Hey everyone, thanks for joining me today. Usually, here at CNA, I discuss general personal finance topics. However, today, I’m going to talk to you about something that goes far beyond personal finance. Today, I’m going to share my views on marijuana both on a medicinal level and on a recreational level. I’m going to break it down from a financial standpoint, and provide killer resources for further information about marijuana on both medicinal and recreational levels. So, I know I may piss some of you off today. In the finance industry, we have a tendency to be scared to express our views because we think we might miss out on viewers. That’s not me!
Thanking Awesome People
When I came up with this topic, I wanted to make sure that I had the facts. I wanted to make sure that I understood the industry from the inside out. There were a few awesome people and blogs that really helped me get a thorough understanding of medicinal and recreational use marijuana.
Dan from MednCure – Dan gave me more than an hour of his time to chat about the ins and outs of running a medicinal marijuana collective. He’s currently running the day to day operations at MednCure, and as you’ll learn later, he’s sacrificed quite a bit to do so.
Canabud.ca – Canabud.ca is a great source for information on medicinal values of marijuana as well as recipes, and tons of other resources. Although they are based in Canada, medicine has no local boundaries. If you want in depth information on how marijuana really helps on a medicinal level, check out their website.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN Special “Weed” – In this documentary, Dr. Snajay Gupta shows how marijuana really helps on a medicinal level.
Robert Butler – Robert Butler at one point was an employee of mine. Unfortunately his health made it almost impossible from work and he eventually was forced to retire on social security disability income. Robert is now a medicinal marijuana patient. In an exclusive interview with him for this article, I’ve learned how it’s helped him, and I plan to share that with you!
So, Does Marijuana Really Have Medicinal Value?
Skeptics of medicinal marijuana say that the term medicinal is only used to describe weed in a way that portrays it as something other than an illegal substance. But where does that leave people like Charlotte, Chaz, and Robert?
In Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN Special, you’ll learn that Charlotte is a young girl who suffers from a rare neurological disorder called Dravet Syndrome. The easiest way to explain the syndrome is to call it an incredibly severe case of epilepsy. In fact this disorder is so serious that as Dr. Sany Gupta says, “Many Dravet kids die young, in early childhood.” By the time a proper diagnoses came for Charlotte, she was almost 3 years old.
In a race against time, Charlottes parents tried everything imaginable to help their little girl. Aside from tons of incredibly powerful drugs, Charlottes parents also tried less obvious forms of treatment like strange diets and acupuncture. After 2 years of experimenting with several different methods of treatment, still, nothing was working. Unfortunately for Charlotte, some medications prescribed while trying to find a treatment nearly killed her. At one point, Charlottes mother had to giver her CPR!
At 5 years old, Charlottes Dravet syndrome had not only not gotten better, but had seemed to progress to more severe seizures more often. Eventually, while Charlottes father was on duty in Afghanistan, he came across marijuana as a possible treatment while researching ways to help his little girl. At this point, Charlottes parents started to have conversations about using marijuana as a treatment for her.
Soon, Charlottes condition hit rock bottom. She was having 300 seizures a week! She did not move, nor talk. Unfortunately, little Charlotte had moved into a catatonic like state. At this point, doctors were looking at putting Charlotte into a medically induced coma or using an incredibly strong veterinary drug designed for epileptic dogs. Charlottes parents wanted neither. So, finally the choice was made to try medicinal marijuana.
Unfortunately, Charlotte’s parents had hoops to jump through. Obviously, marijuana is not a widely accepted medication. It was incredibly difficult to find 2 doctors that would be willing to recommend marijuana as a treatment for a 5 year old little girl. Even after they found doctors willing to do so, finding dispensaries that were willing to give a 5 year old girl marijuana was almost impossible, and that wasn’t all.
Marijuana has several different properties. The psychoactive ingredient is THC. Charlotte’s parents didn’t want to get her high, they wanted to treat her. So they had to find a strain that was very low in THC, but very high in the medicinal chemical CBD. That would prove to be difficult to find. However, once they did find it, the world would change for their family.
When Charlotte was finally given marijuana, she showed an almost immediate improvement. Finally, something that worked! As the man who grew the marijuana strain soon to be named after Charlotte, “Charlotte’s Web” puts it in Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s documentary. When asked if talking about Charlotte got to him, he responded “If it doesn’t get you something’s wrong with you…She lived life in a catatonic state, now her parents get to meet her for the first time.”
