting the cold shoulder from an organization that claims to be a messenger of god’s love, yet vocally opposes their ability to simply grow plants or treat themselves?

I honestly do not care about a person’s religion if they are hurting and in need of relief to live their daily life. The Church, if it truly has compassion for not only its own members, but all of what it labels god’s children—if it is really compassionate and trying to live the preachings of Jesus Christ—will drop its opposition to SB73.

Unfortunately, I fear that this centuries-old organization, despite all its wealth and influence, lacks the courage to make the right decision. The Church has obviously prioritized its fear of political repercussions and shrinking congregations over the welfare of its millions of members and doing what is right.

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An illegal outdoor home garden in the Midwest, the land of prohibition

The Church’s opposition is not only confusing to those who base their critical thinking on logic and science, but also frustrating. How can a religion that claims to love all of god’s children not allow society’s most sick and frail to consume cannabis, including THC, for the treatment of literally hundreds of diseases and ailments?

Any excuse for the Church’s behavior falls short. It’s 2016; let’s stop acting as if it is 1682 and we didn’t walk on the moon 47 years ago. Church leaders all have a supercomputer in their pocket called a smartphone. I recommend they use this gift of science and technology to do some research.

LDS Church: You can do better. And, by any objective metric, you are sinning in the most paramount of ways if you do not. But I didn’t make those rules.

You did.

Politics as Usual

The Church’s announcement had the immediate ripple effect of convincing two senators to drop their support of the bill.

Are Church leaders too busy praying for a miracle to a member’s disease that they ignore the hard numbers and factual data? In their belief system, god has provided this plant, this herbal medicine, for people to utilize to their betterment. Yet the Church prefers the mystery of prayer to the hard science of cannabinoids and terpenes?

Church Leaders: There’s a special label for people and organizations that do what you do. I don’t write that type of material, but the label still pertains. When will you stop denying the facts?

One Research Example

Back to the science of cannabis: A 2013 human trial study in Israel revealed that 45% of participants with Crohn’s disease, a potentially fatal form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), experienced a full remission of their disease after only eight weeks (they consumed high-grade cannabis containing 23% THC). All subjects were patients who had tried conventional pharmaceutical drugs, but had experienced no relief from their disease or its symptoms.

This is just one of literally hundreds of examples of research studies that either hint at or prove the efficacy of cannabis. However, “proof” in the world of science means repeatable results. With the U.S. government opposing cannabis research that extends beyond petri dishes and test tubes due to the Schedule I status of cannabis, such research won’t be occurring in the United States anytime soon.

I recently tuned into the LDS Church’s Twitter page. The most recent tweet at the time offered the hashtag #LoveOneAnother and the image below:

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; photo by LDS Church

This is all fine and good. Nice PR campaign. How is this helping Church members? How can these words—when viewed against the stark shadow of the Church’s opposition to medical cannabis—be perceived as sincere or heartfelt?

I’m not a militant activist. In fact, I don’t consider myself an activist whatsoever. I’m simply a patient advocate who believes in the science behind cannabinoids, terpenes, and the entourage effect. Why won’t powerful, influential organizations like the Church and Congress join me in a science-based approach?

Addressing the Skeptics

Skeptics wonder how cannabis can be so effective against such a wide variety of conditions. It’s simple: It is really good at mimicking the body’s own internally produced medical molecules, chemicals called endocannabinoids.

Because modern life and its pollution, lack of exercise, and highly processed foods often result in very poor diet, humans are typically deficient in these molecules. Recent science has revealed that such a problem, called endocannabinoid deficiency, results in a lack of homeostasis within the human body.

It is theorized by some very intelligent researchers that this lack of homeostasis may be the root of literally hundreds of conditions. This imbalance, because it involves the central nervous system and immune system, can result in diseases as wide ranging as multiple sclerosis, asthma, strokes, and epilepsy.

Because so many conditions involve inflammation, pain, and nausea, cannabis is simply very effective in treating them. It should be noted that cannabis is not always effective at treating the core disease or condition that ails a patient, but it typically is an excellent way of decreasing negative symptoms.

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LDS Church: You would deprive her of medicine? Really?

In addition, cannabis can help patients replace opiate drugs and other pharmaceutical treatments that may result in negative side effects such as inflammation and pain.


So what say you, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Are you confident enough in your stance to debate the issue and defend yourself? Are you truly doing god’s work and representing the preaching of Jesus Christ?


All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle, and a contributing writer at Whaxy.com.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

LDS Church: Failing on Cannabis?

Recently, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, based in Salt Lake City, publicly denounced Utah’s current pending medical cannabis law.

The Church issued a statement in early February expressing its opposition to the legislation. If passed by the legislature, SB73 would result in the nation’s 24th state to offer medical cannabis to some of its sickest patients. In 2000, Hawaii was the first to pass a medical pot law via a state legislature.

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Is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ignoring science?

Note that SB73 is not a ballot initiative up for a popular vote, like most states considering medical or adult use legalization in 2016 (including California and Massachusetts).


Could someone in the Church please tell me why, exactly, it opposes this legislation that is clearly intended to help patients gain safe access to laboratory-tested, high-quality cannabis medicine so they can avoid the dangers of the black market?

More Than Lip Service?

