MATT KAHL PTSD & NATURAL PLANT MEDICINES
JOSE BELEN SARAH STENUF DR SUE SISLEY
Welcome to our Veteran’s Issue. We are honored that the veterans in this issue shared their stories of service, suffering, hope, and healing. These men and women faced things much worse in their healing process than the injuries that put them in need of care. Then, after hitting their proverbial “bottoms”, some many times, they found help in natural plant based medicines. Don’t stop reading until you get to the end of these stories, these heroes took their personal suffering and tragedies and turned them into hope and help for fellow Veterans. Here is my point. Being in the service is different from most other things in this world. They are bound to each other in a way beyond what those outside of the service can understand. And, as such, they are brothers and sisters to other Veterans, no matter which branch they served, where or when they served they belong to the same family. These stories are only the tip of the iceberg of Veterans helping Veterans. It is, according to the authorities on such things, the most successful way for a Veteran to come to help, through another Veteran. That shows the power we have when we join together for something greater than ourselves. In today’s world we need to join together again, for a cause greater than our own. TOGETHER WE CAN: We can succeed in getting Cannabis and other plant medicines legalized We can succeed in being free to travel between states with our plant medicines. We can stand up proudly to say we use plant medicines.
Thanks for reading, Nancy
LETâ€™S GROW! SUBSCRIPTIONS AND M O N T H LY ISSUES COMING JANUARY 2020
TABLE OF CONTENTS PTSD RESE ARCH
Dr. Sisley takes us inside her 10 year research project on Veterans and PTSD
VE TER ANS & VOTING
Dr. Kimless tells of the veterans she has come to know through the medical cannabis community
Jose tells his story of surviving the war within
SAR AH STENUF
MAT T K AHL
Read how a soldier, believes her Military Medical Center stay was worse than her injuries
Matt explains what led him to natural plant medicines
Tries to make a difference in veterans having access to medical cannabis
Why Twenty22Many is a call to action for all of us
HOLIDAY SPECIAL HOLIDAY CANNABIS
18 26 30
OUR TEAM FOUNDER | EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Nancy Moss MANAGING EDITOR Antonio DeRose COPY EDITOR Dr. Dawn Hayford PRODUCTION | DESIGN Melissa Morris TECHNOLOGY DIRECTOR Alex Moss ACCOUNTING | OPERATIONS Kara Cave ASSISTANT TO THE EDITOR Mirella Hurst SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH Sarah Moss EVENT MARKETING Sarah Pope, Mirella Hurst SOCIAL MARKETING Green House Healthy
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS & COLUMNISTS
Dr. Debra Kimless
Russell Gearhar Jack Shinell
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MAGGIE SLIGHTE Maggie became a legal cannabis patient 4 days before being discharged without notice from the physician prescribing fentanyl and Percocet to her for over 7 years in 2009. She has now been opioid-free for 10 years thanks to cannabis. Maggie is currently finishing her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction Writing at National University. Her first book, â€œThe Car that Ran on Prayers,â€? will be finished in 2020.
In this column, our readers have the opportunity to ask our staff nurse anything they want to know about using cannabis plant medicine. She will provide concise answers to big questions. In this issue, we dive into veterans using cannabis for PTSD and depression, the effects on VA benefits for the use of medical marijuana, and which organizations can help veterans wanting to explore plant medicine. Read on as we explore some commonly asked questions about veterans using cannabis.
WHY DO VETERANS USE MEDICAL MARIJUANA? The list of reasons is ever growing. Probably the most documented reason is PTSD. Several states that have medical marijuana programs already have PTSD added to the array of approved diagnoses to receive a medical cannabis card. Other approved conditions vary state by state. They include, but are not limited to: nausea, anxiety, traumatic brain injury, pain, persistent muscle spasms, cancer, and chronic nervous system disorders. If you are a veteran suffering from any of the above conditions, you can make an appointment with a recommending physician to receive your medical marijuana card. Some states like Oklahoma, leave the decision to recommend cannabis therapy up to the discretion of the treating physician. If you live in a state with a medical cannabis program, do your research. You can also ask the local VA for the best way to get started.
DOES CANNABIS HELP WITH PTSD? According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America,1 post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a potentially debilitating disease that results from natural disasters, personal trauma, or witnessing/experiencing otherwise horrific, scary, or unusual events. The US Census2 reports there are currently 18.9 million veterans in the United States. More and more veterans are reporting symptoms of PTSD, and they are seeking natural solutions instead of being bombarded by prescription pills. Although more research is still required, studies are beginning to show promising effects for patients suffering from PTSD. In one study3 published in August 2019, the use of CBD for psychiatric disorders was reviewed. Cannabidiol appears to possess antipsychotic, antidepressant, anxiolytic, anti-craving, and pro-cognitive effects. All of these benefits could greatly enrich the lives of many veterans naturally. Another study4 published in the The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse looked into what routes of administration and what type of cannabis formulations veterans are using thanks to the programs that are happening nationwide to assist veterans with access to cannabis plant medicine. Their findings suggest that more guidance is needed regarding the selection of cannabis-based products, particularly as barriers to medicinal cannabis access are reduced.
WILL I LOSE MY VA BENEFITS FOR USING CANNABIS? According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,5 if a veteran lives in a state that has a medical cannabis program and the veteran applies, the eligibility of their benefits will not be affected. The fact that veterans will not be denied benefits for the use of medical cannabis is huge. It is important to note that VA doctors are not the doctors that can write recommendations. If a veteran is seeking to use medical cannabis they must go to a recommending physician that is approved in the state they live. This can be found by doing a quick google search for â€œgetting my medical marijuana card local.â€?
VA doctors are allowed to discuss medical cannabis with veterans as a course of treatment. Do not be afraid to speak with your doctor at your next appointment. Something to remember is that your plant medicine will not be available at the VA pharmacy. You can only purchase medical cannabis at a legal dispensary in your area. The recommendation you receive to use medical cannabis will not be covered by VA benefits. It is called a recommendation and not a prescription because cannabis remains a Schedule 1 drug and no physician is allowed to write a prescription for a Schedule 1. Therefore it is called a recommendation. The cost incurred for receiving and maintaining your medical cannabis card is borne by the patient
ARE THERE ORGANIZATIONS TO HELP VETERANS WANTING TO USE CANNABIS? We now have medical cannabis available in 33 states and recreational cannabis is available in 11 states. Now men and women who have served in the US military and are over the age of 21 have options to receive the medicine they need. As these states adopt their new policies, we are beginning to see more and more organizations form to assist veterans in the process of obtaining cannabis as well as providing veterans a safe space to imbibe. One of those organizations is called Veterans for Natural Rights. They are a 501c3 and their mission is to build a community of support and resources for veterans and civilians alike. They proudly embrace freedom, self-reliance, independence, liberty, and equality under the American flag while promoting natural treatments, activities and an overall sense of well-being. Veterans for Natural Rights builds communities throughout Colorado and now are branching into other states. They want to provide spaces where veterans can heal, find their voice, and change the world. They are specializing in helping those with PTSD and other Mental/ Behavior health issues related to trauma
regain their lives, their purpose, and their sense of community. If you are interested in learning more please visit their website at www.veteransfornaturalrights.org Another amazing organization is known as Veterans Cannabis Project. They operate as a 501c4 and are based in Washington D.C. Their goal is to make major impacts on policy at the National level. The organization is dedicated to improving US veteransâ€™ quality of life through the opportunity of cannabis. Their goal is to empower veterans to live healthy, fulfilling lives, while advocating on their behalf for unrestricted and supported access to medical cannabis through the VA just like any other medicine. If you are interested in becoming an advocate please visit their website at www.vetscp.org for more information. References: 1. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/posttraumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 2.https://www.census.gov/search-results.html?q=veterans&page=1&stateGeo=none&searchtype=web&cssp=SERP&_charset_=UTF-8 United States Census Bureau. 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. 3.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0161813X19300774?via%3Dihub Journal of Neurotoxicology, Cannabidiol (CBD) use in psychiatric disorders: A systematic review. StefaniaBonaccorso, AngeloRicciardi, CarolineZangani, StefaniaChiappini and FabrizioSchifano. August 2019. 4. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00952990.2019.1604722?journalCode=iada20 The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, A cross-sectional examination of choice and behavior of veterans with access to free medicinal cannabis. May 28, 2019. 5. https://www.publichealth.va.gov/marijuana.asp U.S Department of Veterans Affairs.
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO SPEAK WITH YOUR DOCTOR
DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS FOR NURSE JORDAN? Please submit any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org Your question may be published in an upcoming issue. 11
BY BEN OWENS
CAN ENHANCE YOUR HOLIDAY FESTIVITIES (AND THE IMPORTANCE OF TALKING ABOUT CBD WITH YOUR FAMILY)
Holiday season brings with it plenty of cheer, good times, and fond memories. Holidays are also known for emotions running high, a lack of sleep, changes in appetite and diet, and the pains of everything in between. For some, cannabis is a great option for mitigating the unpleasant and enjoying the times to be had; for others, cannabis use can be prohibitive or undesirable during the holidays, when you may be around younger family members, friends’ children, or those that may not approve of the newly legal substance. CBD and hemp-derived products can be a great alternative and is available in a variety of forms. CBD, sometimes referred to as “diet weed,” is often derived from hemp and low-THC cultivars and is not psychotropic, meaning it doesn’t get you “high.” This can be a big benefit when needing to quickly respond to your body’s needs while avoiding intoxication or alerting family members with a cloud of smoke. CBD can also be a great introduction to the healing benefits of the cannabis family.
CITATIONS: 1 Crippa, José Alexandre S. et al. “Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report.” Journal of Psychopharmacology. September 8, 2010. https://journals. sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0269881110379283 | 2 Nicholson AN1, Turner C, Stone BM, Robson PJ. “Effect of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on nocturnal sleep and early-morning behavior in young adults.” Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. June 24, 2004. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15118485 | 3 Tringale, Rolando and Jensen, Claudia. “Cannabis and Insomnia.” O’shaugnessy’s. August 2011. https://www.beyondthc.com/wp-content/ uploads/2014/04/Tringale-Jensen-20111.pdf | 4 ”What causes loss of appetite?.” Healthline. April 29, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/appetite-decreased | 5 Serpell, M. et al. “A double‐blind, randomized, placebo‐controlled, parallel group study of THC/CBD spray in peripheral neuropathic pain treatment.” European Journal of Pain. August 2014. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/j.1532-2149.2013.00445. | 6 Johnson, Jeremy R. et al. “Multicenter, Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group Study of the Efficacy, Safety, and Tolerability of THC:CBD Extract and THC Extract in Patients with Intractable Cancer-Related Pain.” Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. February 2010. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0885392409007878
USE CBD TO HELP WITH HEIGHTENED HOLIDAY ANXIETY.
Probably the most commonly experienced issue during the holidays is an overwhelming sense of anxiety. Whether it’s tensions with family members, stress at work in the lead to being off for a few days, or simply managing all of life’s dayto-day needs in the midst of holiday preparations, anxiety can get to all of us. Anticipating this anxiety and preparing to tackle it before it takes over can make a big difference in the impact it can have on your holidays. Taking CBD as part of your daily regimen can help. Testimonials abound showing that CBD has proven effective in self-treatment of anxiety, and research is beginning to back it up. Preliminary studies on the anxiolytic effects of CBD suggest that CBD is helpful in reducing anxiety.1
TACKLE INSOMNIA REGARDLESS OF WHICH GUEST ROOM (OR COUCH) YOU ENDED UP ON.
Holidays can put pressure on our bodily schedule that impact our sleeping routine. Whether it’s a comfortable “guest bed” that’s really the family couch, or a dull humming from an old A/C unit that needs to be replaced, CBD has been shown to help in the treatment of sleep disorders and offers many a relief from long days and sleepless nights. CBD’s sedative properties, and the use of cannabis high in cannabinoids like CBD and THC, have been shown to reduce sleep latency in early studies.2,3
EAT SOME CBD AND ENJOY WITH A FESTIVE APPETITE.
APPLY CBD AFTER A LONG DAY TO EASE HOLIDAY ACHES AND PAINS.