Chaz Moore is another patient mentioned in Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s documentary. He’s a 19 year old victim of a rare condition called myoclonus diaphragmatic flutter. As you get to his section of the documentary and listen to him talk, it’s almost like he’s talking through a series of hick ups. When he lifts his shirt, you can see muscle contractions in his diaphragm area. They contract at such a rapid rate that it looks like flutters. Aside from being an annoying syndrome, these flutters can be incredibly painful and cause Chaz to feel like he’s not able to breath.
In the documentary, you’ll see Chaz going through an attack of diaphragm spasms. He can barely talk as he describes to Dr. Sanjay Gupta what’s going on. His words are choppy like a cell phone in horrible reception. After 7 minutes of the attack, he finally takes a hit of marijuana. He coughs, shakes his head and clearly says, “And I’m done.” The spasms that were causing him to speak through hick ups had magically gone away within seconds. This is marijuana on a medicinal level right before our eyes.
However, marijuana wasn’t the first medication Chaz tried in order to treat his condition. As with Charlotte, Chaz had been prescribed tons of incredibly powerful medications. By 16 years old, Chaz was taking a slew of incredibly powerful and potentially addictive narcotics and muscle relaxers. When he takes these pills, he feels like he goes into a zombie like state. Aside from the incredibly poor state of mind the medications put him into, they’ve also put him into the hospital on several occasions.
Robert is one of my best friends. His story is also one of the best stories of diverse illnesses that medicinal marijuana can help with. Robert was your normal, every day blue collar guy. He woke up, put his pants on one leg at a time, and he was off to work. However, his life would meet a drastic change in 2008.
In 2008, Robert started noticing strange pains that seemed to grow more and more frequent with time. Since then, he’s been diagnosed with the following…
Fibromyalgia – Fibromyalgia causes sharp, knfe like stabbing pains in Robert’s neck, back, shoulders, and knees. When I asked him how this affected him, he almost forgot his knees because they haven’t hurt in so long. We’ll get into why soon enough.
GERD – GERD causes Robert to have to deal with extreme nausea. He explained it as feeling like you have to vomit, and you know it’s going to be painful, but you never actually do throw up. GERD also causes Robert to deal with extreme cases of acid reflux.
Spinal Stenosis – Spinal Stenosis is a progressive disorder that causes extreme pain in Robert’s back.
Neurogenic Claudication – This disease is causing Robert’s hips to deteriorate. Although he said this isn’t one of those crazy painful pains, it’s a constant nagging that he wished would eventually stop.
Sciatica – Robert’s Spinal Stenosis has caused his spinal discs to come into contact with his sciatic nerve, causing sciatica. This causes extreme pain to start in Robert’s lower back leading to sharp, shooting pains down his leg.
As with all of the patients I’ve told you about today, Robert has tried one treatment after another to get his pain to go away. He wants nothing more than to live a normal life. For a while, I had been following medicinal marijuana and I knew that it helped tons of people. One day at the office, I walked into the bathroom to find Robert doubled over in tears. He was saying things like, “I wish this pain would just stop…I don’t want to live in pain anymore…it’s too much.” That day, I asked him the big question, “Have you ever tried medicinal marijuana?”.
He looked up at me in amazement. Here he was, doubled over in pain, here I was, currently his manager, not his friend, asking him if he has ever tried medicinal marijuana. It seemed like he didn’t know what to say. On one hand, he was obviously interested in having the conversation. On the other hand, I’m not too sure he wanted to have that conversation with his boss.
Eventually, Robert’s illnesses got so bad that he had to quit his job. This is when our friendship really became a friendship. Over a series of something like 2 months, I walked him through the process of getting his OMMP medicinal marijuana card. He went to several doctor’s appointments, and eventually was granted his card.
It has been almost a year at this point, and my gosh has there been an improvement. Because he was living with so much pain, it was almost rare to see a smile on his face. Today, he’s smiling every time I see him. As a matter of fact, today we had a conversation about medicinal marijuana. Keep in mind, he’s an old school rocker type, so he was never a stranger to marijuana itself.
First, we talked about the pain. He said, “You know, you stop short of calling this a miracle drug, but then you think, miracle drugs cure everything. If marijuana was a miracle drug, it would cure cancer…..but then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if it did.” Throughout the conversation, Robert went on to say, “You know Josh, the discomfort never goes away, but the pain was a solid 8 all the time, now it’s somewhere around a 1 or 2…I’ve got all of these conditions, but after a year of marijuana use, there’s no pain in any of these.” That’s a huge statement for medicinal marijuana.
