Benefits of Cannabis from a non user
I grew up looking at marijuana users as the losers amongst us. Slackers. Hippies. Losers. Those guys with pimples…it had to be the weed that gave it to them, right? My mum even worked as civilian for the RCMP drug division in BC, and it was hammered home. Illegal drugs are bad.
As an athlete, the concept of using drugs also never even crossed my mind. Playing rugby at a Division 1 level through to playing rep ball into my late 20’s meant staying away from drugs or anything else that might impair my abilities. Of course, enjoying pints at the clubhouse after practice and games was normal. But nobody did drugs.
Heck, even taking an aspirin for a headache was and still is something I don’t do.
Surfing and marijuana
Moving to LA in the early part of this millennium, I immediately took up surfing; one of the reasons for my transit south. It was there I became more aware of the marijuana culture, and the interplay between recreational drugs and sports. If anyone thinks that surfing is an easy sport by the way, it’s not. In fact, surfing is the most difficult of all sports to master, it takes more energy and stamina that any other sport, and your life is in constant peril from drowning or worse. Guys and gals would smoke up before paddling out into huge waves, yet it didn’t seem to impair them. It almost enhanced their styles.
Still, I never got into the marijuana scene. Sure it was okay to have a pint at Duke’s on PCH in Malibu and rehash some of the more epic waves of the day. But that was it for me.
When I found myself living in Tamarindo, Costa Rica for the better part of a half decade, it was then that I really became part of the surfing culture. Traveling was part of it, and I even coined the following; “Whatever you do and wherever you go and however you get there, just remember one thing: Surfers travel. If you don’t, you might as well quit.”
Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Jamaica, Cuba, The BVI, Caymans, and more were on my itineraries bringing me in and out of the narco world in-so-much and I saw some bat ass shit. Here are three of many stories:
Once when out boating towards an island with an epic point break off the Panamanian coast near Santa Catalina, we came across bales of cocaine floating in the water. There must have been 100 kilos or so attached to floats. Never high tailed it away as quickly as possible.
Another time just south of the Nicaraguan border I was floating on a break watching a boat (drug smugglers) shooting at a pursuing unmarked Cessna (US DEA) while all being circled overhead by an AWAC (US Air Force).
The best was in Chicama, Peru where I found myself engaged in local conversation with a local dude as follows:
Him: “Jo man. I got some serious shit. Saw you and your bro’s surfing today and figured you would want some.”
Me: “Um dude. Not sure what you mean. What do you have?”
Him: “Dude. I got the best weed in Peru. It’s called…BC Bud.”
So here I am some 5000 miles from my birthplace being pitched on the same drugs I avoided all my life.
My friends all smoked weed, many of them would have a hit before paddling out into the waves. Never me. I always wanted to stay sharp. There were times when I had a beer before a sunset session, but to me weed was something that might impair my ability to read the waves, pop-up and ultimately carve hard. They smoked and seemed to rip it across endless sets. It just didn’t impair their ability at all.
Even the kite boarding culture that I also immersed myself into seemed okay with weed. And there’s a sport with zero margin for error.
The change in attitude
In 2011 I decided to take up snowboarding and started spending time in Whistler BC. Growing up a block and a half from Ross Rebagliati, I had always known about the relationship between snowboarders and weed. It never phased me that people were smoking weed in the gondola up to ride, or that we would take breaks in the trees to light up. But it just wasn’t my scene, and I would just say no when offered a puff. The best thing about weed smokers is that if you say no, they are chill with it. Try turning down a shot of tequila from a rugby player.
I started to realize that for most of a last decade I had been surrounding myself with top athletes who were able to function at a high level while ingesting cannabis. When Ross and I began to look at how we could build a business together, I had just had surgery on my rotator cuff as a result of a major wipe out snowboarding down Harmony Bowl.
The surgery was described by my surgeon as major and that recovery would take a year. Post op, I was prescribed a pill version of morphine, T3’s, anti-inflammatories and stool softener. While I was in incredible pain, the drugs made me feel like crap. (although that was one of the things I couldn’t do!) In my business, I need to be focussed and sharp. Numbers, financial pro formas and accounting are part of my every day at the office.
With this medically prescribed cocktail, I was unable to function and felt stoned most of the day. It was like being in a fog all day, and my work product slipped very quickly.
It was then I was introduced to CBD caplets from a Canadian government approved research facility. I took one pill in the morning and one at night. They were a high dose of CBD with a trace of THC. Immediately I was able to manage the pain without the any of the drugs. I didn’t feel at all mentally diminished or stoned, enabling me to get back to work immediately. Furthermore, the inflammation was brought down and I was able to move my shoulder better. Did I mention that I could finally go to the bathroom?
I pretty much immediately flushed the drug cocktail and took the CBD pills for the next month. No side effects, no feeling of being stoned and what I considered a quicker recovery time than if I had continued with the pharmas.
My attitude towards Medical Cannabis now
I still snowboard. I still surf. I still do crazy sports with people who are at the top of their game. I still don’t smoke weed though. It’s just not my scene. Sometimes, after a tough session on the hill, break or even the gym, I will vaporize a tiny bit of cannabis to bring down the swelling. But that’s it.
What I have learned and seen first-hand since co-founding Ross’ Gold is that there are huge benefits to medical cannabis that we are only starting to understand. The medical community, plagued by the pharmaceutical industry’s incessant sales techniques, is only beginning to understand what the THC and CBD components are.
More research is needed, yes. Penicillin never went through the rigorous trials we demand now, but that was a different age. Cannabis is a naturally growing plant that has been used for centuries. Do we need to set the same types of trials that we demand from manufactured drugs? Probably not, but clinical studies will help the cause. The start of our industry must be to begin with the stories of recovery and remission that may not meet scientific standards, yet meet human ones.
Just last week I spent 30 minutes explaining my story to a registered pharmacist in British Columbia and what CBD could do for patients. She had no clue nor education in the benefits. That’s more bat ass crazy than anything I saw living in the tropics.