As emotions run high, moods change drastically, and, in the presence of holiday feasts, the overwhelming nature of the affair may make you lose your appetite. Cannabinoids like CBD can help. Appetite loss is usually related to underlying causes such as stress, boredom, anxiety, and even fear of judgment from friends, family members, and coworkers.4 As discussed, CBD’s ability to assist with stress mitigation, anxiety relief, and even a bit of sedation, can help you target the underlying issues of your lack of appetite, and get back to enjoying the holiday feast.
Whether you’ve spent the day shopping for the holidays, playing football in the yard with the family, skiing and snowboarding, or simply taking a brisk stroll through the snow, the aches and pains of the holidays aren’t just figures of speech. Cold temperatures and increased activity can amplify the daily aches we experience, and may even add a few bumps and bruises that we aren’t used to. CBD has been shown to help with both physical and neuropathic pain, especially when used in combination with other cannabinoids like THC.5,6
TALK ABOUT CBD WITH YOUR FAMILY. With all of the benefits of CBD and none of the intoxicating effects of other cannabinoids, like THC, the holidays may be a great time to use CBD as a conversation starter and introduce family and friends to the benefits of plant medicine. Most people now have access to CBD and hemp-derived products in a grocery store or pharmacy near them, and explaining how and why you are using CBD may be enough social reinforcement to overcome age-old stereotypes and stigmas surrounding cannabis and cannabinoids. My family has been hesitant when it comes to cannabinoids in general. And by hesitant, I mean the only person who has tried THC aside from myself is my sister. That being said, my family has been introduced to CBD gradually through the discussion of hemp and explanation of the benefits of these products without the “high” that many still expect. If your family is like mine, talking to them about CBD may help them understand and accept cannabinoids as part of your lifestyle. I’ve found that products designed for topical application in small serving sizes are often the easiest to use as an introduction for skeptical friends and family. The holidays are a time of festivity and fun, but they can also be trying at times. If you’re fighting that festive feeling because you dread the anxiety, insomnia, or pains of the holidays, you may want to give CBD a chance this holiday season. For more information on CBD, stay tuned to this column each issue for more news, tips, and research surrounding the benefits of using cannabidiol in your daily life.
CULTIVARS PURPLE KUSH Purple Kush is known to have a sedative and euphoric effect on patients helping relieve pain, reduce stress, and encourage relaxation. It reigns from the Oakland area of California. Sweet and earthy in smell, its typical terpene profile is high in linalool, the same calming terpene found in lavender. This often makes Purple Kush a good fit for patients who may have trouble falling or staying asleep.
SUPER LEMON HAZE Super Lemon Haze is a hybrid cross between Lemon Skunk and Super Silver Haze. The terpene profile that gives off this cultivarâ€™s famously strong citrus and earthy smell, and lemony taste varies, but it is always high in terpinolene. Terpinolene is used as a citrus flavor or fragrance in everyday products like soaps, lotions, and even perfumes. Although soothing, this is not for patients looking for sleep, but it is often used for energy. It can help fight against depression and is also good for creativity and social activities.
(FORMALLY KNOWN AS STRAINS) GRAPE APE Grape Ape got its name by smelling so much like grapes. Often consumed for relaxation, its most common terpenes include myrcene, pinene, and caryophyllene. This combination of terpenes, along with being THC dominant, makes it popular among patients wanting to relieve pain, stress, or anxiety.
SOUR DIESEL Sour Diesel is known for having a dominant diesel like smell, wrapped around hints of lemony citrus. This is due in part to being high in the terpenes caryophyllene, limonene, and myrcene. Typically used for energy and motivation, this cultivar has been said to have a quick onset of cerebral effects, helping reduce stress and improve mood, leading to symptomatic relief from depression.
BLUEBERRY Blueberry is a legendary cultivar with a history dating back to the 1970s, when DJ Short, an American breeder known for experimenting with exotic landrace cultivars, began working with it. Known for being high in THC, with sweet smells and flavors of blueberries, it took the prize for Best Indica at the High Times Cannabis Cup in 2000. Enjoyed by connoisseurs and patients for having such long lasting effects, itâ€™s most commonly used for treating pain, stress, and anxiety.
COLLECTED BY SARAH MOSS
RESEARCH CORNER CANNABIS-RELATED IMPAIRMENT & SOCIAL ANXIETY The Role of Cannabis Use to Manage Negative and Positive Affect in Social Situations. Walukevich-Dienst K1, Lewis EM1, Buckner JD1.
RESULTS OF THE STUDY
• Cannabis was able to lower the symptoms of social anxiety like fear, shame, irritability, and anxiety in social settings • The study population was able to benefit from and enjoy the company of others in social settings without constant anxiety and hypervigilance • The negative outcome of this study suggested that people with social anxiety would partake in cannabis use more frequently in order to be able to interact in social settings. • Can this really be a negative effect, if you can enjoy being around others without the anxiety?
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Walukevich-Dienst%20K%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=31535902a https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Lewis%20EM%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=31535902 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Buckner%20JD%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=31535902
BY HEATHER DEROSE
After 10 years, Dr. Sue Sisley and her stellar team at MAPS finished the first FDA approved research of its kind with a study on the effect of smoked cannabis on veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “We’re grateful that we finally got this across the finish line but disappointed that it took 10 years to complete. That’s a testament to the immense amount of government red tape that’s involved in trying to study cannabis as a medicine. The U.S. government has systematically impeded this type of efficacy research for so many decades. It shouldn’t take that long to do a simple FDA phase two trial with 80 subjects. Patients have legitimate clinical questions
about how cannabis works or how it doesn’t work, and they deserve to have these questions potentially answered through rigorous clinical trials. But we have all these government regulatory blockades in the way, including an obvious lack of federal research funding available to study cannabis as a medicine. It’s different if you want to study cannabis as a drug of abuse, you’ll easily obtain federal government money and government (NIDA) cannabis with hardly any obstructions. If you dare say you want to study cannabis as a medicine or do drug development research looking at both safety and efficacy, you could be impeded years.”
Sue continues to speak out about the low quality, over-processed cannabis material she had to use in her study on veterans with PTSD. And this NIDA study drug cannot be sold as prescription medicine later, so it’s fundamentally inadequate for FDA phase 3 trials. This means the US has no federally legal supply of cannabis flower for phase 3 trials where a study drug can actually be approved to be sold on the national market later with FDA indication. When asked about the results, she replied, “The outcomes are probably what you might predict from patients smoking moldy, diluted green powder full of extraneous plant material—not just the buds.” The results have not yet been published. She says, “Scientists have been frustrated having to endure this government enforced monopoly with University of Mississippi since 1968. Scientists have been requesting to see the DEA license other private growers for research. The study drug we’re forced to use does not represent real-world flower, and we’re concerned that it may be sabotaging the results of efficacy data.” Scientists who want to study the plant still have only one place at University of Mississippi where they can purchase study drug for all US clinical trials. Because of these obstacles she’s faced while studying cannabis as medicine, Sue is suing the DEA/Attorney General. “Now we’ve been waiting 3 years since the announcement that DEA made back in 2016 on our Federal Register that they would license other growers for research. They’ve not made good on that pledge. We’re desperate to find new sources of study drug so that we don’t just continually have to use the suboptimal material from the National Institute on Drug Abuse which subcontracts with the University of Mississippi. We’re hopeful the DEA will finally process all of these applications that have been sitting on their desk and finally start giving the approvals needed for these groups to start growing cannabis.” She is eager to start seeing diverse cannabis flower options with different phenotypes that represent products in the regulated markets so she can replicate what patients are using every day.
“IF YOU DARE SAY YOU WANT TO STUDY CANNABIS AS A MEDICINE OR DO DRUG DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH LOOKING AT BOTH SAFETY AND EFFICACY, YOU COULD BE IMPEDED YEARS” 19
“THE IDEA IS THAT IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT CANNABIS, BUT THERE’S ALL KINDS OF MEDICALLY-ACTIVE PLANTS WHERE VETERANS ARE FINDING SOME RELIEF FROM THEIR VARIOUS AILMENTS”
Sue says one of the hardest parts of doing clinical trials is the recruitment and retention of the patients, and she credits the Battlefield Foundation for their efforts with the study participants. Sue and her MAPS team screened several thousand veterans for the study because of referrals/dynamic PR tactics from the Battlefield Foundation. She says they helped communicate with the veterans, because the VA was blocking the team’s communication with them. She says Battlefield Foundation often drove them to their weekly follow up appointments to ensure they kept coming back to the lab for the entire three month enrollment. She said because of the foundation’s efforts augmenting MAPS’ hard work, they were able to complete the study. The 501(c)(3) has a board of veterans and community leaders, and she hopes others will help support their charity. She says, “We may never have completed the study if it weren’t for the Battlefield Foundation; these dedicated veteran volunteers recruiting/driving the veterans, and overcoming the complete refusal of the VA hospitals to cooperate with this federally legal research.” For veterans interested in learning more about cannabis and other plant-based medicines, she suggests connecting with a veteran charity or peer mentoring with other vets who are knowledgeable about medically active plants. Sue says there’s a number of veteran service organizations that are now doing this sort of outreach or peer mentoring with other vets to teach them about options for plant-based medicines over conventional pharmaceuticals. “The idea is that it’s not just
about cannabis, but there’s all kinds of medically-active plants where veterans are finding some relief from their various ailments. I would say they’re more likely to get the guidance they’re seeking from a fellow veteran, than trying to have a discussion with their VA doctor.” She thinks that kind of the peer-coaching model bas been the most useful for many vets who are distrustful of “the system.” She’s seen vibrant online communities where patients who are in remote parts of the world can connect. She hasn’t yet done studies on other plant medicines, but “knows veterans are reporting some beneficial experiences with things like microdosing of psilocybin, experimenting with ayahuasca and ibogaine.” She’s really curious about these options but doesn’t know enough about them yet to speak to their efficacy. “I’ve interacted with a lot of vets who have gone on their own personal odyssey with these different medically active plants and have come out better, more high functioning, and more joyful.” MAPS’ study focused only on smoked cannabis. She states this one intervention, smoked flower, targets so many different receptors throughout the body. It’s able to treat multiple levels of illness with just this one intervention. She says that’s what excites her the most. “Typically in modern medicine, we end up giving people a different prescription for each target symptom. For instance, with PTSD, there may be eight different target symptoms, from insomnia to flashbacks, nightmares,hypervigilance, depression. Generally, they all get a different prescription.”
“The idea that I can enable patients to have access to a plant that could treat the whole constellation of symptoms, including pain and other physical problems that they’re having to deal with, that’s what I think is most promising about the plant, that it could substitute for a lot of conventional pharmaceuticals that may be very addictive or have a lot of side effects. If we can eliminate some of those more toxic pharmaceuticals and enable people to simply utilize the natural flower; it just seems like common sense tells you, that’s a much better idea. But, we have a lot to overcome.” Veterans claim they’re using this plant successfully already, and they don’t need
research. She agrees with them; if they’ve already discovered therapeutic benefits, then they’re living examples. She says the issue is, it’s difficult to change public policy without more randomized controlled trials that really speak to both the efficacy and safety, and that’s what the government has blocked for so many years. “I see that veterans seem to be getting symptom control for a variety of different medical conditions that they’re struggling with — in many cases they are able to substitute for alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and pharmaceuticals. So, I think that’s valuable. Anytime you can use a natural plant over a chemical Rx (or transition off addictive alcohol/street drugs etc.)... I think it’s optimal!”
“THAT’S WHAT I THINK IS MOST PROMISING ABOUT THE PLANT, THAT IT COULD SUBSTITUTE FOR A LOT OF CONVENTIONAL PHARMACEUTICALS THAT MAY BE VERY ADDICTIVE OR HAVE A LOT OF SIDE EFFECTS”
Diagnosed with breast cancer at age 47, Sue went through conventional treatment, such as surgery and radiation, but rejected chemo, Tamoxifen, and other standard options. Shortly after her diagnosis was her first time trying cannabis, and she started using cannabis oil to help prevent cancer recurrence. She has been using high-THC oil at night, putting an amount the size of a grain of rice on a vitamin orally at night before sleep. Initially, she had no tolerance, so she had some side effects, but after she built a tolerance over time, she doesn’t feel so obtunded. “I tried smoked cannabis flower a year ago, and I only needed a few inhalations, and I got some calm happy feelings. It was really enjoyable, and I finally understood why people seek that out. I get it now; it’s really pleasant, and there’s no hangover with inhalation and seems ideal. I really wanted to experience that, especially since our research is focused on smoked flower. I wanted to at least know what patients were going through.”
vested to uncover the harms, they didn’t see any long-term lung problems and no evidence of lung malignancy or emphysema or anything. In many cases, the pulmonary function testing was slightly improved after smoking. So, I think that was a big surprise to all of us in the medical community.” She says sadly most people in medical community still equate cannabis smoking to tobacco smoking and think it’s all dangerous. “I don’t believe that— two different agents with different properties.”
