Hemp Breaks the Chains of Addiction

Talk to a handful of medical marijuana patients and you will hear more than one story of using cannabis instead of addictive pain medications or leaving destructive addictions like alcoholism or even methamphetamine behind in favor of medicating their physical and mental illnesses and issues away with this green herb. But does cannabis help your body heal from addiction and the damages that addictive substances can have on your body?22368969_10212693495865060_960542219_o

In his 2016 book “The Cannabis Cure” Dr. Cass Ingram describes how the use of a raw cannabis extract can be used to heal the body from both drug addiction as well as the damage from alcoholism. In this same book Dr. Ingram states that “high THC pot can be highly addictive” and prescribes a treatment of raw hemp and wild oregano oil to treat that addiction as well as addictions to tobacco, alcohol, pain medications and street drugs.

In the last year centers in Arizona and California opened up that treat addictions with cannabis. In Maine a physician advises and teaches about treating addiction with micro-dosing cannabis.  What do these physicians know that others do not?

The treatment center, High Sobriety in California poses a harm reduction and substitution standpoint as some of the reasons behind opening a cannabis-inclusive addiction treatment center.

22344012_10212693494865035_897329226_o.jpgAt Blue Door Therapeutics in Scottsdale Arizona, instead of going into their reasons behind offering medical cannabis as a modality that an opioid patient can choose to use in their center to fight their dependance, they include a page of links to the studies behind the use of cannabis to fight opioid addiction and dependance.

Dr. Dustin Sulak of Maine runs a site called healer.com which teaches patients how to microdose their cannabis medication. Dr. Sulak is considered an international expert in the use of cannabis for addiction treatment. He wrote extensively about the modalities and reasons for cannabis treatment published on Project CBD.

All of these experts are echoing what cannabis patients have known for years: Cannabis and hemp can help heal bodies from the destructive effects of opioid pain medication. I have been treated under the care of naturopaths, with cannabis in conjunction with many dietary changes for the effects of almost a decade of prescription opioid pain medication use.  I have learned by research in conjunction with trial and error what strains and methods work for my body.

When I named this page 420-Friendly Recovery it was due to the fact my dream for years has been to open a network of hemp-based recovery clinics throughout the areas where growing hemp is legal. These clinics and physicians are paving the way for many more.

Studies are beginning to show that the use of raw cannabis and hemp in conjunction with other lifestyle changes can effectively treat addiction. Yet, conventional medicine tells us there is no effective treatment for opioid addiction and chronic pain control. Cannabis patients know this to be incorrect. Cannabis is an effective form of chronic pain control. The studies show this and the patients who are choosing it over more debilitating and intoxicating opioid medications. 22323907_10212693494425024_1443893721_o

In strict contrast to stereotypes, most medical cannabis patients want to get out of bed, off of the couch and get on with their lives. Cannabis is the tool that they use to get rid of addictions that are keeping them from continuing with their lives. Cannabis is the medication that many patients are using to regain control of the perception of their pain (it does not stop the pain, but helps to control how much attention you give the pain in your thoughts).

I am excited by the physicians and clinics who are paving the way. Only with global legalization and cultivation of cannabis and hemp will we see an answer to the opioid crisis. Unfortunately not enough politicians are realizing this concept.

22375579_10212693495345047_2130060174_oHemp photos courtesy of Stephanie Bishop, photographer. Hemp field property of Jay Reedy in Tennessee.


PTSD: Ceasing the Nightmares

In 2008, as an United States Army Veteran just back from a deployment in Afghanistan, Heather was diagnosed with PTSD. In 2009, the United States Army granted Heather a medical retirement, but it had no further help for her.

Photo from SgtMaj. Casey D. Cole, USMC (ret)

Heather, like most people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), experienced difficulty sleeping, and heightened anxiety when it comes to any interaction with other people. It progressed to the point if the activity she was planning to attend was not on base, it would not be possible for her to go.
Her husband and family were very supportive, Heather’s husband is also a veteran who has his own diagnosis of PTSD and has difficulties during different times of the year than she does.  Heather reports that the counseling the Veteran’s Administration (VA) provided to her- both individual and group – “was a joke.”