How could an organization that claims to be committed to the well being of its members and all of society in the year 2016 possibly consider it a good thing not only to withhold support of a medical cannabis law, but to go out of its way to blatantly oppose it?

Is the Church so out-of-touch as to be duped by a mere 80 years of prohibition and Reefer Madness?

“Along with others, we have expressed concern about the unintended consequences that may accompany the legalization of medical marijuana,”  — Eric Hawkins, LDS Church spokesperson

Hawkins added, “We have expressed opposition to Senator Madsen’s bill because of that concern.”

This ambiguous statement, couched in no logic and based around fuzzy “unintended consequences,” leans on decades of fear mongering and feigned ignorance regarding the efficacy of this plant for sick patients who consume it as either smoke, vapor, edibles, topicals, or a tincture.

If past surgeon generals, Sir Richard Branson, and physicians like Dr. Sanjay Gupta can figure it out, why can’t the Church? Does it not have the resources of a 14-year-old with an internet connection to research the medical properties of this natural herb?

Maybe the Church should ask its parents for the keys to the car so it can drive to the library and indulge in some good old fashioned homework….

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A medical cannabis garden in Humboldt County, California

I may not be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but I care about the sick and ailing who count themselves among its 15 million members and 85,000 missionaries.

The LDS Church is the fourth largest Christian denomination in the United States. As a patient advocate, I’m concerned with the welfare of all patients.

That’s Not It

My patient advocacy isn’t derived from a belief that a god will punish me if I don’t exercise compassion, however. It is because it is the right thing to do and because it is a moral imperative.

I’m really not trying to be controversial or offend readers, but the Church is obviously working for the guy with the pointed tail downstairs if it purposefully deprives sick people, of any severity, a natural wellness medicine—regardless of whether it was designed by intelligence, a seven-day miracle, or 60 million years of evolution.

I want to see military veterans with PTSD and chronic depression get the relief they deserve, be they Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Wiccan, secular humanist, or otherwise. Isn’t that what the United States is supposedly all about?

Why has the Church lost its moral compass and compassion for the downtrodden? Why is it putting politics before patients and ignoring the scripture upon which it bases its entire dogma and justifies its existence?

As political candidates like Donald Trump spew primitive bigotry and encourage ignorance in the name of core American values, why does the Church embrace the decades-old prohibitionist stance of ignorance and deception that hurts its most fragile members?


Check out Part 2.

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All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle, and a contributing writer at Whaxy.com.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Cannabis for Performance Enhancement?

I’ve been increasingly thinking about cannabis and its role in our lives. How do we use it—and why? Are intent and motive important when one is consuming marijuana? Are those who simply want to escape reality losing out on the full spectrum of benefits offered by this wellness herb?


The topic of intent, as in “using cannabis with intent,” is deep and detailed. It involves mindfulness and is regularly practiced by many cannabis users who also indulge in meditation, yoga, and endurance exercise.

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A big, beautiful outdoor cannabis plant in Toronto

Those who view cannabis as a simple opportunity to escape from reality, relegating it to a mere euphoriant, may be missing out. Why? Put simply, cannabis—whether the user is aware or not—is increasingly proving itself to be a tool for use with the intent of homeostasis, or balance, within humans—including our minds, bodies, and spirits.

Homeostasis = Performance Enhancement

If you’re still with me, isn’t it reasonable to assume that a balanced or homeostatic mind/body/spirit is one that is more likely to be optimized and that may result in the enhancement of performance for a wide variety of tasks?

Could not everything from software development and public speaking to parenting and competitive cycling benefit from reasonable daily dosing of this cannabinoid-rich vegetable? When we strip away the decades of stigma, propaganda, and tremendous ignorance, we learn that cannabis has a special relationship to the human body (as proven by numerous research studies and thousands of patient testimonials).

Unfortunately, a significant chunk of North Americans perceives this natural “tonic” to completely lack medical efficacy. Of course, the herb’s Schedule I status under the U.S. government’s Controlled Substances Act, where it cosies up beside truly harsh drugs like heroin and bath salts, doesn’t help.

More progressive thinkers who believe cannabis does nothing more than get one “high” or give cancer and AIDS patients an appetite are also not seeing the big picture.

Enduring Stigma & Endurance Exercise

During my childhood, I basked in the shadow of competitive road cycling. Instead of fantasizing about being an NFL quarterback or G.I. Joe, I imagined racing with the peloton in California or France.

I remember when I was about eight or 10 years old, watching as my father walked through a crowd of hundreds of very capable cyclists prior to a beautiful spring tour in the Midwest during the late 1970s.

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Part of the road bike I ride—now after consuming cannabis with intent

With his special shoes clacking against the pavement, he walked through the crowd, perusing his cycling peers with caution and muted excitement in anticipation of the following two days of hard riding. The eager athletes awaiting the launch of their tour would cover 200+ miles in the following 36 hours of spinning—if they were lucky. (Some ultra-competitive top riders would suck down the entire distance in a single impressive day.)

Of course, back then, more than 30 years ago, the bike frames were heavy steel and names like Schwinn Paramount dominated the field (my dad’s was orange). Disc brakes on road bikes were unimagined, pedals featuring primitive toe cages were the standard, and bike computers like my Garmin GPS—replete with touchscreen, altimeter, and thermometer—were virtually unimaginable (the stuff of Star Trek).