When asked if she had any concerns about smoked cannabis flower, she said, “We have almost 30 years of federal government sponsored safety studies seeking to uncover the harmful effects of smoked cannabis flower. Certainly, as physicians, we all believe that all smoking is potentially detrimental to your health. I was certain that the studies would’ve shown a lot of problems arising from that. Then, when you look at the studies, especially the NIDA-funded pulmonary trials that were done by Dr. Tashkin, and see that they, despite billions of dollars in-
Since taking a stand against the DEA, Sue says,“We are eager to see cannabis flower on the market with an FDA indication for treating PTSD. We’re pursuing other indications for vaped/smoked flower (bud) for treating pain. That’s the next study that we have coming up. It’s looking at advanced cancer patients using smoked flower to treat their breakthrough pain in late-stage cancer. We’re just waiting on FDA approval, and then we’ll be able to get started. Sadly, because of the quality of the NIDA cannabis, I’m forced
“ANYTIME YOU CAN USE A NATURAL PLANT OVER A CHEMICAL RX... I THINK IT’S OPTIMAL”
to source cannabis flower from other countries because I am reluctant to buy cannabis from the University of Mississippi after our last experience, and also because it couldn’t be sold as prescription medicine after we’ve completed phase 3 trials. We’re in the middle of negotiating to import cannabis flower, which would also help us break the NIDA monopoly from a different angle, besides the federal lawsuit. It’s just sad to me that we’re forcing our US scientists to source cannabis from foreign producers when we have some of the best cannabis flower in the world. It makes no sense.” With Sue and others speaking out and stepping up demanding high quality, uncontaminated cannabis to use for clinical trials, the monopoly may soon be dismantled. This will provide researchers with material more similar to what patients obtain outside a government study. This would enable study participants to consume cannabis that’s just flowering tops of the plant and not diluted with extraneous plant material, free from excessive mold/mycotoxin, and could provide different results on effectiveness in veterans using cannabis to treat their symptoms. On average, VA data reports 20 veterans take their lives every day, and that’s just in the states that are counting. Access to natural plant medicine can save lives, which is why we need to expand access to high quality material for researchers to study.
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NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2019 EVENTS
NOV 3-5 | FLORIDA INDUSTRIAL HEMP CONFERENCE & EXHIBITION | ORLANDO, FL The Florida Industrial Hemp Conference and Exhibition will focus on the development of the industrial hemp industry in Florida. Conference related topics include, but are not limited to: • Federal and State Regulations and Legislation, Food Supplement and Nutritional Applications • Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Applications, Growing, Cultivation and Harvesting Industrial Hemp
NOV 13-14 | AR-LA-TEX | LITTLE ROCK, AR
Imperious Expo + Directory will be hosting the Ark-La-Tex Cannabis Business Expo in Little Rock, Arkansas at the Statehouse Convention Center on DECEMBER 12-13, 2018. The show will spotlight the medical and industrial cannabis industry. They promote the legal medical and industrial benefits of cannabis emphasizing the business sector, with a primary goal of connecting business to business (B2B).
DECEMBER 11-13 MJ BIZ CON LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
Hosted at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and brought to you by the editors of MJBizDaily. MJ Biz Con Las Vegas, is the largest gathering of cannabis business professionals in the world. With 35,000 attendees and programming to benefit every sector, there is no place like it to equip your business for growth.
SEE YOU THERE!
Use donated by Grateful Veteran art by Erik Pflueger
VETERANS + CANNABIS
VOTING GIVES US ALL EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO SUPPORT OUR SERVICE WOMEN + MEN
It is interesting to me that Veteran’s Day and the US Presidential Election share the same month. Although the origins of both dates are not, to my knowledge, linked, I can’t help but think that it is totally appropriate. We wouldn’t have the privilege of even having an election day without the brave women and men in our armed forces who ensure that the USA remains the pillar of democracy, even with all of the issues. These women and men sacrifice a lot. And they sacrifice a lot for us--strangers who truly benefit from their service. We, the people of the USA, owe them a lot, including health care that adequately meets their needs. And the definition of health care should evolve with the science--despite past beliefs. But how can we help? Election day and voting gives us all equal opportunity to support our service women and men. I have come to know many veterans through the medical cannabis community. I am moved by their stories of sacrifice and pain. I am frustrated by the VA’s lack of acceptance of medical cannabis. In 2017, The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine published one of the most comprehensive, in-depth reviews of scientific research on the uses of cannabis and cannabis-derived products. The report provides a broad set of evidence-based conclusions. One conclusion is that cannabis is effective for the treatment of pain. Other studies demonstrate a reduction of opioids with better pain relief when treatment is combined with cannabis. Why, then, is medical cannabis not an option for our Veterans?
I want to share a story of a Veteran, a person I am proud to call my friend. He was a sergeant in the Army, First Armored Division who served our country from 2009-2015. He was a team leader in the infantry. In 2012, he and his team were deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan. One day, while on a routine surveillance patrol his team was ambushed, and his truck hit a roadside IED and blew up. The force of the explosion ejected him from the truck. His abrupt return to land was greeted by a chunk of the truck that crashed on top of him shattering his pelvis and injuring his spine. He remembers little after that: being taken by his team to Kandahar, a helicopter ride, and then waking up in Germany after surgery where they reconstructed his pelvis with metal. He returned to the US where he spent 2 years in Walter Reed Medical Center trying to walk. During that time, he transitioned from dilaudid to oxycontin. On Veteran’s Day 2015, he was discharged from Walter Reed, honorably discharged from the Army, and addicted to prescription opioids.
HE IS OUTRAGED BY THE INJUSTICE THAT VETERANS ARE DENIED THE OPTION TO USE MEDICAL CANNABIS JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE VETERANS
“ He desperately wanted to get off the prescription opioids as it negatively impacted his life as much as his shattered pelvis did. The addiction strained his relationships with his wife, family, and friends. After a social, physical, and emotional breakdown he went back to Walter Reed to withdraw-a battle so painful and so difficult that he never wanted to repeat it ever again. Yet, he left Walter Reed shaken from the detox program and worried about how to control his pain without the prescription drugs.
He remembered that he wrote a paper in high school on medical cannabis but didn’t really think about it for himself until a friend suggested he try it to quell his horrific pain. He did. The result was that he slept through the night for the first time since the explosion. His pain was controlled. Over time, he repaired his relationships with family and friends. And although he denies PTSD, he no longer experiences the anxiety that comes with chronic pain. He is able to not just live but enjoy his life. He is outraged by the injustice that Veterans are denied the option to use medical cannabis just because they are Veterans. He bravely testified to the Maryland Senate, sharing his story on behalf of all Veterans, as he knows from his experience that they deserve access to medicine that is safe, effective, and not addictive like prescription opioids. He wants to protect his colleagues in the armed forces, so they don’t have to deal with the opioid struggle as he did or worse. His message to all Vets is for them to know they are not alone. His message to the VA is that medical cannabis needs to be an option. My message is that the research supports pain management efficacy for medical cannabis, and it is safer than opioids. My message to you, the reader of this article, is to vote in November for the candidate you believe will support the appropriate health care services for those who serve us.
HIS MESSAGE TO ALL VETS IS FOR THEM TO KNOW THEY ARE NOT ALONE. HIS MESSAGE TO THE VA IS THAT MEDICAL CANNABIS NEEDS TO BE AN OPTION.
Be well, Dr. Deb 28
BY AN TO NI O DE ROSE
is a decorated United States Army Combat Veteran. After enlisting in the Army at age 19, he was soon deployed to Iraq during the initial Operation Iraqi Freedom invasion, where he spent 14 consecutive months in combat before being honorably discharged in 2005. After exiting the military, Jose moved to Florida, where he began to focus on raising his family, and over the next decade, he created a successful corporate career in real estate and insurance. On the outside, it seemed Belen had successfully left the war behind him, but beneath the surface, Belen was battling the war within his own mind as he silently combated the debilitating effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Then, in 2016, after spending what felt like a lifetime fighting his personal demons, thoughts of suicide almost ended everything. It was at this point in time when Belen decided to make his last stand. Despite facing overwhelming odds, he managed to overcome his trauma, and began leading a charge for veterans everywhere. Inspired by his personal victory, Belen and his wife Danielle founded Mission Zero in 2017, an organization dedicated to ending veteran suicide through the research and development of new holistic healing and educational pathways to set a new standard for mental health and wellness. They do this by developing targeted education and advocacy campaigns, organizing family support initiatives, and spearheading suicide prevention efforts. “We believe the mental healthcare system, both past and present, must have their systems disrupted and dissected into new modalities that are strategically developed and executed with precision. We are heavily involved in political conversations and lobby for change to the systems currently in place”, says Belen. “I spend a lot of time in Washington D.C. throughout the year, establishing meetings with political figures and their offices in hopes of positively leveraging my influence to steer the ship into the right direction for veterans.” The married couple also helps business owners expand veteran outreach and hiring programs, as well as run coaching initiatives for veterans.
THE VETERAN MAY PHYSICALLY LEAVE THE COMBAT ZONE, BUT THE COMBAT ZONE NEVER LEAVES THE VETERAN. 31
Now it’s 2019, and although Belen seems to be winning his war, he admits, “It is extremely difficult for a veteran once he is out of service to assimilate into the father or husband role without letting the things we experienced in service or in combat affect us. The veteran may physically leave the combat zone, but the combat zone never leaves the veteran.” As a result, veterans often bring their wars home with them in a way, and Belen shares, “The family aspect has been one of the more difficult things for me since I left the service, because for veterans like myself, and non veterans, who have PTSD or mood instability disorders, we sometimes do not realize there is anything ‘wrong’ per say. We feel like we can handle the weight of the world and can self-manage the intrusive thoughts or random outbursts of sadness or anger. In a way we normalize it as ‘this is why I am’ and that is that. But that thought process can do more damage than good. Those around you can not only see the pain you are in, but they can feel it as well in a way. I witnessed a child die in combat to the point where me and two other soldiers closed her eyes. That right there is the single most polarizing thing I have ever seen in my life, and to this day, I am haunted by it. My daughter looks very similar to the child, and I cannot, at times, see my daughter laying flat on her back because I see the little girl dying again and again. I still struggle with this to this day, but thankfully through prayer, my support system, and cannabis, I am able to manage it now more than ever.”
THE LAWSUIT REPRESENTS TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS ON BEHALF OF THE MILLIONS OF FAMILIES WHO HAVE HAD THEIR LIVES RUINED BY THIS FALSE PRETENSE THAT CANNABIS IS A ‘GATEWAY DRUG’ AND IS A THREAT TO HUMANITY.
An outspoken advocate for cannabis as medicine and access for veterans, Belen is one of the six individuals and organizations involved in the federal lawsuit regarding the removal of cannabis as a Schedule I drug. He tells us that being a part of the lawsuit is a blessing, and “The lawsuit represents truth and righteousness on behalf of the millions of families who have had their lives ruined by this false pretense that cannabis is a ‘gateway drug’ and is a threat to humanity. The reality is, the government became the threat to humanity by keeping it away from us. The hypocrisy is so blatant and bold. I mean for crying out loud, when George Bush was shot down during WW2 his parachute was made of hemp and his airplane’s engine was greased with hemp oil.” When asked why he supports cannabis for veterans, he told us, “Cannabis has allowed me to find a connection with my old self, in a way. Leaving the military, I struggled, and still do, though not as severely, with lack of emotion, hyper alertness, anxiety etc., but the holistic components of cannabis allow me to be much more in tune with my emotions.