Heather’s nightmares were progressing to the point that she was not sleeping at all. She had a civilian job working on aircraft, but when she went to the VA for help, she was prescribed Valium, Vicodin, Flexeril, Percocet and Lidocaine which she states “zombified” her. Gaining weight and not wanting to interact with anyone, Heather and her husband sat down to make some hard choices.

In 2014 Heather moved to a rural area of Arizona with her husband. They left their home, their jobs and bought a home in the country where they could institute a “space barrier” from heavily civilized areas and they also began completely changing their way of life. The hypervigilance symptoms characteristic with PTSD are much less noticeable with state trust land on two sides of their property.

The changes Heather and her husband made include growing and raising most of their food and decreasing the impact that the world has on their minds and bodies. One of the biggest changes was in their medication:  When they moved to Arizona, the VA doctor in Arizona gave Heather information about how cannabis helps PTSD and referred her to a local doctor for a cannabis referral.

Heather’s experience was quite different than that of most veterans around the United States. Her physician was a contractor with the VA, rather than an employee, who was very outgoing and informed. Her diagnoses were more than what was required for a cannabis recommendation:  Having fallen out of a helicopter during her service, onto the concrete, Heather has a broken back and hip and torn knee in addition to her severe anxiety and PTSD.

When asked what forms of cannabis she uses, Heather enthusiastically replied, “ALL OF IT!” Then she went on to elaborate with the fact she makes her own tinctures, butters, oils, soaps, edibles and bath treatments. But when she smokes bud, “it levels [her] out completely.”

Heather states that the cannabis does help some with the physical pain but it doesn’t help as much as she would like. The emotional ups and downs are leveled out. In relation to the nightmares, she reports that cannabis helps her sleep, now she is able to get six hours at a time, it helps her stay asleep.

The relationship cannabis has to PTSD is one that is currently being studied. Many people report that it “levels them out,” and allows them a more peaceful sleep. But why and how? Those are some of the questions currently being investigated by Dr. Marcel Bonn-Miller from the University of Pennsylvania.

On April 20, 2016, the DEA gave their blessing for Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) to study cannabis and PTSD. This okayed them to purchase the cannabis for the study from the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Dr. Bonn-Miller with the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine is overseeing the study, with other physicians in other states also participating.

In a study performed in Israel, and presented at the Cannabinoid Conference in Bonn, Germany in 2011, the following results were found in relation to cannabis and PTSD:

Majority of PTSD patients used also the conventional medications (such as antidepressants and sedatives, pain killers etc), prescribed them by their treating physicians. Medical Cannabis (as sativa and/or indica species) was provided by several companies. The Cannabis daily dosage was in range 2-3 gr/day (containing about 20% of cannabinoids active compounds THC/CBD). In most cases a significant improvement in Quality of Life and pain scores, with some positive changes in CAPS scores was observed. Under this combine (Cannabis + conventional medications) treatment, the patients reported a discontinuation or lowering the dosage of pain killers and sedative pharmacological agents. Most of the improved PTSD patients belonged to groups with either pain and/or depression comorbidity. No exacerbations or serious adverse events were reported.

Photo from Sgt.Maj. Casey D. Cole, USMC (ret)

SgtMaj. Casey D. Cole, USMC (ret) was first diagnosed with PTSD in 1984, as an aftermath of being trapped in rubble during bombing in Beirut. In 2011, he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer — his choice of treatment for both has been cannabis. His physicians warned him of impending death within a few weeks in 2011; in October 2016 we sat down with him to discuss his miraculous recovery.

“If I have a bad nightmare at night, it’s not to where I wake up screaming, yelling, thrashing or fighting or any of that nature. But if I do have one that leaves me very unsettled, I just take one or two hits off the pipe, and I go right back to sleep and I sleep fine.”  Before cannabis treatment, Casey was up after a nightmare, there was no going back to sleep.

