I sent my 21-year-old daughter a photo because I felt so cool. She was less impressed than I had hoped.
The coffee table in front of me was covered in cannabis stuff, weed, grinders, papers and bongs. Never in 30 years of journalism have I typed the word bong.
Having represented two cannabis companies with my marketing firm, I wasnâ€™t completely unaware of the topic. I just hadnâ€™t seen it rolled out in front of me. Rolled. See what I did there?
Even in an era of legalization I still felt kind of odd as Maddie Brown moved to her balcony to smoke a joint.
Iâ€™m not even sure if thatâ€™s cool to say â€” Iâ€™m the person who doesnâ€™t know when marijuana became cannabis and when pot became weed so my lingo is dated.
Brown has worked as a palliative nurse and has taught nursing at Algonquin College. She has the image of a stethoscope tattooed on her ribs as a tribute to her profession. She is also a cannabis educator who has, in the past, endured abuse.
â€śI was officially diagnosed with PTSD after years of misdiagnosis and attempted treatments. I felt like I had tried every pharmaceutical, behavioural therapy, counselling, mindfulness, meditation, etc. Nothing really helped. I never slept well and as a teenager, I used cannabis all the time. It helped me,â€ť she says.
To simplify, there a two primary types of Cannabis: CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). And they are completely different. THC makes you stoned. CBD does not.
Brown has had children as clients, CBD patients, and people as old as 90, who use one or the other, or both. CBD is credited with many things. Some studies seem to support that, particularly around anxiety and epilepsy. Even Harvard Medical school published an article that says, â€śWe need more research but CBD may be proven to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain.â€ť
Many Canadians seem to believe in that as demand is now outweighing supply.
Brown describes the moment she saw CBD in action: â€śA child with a seizure disorder came to our clinic and was actively seizing. We gave him a dose of CBD oil that his mom had just purchased for him while he was seizing and it stopped immediately. Like instantly. He was having 40-50 seizures a day, and has 1 or 2 every week or so, now.â€ť
Others use the THC version of weed to help with side-effects of chemotherapy, inflammation or anxiety.
So, Brown became an evangelical preacher of pot. Pre-legalization she worked in medical distribution centres and now uses her educational content to teach across Ottawa.
â€śI love helping people. Truly, nothing makes me happier. When I started devoting my practice to palliative care, both kids and adults, much of my worked revolved around teaching,â€ť she says.
She also has many cancer patients and has stayed in touch with many of the families who have lost someone.
â€śI have visited cancer patients in their homes because they are vomiting too much to meet me anywhere. They vapourize CBD and THC instead of swallowing it to reduce nausea and promote appetite. I would go back a couple of weeks later and those same patients would be answering the door smiling. I have also helped a lot of veterans with PTSD. These men and women are not using cannabis for fun. Most of them have never tried it before â€¦ because theyâ€™re military. Theyâ€™re using it as a last resort,â€ť she says.
Also, pet shops canâ€™t keep CBD oil on the shelves for long. My own dog uses it for arthritis. In the United States it was widely reported that by 2022 the CBD pet industry could be $1.2 billion a year.
But, an important reminder from Brown: â€śCannabis has risks. Itâ€™s not just a feel good medication that anyone can take. It interacts with other pharmaceuticals. It has impairing effects, and it can contribute to a multitude of physical and mental health problems,â€ť she says.
Thatâ€™s why education is important.