Also Unimaginable

Of course, consuming cannabis for performance enhancement was also unimaginable back then. Unfortunately, it remains so today for most citizens, even for many who, ironically, smoke, vaporize, or eat cannabis on a daily basis. Nearly a century of prohibitionist rhetoric and misinformation doesn’t dissipate overnight.

Most competitive amateur athletes, like their non-athletic peers, don’t understand the potential improvement they could experience in their training and daily lives if they simply adopted moderate use of cannabis—again, with intent.

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A happy toker at the Hot Box Cafe in Toronto

The warming weather in Central Texas this year invited me to begin my cycling season a bit earlier than I anticipated. Like many occasions in the past, I consumed cannabis prior to my ride. This time, however, I did so with the intent of improving both my performance and also my appreciation of the experience.

An Exercise of Intent

About 2.5 minutes after my first toke of some sativa Maui Waui—as the THC molecules and terpenes lodged themselves in the CB1 and CB2 receptors of my brain, central nervous system, and immune system (basically my entire body)—I began to feel that common euphoria that wipes away anxiety and worry.

Mitigating and hopefully alleviating anxiety is a key step for many cannabis consumers and athletes who wish to optimize their approach to and appreciation for life.  Or endurance exercise. Is not a more balanced, patient, and calm attitude toward life good for all pursuits, including endurance exercise?

I tried to harness the psychoactive effect of the THC to visualize my own humility. I wanted to know not so much what I could accomplish on the ride, but rather what I could learn. I desired to engage with the smoothly rolling machine below me in a more harmonious, efficient, and fluid manner.

I’ll never compete in the Olympics or turn in impressive tour times, even in my age group. I simply wanted to maximize my potential, regardless of how humble those numbers being stored in the flash memory of my cycling computer might actually be.

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A cannabis activist in Hamilton, Ontario around 2007

When inhaling the smoke, I intentionally did so slowly and deeply, but manually carbed it to complete the toke with a cap of clean air, in an effort to push the column of cannabis smoke deep within my lungs. Then, instead of holding it (like so many innocent but misdirected tokers), I gently and slowly released the air, exhaling as much as possible. All in one continuous action.

Athletes: #ComingOutGreen

Civilized recently published an article entitled “How Cannabis Helps This Ultra-Marathoner Race 100 Miles at a Time.” The piece regarded promising distance runner Avery Collins, a young man who is a great example of #ComingOutGreen and one of the top ultra-marathoners in North America.

Collins, a 23-year-old uber-athlete from Jacksonville, North Carolina, has balls of brass—especially considering that he lives in the thick of Prohibition Land. He has admitted his pre-race cannabis consumption habit to major media outlets like the Wall Street Journal.

Collins said he typically consumes before his almost unimaginably long runs, ingesting THC that is either infused into edibles or in the form of 20-50 mg extracted concentrate capsules. Unlike me, he purposefully avoids smoking.

Smart guy. I should vape more and smoke less. But I do take a vape pen on my long journeys for a mid-ride tune-up.

In addition, this young athlete uses cannabis in his post-run recovery (not a small issue, as one might imagine, for those running such a distance). Collins has also successfully used pot topicals to treat injuries and dramatically reduce his recovery time.

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The gears that make it happen; are yours moving smoothly?

“It sets the mind free,” Collins told Civilized in January. Illustrating the ability of cannabis to help one focus, regardless of the task, he said, “You don’t think about anything but what’s currently going on.” Collins added, “It makes the greens greener and the blues bluer—but it’s much more than that. It makes the run very spiritual.”

Hidden Benefits?

Spiritual. Interesting choice of words for a 23-year-old.

What is your self-image as a cannabis consumer? Do you consider it a performance enhancer? If you’ve never used pot in this manner, do you believe it has the potential to enhance or improve not only one’s physical and athletic performance, but also their mental functioning and spiritual awareness?

Do you believe that cannabis can allow a person to tap into his or her inner spirituality to gain an edge over either their competition or simply to improve on their PB (personal best)? If such benefits are enjoyed by ultra-marathoners, why not all runners? Could not golfers and tennis players also gain an edge?

What about your boss who loves racquetball, or your neighbor down the street who is into kickboxing two or three times each week? If pro athletes can gain such efficacy from cannabis, does it not go to reason that that the rest of us are missing out if we don’t apply this complex herb to our lives in a similar manner?

They Must be Educated

Unfortunately, nearly half the nation denies the wellness and lifestyle enhancement capabilities of cannabis (more voters are in favor of medical cannabis than adult use, which the media typically refers to as “recreational” consumption).

I always imagined myself as a “recreational” consumer. For years, I perceived myself to be smoking, vaping, or eating cannabis simply for euphoria and enjoyment. Rather than envisioning it enhancing my performance, I bought into the prohibitionist lie that I was screwing around, intoxicating myself, and necessarily blowing off work.

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How do you look at the world? How do you use cannabis?

Should we all change the  conceptual framework from which we approach cannabis and its integration into our daily lives? Should we focus more on our intent with this plant to optimize our performance and better accomplish goals as we strive to achieve homeostasis?

As Collins told Civilized earlier this year, “I’m educating people on the simple fact that cannabis can be used in a positive way, as opposed to just getting high and sitting on the couch.”

Actually Using with Intent

Well said. Now let’s just hope conservative forces don’t lock up this world-class athlete for having the bravery to admit not only his use of pot, but to preach the rational performance benefits of a cannabis-centric lifestyle to major media outlets.

