That’s me in the picture splayed before your eyes. Now, you’re probably wondering why a 42-year-old soccer mother of two would be modeling amongst a cadre of cannabis crops with the chutzpah of Kaia Gerber so allow me to explain before you start calling me, “bad mom” and other unpleasantries oftentimes synonymous with pot consumption. Now, allow me to de-myth and break the stigma about what most people perceive as a drug for stoners, hippies and the hairy-armpit granola set.
My medical marijuana journey started nine months ago at the gentle nudge from friends who were thriving from incorporating CBD and THC into their lives. I noticed these cronies — who typically ran at 150 miles per hour with a dash of hysteria — were calmer, softer, glowier (yes, that’s a thing) and the Big Kahuna of them all: Happier. I was curious. But I was also equal parts apprehensive because my last brush with weed left me paralyzingly paranoid and imploring my husband to drive me to the closest ER because, “The aliens are coming for me with a vengeance.”
Let’s rewind back a little more. After the birth of my first child, I suffered from crippling Postpartum Depression. It was the darkest period of my life fraught with panic attacks, dark thoughts, profound sadness, phobias, irritability and a sea of sleepless nights. Under the care of a psychiatrist, a cocktail of an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication literally saved me from the depths of disparity I was feeling at the time.
Fast forward to my daughter’s 12th birthday and it occurred to me it was time to wean myself off these medications because while I felt honky dory — I felt numb (crying and emoting felt impossible), heavier (10 pounds extra, to be precise) and my energy levels were at an all-time low. And while I was doing all the things — yoga, meditation, deep breathing, hour-long walks amongst nature under the glorious sun — my gut was telling me it was time to toss my beloved orange viles of precious yellow pills and take a holistic route to relieve my anxiety. But let me be perfectly clear: I am not suggesting you change any medication unless you discuss it with your doctor.
And so I paid Doctor Michelle Weiner — whom is double board certified in Interventional Pain Management and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and South Florida’s Medical Cannabis and CBD expert — a visit. I explained my desire to wean myself off my medications and was particularly concerned with relieving my anxiety and not getting high à la my aforementioned extraterrestrial encounter.
First, Dr. Weiner explained her holistic approach to fighting anxiety, “When I have a patient with anxiety, I would prefer to introduce a natural non-pharmaceutical option first including establishing a daily practice of either meditation, mindfulness or movement and optimizing nutrition and botanicals.”
We then explored my taking Cannabidiol AKA CBD to treat my 6 o’clock scaries — the time of day I feel most anxious and antsy and oftentimes referred to as “sundowners syndrome” in the medical realm. CBD is non-euphoric — void of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the plant’s primary psychoactive compound known for its euphoriant effect. “I have noticed, in particular, my patients with anxiety do well with CBD oil. The treatment relies on the correct dose and frequency for the individual. There has been research demonstrating its role on depression and social anxiety,” Dr. Weiner says.
I express to Dr. Weiner I feel my meds are making me complacent, lethargic, heavier and I’m reaching for my Klonopin quite regularly to sleep through the night — leaving me with an odious “pharma hangover” the next morning. Dr. Weiner shoots back with, “There is no need to add an addictive drug such as a benzodiazepine — Valium, Xanax, Klonopin — or self-medicate with a glass of wine when instead one can use a natural, organic solution. I usually add the CBD to the current pharmaceutical until the patient feels noticeably better meaning he/she is at the optimal dose then slowly wean the pharmaceutical over time.”
It is then decided I will start with 5 milligrams (twice a day) of CBD — the nonintoxicating cannabinoid — while waiting for my medical marijuana card to see if I can achieve significant benefits. “Certain terpenes in the cannabis plant may cause some to feel more anxious so we choose specific cultivars to personalize cannabis medicine,” Dr. Weiner says. Once I get my card, I can incorporate THC (the psychoactive property in cannabis) to enhance the entourage effect because multiple cannabinoids working in synergy will have a more beneficial effect on the endocannabinoid system.
I digested all this information and after speaking to countless friends, patients and Dr. Weiner, I discovered that contrary to popular belief, cannabis doesn’t just make one high — it boasts powerful health benefits. “Cannabis can decrease inflammation, pain, anxiety, help with insomnia, depression, PTSD, spasms, seizures, tremors, decrease cravings, addictions to opioids, inhibit cancer growth and spread,” Dr. Weiner says.
In writing this piece, I’ve become fascinated with medical marijuana and its champions. I’ve met women who swear medical cannabis improved their mood, marriages and sex lives. I’ve encountered successful businessmen who benefit from the plant’s stress-melting properties. The same goes for my friend with epilepsy. People with gastrointestinal issues tell me a puff of THC eases their stomach spasms. I’ve also met cancer survivors who sing to the Green Goddess’ praises. Dr. Weiner, on the other hand, has witnessed medical miracles with opioid addicts, chronic pain sufferers, Parkinson’s Disease patients, alcohol consumption, menopause relief and more.
So why the shame and stigma? More than half of all Americans have access to legal medical marijuana, which means means more and more Americans of all ages are starting to use cannabis to cure what ails them. It’s high time we change the conversation and create space for understanding the wellness weed.
In my personal experience, a droplet of my high CBD/low THC tincture leaves me feeling calm, focused, mellower, and more creative. I’ll go about my chores and workload with a sunnier outlook and at a more placid pace. I am not high but I am content. Jolly. Giddy. I am well.
Forget reefer madness — this is reefer MAGIC.
For more information on my Surterra journey and a $75 product credit, go here.
Photo by Mary Beth Koeth for Ocean Drive Magazine
Dress by the flawless Silvia Tcherassi