For example, it helps me with my reactions to certain scenarios and triggers that weren’t better before I started using cannabis regularly.” Before turning to cannabis for help with the symptoms associated with his PTSD, Belen traveled the same road as do many other veterans. A road that sadly, often ends in suicide. Between 2005, leading up to almost losing it all in 2016, he turned to the VA for help. He tried a variety of different therapies, including cognitive, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), art therapy, and private services. None of the various therapeutic methodologies seemed to help. This is “sadly why many veterans lose hope and turn to drugs or suicide. It’s also why it seems all doctors can do for us is give us prescription medications in hopes they will help us,” and this is exactly what happened to him. After failing to find a therapy that worked, Belen was then prescribed an array of pharmaceuticals he was told would help him feel better, “but the reality is, the prescriptions I was given made me worse, far worse, than when I wasn’t on anything. I was given different pills every time, and every time I was one step closer to killing myself.” This caused turmoil at home and started to take a toll on his family. “Honestly, it was very traumatic for them, especially the kids. My wife and I have been together almost 10 years now, and it wasn’t until about 2 to 3 years into our relationship that she began to realize how bad I was and how much worse I was getting. I remember telling her one day that she was going to come home and find me with my brains blown out all over the wall. I hate to be so graphic, but it is the truth. By the grace of God she never judged me and still does not to this day. My kids also understand as well now. We are a very, very tightly knit family. The thing is, I still struggle, so it is a constant reminder every day for me to fight forward not only for me, but more importantly for them.” Unfortunately, this is a very familiar story for many veterans and their families. This is why Belen is still leading a charge for a better country. In addition to advocating for cannabis, he is driven by social change, activism, and awareness for the veteran suicide epidemic we are currently facing as a nation. His message to veterans struggling is that, “It is ok to accept they have PTSD. That we can all say, ‘I have PTSD, but PTSD doesn’t have me!’ We are one another’s hope so we cannot give up on ourselves because we’re just giving up on each other. We need one another. There are 20+ million of us in the US. It’s time we band together just like we did in combat and fight forward. Having each other’s six no matter the time or distance. Mission Zero is within us all. Please check in on your brothers and sisters from time to time. It’s often those that are smiling that are suffering the most.”
I HAVE PTSD, BUT PTSD DOESN’T HAVE ME!
The next step in Belen’s mission is having launched Esperanza Essentials. Esperanza is Spanish for hope, and this CBD brand follows Mission Zero’s mantra of providing hope to the hopeless. Their goal is to secure sponsorships from other companies in order to provide their CBD oil to veterans in need, at no cost. Combat veteran owned and operated, they are committed to creating a system of care the government could not provide them, and as Belen puts it, they “want to make the care in healthcare relevant again.” They see cannabis as a healthy and holistic means to do so, and they hope it can provide much needed reinforcements to help soldiers survive the war within.
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BY HEATHER DEROSE
SAR AH STEN U Fâ€™S
Sarah Stenuf is leading the way for veterans to have a place to find community and heal through traditional and nontraditional therapy options for veterans, first responders, and their families. After serving 4 honorable years in the United States Army, Sarah was medically retired for epilepsy and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She suffered a head injury at basic training and another at advanced individual training and then began having seizures. After discovering she was having seizures, she hid her condition until her commander found out. She was able to get stabilized on medication and deployed. During deployment in Afghanistan, she found herself running out of her anti-seizure medication. She tried but couldn’t
get it, and knew she needed to lower her dose to make it last until she finished her mission. She says one night they had incoming, and she ended up outside after suffering a seizure. The next day she suffered another seizure in Afghanistan, with only 2 months left in her 12 month deployment. She was medically evacuated to Germany and continued having seizures, so she was put into a medically-induced coma. When she was stabilized on medications they sent her to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland, where she had another seizure. She said, “I saw more death at the Warrior Transition Unit, than I did overseas. That place was disgusting. In the WTU, I saw veterans in there on every type of drug, on every type of benzoid and opioid you
can think of. There were drug and alcohol overdoses. It was a horrible place when I got back.” Her command worked to get her returned to her unit in Afghanistan to get out of the WTU conditions until she was discharged. She became a severe alcoholic and says she was on a bag of medications during that time. She tried taking her life twice and went into two different inpatient programs for dual diagnosis of TBI and PTSD, as well as substance abuse. She said that when she got out of the military she felt, “completely hopeless.” She began getting into trouble with law enforcement. She finally got to the point where she told her wife, “I can’t live like this, I’m on a tackle box of medications, living with a pill every hour, sleeping for 15
LEADING THE WAY FOR VETERANS TO HAVE A PLACE TO FIND COMMUNITY + HEAL
WOW, CANNABIS IS WORKING
to 16 hours a day.” At that point she felt like such a burden to her wife and toddler son, she was contemplating taking her own life again. Then, she said, it clicked, “I didn’t have a purpose. I didn’t have a mission.” With no place to go but up, she thought back to a time when she was consuming cannabis with another veteran and felt more happy and calm. “After I got home and hit this rock bottom stage in my life, my wife and I contacted a few buddies, and they came over, and we smoked cannabis together. The next thing you know, I’m getting out of the house and thought ‘this feels good. Maybe I should do some research as to why this is happening.’ So I learned about endogenous cannabinoids within our bodies and phytocannabinoids
in the cannabis plant, what happens after trauma, what happens when you get a TBI, what happens to the receptor sites in your head, where the trauma goes, and where it’s being stored. How are the plants able to help slow things down, so I can see clearly and process it better and maybe learn to forget it? I learned the overall process so that I can forget it, so I can learn from it, and so I can grow from it. I thought, wow, cannabis is working, and I got down to the science of it and wondered if I was the only other person crazy enough to think this plant is working!” Sarah created an online social media alias and was talking about cannabis and teaching others how to cultivate medicine. It was then that High Times reached
out to her and asked her to speak on a panel. After connecting with the community, she realized there was an opportunity to create more progress, especially within the veteran community. She says, “After I started speaking and getting to know people, I realized there’s a lot of black holes and black holes are running parallel even though we’re in different demographics or parts of the US.” She wondered, “Why is there nothing being done? Why is it obviously clear about these issues with veterans needing alternative care and veterans needing access to public and private healthcare. We need soldier’s choice. What about female veterans with military sexual trauma PTSD? We need better benefits for older veterans, and we need to bridge these gaps.”
Sarah spent a lot of time researching, going back to World War 2 and the Civil War when they had retreats for veterans, and she looked at what was effective. She initially got laughed at when discussing other treatment options 5 years ago, but then the VA passed the flagship program. Designed to shift from a health-care system focused primarily on treating disease, to one guided by a personalized health plan that considers the physical, mental, spiritual, and environmental needs of Veterans. All the services the people were fighting for were now getting accepted by insurance, but veterans couldn’t find them anywhere. “I turned to my wife and said let’s start up a farm. Let’s create all the services that the VA and the senior homes and all were laughing at me for wanting to start up and put in this all-inclusive, amazing area that would take private and public healthcare and unify it. They don’t want to do it, let’s do it. Let’s get our own doctors, let’s get our own LMSW’s [licensed master social worker], let’s get our own peer support team and let’s figure it out.” Sarah created her new mission and founded Veterans Ananda, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which consists of veteran villages for retreats and healing for the community. Sarah’s goal is to have a chapter in every state in order to help veterans all across our nation. She also created Ananda Farms. Her 22 acre hemp farm employs many veterans and grows hemp, while also serving as a training and development center for veterans living at Veterans Ananda villages. Sarah takes corporate social
responsibility seriously and it’s Ananda Farms’ goal to donate at least a kilo of product to veterans in need every year. She’s setting the bar and wants to see other companies who are serious about corporate social responsibility donate a kilo or more to veterans who need plant medicine every year. Being the change she wanted to see for the community, she decided it was time to implement change and add value. Sarah is now seizure free and off all 13 prescription medications. Her own transformation to changing her life with plant medicine and connecting with the community charged her drive to create a place for other veterans to learn about different options for their health care. We are so grateful Sarah overcame so much and is sharing education and her story to help veterans and their families to help find a better quality of life. With 22 veterans a day taking their life, it’s leaders like Sarah, that were able to overcome suicide and share her knowledge that’s giving others hope. “By establishing that strong narrative behind the brand to let people know we are here to practice corporate social responsibility. We are here to show you positive philanthropy. We are here to show you corporate citizenship and show how we’re going to change the norms and the stigmas, while giving back and adding value. We’re not just adding value because we’re in a time of need or in time of crisis, but we’re adding value because it’s the right freakin’ thing to do!”
PTSD & THE POWER OF NATURAL PLANT MEDICINES BY JORDAN PERSON
Serving in the military is a different way of life; it changes men and women forever. According to the CDC, veteran suicide, especially in those age 18-34, is higher than ever.1 Keep reading to learn the details that shaped the life of former Tactile Infantry Fire Team Leader for the U.S Army, Matt Kahl. Learn about his attempt at suicide and what put him on the path to cannabis and plant medicines. Kahl comes from a military background, moving several times while growing up. “I was an English-speaking minority in Norway, several places in Europe, and Tokyo. North Carolina was where we always returned though,” Kahl explains. Instead of enlisting right out of high school, he chose to attend Appalachian University in North Carolina to study behavioral neuroscience. “Once I was done; my undergrad studies were over, and the fun part of learning was gone; it became clear it would be 8 more years before I could have my own lab, and that wasn’t the route I wanted to take with my life,” says Kahl. “So, there I was, 29 and wanting more stability in my life. I just had my son, and I wanted to do something he could look up to. Freedom was always important to me, the principles of the constitution, and the oath of service. So I made the decision to enlist in th Army, specifically the infantry,” recalls Kahl. “I joined very late as far as average age, but my ASVAB scores allowed me easy entry. I remember the day I got to my unit. My commanding officer started yelling at me, ‘You are the dumbest smart person I have ever met.’ I explained that I wanted to fight a war, not sit behind a desk.”
Kahl served from 2007-2011. He recalls, “The level of comradery is something I still miss, because it’s like nothing else. You must be ready to fight for the life of the soldier to your right or left. There is the nonsense of rock stacking and hole digging, or punitive manual labor like mowing the grass with scissors. The commanding officers became very creative with their punishments for people that screwed up. I think because I was older, I knew if I paid attention and listened, it made a world of difference. I proved to my officers I was a stellar soldier, and I got to go to courses and trainings to teach my fellow soldiers what I had learned. I had a lot of opportunities that built my confidence.” Kahl was based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and deployed twice to Afghanistan. “My first deployment went fantastic by all accounts,” Kahl explains. “I knocked out 15 months overseas. We lost a few guys, but it felt like we did well as a unit. After you get home, there is a honeymoon period: being near your family, having good food, and all the freedoms we take for granted.” After the success of Kahl’s first deployment, his commanding officer attempted to convince him to join the officer corps. “I wanted to be a non-commissioned officer first. Instead, I was pulled off the front line (which I loved) and given a job doing exactly what I didn’t want. The move took away my option for advancement. I was isolated from all the people I deployed with. I went from being on the front lines to spending the vast majority of my time doing inventory. The stress of what I was responsible for (millions of dollars in equipment) began to weigh on me,” says Kahl.
It wasn’t just the stress of the new role; the toll that deployment took on Kahl was more than he realized. “Losing friends, and the second guessing that goes with it, is the hardest part. Survivor’s guilt is all tied up in it. You constantly ask yourself, ‘What could I have done to stop it, could I have run faster or held on tighter, done something, done anything to prevent my brother from dying?’” Thoughts like these can amplify PTSD symptoms and lead to severe depression and anxiety. “Right around Christmas 2009, I tried to commit suicide with an overdose. I ate it all, everything I could find. From cold medicine and cough suppressants to opiates and every pharmaceutical in the cabinet. The doctors pumped my stomach, and I was fine. My son was only two at the time. When he came to the hospital, he held my finger and said ‘Daddy, why are you sick?’ The right answer was, ‘I did this to myself.’ But I could not tell my child that. So I told him, ‘Daddy is getting better, and you won’t have to see me here again.’ I knew I needed to be there for family, my unit, and future units. So, I pulled myself together.” During his second deployment, Kahl sustained several injuries. The Financial Liability Investigations of Property Loss (FLIPL) said it was an IUD. “I remember a big boom, and I remember hitting my face and flying through the air. I remember hearing ‘Kahl hang on.’ It is still unclear what we may have hit at 45 mph. The vehicle was destroyed. I was ejected from the vehicle, hitting my face on the turret shield. My upper left jaw was pulverized; I had extensive facial fractures, traumatic brain injury, cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine injuries. When I came to, I couldn’t understand speech very well; I couldn’t read; my jaw required surgery.”