The next time you are stressed out and feeling like getting “high” to escape the world, consider instead the power of this plant to reduce your anxiety, depression, pain, or merely crappy attitude enough to allow you to at least try to give the day your best effort.


How do you use cannabis? Is it ever with intent? Do you complement yoga or exercise with the kind herb? Let me know in the comments below.


All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle, and a contributing writer at Whaxy.com.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Toking: You’re Doing It Wrong

Knowledge is power and ignorance is decidedly not bliss. The science of toking may surprise you. Most of the country is doing it wrong (Hollywood proves it on a daily basis).

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A young cannabis fan in Southwestern Ohio, circa 2006

In a nutshell: You’re probably screwing up this toking thing.

I know…you’ve been smoking for years. Maybe decades. How could you be not doing it correctly? Please, Mr. Rabinski; you’re pushing my patience on this particular point, toker science dude.

We’ve All Been Wrong

But I can’t take the guilt. I have to come out of the closet. I’ve also been doing it wrong. In fact, most of us have been doing it wrong. You probably are. Your neighbor likely is. Your cousin’s sister-in-law, or that dork with the bad haircut at the office? For damn sure.

I posed a question to Dr. Aggarwal: Millions of cannabis consumers, when they smoke or vape, retain, or hold in, their inhale for several seconds—sometimes as long as they can, especially with an overflowing lung packed with smoke or vapor. Unfortunately, this is a topic where beloved and missed hemp hero Jack Herer was wrong.

Holding one’s breath with smoke that contains tars and carcinogens is simply not helpful. In fact, modern cannabis science (not available back in the 1970s to ’90s, when Jack did the core of his work) has revealed that it’s harmful.

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A cannabis user at the Hotbox Cafe in Toronto, circa 2007

Oxygen Deprivation

While the cannabis vapor contains no tars or carcinogens (it is mostly cannabinoids, particularly THC), holding your inhale does nothing more than deprive your brain of oxygen (decidedly not a good thing for those of you wondering).

Damn. I hate doing things the wrong way. I feel like I’ve been duped by an ignorant underground produced by prohibition.

When I first consumed cannabis at the age of 14 behind the garage of a school buddy (now a conservative pastor in the Midwest with a dedicated flock; ahhh, the ironies of life), it was drawing on a duck tail joint that either he or one of his bad sheep cousins had rolled.

And what did he tell me? “Pull it in and hold your breath.” It was the beginning of a couple of hundred thousand misdirected inhales.

But I didn’t need him to tell me. Cheech & Chong and countless Hollywood memes made things perfectly clear: Hold your breath or you won’t get the most from your precious, expensive, and all-too-often difficult-to-find herbal medicine.

Duh.


Almost Immediate THC Absorption

First, absorption of cannabinoids and terpenes within the lungs is basically immediate. Like a few milliseconds. I wouldn’t BS you. Dr. Aggarwal is one of the foremost cannabis medical experts in the world and actually went to medical school and got a Ph.D. and tons of challenging things you and I did not. It’s why I like to talk to him.

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Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, M.D., Ph.D., lecturing at the Cannabis Health Summit, Jan. 23, 2016

For the second part of how we’re all doing the inhalation of our cannabis smoke and vapor wrong, stay tuned and subscribe to this blog.

And while you’re at it, learn more than the prohibitionists and Luddites who you dislike telling you what to do—or what not to do. They aren’t going to give up easily. In fact, I don’t think people like Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush will ever give up….

This is a culture war, so gear up.

[For my full article on this topic, click here.]


All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, MERRY JANE, Herb.co, CannaBiz Journal, Emerald MagazineSKUNK, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, Twelve High Chicks, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

 

Thoughts on Suicide

I began thinking about the topic of suicide in the summer of 2008. It was involuntary; the disabled father of a close, lifelong friend shot and killed himself on Father’s Day.

His father’s OCD was great enough that he ensured that there would be no mess in his home resulting from the nefarious co-mingling of a bullet and his body. I recall standing in the living room where he had performed the act only days before, noting the perfectly placed slippers by the easy chair in front of the TV—the slippers that would never again be used by their original owner.

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The discovering officers noted how meticulous and clean this person had been in the execution of his own death. The leather-bound volumes of Arthur Conan Doyle and a small collection of Tony Bennett CDs remained on the bookshelf, unaware of his passage.

Embracing the Challenge

Topics such as suicide are emotionally challenging. However, if we can’t talk about reality, what kind of progress are we really going to make toward preventing the type of severe depression that results in this harmful behavior? If we ignore things simply because they are ugly, how are  we going to help patients with any affliction, let alone depression or chronic anxiety?

Years later, in 2013, an old friend was struggling with the recent loss of his parents, substance abuse, and the prospect of rapidly deteriorating health and energy levels. A few years older than me, he joked “If I don’t win the lottery by then, it’s a 44 at 55” as he physically interpreted the trademark meme of thumb cocked beside extended index and middle finger pointed at his temple.

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Yes, he was half joking. And yes, he suffers anxiety, depression, and the hopelessness that sometimes results from them. His parents are gone, his friends have lives that he perceives to be better and more productive than his, and his career is in jeopardy after a layoff having nothing to do with his performance (and everything to do with shortsighted budgeting on the part of his employer).