Nightmares as a symptom of PTSD aren’t exclusive to former military personnel. One traumatic event in a person’s life can scar generations not yet conceived in ways never imagined.  Children of Holocaust survivors of the 1940s have exhibited changes in the structure of their DNA not previously known in people who have not personally been experienced to trauma.
“Post traumatic stress disorder can be caused by any trauma such as first-hand abuse, sexual abuse, witnessing any type of violence, car accidents, personal injury, or seeing death firsthand, not only in war. Although PTSD is commonly associated with veterans at war, this group in reality only accounts for 38.2% of all diagnosed PTSD cases. The other 61.8% is majorly made up of victims of abuse or violent crime.”

When Ellie’s four-year-old father witnessed his father’s suicide, her grandfather effectively handed down the PTSD one generation. When her father acted out in his own trauma and abused her and her brother, this non-genetic disorder of the brain was to affect yet another generation: Her brother’s son passed in the same manner as his grandfather, down to the caliber of the gun.

It is not uncommon for a family to have a tendency towards PTSD. There has been recent research that indicates susceptibility to a PTSD response to trauma is possibly up to 40% genetic. In 2012 UCLA geneticists discovered two genes that appear to be linked to the development of PTSD.

SgtMaj. Cole feels that the plague of PTSD-related suicides has to stop. So much so that he testified in front of a Senate committee on Veteran Suicide in 2011 about a simple programming addition that could be made into the Department of Veteran’s Affairs’ (VA) automated answering prompts that would immediately connect a veteran who is calling for help to a person who can do so. That has currently been implemented. Since this happened, the number of veteran suicides has fallen from the infamous “Twenty22Many” to twenty every day. While we all agree that is still far too many, it is less. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to thank SgtMaj. Cole for not only his service to his country, but also for his service to generations of families yet to be conceived.

We look forward to bringing our readers additional research as it is being discovered, in relation to PTSD and Cannabis.

Seniors In Search of Re-Leaf

One of the most surprising “side-effects” of the legalization of marijuana for adults 21 and over in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Colorado, has been the excitement of the white haired population about this newly-available “over-the-counter” option for pain control.

One of the primary conditions that affects us as we age is Osteoarthritis. This feeling of a “grating” in the joints where the lubrication is deteriorating can be excruciatingly painful and debilitating. It can stop a person from wanting to do anything due to pain.wp-1481919010383.jpg

Arthritis is something that is treated often by patients using cannabis-based topical creams and ointments. For those patients who desire an absence of THC, alleviating the possibility that their hand cream could make them even slightly intoxicated, there are CBD-only preparations and “hemp root” creams that are known to reduce the inflammation in painful joints and allow sufferers to get on with their desired activities.

The senior crowd seems to be in search of information even more than the products themselves. In a sea of questionable ad-hoc testimonial-based cannabis information, our parents, grandparents and their friends are seeking answers. The sources they are used to relying on for their health-care information are woefully uninformed about this botanical medicine, and most recreational-only marijuana outlets are not trained to educate anyone about the health-care benefits of cannabis. So, where do they go to learn?

The generations who use internet searches in their daily lives have access to a wealth of a variety of personal testimonials published on the web. Through social media sites and blogs, cannabis patients have shared their experiences about this plant. However, the older population is much less likely to be adept at searching for information through the net, and some have debilitating eye or coordination conditions that make it all but impossible to use a computer.

Many seniors are asking their adult children or friends of their adult children for advice. Others are paralyzed by confusion about the topic, still others are just experimenting in much the same way the generation younger has in search of relief for various conditions.

