December 10, 2017 | SimoneFischer
Overcoming pain through Cannabis inspired him to educate young and old about the plant’s numerous benefits.
Jason James has severe osteoarthritis in his shoulders, which worsened after playing football in high school. Osteoarthritis alone ought to be enough to persuade someone to use Cannabis for pain management, but James’ first encounter with Cannabis was not out of pain or curiosity but grief.
James was devastated by the sudden loss of both of his grandparents. He was raised by them and the upheaval threw him into a spiral of depression.
“I didn’t smoke before I was 21. I was a late bloomer in that regard. I was raised by my grandparents and lost them both within a month of each other,” he said.
“My grandmother died of cancer and my grandpa died of a broken heart a month later. I was always a straight edge kid and I didn’t partake because they raised me old fashioned. After all, they were from the prohibition era.”
James’ friends at the time wanted to pull him out of his depression, so they suggested he try Cannabis for the first time.
“My friends were tired of me being in bad shape. I was a jerk sometimes and I was always upset or defensive. Grief is incredibly strong, but my friends had enough. They loaded a bowl and told me to ‘just hit this mini aluminum bat.’ It was the first thing I ever smoked out of,” James said.
“I don’t remember feeling anything at first, but once we got to our destination, I was laughing for no reason. For the first time since my grandparents died, I was smiling again. I was really lucky because I had access to high quality Cannabis at the time. A beautiful friendship was born at that point.”
After James experienced a few hours of relief, he decided to look deeper into the healing potential of Cannabis. James became a regular Cannabis user and moved to California, where he applied for his first medical marijuana card. He made the pilgrimage to Oregon and became an Oregon Medical Marijuana Program patient to treat his osteoarthritis in 2011. “When I find something that works that quickly, I tend to immerse myself in it. Cannabis started me on a path of healing. My friends were just getting high to get high, but I knew there was more to it,” he said.
“Grief doesn’t go away until you deal with it. Using Cannabis during the process of grieving was like a loved one holding your hand. My cortisol levels went down. Life was brighter.”
Cannabis doesn’t make the grieving or healing process any easier, but it gave James’ body and mind peace through the journey of emotional work.
“I lost my wife in 2005, ten years after my grandparents died. I’ve been a single, full-time Dad for the last 14 years. If it wasn’t for Cannabis throughout the process of child rearing, my child would not have turned out as well as she did,” James said.
“If I didn’t have a positive daily coping tool to deal with the constant issues of healing, I don’t know how I would’ve done it. My daughter is a straight-A student; she’s involved in school and incredibly independent. I feel like I’ve done a good job raising her and I’m attributing my success in part to Cannabis.”
BALANCE THROUGH OUTREACH
“Cannabis creates mental and physical homeostasis. It’s important to find the right cannabinoids and strains that work the best for you. If you are well balanced, your cortisol levels go down, and during that short time your fight-or-flight response goes away too. This helps you think clearly and prioritize how you’re going heal yourself,” James said.
Not only did James have to get his mind right after the loss of his wife, he also had to parent and comfort his child throughout the ordeal.
Some may wonder how he approaches the topic of Cannabis with his daughter.
“The best way to frame a conversation is to lead by example. If you show your kids you work hard, you are clean and still you use Cannabis, their image on the topic completely changes. All of a sudden, it is now a medicine—it’s a homeopathic healing tool,” James said.
“It’s a good thing in the appropriate situations. The problem with hiding your Cannabis consumption from your kids, is almost every moment is a teachable moment. It is up to the parents to teach during those moments. If you continue to teach and educate, your child will have a respect for the topic. Why lie to your children?”
Open lines of communication are vital to effective parenting. If parents aren’t having the conversation on Cannabis with their children, somebody else will. Cannabis is legal and James treats it like medicine.
“Kids notice everything, they see it all and they hear it all. As my daughter got older, my Cannabis consumption got too difficult to hide,” James said.
“When the anxiety around hiding it became more stressful because of my Cannabis use, I had to educate her. I have a little curriculum from a Cannabis class I taught, so I gave her a history of Cannabis on where it came from and prohibition.”
James is an active member of the Cannabis community and currently works to educate seniors on the benefits of Cannabis. He works closely with geriatric patients, with their doctor’s support and approval. James teaches a 90-day curriculum and does not believe his work should be hidden from his daughter.
“Having conversations about Cannabis opened more lines of communication between my daughter and I. Don’t lie to your kids. I told her Cannabis is for adults and children with serious illness.”
Parents are worried they are going to screw it up, but it lays the groundwork for a larger communication track with your kids.
James uses Cannabis for wellness to manage his arthritic joints. He experiences regular chronic pain from severe osteoarthritis in his right shoulder.
For those with similar issues, he advised beginning “a regiment of Cannabis topical treatment on the affected area every four to six hours. I recommend 1:1 or 2:1 CBD to THC. I always use THC with CBD because they need each other to work the best. THC and CBD are symbiotic, it’s important people don’t dismiss THC, because it’s like combination therapy.”
Topicals are the unsung hero in most Cannabis toolboxes. James applied Cannabis topicals directly to the surface of pain on his shoulder. Transdermal skin patches work too, preferably 1:1. He also recommends ingesting Cannabis when the pain becomes more intense.
“When things get really painful, I use a transdermal patch, an edible and get plenty of rest and sleep. I use a multi-pronged approach depending on how I feel. And it’s not just an approach to healing, but also an approach to wellness as a whole. Anything you can do physically for your body is going to help, whether it’s yoga or free weights,” James said.
Kaleafa has multiple stores around Portland, and James said he has always loved the service and knowledge the budtenders provide. When it comes to concentrates, James recommends Portland Extracts. He believes they are affordable without sacrificing quality. “I would also recommend an 1:1 extract. THC helps reduce the pain, and CBD for inflammation. I dab every four to six hours for my shoulder, either solventless or butane hash oil (BHO) preferably,” James said.
“Flower consumption is important. You get a full cannabinoid and terpene profile. I find that the terpene limonene really helps with anxiety, so I look for flower and concentrates with higher levels of it. Flower and extracts provide a natural combination of therapy.”
James said he has lost more than 120 pounds since using strains high in THC-V, an appetite suppressing cannabinoid. He is a walking, living and breathing example of how Cannabis can positively impact a life.
“Just because you’re enjoying yourself, doesn’t mean the Cannabis isn’t working. I know that goes against most things we know, but Cannabis makes me feel really good and it is not terrible for me,” James said.
“If you feel better, great! Thank God, because that’s the idea. Feeling good is beneficial. It’s OK to enjoy yourself and be healthy at the same time.”