In 2014, another friend, who was struggling after an ugly divorce and custody issues with her children, informed me that she had considered the route of ending her life. She believed it might just make everything better, not only for her, but also for those around her (she doesn’t have a big ego and isn’t overly self-serving).

In both 2014 and 2015, another friend, a disabled retiree who was prescribed a litany of pharmaceuticals—such as Vicodin and Oxycontin for pain and Adderall and Zoloft for PTSD, depression, and severe ADD—threatened suicide in multiple angry outbursts, typically delivered via text messages or email.

There are threats, and there are credible threats. This case scared me more than the others simply because my friend owned two guns and was educated in how to handle them; they were always close by. A bit too much whiskey or a drug/alcohol interaction gone bad and he could easily achieve a mood causing him to reach for a firearm for the wrong reason.

Most recently, in 2016, I was visiting with an old friend from Austin who I had actually met at the Toker’s Bowl in Vancouver in 2004. It’s a small world sometimes. He described a toke-friendly pal to whom he had introduced me in 2011: Stevie.

Stevie was a gregarious extrovert in his late 40s with great stories and an obvious love of our favorite herb. His goatee and oversized front teeth were a beacon for his expressive personality and self-deprecating sense of humor. I instantly liked Stevie and appreciated his sharp mind and great wit. He was smart, fun, and good people.

My conversation with my Austin friend progressed as we were catching up on old friends. “Nobody heard from Stevie for a long time…like six months,” said my old chum. “Apparently he was drinking a lot and playing the hermit.”

“Why?” I asked. He always had top-shelf herb, why would he lean on booze like that?”

“Maybe he had a genetic tendency,” my friend replied. “Who knows. But they found his body several days after he blew his brains out.”

After a somber pregnant pause, I queried stereotypically, “Did he leave a note?”

“No. Nobody knows exactly why he did it. I guess he just got really depressed and figured that was the best solution.”


I can understand how those suffering from depression or low self-esteem might find solace in the false belief that their own death could prevent them from continuing to inflict damage on those around them—especially their loved ones. While this might be a logical assumption, it is typically not a rational one.

Related Problems

There’s a good chance that chronic depression has resulted in a sufferer becoming a substance abuser of some type. Smoking cigarettes is often a comfortable background task for those stricken with moderate to severe anxiety while they indulge in excessive drinking and become dependent upon or recreationally use pharmaceutical drugs

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But don’t drop that “cigarettes are bad for you” and “whiskey will eat your liver” line, because we’re talking about people on the verge of or buried within suicidal thoughts. Arguments regarding the long-term health risk of one’s drug of choice fall on deaf ears if they are hopeless enough to consider a drastic act in the first place. Many people in this mental and emotional zone often wish that an outside force would fortuitously result in their death, like a car accident during a morning work commute or a cartoon piano falling from a 10th story window in Manhattan.

Others can’t keep a relationship, romantic or otherwise, to save themselves. Society has phrases for the lives of these folks: “Trainwreck” comes to mind.

That may sound cruel, but we’ve all been there. Our trains have all jumped the tracks, regardless of how brief that lapse in judgement or confidence may have been. Well, you have if you’ve lived to middle age like me and my peers. At some point in our lives, we have necessarily just royally screwed the pooch. And we think to ourselves (as we experience insomnia): It could have been prevented. It could have been so much better.

Many decisions or events can lead to the type of depression that manifests itself as suicidal thoughts.

A drunken episode at the company holiday party brought a rewarding career to a standstill; children were confused and became anxious, depressed, or maybe rebellious; a teenage pregnancy split a family; an affair brought a marriage to an end; a high schooler ran away from home; someone came out of the closet in a household dominated by LGBTQ-fearing parents; a gambling addict’s debt destroyed her life and foreclosed her home; health was compromised by abuse and neglect; or maybe a student dropped out of school.

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Regardless of how, it got nasty. Between health, finances, co-workers, our vehicles, education, and careers—not to mention children, parents, drinking buddies, and lovers—we typically find some way to really mess things up. Even if everything looks tidy and neat to those on the outside.

The emotional result of our mismanagement? Typically guilt, shame, and regret, peppered by more of the same. All of which may easily result in severe depression, the type that too often leads to self-harm or self-inflicted death.

Nasty, negative situations and nasty, negative emotions result in a downward spiral that all-too-often gets very serious—and may even be life threatening. No wonder between 50 and 100 military veterans are committing suicide each day. This gets into the entire PTSD issue, which will be explored in a future article.


An armchair psych analysis involving conventional wisdom reveals that the proclamations of those who are considering or intent upon self-harm is merely a plea for help. They don’t really want to commit suicide, goes the popular layperson’s bumper sticker philosophy.

Rather, they are asking for assistance, and we are supposed to merely recognize the fact that the plea emanates from a psychologically and emotionally crippled human, regardless of how temporary or permanent this state may be. We are then supposed to refer them to a cadre of professionals, including physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and counselors.

I Don’t Know….

I don’t know. I think it’s often more than a mere plea for help, and I sometimes question the sincerity and qualifications of some of society’s most highly paid citizens, our medical professionals. Especially when the majority tow the prohibitionist line and preach that cannabis medicine is addictive and “dangerous,” going counter to nearly every shred of research evidence that has been produced to date.

