Many people come to the realization of the amazing properties of the cannabis plant only through personal experience; either by watching a loved one find relief, or finding relief themselves. It’s not something that was taught in school, so the only information most people have is what they were told by authority figures when they were younger.
But decades of lies cannot hide the truth about cannabis because it reveals the truth to everyone who uses it. Tom S. learned the power of cannabis because he felt the effects. He lives the power of cannabis every day.
The Marijuana Times: What ailments do you use cannabis to treat? How do these ailments affect your daily life?
Tom S: I have IBS, which means I can rarely eat anything without pain and without the food trying to either come back up or get out of me as quickly and painfully as possible. Since eating is something I’m forced to do – and no longer particularly enjoy – it can be a very rough day indeed without cannabis.
MT: What were you told about cannabis growing up?
TS: Growing up I was always told that “smoking 1 joint is the same as smoking a pack of cigarettes”. There was no real context, just the general fear that cigarettes were bad so weed was really bad. There was also the usual claptrap about the “gateway drug” that we were fed during our time in the D.A.R.E. program, which I graduated in the 6th grade.
MT: What do you have to go through to obtain the cannabis you use and how does it make you feel to have to rely on the illegal market?
TS: I’m usually at the point where if my regular guy doesn’t have it then I’m going to have a hard time finding any. If need be I can go to certain parts of town and just start asking random people, which may or may not turn up something. In any case, I’m not the type of person to be able to do that.
The illegal market sucks. It would be so much easier to walk into a store and buy some, even if the price was higher. At least you’d have some idea of what you’re getting and you wouldn’t have to worry about “your guy” running out. A lot of stress would be eliminated from my life.
MT: What is your preferred method of cannabis ingestion and why?
TS: I like bongs and joints and blunts, but I prefer bowls. They are just easier to use, and I’m not really a fan of paper most of the time. I like edibles when I can get them, but have never tried dabbing. Seems like a lot of work to me. Bowls seem like the least amount of space to travel between the cannabis and my lungs, plus they take no skill; just break it up and pack it. I suck at rolling.
MT: How is your life different now that you have found cannabis?
TS: It’s really weird, when I started smoking weed – around 1997 – it was just for fun. I knew nothing about medical marijuana and Prop 215 in California wasn’t really a topic of conversation in Ohio. But as I got older and developed the symptoms of IBS, I began to realize that the only thing that allowed me to eat and digest food with minimal pain was cannabis. Since then (about 2000-2001) I have relied on cannabis to allow me to eat and keep my strength up.
Without cannabis I wouldn’t be able to function on a daily basis. I lose my ability to eat and keep food down when I run out, and not eating comes with side effects of its own. When I have cannabis there is still pain, but it’s manageable and I can accomplish what I need to do.
MT: What prescription drugs, if any, were you able to stop using because of cannabis? How does cannabis work better than the prescriptions?
TS: I know longer take Lexapro, but that wasn’t something I planned; it just happened that I stopped taking it and was using cannabis and I’m sure the cannabis helps with my natural tendency toward depression. Without cannabis I’d be on several pills to “control” my IBS, but I’ve even had a doctor tell me straight out that IBS pills are not a cure and the side effects can be worse than the IBS itself, something I found out when I tried them for about a month several years ago.
MT: What strains have you found to be most helpful to your specific ailments?
TS: We don’t get many strains through here, at least that I see, but sometimes there is Kush, plus a random spotting of Northern Lights or Sour Diesel or Girl Scout Cookies. I will say this though; although the known strains get me much higher than “mids”, the effects on my IBS are about the same. So there is little benefit to me spending more money to get better quality cannabis because it’s not much of an improvement. That might not be the case with weed from a dispensary that has been grown better.
MT: Have you had any encounters with law enforcement over your cannabis use?
TS: I was pulled over once and caught with a bowl, but it was new and unused so they let me slide. Another time I was pulled over by some sort of drug task force after trying to score some weed from a guy my friends knew. Luckily the guy was out of weed at the time and when the cops searched us they found nothing. I’d say I’ve been pretty lucky.
MT: Are you involved in any sort of activism in your area or state?
TS: I do what I can, share stuff on social media mostly. It’s not something you broadcast because even though cops are more lenient about it than they used to be, they also have the power to jack you up if they are having a bad day.
MT: Have you ever thought about moving to another state to gain better access to medical cannabis?
TS: All the time. I’m going to see what states pass legalization this fall then figure out which one I want to go to. I have to take my family with me so it’s hard financially, but there are new opportunities in legal cannabis states. I just know that I can’t wait for legalization to come to me, I’m getting too old for waiting.
MT: How important is it to you that legalization comes to your state?
TS: Very, but I live in Kentucky now and that’s not going to happen anytime soon. There have been rumblings about medical marijuana in the state legislature, but that’s about it. As I said, I can’t wait much longer. Not having a reliable supply is stressful, and stress is not helpful for IBS; it just seems to inflame it.
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