Soldiers in combat feel a rush or thrill that can be addicting. They have been trained to do a very specific job, and the desire remains long after the ability to perform the duty. Doctors attempted to diagnose Kahl with PTSD twice. The first time was after his suicide attempt. “I was lying to everyone including myself. I tried to claim what I did was an accident. I was released fairly quickly to get my life back in order. I refused the diagnosis of PTSD at that time. I denied that I had it to myself and everyone else. “The only thing that gave my life meaning was to get back out there on the front line. One of my doctors told me, ‘you are living for the sake of your unit, they will move on if you are not there. You need to learn how to live for yourself and your family, and this PTSD diagnosis will help you and your family.’ But of course I rejected it immediately. “The diagnosis of PTSD is a career death sentence for those soldiers that want to remain fighting on the front lines.” Kahl finally accepted the diagnosis of PTSD.
“Over the next four years, there were 96 different prescriptions, but the most I had to take at one time was 20 pills. There were always at least 3 pain pills, 2 benzos (valium and xanax). I was on 30mg of Valium and 2mg of Xanax three times a day, plus the mood stabilizers, anti-seizure meds, SRI’s, and the list goes on. I lost my identity after being told I could not do my job (being on the front line); the pills kept everything masked,” says Kahl. Over time pharmaceuticals can significantly change you, especially the high, frequent dosing experienced by many veterans. “One day my wife filmed me playing with my son; I was nodding off and couldn’t answer her questions. She showed me the video when I was coherent, and it was painful to watch,” Kahl tells us. In 2010, while researching alternative treatments, Kahl read about veterans using cannabis. He decided he wanted to move to Colorado to see if medical cannabis could be his saving grace. However, his wife had absolutely no desire to move to Colorado. So, Kahl and his wife kept their original plan and moved back to North Carolina in 2011. “I spent my time circling the drain. They would switch my meds every 2 months or so. It was a total crap shoot. They just go down this list; there is no science. I became worse and worse in North Carolina. I kept saying just give me a chance in Colorado. I was at the point where I was no longer good for my wife and kids. I had so many people tell me I just wanted to get high by using cannabis. They all told me I would become
addicted. Yet, I was almost dying routinely from my liver trying to process all these drugs, or my breathing difficulties, or just passing out on my couch mid-sentence. “One night a buddy came by and brought a joint. My wife was there. After a few hits, I was lost in a daydream. That was when my wife saw it; she saw the tension leave my face. She knew then we had to move to Colorado. My brain had peace and rest for the first time in years. The first thing I did when I got to Colorado in June 2013, was get my medical marijuana card,” Kahl recalls. In Colorado, Kahl was honest with his VA doctor. He was able to slowly wean himself off all the pharmaceuticals he was prescribed. He dove into the world of medical marijuana. He began growing both CBD-rich hemp cultivars and high-THC cannabis cultivars. “At first, I was straight carpet-bombing. I obtained one of the first R&D hemp licenses in Colorado. I learned if I combined CBG with sativa-dominant cultivars, I was able to start reading again,” Kahl said. As time went on, Kahl was able to dial in his dosing and figure out what worked best for his symptoms. “I started giving cannabis away to fellow veterans. That got the attention of Grow for Vets (now known as Hero Grown). I became their head of horticulture and helped get cannabis to several veterans. I crossed paths with another organization focused on veterans called Weed for Warriors, and I was asked to be the president for the new Colorado chapter. They made their national launch. I helped them for about a year before I passed the torch.”
This ability to advocate for fellow veterans fueled something in Kahl. One day, Dr. Sue Sisley called him and explained she was coming into town to try and raise money for a study. “I shaved my beard and cut my 14 inch ponytail off and donated it. We got $2.1 million for Sue’s study about the effect of cannabis in veterans with PTSD. That was truly the start of my advocacy. I created Veterans for Natural Rights. I plowed forward into activism, but there was still something missing for me. “I was consuming cannabis in all of its applications. I was smearing it on my skin, edibles, oils, smoked constantly. I was better, like way better, but I wasn’t just seeking symptom suppression; I was seeking symptom resolution. I wanted to dive deeper,” Kahl said. In 2015, Kahl was approached to drink ayahuasca on film for a documentary about veterans using plants instead of pills. “I agreed. I drank it four times. When I watch the film now, I see who I was; I don’t even recognize that guy. I felt like I found what I was missing. In 2016, I decided to become an expert. I went to Peru and did a 10 day journey; then I went to Mexico and tried another hallucinogen. My travels continued with the goal of being a guinea pig. I wanted to try everything psychedelic to tell fellow veterans the outcome. After consuming
several forms of hallucinogens, I began to realize there were moments I forgot to smoke. In 2017, there were months I didn’t smoke at all.” Now, Kahl’s full focus is Veterans for Natural Rights (a 501c3 organization). They educate veterans about cannabis and psychedelics for the effective treatment of trauma and PTSD symptoms. Their mission is to build a community for veterans to heal, find their voices, and then change the world. They regularly organize retreats into the wilderness for veterans to imbibe in a safe space. They are now raising money for trips to Mexico much like the one Kahl and five fellow veterans took to Peru. The result of that trip was a documentary on YouTube called “Soldiers of the Vine.” Kahl leaves us with his best advice for veterans wanting to use cannabis or other plants for their symptoms: “Be careful, it is powerful medicine. It crushes me to hear people say that edibles are not great because someone had a bad experience. There may not be a toxic dose when you eat edibles, but you might feel like you’re gonna die if you take too much. Respect the medicine, go with your gut, and just do it.”
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: 1. https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/data-sheets/2016/2016_Data_Release_FAQ_508.pdf U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Frequently Asked Questions – 2016 Data Release (National and State Level). Updated February 5, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEohstcMoSQ | Soldiers of the Vine, Charles Shaw. April 3, 2017. https://veteransfornaturalrights.org/ | Veterans for Natural Rights
C O M B AT I N G
PTSD + ADDICTION WITH CANNABIS + PT BY ANTONIO DEROSE
United States Army Veteran, Jerry Dunn, has been known as America’s Marathon Man ever since setting a previous world record in 1993, when he completed 104 marathons in a single year. He then went on to complete several other endurance challenges, including running 26 consecutive marathons to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the world famous Boston Marathon, planning and executing a transcontinental run across America, and finishing a total of 186 marathons in the year 2000, in a righteous attempt to complete 200. Over the many years, Dunn has often told news reporters from around the world about how running was what allowed him to overcome his increasingly demanding addiction to alcohol. He’s always been very vocal about raising awareness for the mental and physical benefits of running and staying active. He’s a man who doesn’t just stand, but runs for what he believes in. Now he’s opening up about his relationship with cannabis, and one of the things he wants to accomplish, is seeing veterans have full access to medicinal cannabis. “I’ve stepped out and I’m going to do what I’m going to do, which is try to make a difference in veterans having access to medical cannabis.”
Running may have been what saved Dunn from his life as an alcoholic, and he is now an open advocate for the medical benefits of cannabis, but neither were always a part of his life. Dunn’s service in the Army actually had a negative influence on his perception of running. “It caused me to hate running. It was punishment. It was done in fatigues and combat boots, It was done on a track in the heat. Having not been a runner ever before in my life, this wasn’t my idea of a good time.” Dunn was drafted in 1966. He served 3 years in the Army working in administration. He was discharged 3 months early due to a return to college release program. It was in those 3 years of service, Dunn tells us his life as an alcoholic began. It was “the beginning of my issues with alcohol. It started in basic training. $1 pitchers of beer and peer pressure kickstarted my subsequent 25 years of drinking. I didn’t even know what pot was during those days in the service.” It wasn’t until 1970, when Dunn was 24 years old, that he first started consuming cannabis. It was right after his issues with alcohol led to a divorce, when he “ran into some guys who had been in the military about the same time as me and they introduced me to reefer.” This was long before Dunn got into running, and even longer before he would start consuming cannabis to help him train and complete his endurance challenges. At the time, he wasn’t aware of the plant’s medical benefits, but he remembers, “The very first time I smelled a joint being lit, I flashed back immediately to a smell I remembered from my childhood. My mother had asthma. She used to burn something in her bedroom at night. I’m not sure it was a form of cannabis. This would have been the early 50’s. I’ve done a bit of research, and it’s quite likely it was hashish.” These days, Dunn knows more about the benefits of cannabis for conditions like asthma and PTSD, and he believes it can also help with addictions to substances like alcohol and opioids. He’s even recently, just over the past decade, started to add cannabis to his training routine as an endurance athlete. He says his first experience with consuming cannabis for running was “about 10 years ago. I would occasionally take a toke
before a long Saturday morning training run. More recently however, it’s a bit more than occasionally, but not habitually.” Dunn even tells us on his 200 marathons in the year 2000 campaign, “I was running in the streets of San Francisco, and I smelled marijuana. It’s just a guy in front of me, somebody walking down the street just smoking a joint. But I pulled up beside him and I said, ‘Is that what I think it is?’, and he said ‘Yeah,’ and I asked him if I could have a couple of hits and he did. Then, that happened to me again in Chicago, that same year. Those are just little quirky stories that happened.” When it comes to consuming cannabis, Dunn prefers vaporizing cannabis oil versus lighting up flower. “Not so much for the results of the usage of it, but just the convenience. The fact that it’s pretty much odorless, and it’s easier to carry in a sweaty fanny pack (while he’s running) than it is to carry a joint in a ziplock bag.” Now that Dunn is sharing more about his relationship with cannabis and how he feels it can benefit the veteran community, he wants to tell “our government that medical marijuana is proven to be one of the most effective treatment modalities for mental disorders, including, but not exclusive to, PTSD.” In addition to being a United States Army Veteran, an accomplished runner, and now an advocate for cannabis, Dunn also has a Master’s Degree in Psychotherapy and he wants to see the VA make some changes to their treatment plans for vets. “The VA hospital, which was primarily designed to deal with returning vets with mental disorders and PTSD. That whole program, up there on The Hill, all they do is a typical kind of counseling and some other types of counseling. There’s no physical component involved in the treatment plan for our vets who are dealing with psychological and mental issues. Running saved me from a serious life of alcoholism, and I’m going to press hard on that. I would add that running should be required in any and all treatment plans relevant to addiction and mental disorders.
Dunn’s ideas to incorporate physical training into treatment plans for veterans is supported by science. Research shows that exercise is proven to be an effective antidepressant. There was a review examining the methods for assessing depression, current treatment approaches, and evaluating the evidence that exercise is an effective treatment option for patients published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health Journal. This review concluded; “Exercise appears to be an effective treatment for depression, improving depressive symptoms to a comparable extent as pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. Observational studies suggest that active people are less likely to be depressed, and interventional studies suggest that exercise is beneficial in reducing depression. It appears that even modest levels of exercise are associated with improvements in depression, and while most studies to date have focused on aerobic exercise, several studies also have found evidence that resistance training also may be effective. While the optimal “dose” of exercise is unknown, clearly any exercise is better than no exercise. Getting patients to initiate exercise ---and sustain it – is critical.” This is only one of many examples where exercise has been recommended for use as an antidepressant. With the positive effects of exercise being comparable to using pharmaceuticals, without having the harmful side effects that come from synthetic drugs, Dunn says it’s “a no brainer to accept” it as an underutilized tool to help veterans struggling with mental disorders. Although most of the research suggests physical exercise in general, Dunn wants to focus on running and believes it can be specifically beneficial for veterans. “We were forced to run to go to war. We should be forced to run to find some peace in our heads. It worked for me.” One thing is certain, our country does need to take better care of our nation’s soldiers when they return home. I strongly believe in the benefits of cannabis to help with PTSD, mental disorders, and other injuries, and I also believe in the benefits of exercise for mood stabilization and overall fitness. This makes me a big supporter for Dunn’s idea to incorporate both cannabis and running, into VA treatment plans. You can join Jerry Dunn, America’s Marathon Man, in his efforts to change the system at his soon to be produced, all veteran marathon on the 4th of July in 2020. It will take place in Hot Springs, SD at the site of one of the only two 5-Star VA hospitals in the U.S.