13407260_10206907529582536_4715656192348125301_nHal Proctor is one of the older Americans who asked his adult child about cannabis. After his son, Sam, stated he used cannabis in his back surgery recovery, Hal was curious about the medical benefits his son extolled about the plant. He wanted to see if the oil his son spoke about would help his diabetic neuropathy. The elder Mr. Proctor was amazed at the results, stating that there was a noticeable decrease in the swelling of his legs and feet as well as a considerable lessening of the pain from diabetic neuropathy.

When Hal first began inquiring about cannabis, he was experiencing ulcerations in his legs from diabetes.  He had been undergoing medical wound care through his physicians for over three years without any relief from the open sores. When his son, Sam, suggested a topical concentrated cannabis oil for his sores, Hal figured he had nothing to lose. He had watched his own son eat the raw cannabis plant and miraculously heal his paralyzation, why not try the oil on his legs? Within three weeks the sores had disappeared.

His legs were not the only place he felt relief. Hal states that when he is on cannabis, “overall I feel ten times better than when I’m not taking it.” He states that it, “improves the length and quality of my sleep and I even snore less!”

The healing that Hal experienced did not go unnoticed by his physicians, but as soon as he mentioned his “magical cure,” they were quick to let him know they did not want details, but they recommended that he continue “whatever was working.”


“Grandma Cat” Jeter

Many of this older generation grew up being taught never to even touch the leaf of a wild hemp plant growing in a ditch. Others had experimented during their own college days. The propaganda of their youth has filled many of the seniors who are searching for answers with misinformation. Getting past the lies their government  has instilled in them while finding out the truth about the medical benefits has been the goal of a movement called “The Silver Tour,” based out of Florida who have lobbied in Washington D.C. as well as locally in Florida to change cannabis laws.

Courtesy: Cat Jeter


Cat Jeter, called “Grandma Cat” by a community that adores her, is a strong advocate for older cannabis patients. The founder of Deep Green, she personally teaches classes in both activism and medicine use and preparation. She gives some very important advice:

“I think there are two things that are terribly important for those who are uninitiated:

First “Go low and go slow” – Start with low doses and take your time experimenting with the amount that works best for you.

Second, don’t be afraid to ask the same question in a number of different venues or of different people.

Much of our “knowledge” is anecdotal.  There are a variety of experiences out there which leads me back to the first: Listen to all and go low and slow.”

Our senior population wants answers but some don’t even know the questions to ask. As more studies are performed and more information is available it is crucial that we don’t forget the older population that has been waiting longer than the rest of us for the same answers.  


(Author’s note: An updated version of this piece will be published in Everything Medical Marijuana magazine in the April 2017 edition)

Is Hemp Different than Marijuana?

Both hemp and medical cannabis, which for the sake of this article we will refer to as marijuana, are of a family known as Cannabis Sativa. When the federal government, through the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) included hemp in their statement about marijuana on August 11, 2016, it seemed as if they did not recognize a difference between the two.

When most cannabis activists are asked if there is a difference between marijuana and hemp many will point out the differences in levels of the cannabinoid THC: hemp having a level that is often legislated under 0.3%. Some are also quick to point out the difference in planting, growing and harvesting of hemp vs marijuana grown for medical or intoxication uses.22345518_10212693495305046_502222399_o

In August of 2015, Jason Sawler, Jake M. Stout, Kyle M. Gardner, Darryl Hudson, John Vidmar, Laura Butler, Jonathan E. Page and Sean Myles quietly published a study named “The Genetic Structure of Marijuana and Hemp” in the PLOS ONE journal.

In this study, which was in part funded by the government of Canada, they settled this debate succinctly. Hemp IS different than the marijuana or cannabis that we use medicinally.
It is different, not only in the ways that enthusiasts of this botanical medicine have debated for decades, the way that it is grown and the levels of THC, but it is also different in it’s DNA.

The marijuana strains tested were a broad selection of strains not only available commercially, but also “landrace strains.” The hemp strains used for testing purposes were sourced from historical European and Asian storages as well as modern strains.

On the second page of their 9 page article, one phrase stands out as if it was highlighted, “we find that the primary axis of genetic variation in Cannabis differentiates hemp from marijuana.

