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by Betsy Hicks

In 2014, my late husband John Hicks, MD surprisingly began writing, The Medicinal Power of Cannabis. Ironically, John had consumed marijuana only once. Due to his military and medical school background, he never felt comfortable experimenting until it was legal. 

His one experience came from my prodding at an Amsterdam Coffee House at the end of a two-week journey through Europe. John was a man of few words, but I knew how to keep the conversation rolling and usually succeeded, but with John’s excessively activated endocannabinoid system, it was a bit like trying to converse with a stuffed animal. We both decided that marijuana was not for him.

This background makes it all the more interesting that John wrote a book on the herb. It demonstrates how much he believed in its true medicinal power. He was not looking to justify an old habit, he was answering a question and presenting solutions in medicine.

When he and I began using cannabis as a way to help my son Joey cope with the pain and anxiety related to autism, I began educating myself more, but still did not feel comfortable consuming it until a curious nudge from within during a dispensary pick up for Joey; they were having free cookie day.

“How could anything related to a cookie be bad?” I rationalized. John gave a nervous chuckle accompanied by a concerned look as I ate half of the cookie. On the flying carpet ride home I was conscious enough to know my waiting 17-year-old daughter may be concerned to see me in this state. I told John to tell her I was ill, but she wasn’t buying it as she knows that even when mom is sick she is still delegating her active mind. When John explained what truly happened, she laughed her way through filming me on Snap-chat.

Although my morals fully supported it, my marijuana experience had not encouraged a habit. After John died, I was prescribed Ambien. I took 1/2 of a pill and it made me feel so ill that I tossed them. I carried through the grieving process with an occasional glass of wine or a shot of tequila.

My parents loved alcohol as did my 6 older siblings. The importance of the drinking culture and the social aspect of the activity were often subjects of humor in my family. I firmly had it in my head that the majority of drinkers were fun and non-drinkers were duds. This would explain why the first guy I dated after John died was an alcoholic. That relationship developed into a reality slap in the face, unlike anything I’d anticipated.

In the first conversation with my now fiancé, Ron, he told me he didn’t drink but he did mention he smoked, and asked if I would have a problem with that. Immediately I had visions of a cigarette-smelling, ashtray-kissing guy, and without hesitation replied, “Em, yeah, I kinda do.”

“Alright, but before you judge, please understand that I have been an athlete the majority of my life and have experienced many injuries that smoking relieves,” he kindly replied in defense.

“Oh!” I exclaimed, “You mean marijuana? Sure, I’m totally fine with that.” It didn’t take long to realize that Ron’s marijuana use, although daily, was tame. During the 18 months we have been together, I have only seen him high once and that was at a Grateful Dead spinoff concert, where let’s face it, you are sorely out of place if you aren’t high. 

I learned quickly that there is a huge culture of individuals who consume marijuana no differently than a glass of wine or beer with dinner. Not everyone who smokes or uses marijuana is a stoner. This discovery fascinated me and I began to add up the benefits.

  • It is less expensive than alcohol (cuts restaurant bills in half)
  • It is a powerful anti-inflammatory
  • It has no calories (although cookies do)
  • It does not promote candida yeast overgrowth
  • It doesn’t cause the stressed liver puffy-face that many get from alcohol
  • Bonus: It often comes in chocolate

What’s not to love?

I eat well and I am very tuned-in to my body. I have consumed wine a few times in the past year but can tell it stresses my system. I use some form of marijuana about four days a week and over the counter CBD daily. No one (other than my daughter and all of her Snap-Chat friends) has seen me high because I don’t use enough to dramatically alter my state. I like my reality. I am active, enjoy my life and have no desire to escape it. It helps me sleep, it makes me giggle, it can increase sexual desire, it takes the edge off, and it accomplishes all of this with a beautiful list of health benefits.

I wouldn’t want my young children smoking marijuana any more than I would want them drinking beer, so I’m well aware of its abuse, but enough with people calling this a dangerous drug! It is no more a drug than alcohol. It’s an herb. It’s natural. It gets abused, undoubtedly, but it is far healthier than ridiculously legal opioid drugs. 

Wine especially is lovely. Well made wine is an art and a gift from soil and craftsmanship. I’m not trying to condemn its use in any way, I just ask you to respect that marijuana users desire for something different. With so much legislation passing, it’s an important time for respectable, well-educated adults (especially woman) to come forward and say, “Yes, I use marijuana!” and stop making it their dirty little secret. Cannabis needs a new spokesperson and it time to abandon the long-haired, tie-dyed hippie. 

If you have used marijuana in the past and did not have a great experience, educate yourself and work with quality trustworthy dispensaries. Understand the differences and benefits of CBD vs. THC, Indica vs. Sativa, and inhalants vs. edibles. Start small — really small — because it often takes two hours to kick in. Understand that edibles with fats will activate the effects faster and often make them stronger. I suggest starting with a tiny amount of non-psychotropic CBD first and then begin with .5 mg of THC in the evening so that your body adjusts to it while you sleep.

Most importantly, relax, as there is not much damage you can do in experimenting and often the wildest of trips will simply end in a deep sleep and a few embarrassing seconds on Snap-Chat.

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