Back To The Big Question, Does Marijuana Really Have Medicinal Value?
Although the answer to the question may differ depending on who you ask, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that marijuana does have medicinal value. Yes, of course I’ve seen the documentaries. And, yes, I understand they can be faked. But, I’ve also had the chance to see it first hand. I’ve watched a great guy go from a depressed ball of pain to a happy go lucky, fun loving human being. I’ve seen the medicinal value with my own two eyes, and no one can dispute that!
If Marijuana Is So Valuable, Why Is It Illegal In The First Place
As Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains in his documentary, decades ago, marijuana, also known as cannabis was viewed as a medication. One prescribed by doctors and dispensed by pharmacies. But, in the year 1930, the view of marijuana quickly changed as the result of a political smear campaign put together by Henry Anslinger. His main goal was to increase the budget of his new department, the DEA. To do so, he painted marijuana as being public enemy #1.
Mr. Anslinger used racially charged campaigns to convince the American people not to smoke “loco weed” stating that use of marijuana will cause you to go crazy. He even went as far as convincing an already racially charged population of white Americans that marijuana is the reason that blacks and Mexicans would rape white women.
Soon came the biggest political smear campaign the US had ever seen. It was a full blown movie called “Refer Madness”. Refer Madness was a full length feature film designed to scare consumers away from the use of marijuana. The movie is filled with outright lies about the affects of the plant as well as racially charged remarks.
In 1937, the goal of these racially charged political smear campaign came to fruition. Marijuana was officially illegal. By 1970, marijuana was viewed by the United States Government as a schedule 1 controlled substance. The definition of a schedule 1 controlled substance is one that has no medicinal value and a high probability of abuse. For the last 70 years, these have been the wide spread beliefs of marijuana.
But, Is Marijuana Safe?
Unfortunately, due to restrictions on even researcher’s ability to get their hands on marijuana, there haven’t been enough long term studies to know the true long term affects of marijuana. However, the vast majority of studies done on the subject have shown that marijuana is far safer than other, widely legal controlled substances. For instance, it’s estimated that tobacco use kills 433,000 people a year by the CDC. They also estimate that another 80,000 die each year from excessive alcohol use. However, there has never been one death that was proven to be caused by excessive use of marijuana.
Isn’t Smoking Is Bad For Your Health Regardless
That’s absolutely true. There’s no doubt about it. No matter if you’re smoking tobacco or if you’re smoking marijuana, breathing in smoke invites carcinogens to your body. That’s never a good thing. Although, when you think of marijuana, you may think of smoking weed, much of medicinal marijuana related products don’t require intake of carcinogens at all. As a matter of fact, little Charlotte didn’t smoke weed. Instead, she ate it!
With the growth of medicinal marijuana programs in the western states of the US came the creation of a new, incredible market. Edibles, rubs, even soaps seem to be all the rage these days. More and more medicinal patients are looking into forms of medicinal marijuana that don’t involve smoke at all.
However, it’s important to remember that most people who do use marijuana do smoke it. Although, no smoke is good for you, marijuana smoke isn’t necessarily proven to be bad for you either. There are no instances that I know of that use, even smoking of marijuana has caused adverse side effects.
So, Let’s Get Into The Finances
When it comes to the financial side of things, I figured there was no way that I’d know enough to give you a real picture of what the marijuana industry is capable of. So, I’ve done an interview with Dan, the head of MednCure, an Oregonian medicinal marijuana collective. Before I interviewed him, I figured the head of a medicinal marijuana grow would be living the lavish life. I was sorely mistaken. Here’s how the interview went…
One of the first questions I asked had to do with education. Most people think of the head of marijuana grow operations as criminals, and citizens with nothing better to do in life; but that’s not the case in Dan’s story. Dan currently carries a 4 year degree in kinesiology, or the study of human movement. Throughout the last couple of years, he’s spent his time in viticulture. Viticulture being the growth of grapes, mainly for wines. Dan was on the road for 6 days a week, but knew that viticulture wasn’t where he wanted to rest.
Throughout his time in viticulture, Dan would grow home grown marijuana for medicinal purposes. He came to a point where he had to decide to continue working in viticulture after a projects projections just didn’t pan out, or look for alternative means. He then thought of a friend in Oregon who needed help with his medicinal marijuana grow. Soon, he would uproot his family and move to Oregon to be part of it. Since then, MednCure has really grown, which leads me to the financial aspects of marijuana.