Cannabis has TWO variants: HEMP and Marijuana. Or Hemp and medicinal cannabis, however you wish to describe it, no longer is hemp only differentiated by its THC level and methods of cropping, but it also has distinctly different genetics.

Interestingly, the researchers added the comparison that the level of genetic difference between hemp and marijuana is the same degree of difference in humans of european vs east asian descent. It isn’t much of a difference, but it is distinct.

22345507_10212693494905036_65081340_oIn this study, they did acknowledge that there has been interbreeding between some hemp and marijuana strains throughout the centuries of cultivation.

In discovering a distinct genetic difference between hemp and marijuana, these researchers opened up a window for activists and governments alike seeking to understand hemp and it’s ability to provide a sustainable resource for fuel, fiber, food and building material for this planet’s future.


Hemp photos courtesy of Stephanie Bishop, photographer. Hemp field property of Jay Reedy in Tennessee.










(Author’s note: A previous version of this was published in the September 2016 edition of Everything Medical Marijuana magazine)


Get Your Rub On – And HEAL!

Topical cannabis preparations are some of the most under-used forms of cannabis medications that exist. They are also one of the most effective against pain and spasming.

The reason that topicals are effective is due to the location of cannabinoid receptors within the dermal layers. CB1 and CB2 receptors have been located in many areas of the body. When cannabis comes in contact with those receptors, homeostasis is attempted.  In many cases, healing occurs quickly.

Topicals are increasingly popular among the older crowd. Patients as young as in their forties who experience repetitive stress injuries and arthritis find that by using a medicated hand cream before they start working, their amount of pain and stiffness is greatly reduced.wp-1481919021461.jpg

There are many different types of topical cannabis preparations. For the purposes of this article, we will categorize them into three main types: root therapy (containing no cannabinoids, derived from cannabis or hemp roots), CBD-only preparations (containing only the cannabinoid CBD, no THC) and whole plant topicals (containing all cannabinoids including THC).

Root therapy creams and lotions can be sourced from the cannabis or hemp root. Although the DEA has recently stated that hemp products are under the Controlled Substances Act, they are widely sold in natural food stores as well as online and delivered to all 50 states.

Preparations containing CBD only can be difficult to find. Making them requires a cannabis that is high in CBD and containing low or no THC.  They are frequently sourced from hemp. Hemp has started to be produced in Colorado and Oregon as part of the 2014 Agricultural Act, but it is unclear whether the DEA will allow the use of the product for medical purposes. Recent developments with the DEA would seem that improbable. 

wp-1481919017447.jpgThe most common form of topicals available in medical dispensaries and recreational shops with a medical endorsement, are full plant extract sourced topical creams and lotions. Some ointments are also available. Through private sources, many forms of topicals including foot spray, might be located.

Patients in search of relief have been known to get creative. Coconut oil infused with cannabis can be eaten, used as a topical or even used as a sexual lubricant. Concentrated cannabis oils such as “Rick Simpson type oil” can be added to a patient’s favorite hand lotion or cream to boost its healing ability.

Topical creams and lotions infused with cannabis are providing much needed relief without the fear of intoxication that some patients wp-1481919025781.jpghave. Although whole plant topicals can, in sensitive patients, give a very slight feeling of euphoria, most do not.

Using topical preparations is a great way to get the medicine where it’s needed for quick relief. It is a method that even seasoned, experienced patients may tend to forget, but are happily surprised with again and again. 


(Author’s note: This piece was published first in Everything Medical Marijuana magazine)



Western Medical Marijuana Patients Lose Second Amendment Rights

The last day of August was as full of news on the United States federal medical marijuana front as the rest of the month had been. In news that many in the community had feared, the federal ban on gun sales to medical cannabis users was upheld in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, effectively eliminating the second amendment rights for all cannabis patients in the western United States.

