Veteran Kevin Dunne had his life changed (for the better) after being introduced to cannabis. He shares the benefits as a counselor at CannaConnect
It’s becoming easier and easier to get marijuana, legally. Advocates have shared that they strongly believe this has allowed many people with intractable medical issues to receive an effective and safe form of treatment. Opponents of medicinal cannabis argue that advocates ignore the potential harm of marijuana and that the only objective is to make it easier to use the plant for recreational purposes.
The Newfoundland Herald caught up with a cannabis counselor at Cannaconnect here in St. John’s, Kevin Dunne.
“I am a retired veteran of 22 years. I served until 2012 when I retired on a medical release,” Dunne explains.
“A few years later I was introduced to cannabis by a doctor for my PTSD symptoms. I was dealing with night terrors and night sweats. I was on thirteen prescription meds a day. Since I started using cannabis, I’m only on one prescription med aside from cannabis itself. I’m on Pantoloc because of the damage that was done to my stomach from all of the prescription meds I was taking, and secondly from all the preservatives that were in all the army hard rations. Within six months my night sweats had ceased, and my night terrors have cut right back drastically.”
There’s a lot of stigma still attached to smoking and ingesting cannabis, especially by older generations who lived through the 60s and the 70s, where marijuana first became very popular for recreational use.
“People think of cannabis, they think of the 60s and 70s, and everyone just getting high and it’s a rock and roll thing. But now that it’s pronounced out there for its medical use, a bunch of people are interested,” explains Dunne. “Within this clinic that I have here, our youngest client is nine years old, and our oldest is 93 years old. What an age gap difference. The child suffers from brain tremors. His parents had to come in of course, and go through the entire process. The child use to receive around 15 shocks a day, and now he’ll maybe get one. There’s a gentleman that comes in to see me who’s had a stroke. He’s got paralysis all down the left side of his body, wasn’t very mobile, now since he’s been using cannabis, he’s up walking around.”
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One of the major controversies that make some people label marijuana as a “bad drug,” is the possibility of addictive properties. However, marijuana is not physically addictive like alcohol, or drugs such as heroin. Although marijuana can become psychologically addictive, as in the habit can become a dependence, a study showed that 91 percent of those who try it, do not get hooked.
The two major compounds found in marijuana are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). For decades, researchers have known that THC is responsible for the famous cannabis high. However, CBD can serve to balance the effects of THC and provides a range of symptom relief and medical potential.
“CBD is wonderful, but there are also conditions where you need THC. It depends on you, your condition and your body,” Dunne makes clear. “CBD is great for people who work on heavy machinery or have to drive. There are plants out there that are straight CBD, and there are other ones out there that there is THC in it, but it’s very low. CBD is for pain, inflammation, and cell regrowth.”
The major thing that people need to know before choosing to use medical marijuana, is that there are four types of plants, including CBD, and 700 different strains. Each one of them does something different.
“Sativa is a stimulant. If you have high anxiety, or ADHD, or schizophrenia, that is not a strain for you because it’s going to amplify the effects. Sativa is to get you motivated to do your day-to-day activities, for example, those who are suffering from depression,” Dunne suggests.
“Then you have an indica. Indica is for relaxation and sleep. So that’s a good one for bedtime, instead of using other sleep aids like Zaleplon, and prescriptions like that. You then have a hybrid, which is a split between the two, sativa and indica. You can get an 80/20, 70/30, 60/40. Depending on the chemistry of your own body, you need to find out what works best for you.”
Overall, medicinal cannabis may have a shortlist of short-term cognitive effects, but it has an extremely long list of positive effects. It’s been proven as an effective form of treatment for a long list of medical conditions, with little to no long-term side effects.