Currently, MednCure is on track to bring in a gross of more than $200,000 per year. In an industry that is currently untaxed, you would think that owners and operators of medicinal marijuana collectives, grows and companies would be against tax. That’s not the case for Dan. When asked, would a marijuana tax be something you’d be in favor of, to my surprise, Dan responded “Yes”. He then got into detail that taxation is part of our economy, without it, we wouldn’t have several of the public services that provide us with the freedoms we have today. The only gripe he had with the tax system is he thinks that if marijuana were to be taxed, it would be given to the wrong place. His hopes are that a marijuana tax would be designed to promote education throughout the U.S.
Let’s think about that for a minute. Marijuana is no longer an industry that’s run by drug cartels who don’t care about the economy, the community, or anything other than profits. The marijuana industry is starting to be run by those who really care about the community. Let’s face it, MednCure is a fairly small scale operation. If they’re bringing in around $200,000.00 per year, how much money do you think marijuana facilities could bring in nation wide? A tax on that to pay for education could mean billions of dollars for schools and a smarter future generation for the world!
After talking a bit about taxes, I wanted to dig a bit into jobs. After all, no matter if you’re employed in the marketing industry or the marijuana industry, you’re employed. So, one of my questions to Dan was, how many jobs has your collective created? He answered 13. If a small, local operation has created 13 jobs, imagine how many jobs would be created through national legalization of marijuana.
I know that a marijuana tax wouldn’t be enough to cure the deficit we have as a country. I also know that a marijuana industry won’t give everyone out there who needs a job a new place to work. However, the overwhelming demand for this product could really allow for quite a bit of our deficit to be paid, and can open up thousands of jobs throughout the united states.
The Interview Took A Turn Back To The Medicinal Side Of Things
I wanted to see what Dan’s view was on medicinal marijuana. After all, his collective controls medicine for 17 collective patients and helps others with access to excess medication when possible. So, I asked, “Do you honestly think that there is any medicinal value in marijuana?” He answered “Yes”. But, then something strange happened. Immediately, I noticed an emotional look in Dan’s face and soon heard a very emotional tone in his voice. So, I asked, “Does that question strike a nerve?”. He said….
“Yes, and here’s why….” He then started to explain to me that he’s got a patient who has a terminal illness. Although, she knows that marijuana allows her to live a more enjoyable life, her doctors won’t allow her to smoke it. So she’s going to give up the marijuana to be sedated through narcotic medications that aren’t going to do anything for her. He explained that as a grower or caregiver to patients, he builds a bond with them and truly cares about them. So, it’s upsetting to him to see mainstream doctors take the only medication that’s making a difference away from patients.
I’ve heard that marijuana helps more than 200 ailments, so I wanted to see how many Dan has come across. He said he’s seen patients suffering from everything from painful ailments like fibromyalgia to mental ailments like P.T.S.D. He then quickly jumped back into the idea that medicinal marijuana is taken away from terminally ill patients. Noticeably getting emotional about it again, he brought up that if you’re terminal, you should be able to make your own choices. He’s seen marijuana help people and thinks it’s a shame that it would be held back from patients.
I Did More Research Into Medicinal Benefits
After talking with Dan, I decided to go home and do more research about the medicinal benefits of marijuana. So, I hopped online and started doing a few searches on Google. This is where I came across the Canabud.ca website. After a few searches, I came across their blog which talks quite a bit about the different ailments that marijuana helps with. Some of the more interesting articles talking about marijuana helping patients with everything from brain tumors to nightmares.
My Final Thoughts About Marijuana In The United States
It’s no secret anymore that marijuana is a great medicine that helps with several ailments, yet for some reason, we are still afraid to say that’s the case. I think that a lot of the fear of allowing marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes stems from the fear of drug abuse. However, we see drug abuse every day, and it’s acceptable. Almost half a million people die every year from the use of tobacco, almost a hundred thousand die every year from excessive use of alcohol. However, to date, marijuana has caused a total of zero deaths. So, I say, why be afraid of recreational use.
Aside from the health side of things, I believe that the marijuana industry could be huge for the global economy. The truth is, tons of consumers world wide smoke and use marijuana on a daily basis. Marijuana is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. The only problem is, currently because of prohibition, that money is not being taxed. Instead, it’s landing in the hands of worldwide drug cartels. By legalizing marijuana, we could provide thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to the worldwide economy.
Do you think legalization of marijuana would be good or bad? Why?