HOPE LIVES HERE BY MAGGIE SLIGHTE
Patrick “Saint” Seifert, a United States Marine Veteran, was reading an article about veteran suicide when he came upon a statistic that completely overwhelmed him. “It was a credible source; it was the VA [Veteran’s Administration], coming across that study… I was mad because I didn’t know about that number. Twenty-two a day, eight thousand a year… it’s frustrating.” The statistic that he is referring to, the number he used to name his organization for, is the number of United States Armed Forces Veterans who die by suicide daily. Although the number has been disputed, the Veteran’s Administration released the study in 2012 using data compiled from state death certificates. Katharine Seifert, Patrick’s wife and self-described Mrs. Twenty22Many doubts the number twenty-two (recently lowered to twenty by the VA), pointing out, “Think about all of the other statistics that our government puts out… think about it… how many times has our government lied to us. What on earth could that number possibly be, when our Gold Star Wife has lost, since her husband passed away, there have been two veteran suicides, in her neighborhood.” When asked if Katharine was a veteran also, Patrick was quick to point out that the work she does is more than equal to his service in his eyes, “It’s not easy being married to a Marine… I can’t imagine my life without her.” After he heard the statistic, he asked the veterans that he knew to get together, and they began having meetings with an intent to find a way to help other veterans who were in need of help. They had a goal before they had a name: To add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions to use cannabis as medicine in Washington State. “It was first thing we did coming out of the gates, and it was successful.”
Patrick brought the idea of the name “Twenty22Many” to the group in early 2015, about a month into the meetings. At the time he was the proprietor of a medical cannabis shop, governed by a state law that was replaced and revised when “recreational cannabis” was legalized in Washington state by popular vote in November 2012.
“SOMETIMES THE WAY WE HELP IS BY SHOWING UP, GO BE A PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOURSELF.” What the lawmakers and government officials had promised, did not come to pass, Patrick explained, “We were promised that if you were a ‘good player in medical’ you would be taken care of, but that didn’t happen.” Patrick was not granted one of the licenses when the new law was enacted and lost his shop. “There’s some legislation coming where they’re going to try to open up some compassion centers, and there’s some good things on the horizon. You never know, maybe Rainer Express’s days aren’t over yet,” Patrick says of the store he was forced to close when the laws changed.
The loss of the cannabis business necessitated the forming of a 501(c)(3) to continue serving the needs of local veterans. “We are a grass-roots, allvolunteer organization. It’s an education center here… and many local businesses help.”
Neither Patrick nor Katharine nor any of their volunteers get paid for their service working with Twenty22Many. What kind of work does Twenty22Many do? They provide education, information, and free cannabis recommendations to veterans, as well as starting a program that gives free cannabis clones and growing equipment to vets to enable them to grow their own medicine. When asked how cannabis helps him personally, Patrick shared “It brings me down to reality. I can’t imagine not having cannabis, I’d be in a padded cell.”
Joining our interview was the Seifert’s 14-year-old daughter, Mandalynn, who was understandably upset by some of the stories the Seiferts shared about the veterans in the area.
“It’s an eye-opener to be a kid under this roof… My parents are more understanding because they use cannabis. It’s frustrating,” Mandalynn “Mando” shared her annoyance with adults who don’t
understand that cannabis is a medicine and how much it helps her parents.
One very confusing paradigm described by the Seiferts is being played out in the lives of veterans in Washington state. Although cannabis is legal, in custody cases, children are being placed in less than desirable homes--away from their parents who are treating PTSD symptoms with cannabis. In these cases and many others, the only thing the Seiferts can do is to be there for the veterans who need them. When asked how each of us can help, Patrick says, “The most important part is to show up. We have so many events, and I get a little disappointed at the turn out.” He estimates that only about 20% of activists and advocates who follow their organization show up to events. “How would you feel, if you got the call, and I got the call when we lost John, how would you feel if you got the call that a veteran that is close to you commits suicide?” “Everyone knows a veteran, pick up the phone call them and tell them they are loved, special, and important.”
That was something that Patrick’s mother said to him that stuck with him. “Sometimes the way we help is by showing up, go be a part of something bigger than yourself.”
“We have to fuel the light because we are in so much need of it,” added Katharine. “Each person has their own magical thing. We have people who come to our events with medicine… bring your light out. Make a bridge, it’s contagious. The braver you can be… I want everybody to know you are not your illness… and whatever you’re good at I want you to do that… and if we share it, it gets bigger.” “Let’s find a way to make a wave that is big enough to make a change,” Katharine urged.
Patrick and the volunteers at Twenty22Many are in the storefront headquarters every hour they can squeeze out. Being there when someone needs them is the goal.
“A veteran can’t come through that door with a question that we don’t have an answer to, “says Patrick, “It says right on the window, hope lives here.”
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GREEN OUT OF THE
Coming out of, what I like to call, “The Green Closet”, about your cannabis consumption to friends and family can be challenging. Whether you’re coming out to your parents, discussing the medical benefits to a friend or relative with a condition cannabis may help, talking to your children or grandchildren about your consumption, or using it to help your child’s quality of life, discussing cannabis isn’t always the easiest conversation. There are some families who have a long tradition of sharing a joint at gatherings and others avoid the topic, as if the world isn’t progressing with new states adding a legalized program every year. Since cannabis has become mainstream and is being discussed across all media platforms, it’s most likely everyone has seen a headline about cannabis. Many people continue to hide their cannabis consumption, but discussing it with family and friends in an open and honest way can help normalize cannabis, share education, and spread awareness. Openly discussing your lifestyle can create stronger relationships and help create a connection with family. Social gatherings around the holiday season bring opportunities to have conversations about cannabis with your family and friends. At the very least, if you’re a cannabis consumer who has been hiding your use, having a discussion may help you feel better about being honest. I know how difficult it can be to have a conversation with someone who has a different view about consuming cannabis. I’m from Missouri and grew up believing
BY HEATHER DEROSE
all the misinformation surrounding cannabis and those who used it. I believed it would make you lazy or lower your IQ and was bad for your health. I was also diagnosed with epilepsy when I was a teenager. Cannabis was not mentioned to my family and it wasn’t until I had seizure recurrence in my early 20’s and a suggestion from my husband who’s been a long-time user, that I really started researching the plant’s benefits. I started with learning hemp doesn’t contain enough of the cannabinoid THC to create a psychoactive or “high” effect. The Farm Bill was passed last fall, which enables farmers to grow hemp throughout the United States. Hemp can be used to create fibers for clothing, textiles, and paper. Medicine can also be derived from the hemp flowers. More and more states are passing legislation, and the current lawsuit against the federal government has made history as their fight continues. There is still a lot of misinformation being published to fight against legalization, especially by companies who have a lot to lose once legalization occurs. Despite the pushback, there are over 30 states that have some form of legalized cannabis in the United States. Canada is the world’s first G7 country; they legalized at a federal level in October 2018. For many people, the topic of cannabis can evoke an emotion and non-scientific response. This may be, in part, because of the misinformation and fear surrounding the plant and cannabis consumers for decades, or they just don’t know the
facts. It’s important to understand that some people choose to reject topics they know nothing about, and these discussions may need to be handled with specific care. Throughout my journey with cannabis, I’ve discussed my consumption with people who have views all across the board. Even people living in Colorado were difficult to talk to about cannabis at times. For me, the most difficult discussions have been those with family members about some of the most basic concepts, such as cannabis not being an opioid. There’s so much information and misinformation broadcast across all media platforms, some funded by those who have something to lose. Navigating information can be challenging, but information is your most powerful resource. It wasn’t until I moved from Missouri to Colorado that I came completely out of The Green Closet to my family. I was working at a cannabis cultivation facility and told them about it. The conversation was brief. My mom, sister and brother-inlaw moved to Colorado in 2017 and were finally consuming cannabis minimally. At this time, I didn’t feel as comfortable consuming around them and limited my consumption enough at one point that I had a seizure. That was my last seizure almost 2 1/2 years ago. Despite the information I’ve learned from the most credible resources, I still get pushback on how cannabis can help so many people and why, but I’ll never lose hope of breaking the barriers with information and conversations.
WHEN YOU START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT CANNABIS, HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND DO YOUR RESEARCH.
It’s important to research and understand how cannabis is used as a medicine for so many people. There are several resources providing scientific studies about cannabis. The United States National Institutes of Health maintains PubMed, which archives every peer-reviewed study ever conducted. Searching cannabis brings up over 20,000 studies and searching marijuana brings up over 30,000 studies.
NEXT, LEARN WHY CANNABIS HELPS SO MANY CONDITIONS. Few people, even doctors, know the most
important physiological system within our body is the Endocannabinoid System or ECS. All humans and animals have this system. Our bodies create our own endogenous cannabinoids, such as anandamide, which is often called the bliss molecule and produces the typical “runner’s high.” The endogenous cannabinoid works within the body’s ECS to improve mood, create balance, and promote health. The exogenous cannabinoids found in cannabis work with the body’s ECS therapeutically to treat many conditions and symptoms. This is because our ECS works to create homeostasis within our bodies.
BEGIN THE CONVERSATION.
Bringing up a topic that has been controversial for decades may be the toughest part of the entire process. Learning more about cannabis and being able to provide information and resources will help provide confidence in your decision. Since views are strongly rooted in political and historical information, try not to take it personally if someone doesn’t immediately consider your position. Keep in mind that it’s your life and your health, and you’re the one in control of the decisions you make for yourself. Also, to allow open comfortable conversations to flow, be mindful of active listening and be respectful of boundaries. If someone you know may benefit from a cannabis product, maybe gift one to them. I’ve found, once the person has something to try that looks like medication or a lotion, they are typically more willing to open up about it and try it. The most common point someone with opposing thoughts would mention, especially surrounding children’s use, is the THC content. People sometimes worry the child may be feeling “high” and may refer to a lack of research surrounding its use. I refer to the thousands of studies that have been published and that often times, children are prescribed medications with harsh side effects, with little research, that are giving the child “highlike” experiences with prescribed pharmaceuticals. Personally, my grandma was the easiest to talk with. The conversation started about hemp foods, because she was interested in learning how to eat healthier, and she asked if hemp foods gave you the euphoric high. I explained the difference, and she was interested in the health benefits of eating it. She later learned more and more and currently is taking hemp CBD capsules I get for her. With the older generations letting go of the stereotypes and taking their health into consideration, they are becoming the quickest growing demographic of cannabis consumers around the world. Don’t let age deter you from sparking a conversation.
You may be surprised. In fact, the most resistance I have in my family is from the youngest member, my sister-in-law, who is 19. Despite her knowledge about myself and my husband using medically and the information we’ve shared, she has the most resistance to accepting the plant as medicine and has difficulty discussing it openly with the family. Even if the conversation doesn’t go how you’d hoped, it doesn’t mean you should stop. More and more information is being released, studied, and researched every day. The federal cannabis lawsuit continues to push forward to deschedule it as a schedule 1 drug and has put a timeline on the DEA for a response. Cannabis and its community are gaining mainstream media coverage, and barriers continue to be broken about cannabis and its consumers. Legalization brings a wider range of products with more innovation and regulation for those who need it to help provide a better quality of life without harmful side effects. People can now use cannabis topicals, tinctures, capsules, edibles and more to safely medicate. Cannabis is a natural plant medicine that has been used for thousands of years, until the past 80 or so. It’s been proven to help with several conditions without the harmful side effects of typically prescribed synthetic medications. Discussing cannabis with those you care about creates an environment to be open and honest and provoke thought. Not believing everything as truth and critically thinking about the information can provide a pivotal point for some. I find it helpful to compare cannabis to alcohol and tobacco. These are a couple of the most lethal substances on our planet, yet are legal, promoted, and sold almost everywhere. However, cannabis has caused zero deaths and provides exceptional health and wellness benefits. It may take a lot of effort to help others understand how cannabis works and even longer to break the barriers and fear they’ve learned about the substance, but if you can help even one person get the relief they need or understand your decisions better, it’ll be worth it. I went many years believing the misinformation and am so happy to have learned and experienced what I have with myself and family. The conversation will continue, and I hope to be the voice that helped others lose the fear associated with cannabis and shatter negative stereotypes surrounding its users. I’ve used cannabis for several years, and it has dramatically improved the quality of my health and wellness. It has connected me with a community of people who share the mission to make this plant available to everyone who needs it. The Epilepsy Foundation of the United States still lists cannabis use for seizures as an option, but only after trying all possible forms of seizure disorder treatment, including brain surgery, first. Even if you don’t consume cannabis, speaking out about your support can make an impact progressing the availability of this medicine. Doing your research and learning about the plant can help build confidence to have informative conversations with loved ones. Cannabis has the ability to save and improve the quality of life for children, veterans, grandparents, and so many more. Remember to keep having conversations, because that’s how the world will change.
