A lot has happened since the last time I wrote for the Trans-Iberian Blog. Somehow, I’ve transitioned from travel blogger extraordinaire to medical cannabis writer on a mission. I’m not sure how it happened. One of those unexplainable chain of events, or were they heavenly stars aligning?
Either way, my days now involve wading through PubMed papers, unpacking the intricacies of the little-known endocannabinoid system, and telling the stories of the thousands of patients who find relief through the much-maligned cannabis plant.
The funny thing is that before my new incarnation, I hadn’t really smoked a joint in years. In my twenties in Madrid it was something I’d do from time to time. But that was smoking hash in the mid-nineties. Back in the UK where grass ruled the roost, a few puffs saw me entering an oppressive inner chamber of fear and paranoia. So, that saw the end of my relationship with cannabis.
But then began a gradual trickle of information about the cannabis plant and its health benefits: people claiming it cured their cancer, stopped their Parkinson’s shakes, and freed them from the rigid prison of multiple sclerosis.
Fast forward a year or so, and the gift cannabis gave of dying with dignity to my friend’s mother ignited a heartfelt commitment to shatter some of the myths peddled by mainstream media.
And then, it happened. My path crossed with a Danish company called Endoca who make health products from hemp. Before I knew it they’d offered me a job, and I’d become an accidental expert on the cannabis plant and its therapeutic uses.
So, how come I’ve just joined a cannabis club?
Well, if I’m honest, it’s some sort of weird, completely unscientific experiment I’m doing on myself. Through my work I’d read a lot about the compounds in cannabis called cannabinoids. Hemp is rich in a cannabinoid called CBD, which studies show to be anti-inflammatory, anti-epileptic, reduce feelings of anxiety, and can be a safe alternative to prescription pain killers. Because unlike THC, there’s no mind altering ‘side effect,’ it’s sometimes painted as ‘the good cannabinoid’ and by association THC ‘the bad’.
But the more I read about THC, the more I began to realise that despite its sometimes uncomfortable high, it had been tarred with a brush it didn’t deserve. So, living in Spain where cannabis clubs are a plenty, I figured that this was the best chance for me and THC to get better acquainted.
So here I was, standing in reception at ‘El Perro Andaluz’ in the historic centre of Seville, one of the many cannabis clubs peppering the city. It was lunchtime on a Wednesday and inside the atmosphere was more six form common room than illicit drug taking den. It’s fair to say I was the only 40 something English woman present, everyone else seemed to be male, slightly grey in pallor, and in their 20s.
In what reminded me of a school tuck shop cubby hole, a smiley chap called Javi patiently advised me on the strain of cannabis that might suit me: too Sativa heavy and I might never come down, too much Indica and I’d have to be peeled off the sofa. So, in the end I opted for a strain called ‘cheese’. I didn’t even need to be stoned to find that amusing.
I was just about to leave my new friends when I was offered the chance to try out the house vaporizer.
‘Don’t worry,’ they said. ‘It’s really mild, you’ll hardly feel any effect at all.’
Fast forward twenty minutes and I was gingerly picking my way back home, silently worrying about the possibility of meeting anyone in my path. Because guess what - I was completely twatted. On a Wednesday afternoon.
Safely back at home, I was suddenly overwhelmed with an intense hunger. From a biological point of view, I know why this happens. THC convinces the brain we’re hungry, even when we’re not. That’s why it can be an effective treatment for any illness where appetite is impaired. But knowing this didn’t take away from the fact I was ravenous. And all I had was a pan of homemade broccoli soup, not your usual munchies fodder by any means. By the third bowl I felt vaguely satiated, but still utterly stoned and incapable of doing any work for the rest of the day.
Eventually ‘normality’ did reign once more. And now my ‘cheese’ consumption involves ‘micro-dosing’ a couple of puffs a night before going to bed.
It’s been about two months now since my 'THC experiment' began. And while this doesn’t constitute any form of double blind, placebo randomised trial, my experience has been the following: I have been feeling well. When I say well, I mean happy. Not stoned happy. But happy in my heart. Optimistic, positive. Something I haven’t felt for years.
Is it down to cannabis? I don’t know. What’s different in my life since I started experiencing this feeling? If I’m honest, I’d say cannabis. Will I continue taking it? Yes, but only in small doses. Does this constitute medical advice? Absolutely not.