In the case of my particular friends, I think they really were considering suicide. At least those who were honest enough to reveal their thoughts to me. I think they told me because I’m that critical thinking, analytical a-hole friend who helps them tear apart the problem and logically surmise the situation without allowing political correctness to intrude (comforting crying friends or delivering a warm and fuzzy over comfort food is probably not my strong suit).

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Maybe I should say at this point that I believe everyone should be allowed to end their life if they desire. Who am I to tell someone they should be “happy” and “cheery” and “see the bright side”? Screw that. I believe in freedom and personal choice. It’s why I’m a patient advocate for medical cannabis. One human cannot tell another what to do if the first human isn’t hurting anyone outside him or herself.

Who am I to tell someone not to commit suicide if they have invested a great deal of thought and come to the sober, clear realization that they want to end their life? Am I smarter than them? Yes, life is valuable, regardless of the existence of a god. But how does my authority trump that of a friend or loved one?

Basically, who am I to tell someone else what to do or not do with their life and their body?

However, I have been disingenuous in this stance if one considers my actual advice to loved ones who have expressed an interest, even if just as a passing joke, of harming themselves. I am an intellectual hypocrite because, in each case, I have pleaded with them to not do it. I have always preached to friends considering self-harm the opportunities that lie ahead in terms of romance, career, travel, and food. “There are good times ahead, trust me. You just have to get through this current struggle,” I would say. “You just have to be patient.”

Why? Because I didn’t want to lose them. We’re all understandably cowardly when it comes to losing people—especially friends or relatives—and having our lifescape forever change.

Self-Serving Hypocrisy

Like all humans, I’m often self-serving. I don’t want to suffer personal loss, and I allow that fear to taint the honesty of my advice to friends. It’s easy for me to say, “Sure, do it if you want” in the clinical, theoretical tone of this one-way communication. But here, in front of my keyboard and alone in my office, I’m not staring into the sad, tired eyes of a friend with whom I share dozens of precious memories, sometimes over several decades.

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Go Smoke Some Herb

After the medical cannabis research I’ve conducted over the past decade for my writing projects, I now know what I will tell the next person who is considering suicide and honest enough to express that to me: Go smoke or vaporize some herb.

In fact, I’ll do that one better: I will take some good cannabis to them.

Those sad enough to even contemplate ending their lives should consume good cannabis, feel the resulting anxiety relief and euphoria, and then think about all of their troubles again—this time, minus the crushing anxiety and depression that has prevented them from objectively and intelligently approaching their problems. If patients suffering depression and hopelessness can’t improve their mental and emotional perspective and attitude, there is no way they will ever escape their disease.

Avoidance behavior, including severe procrastination, often afflicts those who are suffering anxiety and depression. Of course, blowing off taxes, child support, car maintenance, class assignments, or exercise will never result in an improved life or greater happiness. Fortunately, cannabis therapy of all shapes and sizes can help patients re-engage in life, manage their affairs, and interact with others to the advantage of all parties.

One thing that people with suicidal thoughts shouldn’t do is get drunk. As fun and escapist as drinking may be, it won’t help patients resolve anything. It won’t allow them to reasonably reflect on their life—and how to improve it. And if they don’t effectively think about these issues, they won’t get out of their pit of despair and hopelessness. It’s obviously a deep, dark, nasty hole, or they wouldn’t be where they are.

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Those sad enough to consider suicide need to spend a considerable amount of time in a better mindset, thinking and reaching positive conclusions. They can then use these conclusions to form a strategy, after which they must execute on that path. And what better way to achieve a “better mindset” or improved attitude than smoking, vaporizing, eating, or sublingually consuming cannabis? Especially among like-minded, supportive friends.

Stop & Calmly Think

Cannabis, especially nice sativa strains (for me, at least—everyone is different), help me to think. Objectively, rationally, and calmly think. Maybe it is the anti-anxiety properties of many strains of the kind herb that are responsible for its ability to help people sit back and put things in perspective, void of the panic and dread that may typically fill their days.

Another powerful reason for recommending cannabis to those who are severely depressed or suicidal is the irony of hopelessness. Typically, to see the light at the end of the tunnel and form a credible strategy for reaching it, one must exhibit at least a modicum of hope. Without it (and we’ve all been there), how does one pull oneself out of his or her situation?

Cannabis gives people hope. Those who consume pot on a regular basis, whether they suffer chronic depression or not, understand this. Sometimes it is subtle; other times more pronounced. But after supplementing their endocannabinoid system with cannabinoids (especially tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC), people suffering depression bad enough to make them take a dark path typically are able to gain some hope.

It is this glimmer of hope that is critical for those considering self-harm to improve their situation.

Like a minute flame applied to a large pile of wood doused in fuel, sometimes all one needs is that small sliver of hope and a couple of hours of happiness and laughter (the duration of cannabis’ effect when smoked or vaporized) to get back on their feet and face the next day with a more positive, energized outlook.

The medical cannabis movement is acclimated to dealing with ugly topics. Intractable childhood epilepsy, for example. Cancer in any human, child or adult. Serious Crohn’s disease, the type that derails careers and results in disability payments. True patient advocates who embrace medical cannabis face stories of both ugliness and victory each day.

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“Medical marijuana” isn’t always a fun topic. It’s not an aspect of the pot culture that’s adrift in dancing leaf logos and sexy college students ripping hard on two-foot Roor bongs during a pretentious photo shoot.