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Nancy and the GRAM Team with Glen Murray of Gennifer M Jewelry At Cannabis Science Conference Portland, OR
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HERON WATER PIPE $185 Growing up in South Louisiana, there is a sense of stillness and oneness with nature. Right as the sun breaks over the horizon, you might see the Great Blue Heron hunting for his breakfast. At first glance, you’d notice the magnificent shades of blue, but when the sun hits his plumage just right, you’d see a myriad of color rich beyond imagination. This pipe is a tribute to the heron. The first thing you might notice about the Héron is the way the light refracting off the scalloped glass gives you a multitude of color. Being scientific glassblowers, we added the scalloped glass not simply for show but for a purpose. While traveling through the coils on the Gros Chu Chut and then the scallops of the pipe, the smoke is diffused and made less harsh. Combined with our unique design that allows the smoke to come down into the water, the Héron gives you a pleasant smoke and a great conversation piece. THIBODAUX FREEZER PIPE $175 There is a divide in Louisiana that separates the Cajuns and the Anglo Saxons. Some say anything north of interstate 10 might as well be Texas, others say Cajun country spans all the way up to Natchitoches. My Paw Paw thought the only real Cajuns lived out in the boondocks and said the divide was the Intracoastal Waterway. Thibodaux is where I went to school and grew up, and unlike my Paw Paw, I consider it pretty Cajun. It’s also the last name of a good friend who helped me achieve this business. The Thibodaux (tih-bah-doe), like all our pipes, is a unique pipe. When you trace past the bowl and coils, you find a void filled with food grade glycol/glycerin. Both are known as great coolants, so place the pipe in the freezer until you are ready. With roughly three hours of cold and paired with our smoke-diffusing coils, the Thibodaux provides a smooth, icy smoke. This pipe cannot be cleaned by boiling in water. The glycol/ glycerin will expand and possibly shatter the glass (and glass is sharp, bruh).
GOLD TIPPED CELEBRATION PIPE $169
We decided to make the Celebration Pipe even more versatile. With both a smoothed and gold-plated mouthpiece, you can switch from a large celebration piece to an everyday piece.
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THE ESCORT $70 Available in Navy Blue, Marine, Smoke, Crosshatch Grey, Black, Green, Ash, Camo Brown, Striped Dark Grey & Sage. The Escort is our backpack. With multiple compartments, it work swell to carry all accessories. Carbon Filter System, Rubber-backed nylon, Custom protective lining, Waterproof zipper, Lockable, Laptop divider, Double side pockets, Secret inner stash pocket, Genuine leather accents & Metal hardware. Dimensions: 17” x 13” x 5” Volume: 18L THE STOWAWAY $50 Available in Ash, Marine, Striped Dark Grey, Navy Blue, Crosshatch Grey, Green, Black, Sage & Smoke. With lots of pockets and a bit of padding, The Stowaway is perfect for holding all of your travel essentials. Carbon Filter System, Rubber-backed canvas, Custom protective lining, Waterproof zipper, Lockable, Padded, Inner divider, External zippered pocket, Genuine leather accents & Metal hardware. Dimensions: 11” x 6” x 5″ Volume: 5L
CACHE VEGAN LEATHER BOX $130
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ECO FOUR TWENTY
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SLIDE LIGHTER $22
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MÜV EVOLVE TRANSDERMAL GEL $65
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Tinctures have a patent-pending encapsulation for more efficient dosing and can be ingested sublingually for a rapid onset time. Because they are water-soluble, they mix well with water and other beverages. Choose from THC, CBD, and THC/CBD 1:1 tincture formulations at 30 mL, with 300 mg of active cannabinoids delivered in a measured and graduated dose eye dropper.
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COOKING CANNABIS with
FEATURING GUEST CHEF SEBASTIAN CAROSI
ROSEMARY.... A common herb in today’s kitchen garden, rosemary is like a walk through a lush evergreen forest. The pinene and alphapinene terpenes open up your airways and allow for deep breaths of fresh, clean, forest air. The pungent taste and dank aroma of rosemary has made cooks and gardeners either embrace it or turn their nose up at it over the years. This herb has been hailed since ancient times for medicinal properties and its culinary uses. Having family roots in Northern Italy, rosemary has become an integral part of my regular everyday cuisine and cooking habits, I have easily embraced it. It boasts a litany of vitamins, minerals, and terpenes that all add a wide array of nutritional and health benefits to one’s diet. Not only should rosemary be utilized in the fall, it is great throughout the year. It also offers a great source of iron, calcium, and B6. A member of the mint family, it pairs well with all its cousins—oregano, basil, thyme, and soothing lavender. At the historic Canterbury Shaker Village in Concord, New Hampshire I grew just over two acres of heirloom medicinal herbs for use throughout the village kitchens. One of the rosemary bushes at the village I tended was reported to be well over a hundred and fifty years old, I cherished the first seasonal tender shoots and its tiny little purple flowers. These terpene fortified rosemary gingersnap cookies are usually devoured quickly no matter what time of year it is that they are made. Either a true ginger “snap” or slightly under baked for that soft gooey center, these are habit-forming. Shake on Shakers, cause this cookie recipe is a winner, winner.
ROSEMARY GINGERSNAP COOKIES Prep time: 20-30 minutes Cook time: up to 15 minutes Yield: 4-6 dozen (depending on the size of scoop used) Total THC/CBD: depends on the amount of cannabis sugar used and the total number of cookies made Equipment needed: small saucepan, whisk, tongs, 2 x large mixing bowls, lined baking sheet, cutting board, chef’s knife Provisions needed (ingredients): 1 ½ cups room temp salted creamery butter 1 ½ cups granulated cane sugar ½ cup cannabis sugar (made in the mb2e machine by @magicalbutter) 2 large eggs ½ cup dark unsulphured blackstrap molasses 2 tbsp fresh ginger (grated) 4 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons salt flakes (@jacobsensaltco) ¼ cup fresh rosemary (chopped fine) 1 gram water soluble CBD isolate (@revival_cbd_mfg) 1 teaspoon ground dry ginger ½ teaspoon ground cloves 2 drops true terpenes eugenol (@trueterpenes) 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon How to make it: - (Option) Prepare the dough a day ahead and chill before baking. - Preheat the oven to 350° - In a large, standup mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. - Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until each egg is incorporate well. - Add the molasses and terpenes and continue to mix until well combined. - Mix together the flour, baking soda, sea salt, fresh grated ginger, fresh rosemary, ginger, cloves, CBD and cinnamon. - Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. - Place dough in an airtight container for storage if not baking right away. - When ready scoop quarter sized pieces of dough and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. -Bake for 10-12 minutes, or a little longer if you like a good snap. (I like a chewier cookie) *These are also awesome with some sea salt flakes sprinkled over them before they are baked
“I found this recipe in the Shaker archives at the Canterbury Shaker Village in Concord, New Hampshire while working as the museum’s culinary director. I have never seen it in any Shaker cookbooks or in print anywhere, the piece of cardstock it is written on says circa 1832. Around 1840, the Shakers started producing sarsaparilla syrup and were growing acres of rosemary to dry and sell in their dry herb catalog for which they were so well-known. While at the village in the summer of 2005, I tended to some rosemary bushes with trunks as big around as a small pine tree. This recipe represents everything simple and healing about the Shakers and their lives. I tried to incorporate as many of the heirloom medicinal herbs and plants, grown or wild into my renditions of traditional Shaker cuisine while at the village. If you know the history of the Shakers, healthy living, healing medicinal herbs, and real homegrown food was a matter of life and in their religious practices as well. I have changed very little about this vintage recipe, and every time I make it, my appreciation for rosemary is further deepened. I am happy to be able to be called one of three Shaker chefs left in the world.” - Chef Sebastian Carosi Instagram @chef_sebastian_carosi | Twitter @chefcarosi
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FITNESS + CANNABIS
LIT + FIT WITH FLAVIE DOKKEN BY ANTONIO DEROSE
Consuming cannabis and exercising may seem like a new concept for many, especially considering the past few decades of lazy stoner propaganda, but it’s much more common than you think, and research is starting to prove it. In fact, in April of 2019, The University of Colorado Boulder published their research focused on exploring the relationship between consuming cannabis and exercise behavior. The research was collected and published as a group effort between the university’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, and the Institute of Cognitive Science. Their study, in the form of an anonymous online survey conducted between January 2017 and July 2018, concluded 81.7% of study participants endorsed consuming cannabis before and/or after exercising. A whopping 67.2% endorsed consuming cannabis both before and after exercise. Although their sample size was less than 1000 people, those are some heavily weighted percentages, and I’m not surprised by the findings. This is why we decided for our Veteran’s Issue, we’d get some tips from U.S. Army Veteran turned competitive ultra runner, Flavie Dokken, who currently consumes cannabis for her performance and recovery as an athlete. Dokken works in the cannabis industry as a Senior Retail Account Manager for BDS Analytics by day, and has fun living the life of a sponsored ultra runner outside the office. A former national level competitive bodybuilder, with a race resume spanning 18 ultra-mountain trail races, including taking home 2nd and 3rd place victories at the Silverton Ultra 50 and Pikes Peak Ultra 50, she is sponsored by Bodyvisions and the well-known cannabis-infused products company, Wana Brands. Dokken, who is originally from France, joined the military to “Take on a duty bigger than myself and from a sense of patriotism,” and she went on to add that she “Is very proud to have become an American Citizen.” Her enlistment got her assigned to the Military Police, and she did a 3 year tour in Alaska before being discharged early due to multiple femur stress fractures resulting from military training. Although she describes her experience as brutal, both physically and mentally, she’s grateful for having served her country, because it was in this service where she says she learned “the true meaning of accountability, teamwork, and resilience,” and “It only strengthened my respect and admiration for everyone who serves in the military.”
After getting out of the military, Dokken eventually got into bodybuilding, and this is where her relationship with cannabis first began. “I first started using cannabis as part of my body building training. My friends who were competitive bodybuilders were partaking after intense training sessions. Weightlifting is pretty hard on the body, and I felt relief from intense training sessions, but also it increased my focus when I consumed cannabis before a session. High CBD and 1:1 CBD:THC products have helped me with pain management and reducing any inflammation.” Now, I’m already a strong believer of cannabis for fitness, but given Dokken’s experience (which I’ve heard from several other athletes in a wide range of sports), along with the recent research data from the University of Colorado Boulder, evidence for cannabis being used with exercise to improve overall health and wellness is starting to stack up. With this topic becoming more mainstream, you may be wondering how to take advantage of cannabis to help with your own fitness goals. Dokken says, “Overall, cannabis products are a great tool to add to training, just like protein, BCAA’s, or coffee.” If you’re new to cannabis, fitness, or combining the two, she
says her “best advice is to start with very low doses and see how you feel when you exercise. All body types react differently, and the effects also vary depending on what your mindset is when you consume. There is a wide variety of products out there, so experiencing different ones while sticking to the lower end of dosing is a good start.” Starting slow and paying attention to how you feel are both important for someone starting to add cannabis into a fitness routine, but what about starting a fitness routine to begin with? Dokken tells us the
key component for staying in good shape is that she found a physical activity she truly enjoys, and for her, that’s trail running. “It’s important to choose an activity you really enjoy or it might be easier to make excuses when things get tough or life gets in the way. Running for me is a way to go on an awesome adventure and discover beautiful places with my friends. The trail community is full of really cool people and personalities.” In addition to finding an activity you enjoy, Dokken also recommends being consistent in your activity and your nutrition. She trains early in the morning because she finds it easier to not miss training by knocking it out at the start of her day. She suggests setting small daily goals, that all build up to completing your bigger goals. Dokken doesn’t diet, but is regimented in her eating habits. She makes sure to prepare food ahead of time, having everything she needs for each day ready to go. Her final piece of advice for anyone wanting to get fit, whether it be for an ultra marathon, increased mobility and strength, or just longer walks in the park, is to get enough rest. “I turn down many social activities to just chill and nap! I think it has a lot to do with the fact I can still push hard and improve.”