This ruling directly applies to 9 states. Several of these states are known for both their hunting as a way of life as well as the fact that there are predators to be protected from. This threat increases when living out of civilized areas. The states within the court’s’ jurisdiction are Alaska, Washington, California, Oregon, Arizona, Montana, Nevada, Idaho and Hawaii.


The western United States are known not only for their more permissive medical marijuana laws, but also for the abundance of wildlife that remains in the area. This ruling effectively makes the defense against such animals as cougar, coyote and wolves impossible for cannabis patients who are also choosing to live in a homesteading or farm environment. The right to protect their farm animals and themselves has been removed by the federal government.

Law enforcement officers often contend that medical marijuana patients store guns as a criminal act. This is rarely the case. The opportunity to have a legal carry license has now been removed by the United States government for all medical cannabis patients..

This decision came down following a lawsuit filed by a Nevada woman named S. Rowan Wilson, who attempted to purchase a firearm for self-defense in 2011. She had also been recommended medical marijuana by her physician and following her local laws in Nevada, she applied for and was awarded her state card allowing her to legally use the herb medically. In the lawsuit, however, Ms. Wilson contended that she never intended to use cannabis, but that she was getting approved to protest federal laws.


When a gun store refused to sell her the weapon, they cited a federal rule banning the sale of firearms to illegal drug users. It was her contention that she was following her local laws, so her right to own a firearm for self-defense was entirely reasonable.


Cannabis is federally illegal in the United States of America, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has issued letters informing gun sellers they should assume a person with a medical marijuana card is a cannabis user.

Although cannabis patients may have assumed by this same court’s decision only weeks ago against prosecuting persons who were following their state’s medical cannabis laws, that this court was favorable to cannabis patients; the court of three had no outliers, it was  a unanimous decision.

The court accepted Ms. Wilson’s allegations that she did not use the herb, concluding that she was, “not actually an unlawful drug user.” In this, they held that plaintiff’s claims did not fall within the direct scope of United States v. Dugan, which held that the Second Amendment does not protect the rights of unlawful drug users to bear arms.

The court did uphold the constitutionality of the “Open Letter” issued by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) on September 21, 2011 to ALL “Federal Firearms Licensees,” stating the following:  

“[A]ny person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing
marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition. Such persons should answer “yes” to question 11.e. on ATF Form 4473 . . . and you may not transfer firearms or ammunition to them.
Further, if you are aware that the potential transferee is in possession of a card authorizing the possession and use of
marijuana under State law, then you have “reasonable cause to believe” that the person is an unlawful user of a controlled substance. As such, you may not transfer firearms or
ammunition to the person, even if the person answered “no” to question 11.e. on ATF Form 4473.”

It was only a couple of weeks after this letter was received by Frederick Hauser, the owner of Custom Firearms & Gunsmithing in the small community of Mound House, Nevada where Wilson chose to attempt to purchase a firearm. On October 4, 2011 when Wilson was filling out Form 4473, Hauser stopped her from completing Question 11.e. Asking about the use of controlled substances. Hauser stated in court papers that he knew Wilson held a medical marijuana registry card and was fearful of jeopardizing his federal license to sell firearms if he consented to her sale.

In a footnote of the Opinion filed by Judge Rakoff on August 31, 2016,

Judge Rakoff

it was stated, “Wilson also argues that the purpose of the Open Letter was to crush the medical marijuana movement. On its face, the Open Letter serves no such purpose, and Wilson has not substantiated her suspicions with any facts.


In addition, if the Government had wished to oppose the medical marijuana movement, it would not have needed the Open Letter–it would have needed merely to enforce existing federal statutes as then interpreted.”

The United States government cited several governmental studies that marijuana use increased violence, and Ms. Wilson’s attorney, Chaz Rainey, did not argue against them although the studies were not provided to the court for assessment or validation.

