I was never a fan of marijuana.

By the time I was in junior high, I thought I was. I tried to be, because ‘ya gotta’ be cool, right?

At age 12, my older brother forced me to smoke a joint with him. I was scared to try it, but at 16 years old, bossy and all muscle, my brother was even scarier.

And it wasn’t like I could run away (he’d have easily caught me anyway), as we were riding in the camper attached to Dad’s flatbed International, on our way to visit our married sister in California. So, I reluctantly complied, trying my best to look like I was inhaling deeply and holding it in my lungs as he directed.

It must have been a convincing act, because he seemed satisfied, especially once I told him I felt funny (which I did not).

But it wasn’t long after that experience that I decided the stoners at school were the cool kids. Although I was never truly a stoner, I identified with them more than any other group because, like me, they were rebellious and didn’t fit in anywhere else. And of course, I occasionally smoked with them.

Until the day it made me freak out.

You can’t OD on this stuff, right?

A girlfriend and I had rolled and smoked a joint with the circumference of a fat cigar. Soon our giggles turned to concern as I began to feel a different kind of “funny”. My limbs felt tingly and my heart began to pound. I was sure I had OD’d. Stories I’d heard and read about “bad trips” and people who had OD’d and died from hard drugs came back to haunt my frightened brain. What if weed could do the same thing?

A quick trip to the ER with my furious mother resulted in a simple diagnosis and treatment: I had not OD’d. I had hyperventilated, which frightened me and led to a mild panic attack. The disgusted doctor handed me a paper bag with curt instructions, followed by a severe and humiliating lecture.

I swore off pot, but you know how kids are. It took a couple more episodes before I learned my lesson, quit for good and never looked back. I was 15.

Dislike turns to loathing

As I approached my 30’s, I heard horror stories of some of my old friends from school who started smoking pot heavily at age 12 or 13 and now, were not only still heavy users, but were also smoking strains with higher and higher amounts of THC. I even saw a few of these results for myself, after running into some of these friends.

They were unemployed or at best, working part-time, menial jobs, and their brains were half-baked. Their biggest ambition in life was to get enough money for the next high (I later learned that can happen when kids start smoking heavily at a young age and don’t stop, because their brains are still developing).

I began to hate the stuff.

Yet, always in the back of my mind, Logic whispered that God created the marijuana plant for a reason – thus, it must have medicinal value. Not to be silenced, Emotion would snap, “Yeah, but look what it’s done to your friends!”

Although I have an analytical mind and usually side with logic, it doesn’t always happen that way. Emotion wins the argument occasionally, sticks her tongue out at Logic, and flounces off with a smirk.

I saw the light

One day, I stumbled across a couple of blog posts that told how medical marijuana had significantly relieved the suffering of two people dying of cancer. I was ashamed of myself and my stubborn tunnel vision. I found myself cheering for these patients and instantly, my tunnel vision widened… and I stepped out into the light.

Then the train came barreling through the tunnel and ran me down.

It didn’t hit me with cancer, thank God. Nothing so life-threatening… but definitely painful. Fibromyalgia had hit me years before this, soon followed by chronic insomnia. Of course, my doctor gave me a prescription for the fibro and told me to take OTC sleeping pills for insomnia.

But as with many other drugs pushed by Big Pharma, these fibromyalgia drugs come with side effects such as nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and suicidal thoughts or actions, among other things. Why would I do that to myself?

No relief in sight

I decided I wouldn’t. I had thrown the prescription away and lived for years with ever-increasing pain.

But now here I was with the train flattening me again, as the pain and insomnia grew worse.

As for the OTC sleep aids, I had been taking them off and on, only using them when natural things like melatonin, valerian root, chamomile, and similar products didn’t work. But sometimes even the OTC drugs did nothing for the increasingly severe insomnia.

And now I was getting worse. There were times when I would lie awake all night, finally getting perhaps two or three hours of exhausted sleep. Or I might spend those two or three hours sleeping lightly and fitfully, in a constant sleep-wake cycle.