Next Time

The next time you or a loved one considers suicide—or are simply so damn miserable and depressed that you’re in that zone—consume some cannabis to ease the anxiety. Then think about your life and how you want to change or improve it. But jump on that train of thought after you have mitigated your anxiety and dread—preferably with a natural herbal solution like pot.

Remember: The intent of this herb isn’t to provide an opportunity for escape. Instead, it is to deliver the peace of mind and confidence to think about ugly topics and face the music, so to speak. The gift of this plant is to allow one to engage in deep introspection in an effort to improve their life and the lives of those around them.

In other words, use cannabis with productive, positive intent in an effort to make real improvements to mind, body, and spirit.


One could easily question the photos included in this article. My logic: The people and things that remind us why we should value life.

In your continuing quest to get smart on medical cannabis, I offer you the following 2015 lecture from Mara Gordon, one of the most enlightened voices in the medical cannabis movement.


All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, The KindCannabis CultureSKUNK, Heads, WhaxyWeed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Cannabis Experts Drop Science

The videos below offer a core and relatively comprehensive basic knowledge of cannabis medicine and its components, including cannabinoids (such as THC, THC-A, and CBD) and terpenes (like myrcene and limonene).

Dr. Amanda Reiman of Drug Policy Alliance

This is a valuable body of information for any patient, caregiver, physician, or legalization advocate who embraces medical cannabis and the science of the human endocannabinoid system, including the entourage effect and endocannabinoid deficiency.

Those who believe in safe access to laboratory-tested, high-quality cannabis medicine for all Americans are encouraged to gain as much knowledge as possible regarding the plant and its efficacy for human disease. This includes not only conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy, but also psychological conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD.


Dr. Sunil Aggarwal (MD, Ph.D.)

Dr. Sunil Aggarwal is a Seattle-based scientist, physician, and cannabinoid integrative medicine subspecialist who focuses on hospice and palliative care. He is a self-described “medical geographer” and a powerful voice in the movement to legalize and legitimize medical cannabis.

Aggarwal, a tireless patient advocate, has dedicated his professional life to researching medical cannabis, especially in terminal and aging patients. His lectures and writing offer some of the most lucid, intelligent, and compassionate arguments available for the use of cannabis as medicine.

Aggarwal is one of the few medical professionals to speak frankly about the corruption and propaganda that led to the federal prohibition of cannabis in 1937 and that has prevented its widespread use in both mainstream and alternative medical circles for nearly 80 years.

“To understand cannabis scientifically, a holistic point of view is essential as the human-plant relationship itself must be acknowledged.”  — Dr. Sunil Aggarwal

Videos

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Mara Gordon (Aunt Zelda’s)

Mara Gordon is a specialist in the development of cannabis extract treatment protocols for seriously ill patients. She lives and works in California. A prolific and gifted speaker, Gordon is co-founder of Aunt Zelda’s and Zelda Therapeutics.

The only thing greater than Gordon’s presentation skills is her knowledge of the cannabis plant and its nuanced interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Her science-based, moderate approach is one of the most well-spoken and relatable messages within the cannabis legalization movement; her presentations are among the most educational available.

“The goal of the endocannabinoid system is homeostasis. It is to create a sort of balance, or equilibrium, within the body. The theories are, of course, that when you have imbalance, or lack of homeostasis, in the body, that is when disease can occur.” — Mara Gordon

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Dr. Amanda Reiman (Drug Policy Alliance)

Dr. Amanda Reiman, manager of Marijuana Law and Policy for the Drug Policy Alliance, brings extensive experience in researching medical cannabis, dispensaries, and cannabis as a treatment agent for addiction. This Oakland, California-based cannabis legalization advocate is another top-shelf presenter with a keenly deep knowledge of her subject matter.

Dr. Reiman, a Chicago native, is currently a lecturer in the School of Social Welfare at the University of California at Berkeley. She teaches Drug and Alcohol Policy, Substance Abuse Treatment, and Sexuality and Social Work.

She earned her Ph.D. in Social Welfare in 2006 at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation, Cannabis Care, was the first study to report on how medical cannabis dispensaries operate as health service providers.

“It’s like we’re dancing all around the [cannabis] research question. We’re getting at it from every possible angle, given the restriction. Everything but that golden ticket of [the] feds [funding] clinical research through universities with actual marijuana with people. We have not gotten there yet.” — Dr. Amanda Reiman

Videos

Social Media


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Cannabis Health Summit: Embracing Mind, Body, Spirit

Many in the cannabis movement-cum-industry are tireless crusaders who are reminiscent of activist legend Jack Herer, crossing the continent to educate patients, professionals, policy makers, and the average consumer.

These efforts are often intended to give citizens and voters the insight and understanding required to appreciate—and responsibly leverage—the healing properties of the cannabis herb. This obviously includes those who help to pass ballot initiatives by sharing credible, science-based information with friends, family, and social media.

Mind, Body, Spirit

In late January, Green Flower Media held a two-day educational event dubbed the Cannabis Health Summit. It featured 18 speakers, all delivering engaging TED Talk-style presentations that totalled more than 13 hours of lectures. To participants, the experience was like attending an intense hybrid college graduate course in botany, psychology, political science, public policy, chemistry, medicine, and business.