THE BENEFITS OF SPENDING YOUR
When most people think about celebrating holidays like Thanksgiving, they think of your “Hallmark family” dinners in a home with the entire family. Images of a roasted turkey or duck being pulled out of the oven in the kitchen as the family runs around setting the table, getting seated, and preparing for the meal. Often a blessing or traditional thanks may be offered before the main dish is served, and the meal will go on leisurely until everyone gradually makes their way from the table to a family room with a movie, game, or other activity in which everyone can participate. For others, a gathering of friends with a potluck selection of infused dishes and a night on the town before Black Friday shopping may be the most enjoyable way to spend the holidays. For the last 21 years, I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving in a similar manner, with one distinctive difference: I’ve celebrated the holiday while camping with my family. We serve all of your traditional sides, roast a turkey, sit by the fire over drinks and desserts, and even have had the chance to catch a few of the Bowl games depending on the year and what services the campgrounds offered. By all counts, it is your traditional family Thanksgiving dinner, except it is set in the woods of Michigan, the mountains of North Carolina, or the front range of Colorado. Every year, as we prepare for the holidays and time spent with family near and far, the topic of holiday traditions arises, and I proudly share this story. It seems so simple to me, yet so
OUTDOORS BY BEN OWENS
foreign to so many people, and each time I tell the story, I’m reminded of the importance of making memories with those closest to you. Whether it is a family dinner or a gathering of close friends and peers, traditions like these allow us to enjoy unique, memorable moments that we don’t always have time to appreciate in our daily lives. In 1998, my family decided to upgrade from the old reliable family tent to a camper. Now, it wasn’t fancy and didn’t have many bells and whistles compared to similar RV’s today, but it was a big upgrade, and we felt confident enough to take years of your standard holiday tradition and know-how and throw them out the window, deciding instead to attempt the entire event from a camper in the middle of a campground in the beginning of winter in Michigan. And we had a blast. We collected firewood, hiked through the trails, sang trail songs to notify hunters that we were in the area, and explored much of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park over our holidays in Michigan. Over the years, we moved from Michigan to North Carolina, North Carolina to Arizona, and then I headed off to school in Missouri before moving to Chicago, eventually settling in Colorado. In spite of all the moves and miles, no matter what state my sister, my parents, or I found ourselves in, we always had Thanksgiving to look forward to as our time together. And that tradition continues to this day, as we plan our 22nd year camping for the Thanksgiving holidays.
MEMORABLE HOLIDAY TRADITIONS POSITIVELY IMPACT OUR LIVES
Memorable holiday traditions positively impact our lives. Aside from the feel-good memories associated with these traditions and time spent with one another, psychologists and researchers alike are beginning to find evidence that the traditions may prove more important to us than we think. According to Dr. Michele L. Brennan, Psy. D, “Traditions nurture our spirit and are an important part of family bonding. They can be anything fun you and your family already enjoy doing, or you can have fun starting your own. Don’t get caught up in instituting the perfect family tradition, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about the experience you share with your family.”1 Dr. Brennan discusses the role traditions play in nurturing the past and planning for the future as well as the importance of consistency in our lives as we gather annually or semi-regularly for holidays, reconnect, and strengthen bonds and relationships that weaken during times apart. Recent research has shown that fond memories can provide positive benefits like helping us work through loneliness, increasing our generosity towards others, and mitigating anxiety.2
TIPS FOR TAKING YOUR NEXT HOLIDAY OUTDOORS Whether you’re spending the day cooking by the fire or simply going for a brisk walk to kick your metabolism into gear, incorporating the outdoors into your holiday traditions can make for a memorable spin that will give family and friends fond memories for years to come. Here’s a few pieces of advice to help you with the planning process: Make it an adventure that takes you out of your daily routine (but don’t step out of everyone’s comfort zone). For us, camping was the adventure. For you, it may be a cabin in a small mountain town or a suite at the ski resort. Have a plan for your adventure. If you’re going camping, know how you’ll spend your days. Maybe you’ll go hiking while the turkey is roasting or go for a walk around the neighborhood in between football games to help the snacks and refreshments digest. Unless you’re accustomed to a more relaxed schedule, having activities can help keep everyone engaged during your holiday outing. Try something new. Somehow, my family finds new activities each year for our holidays. The winners end up as part of the annual traditions, and there’s always a few laughs from the ones that don’t pan out as planned. On your hike, try singing holiday jingles or hit Pinterest for ideas on fun outdoor games and group activities.
Don’t forget the decorations! Every year, my mom and dad make sure the campsite has Thanksgiving decorations, trinkets, and all of the same items that many put out in their homes for the holidays. This helps add to the ambiance and contribute to the holiday spirit of the event. Whether it’s themed paper plates for the mid-day picnic or streamers and decorations that adorn the campsite, it’s easy to add a bit of festive cheer to the outdoors. Infuse your outing! If everyone is of legal age, try infusing your adventure by consuming before, during, or after your outing. There’s plenty of recipes for adding cannabis to your culinary creations this holiday season as well as crafty ways to get creative with smokable options that the whole group can enjoy. Make sure to heed the tips above for a positive, memorable experience that is likely to also be beneficial to your health, and stay tuned to this column each issue for more news, tips, and research surrounding the benefits of using cannabis on your adventures in the great outdoors.
Citations: 1 Brennan, Michele. “Why Holiday Traditions Might Be More Important Than You Think.” PsychCentral.com. November 17, 2014. https://blogs.psychcentral.com/balanced-life/2013/11/why-holiday-traditions-might-be-more-important-thanyou-think/ 2 “Tierney, John. “What Is Nostalgia Good For? Quite a Bit, Research Shows.” New York Times. July 8, 2013. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/09/science/what-is-nostalgia-good-for-quite-a-bit-research-shows.html?pagewanted=all
M XINE TAYLOR’S CELESTIAL EVENTS Maxine Taylor became America’s First Licensed Astrologer after mounting a legal challenge to legitimize astrology in the 1960’s Bible Belt state of Georgia. She became CNN’s Original On-Air Astrologer when the network launched.
N O V E M B E R 2 019 ALL SIGNS
November is the perfect time to prepare, to plan, and to complete old projects rather than start new ones. Wait until the second week in December to launch them.
ARIES (MARCH 21 - APRIL 19) Money is on your mind all month, especially if you are involved in financial ventures with others. Focus on your own personal finances on the 12th when your income can increase noticeably.
LIBRA (SEPT 23 - OCT 22) Focus on increasing your own income. Accept I allow money to flow to me easily and abundantly as your mantra. Around the 12th you will be able to identify and invest in mutually beneficial projects.
TAURUS (APRIL 20 - MAY 20) All your relationships, whether personal or business, require your attention now, and you may find yourself giving more than you are receiving. This will become clear on the 12th when you take charge and put yourself first..
SCORPIO (OCT 23 - NOV 21) This is the time to put yourself first and do what you want the way you want. Your mantra is It’s my turn! Get clear on what you truly want, then let out all the stops. Around the 12th you will be able to give your attention to others.
GEMINI (MAY 21 - JUNE 20) You are focused on your job and all the details involved with daily living. Make time for fun in order to balance your work. My suggestion is that you pull back and get away from it all around the 12th.
SAGITTARIUS (NOV 22 - DEC 21) November is the time to pull back and get away from it all. This will help you recharge your batteries. Even when your job picks up around the 12th, you will want to work behind the scenes where you have the freedom to do your job your way.
CANCER (JUNE 21 - JULY 22) Fun is the name of the game, so party and enjoy yourself. Focus on your love life. If you have children, combine your social life with theirs. Turn to your friends around the 12th to expand your social outlets.
CAPRICORN (DEC 22 - JANUARY 19) Your friends are very important to you now, especially those involved in humanitarian groups or projects. Now is the time to be with friends and to be a friend to all. Around the 12th, move your attention from groups and focus on your love life.
LEO (JULY 23 - AUG 22) Domestic issues are important to you this month. Are you buying, selling, or renovating your home or do you just want to spend time with your family? You will be able to throw yourself into your career around the 12th.
AQUARIUS (JANUARY 20 - FEBRUARY 18) Your career is your focus now so plan your upward moves. Express your leadership ability and be the star. Speak with people who can help you move forward in your career. By the 12th, you will be ready to focus on your home/family.
VIRGO (AUG 23 - SEPT 22) Your mind is going ‘round and ‘round with all kinds of ideas. You may find yourself gathering information and details on projects you have on your To Do List. Around the 12th you will be able to step back and see how your ideas fit into a larger picture.
PISCES (FEBRUARY 19 - MARCH 20) Reach for the stars! You are able to see a bigger picture for yourself with more options than you thought. This is a great time to travel and/or pursue higher education. By the 12th, you will have a practical plan ready to put into action.
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D E C E M B E R 2 019
ARIES (MARCH 21 - APRIL 19) You see the big picture, and you know where you want to go. Your focus is on helping other people now, so consider mutually beneficial finances ventures. By mid-month, you have the clarity you need to share your idea
LIBRA (SEPT 23 - OCT 22) Put your attention on money-making activities and watch your income grow. Travel looks good all month, but especially around the 12th when your travel plans can expand. Open your eyes to greater opportunities in all areas.
TAURUS (APRIL 20 - MAY 20) You are intent on finding out what’s really going on, especially where money is concerned. Keep the big picture in mind so you don’t get involved in intrigue. Focus on helping others. By mid-month, your finances improve.
SCORPIO (OCT 23 - NOV 21) It’s your turn now, so focus on doing what you want your way, especially where finances are concerned. Keep your cards close to your chest, especially around mid-month when your inner psychic detective is alive and well.
GEMINI (MAY 21 - JUNE 20) Throw yourself into your work, especially if it involves helping others. Focus on what the other people in your life want. By mid-month, you will be able to focus on yourself and do things your way.
SAGITTARIUS (NOV 22 - DEC 21) Spread your wings and soar. It’s your turn to be independent. You may require more private time in order to follow the Sun. By mid-month, you are able to include others in your life’s journey.
CANCER (JUNE 21 - JULY 22) Combine work and pleasure, throw yourself into fun activities and do only those tasks that are enjoyable. Now is the time to stay busy doing productive work. By mid-month you will enjoy your own company more than others’.
CAPRICORN (DEC 22 - JANUARY 19) You are in preparatory mode for most of the month. Just before Christmas, you step forward into the new you. Around midmonth, you can focus on your work with single-mindedness and purpose.
LEO (JULY 23 - AUG 22) Your home and family come first now, so throw yourself into domestic activities. You are always ready for fun, so combine work and play, especially where children are concerned. By mid-month, spend time with your friends.
AQUARIUS (JANUARY 20 - FEBRUARY 18) You believe that what’s good for the group is good for the individuals in the group. You express this in both your career and friendship circles. After partying mid-month, you will need more privacy in order to march to your own drum.
VIRGO (AUG 23 - SEPT 22) Your domestic side is triggered, so spend time at home with your family. Plan social activities with your children. Your mind is working overtime, so make To Do Lists. By mid-month, you’ll be ready to focus on your career.
PISCES (FEBRUARY 19 - MARCH 20) You can combine leadership with friendship, which is a rare quality. You are able to take a stand for your principles in your career because you see the big picture. By mid-month, your desire to be at home is strong.