In the decision, Judge Rakoff stated, “It may be argued that medical marijuana users are less likely to commit violent crimes, as they often suffer from debilitating illnesses, for which marijuana may be an effective palliative. They also may be less likely than other illegal drug users to interact with law enforcement officers or make purchases through illicit channels. But those hypotheses are not sufficient to overcome Congress’s reasonable conclusion that the use of such drugs raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated.”

Ms. Wilson’s attorney planned to appeal, “We live in a world where having a medical marijuana card is enough to say you don’t get a gun, but if you’re on the no fly list your constitutional right is still protected,” he said.

(Author’s note: This piece was published first in Everything Medical Marijuana magazine)

Talk to the Hand

In a month when marijuana dominated the mainstream news; it was from social media outlets that patients were screaming to the federal government in overwhelming numbers to “Talk to the 6630507 Hand!”

Instagram was quick to shut down the #TalkToThe6630507Hand hashtag, but several others with the same sentiment quickly popped up. A “Talk to the 6630507 Hand” Facebook page garnered over two thousand “likes” in only a couple of days.

What is this “Talk to the 6630507 Hand” about?


Amy’s original photo

Amy Dawn Bourlon-Hilterbran started the “Talk to the Hand” campaign after the DEA’s inaction in regards to resceduling (or descheduling as she would prefer) was announced on August 11. In search of a way for every person, every patient, to unite and speak up and out to the federal government and tell the DEA they don’t believe the decision announced was right, Amy decided to write the number of a patent granted about cannabis on her hand.


“Talk to the hand” was a popular American colloquialism in the 1990’s. The expression continued, “…’cause the face ain’t listening.” It was used in situations primarily by teenagers when they were at the end of their patience with what was being said to them. When Amy chose to tell the DEA to talk to her hand, she had definitely lost her patience with all they had to say.

Amy doesn’t take being an advocate for marijuana descheduling lightly: She moved her family to Colorado in 2014 from Oklahoma to save her son’s life. Her son, Austin, was born with Dravet’s Syndrome, a very severe form of epilepsy. In their home state of Oklahoma, he was on many different pharmaceutical medications for a decade, but continued to decline in health. When a dramatic downturn in Austin’s health coincided with Oklahoma failing to put an initiative for medical marijuana on the ballet, Amy and her family made the heartbreaking decision to move first her and Austin, then their entire family, to Colorado to attempt to save his life.

11330024_469862376525954_1535481596003511111_nIt has worked. Austin is currently on a full-plant oil (containing both CBD and THC) to control his illness. Except for occasional breakthroughs, he has been completely weaned off of all of the heavy-duty pharmaceutical medications he was taking in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, many of these drugs will put his body and brain through withdrawal symptoms for years to come.

Together with her husband, Amy founded a group called “American Medical Refugees,” designed to centralize information and resources for patients and their families displaced while seeking health for themselves and their dependents. These patients have sacrificed their support systems of friends and family, established schools, jobs and homes to seek cannabis as a legal, often life-saving, medical choice.

The move to Colorado devastated their family:  Austin was unable to join his mother in attending his sister’s graduation and they both missed her older son’s wedding due to the inability to travel back to Oklahoma with Austin’s medicine.

When asked if Amy and her family would return to Oklahoma if cannabis was legalized as a medicine country-wide, she was very pessimistic, “I don’t see that ever happening.”

Amy would prefer “descheduling” and removing the plant completely from the Controlled Substances Act, but is not optimistic about it, “there’s too much conversation…there’s not enough momentum, we’re getting diluted in the noise.”

The DEA’s announcement on August 11th infuriated Amy Dawn who had known about patent 6,630,507, having written about it while in an honors program attending the University of Oklahoma. When the DEA completely contradicted what she knew to have been published, she felt compelled to bring the hypocrisy of the federal government’s conflicting statements to light.14193721_10104267564114197_1824682158_n

In spite of the DEA continuing to contend that cannabis “has no accepted medical uses” and “has not been thoroughly studied,” patent 6,630,507 was issued on October 7, 2003. The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services (Washington, DC) acted as “Assignee” of the patent to “Inventors” Aidan J. Hampson of California and Julius Axelrod and Maurizio Grimaldi of Maryland.

