This article was originally published on BLAC Detroit Magazine.

Imagine waking up on a Monday morning; you open your eyes and are welcomed by a blaring alarm, stiff muscles, and an arm-long to-do list. You wonder how you’re going to make it through the day, and remember there is a remedy! You see a half-smoked “Pink Cookie” blunt from Calyxeum’s Black Label Collection on the nightstand. One hit gives a calming, euphoric center that you need to start the day, bringing focus and clarity.  

On any typical day in thousands of homes, men and women have found a new way to medicate, physically and mentally improving their health with the use of cannabis products. We ask the question, can cannabis products truly improve your physical and mental health?

EDUCATING ON WHAT’S TRIED AND TRUE

After all, cannabis is legal now, right? 36 states have legalized cannabis for adult medical use at press time, and 18 states, including Michigan and the District of Columbia, have allowed recreational adult use. According to a survey from Pew Research Center, nine out of ten Americans favor some form of legalization of cannabis. The same poll found that 48.1 million Americans have used cannabis during the pandemic. After all, here in Michigan, dispensaries and cultivation centers were classified as ‘essential’ health care and public health operations allowing patients to medicate throughout the months that the world was locked down. 

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Remember that cannabis is essentially an unutilized plant that has had healing powers for generations. Healing plants and the desire to learn more about agriculture have been an intricate part of our history as Black Americans and opened the door to historically Black colleges and universities researching and learning more about cannabis.

Dr. Chanda Macias, CEO of Women Grow, a training platform just for women in the cannabis space and most recently named the CEO of Illera Holistic Healthcare, a Louisiana- based cultivation brand, says, 

“What we have seen with aggregated data over the course of five to ten years, is that there is anecdotal research that shows that medical cannabis can help medical ailments and conditions.” 

Last year, Illera Holistic partnered with Southern University to launch its own medical cannabis product, AYO, offering vape cartridges, inhalers, tinctures, and terpenes. Southern University holds a cannabis license in the state of Louisiana. 

This is a stock photograph involving cannabis, marijuana and its implications in America has just slowly been legalized and used for medicinal and medical purposes and what that means to our economy and culture.

Here in Michigan, Wayne State University was awarded a $7 million grant to research, in military veterans, the potential therapeutic effects of cannabis to improve patients’ quality of life and reduce post-traumatic stress disorder and depressive symptoms.

“Community support of legal cannabis and the perception that cannabis is safe indicates public opinion has outpaced science on cannabis use. There are risks to heavy and chronic use, including impairments in attention, learning and memory, as well as increased risk of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, and medical issues such as heart attack and lung irritation. At the same time, cannabinoid {another word for cannabis} science is rapidly expanding and some of these compounds can likely help treat common conditions.” says Dr. Leslie Lundahl, Ph.D., Lead investigator on the five-year project of The School of Medicine’s Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Wayne State.

As one of the nation’s leaders in hemp (a derivative of the cannabis plant) research, TSU’s College of Agriculture has conducted several previous projects about hemp production practices, including developing hemp food products for human consumption and studying the economic viability of hemp production in Tennessee. Historically, hemp is used to make textiles, building materials, paper, food, and oil from the seed is used to make personal care products, including paints and lubricants.

Dr. Rachel Knox of the first family of Cannabinoid Medicine, founders of the American Cannanoid Centers in Portland Oregon – where the mission is to deliver cannabinoid medicine to every patient looking for a personalized approach to healing believes, “Cannabis is waking us up to what we should have known all along, which is that nature is better; nature is always better than synthetic. I became a doctor because I wanted to heal people but today’s pharmaceutical drug science does not teach us, as health care providers, how to teach our patients how to get well again, it simply teaches us how to manage chronic disease. Cannabis has helped me reclaim my patients’ health and my health as well. Cannabis is just one tool to help us do that, but it’s a powerful tool.”

Anqunette “Q” Sarfoh is co-founder of Qulture, a Detroit-based cannabis product line launched in March 2021 offering cannabis tinctures and pain rubs available on shelves in Michigan dispensaries.

It is widely known that Sarfoh started and continues to use weed to ward off symptoms of multiple sclerosis that she’s suffered for years. Her story is a testament to what cannabis can do to improve your physical and mental health. Her husband and business partner, Richard Sarfoh, urged her to use it as she struggled to take nine prescription medications that she said only made her more and more dysfunctional and lethargic. “I smoked a joint, and immediately nausea went away, the headaches went away, it gave me energy,” she says. “I was able to wean myself off of all the other drugs.”

When diagnosed in 2013 with MS, Anqunette Sarfoh retired as an anchor on Detroit’s Fox 2 News to pursue cannabis full time. Along with her husband, Richard Sarfoh, Q became a vocal advocate for others in the state of Michigan that so desperately needed relief from their medication. She formerly opened and operated the BotaniQ dispensary but sold it to investors to start Qulture cannabis products soon after.

WHAT RESEARCH HAS BEEN DONE ON CANNABIS BENEFITS

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that even though pain management is one of the most common reasons people report for using medical marijuana in the United States, there is limited evidence that marijuana works to treat most types of acute or chronic pain. A few studies have found that marijuana can help treat neuropathic pain (a specific chronic pain caused by damaged nerves). However, more research is needed to know whether marijuana works better than other options to manage pain. Here’s what we’ve found.

Last year, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a survey that found marijuana smoke had unexpected positive effects on lung capacity, citing low to moderate users showed increased lung capacity compared to nonsmokers.

A brown glass bottle full of CBD oil or tincture from hemp or THC oil from cannabis with marijuana leaves isolated on a white background with copy space.

“That was a bit of a surprise, ” says Dr. Mark Pletcher, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco and the lead author of the study.

“There are clearly adverse effects from tobacco use and marijuana smoke has a lot of the same constituents as tobacco smoke does so we thought it might have some of the same harmful effects. It’s a weird effect to see and
we couldn’t make it go away,” Pletcher explained that the researchers used statistical models to look for errors or other factors that could explain the apparent benefit and did not find them.

In another cannabis survey featured in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2014, researchers found that participants preferred indica strains for pain management, sedation, and sleep while they would look to sativa-dominant strains to improve energy and mood.

It has also been alleged that cannabis may help address depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety. In March 2021, the first FDA-approved study of cannabis’ value for treating PTSD was conducted that
found that all treatment groups showed good tolerability and significant improvements in PTSD symptoms during treatment.

“I have seen veteran patients benefit tremendously from CBD and cannabis. For some it has become a tool to get through their day,” says Teesha Montague, operations manager of Huron View Dispensary in Ann Arbor. “And other veterans say they prefer cannabis over opioids because they don’t get as many negative side effects. I think once it’s legalized, many more will be open to medicating with it.”

Owned by Christine Montague and managed by her daughter Teesha, Huron View opened their doors in the Ann Arbor area in 2017 and now boasts a healthy patronage of veterans. Offering discounts and events specialized for local veterans, the mother and daughter team are advocates for legalizing cannabis on a federal level, giving access to more veterans in need.

There has been and continues to be a substantial amount of research exploring cannabis’ usefulness in fighting cancer, lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, preventing relapse in drug and alcohol addiction and treating
anxiety disorders. However, there is still so much more research that needs to be done. Yet, there’s personal evidence that proves that adults who are using cannabis as their medication of choice; are living more productive, certainly more focused, and less painful, anxious, and worrisome lives as a result.

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