There were other times when I couldn’t sleep at all. These harrowing nights would continue for up to a week when finally, my body and mind couldn’t take any more and I would collapse onto my bed and fall into a blessed, deep sleep. Due to being so exhausted and drained, it would take me about three nights of good sleep to recover; after which I would usually sleep fairly well for another two or three nights. Sometimes even up to a week.

But invariably, the cycle would begin all over again.

Coming out of the dark… again

Eventually, I managed to find other natural remedies for the fibromyalgia and insomnia, some of which have worked better than others. Most of these have been essential oils. Turmeric essential oil decreased the pain somewhat, but I stopped taking it after my Naturopath and several articles I’ve read all insisted that consuming essential oils is unsafe, no matter how clean and pure the oil is.

This doesn’t mean I will never consume essential oils again, but I want to do more research.  For some reason, even the highest-quality turmeric capsules never did a thing for my pain. And since I wasn’t interested in diffusing the turmeric oil and making my house perpetually smell like curry or dealing with the mess of putting it on the bottoms of my feet, it’s out.

At long last, I turned to CBD oil. What took me so long?

For one thing, I’d never even heard of it until a couple of years ago. And when I did hear of it, I mistakenly thought it was full-fledged cannabis oil teeming with THC, because the person who told me about it called it cannabis and didn’t explain the difference between CBD and THC.

Not that I asked many questions – as soon as I heard a reference to one of the local cannabis shops, my nervous mind went back down the corridors of time to those days during my teen years when THC and I weren’t getting along well.

But as a freelance writer I’m constantly researching and as often happens, one thing led to another down a rabbit trail. And what a fantastic trail it turned out to be, as I ended up researching the amazing cannabis plant and its numerous benefits. And after finding that many CBD oils have only trace amounts of THC, I was ready to try it.

The results are in

I tried CBD oil with a 20:1 ratio CBD to THC and the results were good, as my pain was immediately reduced, and I began sleeping better. However, when we went on vacation for a few days insomnia reared its ugly head again, and continued after we arrived home. Nothing helped. Finally, I tried a CBD oil with a 10:1 ratio and found my magic number!

These days, I’ve returned to the 20:1 ratio as I haven’t needed the 10:1, but it’s nice to know that if I need an extra boost, I have the help I need. I’m always amazed at how quickly and how much my pain levels recede even after taking the 20:1 ratio. CBD oil is truly amazing stuff, as is the cannabis plant itself, with all its incredible compounds.

I have continued to happily research and write about this wonder of nature.

What would you do if…

But what if something awful happened to me and CBD oil no longer helped? Would I make the full-on leap into medical cannabis, THC and all?

You betcha. There are numerous reports of many incurable diseases being vastly lessened and, in some cases, those diseases disappearing altogether – including anecdotal reports of even cancer disappearing. So, if it’s a choice between a healthy plant from nature or a chemical cocktail mixed up in a lab, I’ll take the plant, thank you.

If it’s a choice between spending a couple of minutes breathing into a paper bag because I’ve hyperventilated, or getting high blood pressure, organ damage, contemplating suicide or any of the plethora of other nasty and potentially fatal side effects of man-made chemicals – I’ll take the plant.

Besides, I’ve since realized that on those three occasions during the stupidity of my teen years when I’d hyperventilated after getting high, it was due the first time to simply consuming far too much. The other two times were due to fear; having already been psyched-up into worrying about having a panic attack, it happened.

So if we go back and look at the possible choices – horrible side effects from drugs, or medical cannabis; pain so intense that I would wish for death, or medical cannabis; a dreadful, degenerative disease getting progressively worse or medical cannabis; and maybe, just maybe – death or medical cannabis – which one do you think I would choose?

Which would you choose?

This brings to mind one final, searching question: Why would anyone facing these things not choose cannabis?