In 2011, Kannalife Sciences Co. a portfolio company of Medical Marijuana, Inc., was awarded exclusive rights for the commercialization of the patent which describes how some cannabinoids are useful in neurological disorders. The abstract of the patent states, “The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia…”  

On their website, Kannalife.com, they state their company’s intentions clearly, “Our goal is to become a profitable and socially responsible company that develops treatments and seeks to improve the quality of life of patients with neurodegenerative diseases.”


Willie Nelson – 6630507.com

Kannalife has been featured in a Sports Illustrated story about using cannabinoids to treat chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition resulting from repeated head trauma. Temple University physicians and teaching staff, Dr. Ron Tuma and Dr. Sara Jane Ward have partnered with Kannalife in furthering the neuroprotective research as well as benefits from the  anti-inflammatory properties of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBD.



When Men’s Journal asked Dean Petkanas, KannaLife Sciences CEO, why he got into the business of marijuana and head injuries, he relayed the process of acquiring the patent:

“We looked for ways to get into the market where we would have some level of intellectual property and a barrier of protection, because you don’t want to go out there, start doing things, and have other people take from you. There was some IP that was held by the National Institute of Health, and we applied for licensing on certain IP that was in the hands of the federal government. That was quite an experience because you have a tremendous amount of ideas in the marketplace that suggest the government is conspiratorial.”

The research that Kannalife and Temple University are currently conducting together is designed to create a medication that will lessen the chance of permanent injuries on the field.  This research group has applied to the Department of Defense (D.O.D.) and National Institute of Health (N.I.H.) for grants to continue their research into the non-psychoactive cannabinoids, contending that they have significant health benefits. Kannalife’s primary focus is in a “super-CBD” synthetic drug they have designed, stating that it is safer and more bioavailable than the botanical form of the medicine.

A “super-CBD” drug will not help Austin, he requires the full cannabis plant extract for his condition. Like many other people with severe forms of epilepsy, the THC is required to control the seizures. Austin is able to have the medication he needs in Colorado, although the federal government states there is no acceptable medical use for the cannabis plant at all.

Oklahoma’s “State Question 788” garnered 2 thousand extra signatures, past what was needed to have the initiative placed on the ballot, and was officially received by the state on August 23. This measure, if passed, would set in place a system for medical marijuana use by patients in Oklahoma. They include provisions for pediatric patients as well as employment and school protections. A section designed to protect medical marijuana patient rights while seeking conventional medical treatment is also included in the initiative, creating an unprecedented organ-transplant protection for cannabis patients.

Image source: 6630507.com


When Amy was asked some questions following 788 making the ballot about the possibility of returning to Oklahoma if it passes in November she responded, “we are still so cautious, because our son is medically complex – like many – and we have to adjust to him. We utilize so many compounds of the plant, the whole plant, that is what our son requires to survive – the whole plant…we can hope and pray this is what happens.”

Amy contends that the fact that this patent exists completely disqualifies cannabis from simultaneously being listed on the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). When she read it, Amy felt that the DEA’s press statement put too much responsibility on the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), essentially “passing the buck” in regards to rescheduling, or legalizing the medical use of marijuana.

She is asking that those who wish to participate in the “Talk to the Hand” campaign use their real hands. “Real hands, real messages, real people.” She has been taken aback by the outpouring of personal stories by patients who have shared their hands with her heart and with the rest of the world.

Amy is in the process of building a “Talk to the 6630507 Hand”  website. They also have merchandise available to spread the message. A message that she and many other patients and activists want the United States Federal Government to hear loud and clear, “We’re tired of the hypocrisy, we WILL find a way to stop this. Remove it from the CSA, or relinquish the patent!”

Amy’s story on Mass Roots

Go to her website


(Author’s note: An updated version of this will be published in the April 2017 edition of Everything Medical Marijuana magazine)