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Such a number of speakers, delivering this volume of information, obviously covered a wide range of topics. However, several themes emerged as takeaways for participants. One of these was a comprehensive mental framework and approach for the consideration of cannabis therapy and its medical efficacy that encompasses mind, body, and spirit. Think terpenes meets yoga meets high-quality vaporizors.

More Than Cancer & Epilepsy

If one considers that cannabis medicine helps not only physical ailments such as pain, inflammation, and nausea, but also deftly combats psychological conditions like anxiety, depression, and PTSD, it soon becomes apparent that pot is a plant that possesses a special relationship with the human body. This includes the vast network of targeted receptors within the endocannabinoid system.

If theories that modern humans overwhelmingly suffer from endocannabinoid deficiency are true, it means that we must supplement our bodies—which endure extremely high levels of processed food, pollution, and stress—with phytocannabinoids from sources such as cannabis. At the risk of waxing philosophical, it could be argued that cannabis has a relationship with the human spirit.

Several speakers addressed issues that exceeded the topic of physical health, also discussing personal happiness, contentment, and the optimization of one’s career and family life. Other presenters dropped heavy science in terms of cannabinoids, terpenes, trichomes, the entourage effect, and endocannabinoid deficiency. Viewers were inundated with solid information, and even enlightenment, from insightful frontline experts, including doctors, researchers, and activist leaders.

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Amanda Reiman from the Drug Policy Alliance

Readers who are in the least bit curious about any of these presentations are in for a treat. Those who missed this event can purchase the entire Cannabis Health Summit from Green Flower Media, either streamed in high definition ($67) or as a set of DVDs ($97).

Investment in Education

Those habituated to getting all of their online education free of cost, via sources like YouTube, should consider how much they pay on a monthly basis for products and services such as cable TV, lunch with coworkers, drinks at a bar, or pizza (yea, I went there). At the sake of over dramatizing the issue, this collection of bleeding edge presentations, freshly curated and captured in 2016, is a bargain—and worth depriving yourself of something else if you’re on a tight budget (as are many patients).

Knowledge is power, and power is required to win the culture war in which the cannabis legalization movement currently struggles. We can keep whining about prohibition and lack of freedom, or we can put our money where our mouth is and invest in an education that can result in legalization that will literally change society and reinvigorate the economy in a way that few comprehend.

I can’t think of a better way to leverage a work commute than listening to the audio portion of the lectures from this event. Even if one’s drive is only 10 minutes per day, using that time to get educated about the physical and psychological efficacy of this herb is a great way to defy prohibition and help ensure that the current wave of legalization doesn’t cease. Listening to these presentations when cycling, running, or at the gym is a great way to positively multitask.

Defy Stigma & Ignorance

A point of clarification: This isn’t a pitch for Green Flower; it’s a pitch for education. Cannabis health education. The only reason that a few states in this great country have legalized adult use of this natural herb—and we’re currently enjoying a wave of permitted use slowly emerging across the country—is because a majority percentage of voters became educated and voted as such. They realized that cannabis legalization was not only good for them, but beneficial to their communities and society overall.

The next time you’re wishing you had a better selection of, or less expensive, cannabis—or that you lived in a state that permits adult use—remember that these reforms occur only when voters, and sometimes politicians, get educated. Help spread the word. Don’t underestimate your influence.

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Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, a cannabis for hospice and palliative care expert

First, however, ensure that your own knowledge is solid. Dive into educational content like the Cannabis Health Summit or read Whaxy.com. Follow researchers, doctors, and experts on social media. Become obsessed with acquiring knowledge of the cannabis plant and how it synergistically interacts with the endocannabinoid system of the human body.

Learn amazing things, like how all mammals have an endocannabinoid system, meaning that medicating pets with cannabinoids and terpenes to help them achieve and maintain health equilibrium is real. In fact, it will soon be a multi-billion dollar market. Americans love their pets, and if cannabinoids can make a pampered pooch happier, healthier, more energetic, or extend its life, consumers will spend their hard earned disposable dollars.


In the end, it is less important where readers gain their knowledge than the fact that they simply get it. Cannabis as medicine is a complex and nuanced science that even the world’s foremost experts—many of whom spoke at the Cannabis Health Summit—do not fully understand. Much more research is necessary.

It is only by educating voters that the current wave of legalization will continue to roll across the United States, eventually providing safe access to laboratory-tested, high-quality cannabis for both medicinal and adult use to the more than 317 million inhabitants of the country, including children and seniors.

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Mara Gordon, cannabis medicine alchemist and advocate from Aunt Zelda’s

However, until more stigma and misperception is wiped out, public debate will continue to center around fear mongering, misinformation, and propaganda. Voters will continue to be mired in ignorance and possibly make what is the wrong choice—not only for society and their fellow humans who are very sick, but also for themselves.

Fear not. Word is getting out. Average Americans, who typically relegate cannabis to nothing more than a cartoonish whimsical meme related to the munchies or Cheech & Chong are finally beginning to understand. Major media outlets such as CNN, FOX, and MSNBC are airing documentaries related to the medical, economic, and social benefits of cannabis.

When many of the world’s foremost experts gather to share their knowledge and experience, it is a relatively rare opportunity for viewers to expand their understanding of cannabis and how it serves both patients and society.


Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle, and a contributing writer at Whaxy.com.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.