Cannabis Patient Care - August 2021


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advocate focus 30 cannabis patient care | vol. 2 no. 2 Two weeks after C.J. Carter, Kentucky State Director of Minorities for Medical Marijuana, quit smoking cannabis, he had his first seizure. Here, Carter talks about his lifelong relationship with cannabis, how it helps his epilepsy, being a cannabis advocate in the Bluegrass state, and his work around cannabis education and legalization. The State of Cannabis in Kentucky: A Story of Cannabis, Epilepsy, and Advocacy A L I S S A M A R R A P O D I A T C.J. CARTER'S eighth-grade graduation party, he tried cannabis for his first time; he was 13 years old. Fast forward about 20 years to June 2018, he was mar- ried, on vacation with his wife, and cannabis-free for two weeks when at 6 a.m. he woke up with three men hovering over him in his hotel room. Carter, now the Kentucky State Direc- tor of Minorities for Medical Marijuana, had just suffered his first seizure, the first of 30+ seizures he would experience in the next 2.5 years. A few weeks later, after his fourth seizure, he was diag- nosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. Through various tests, MRIs, and CAT scans, the doctors learned that Carter had a cavernoma behind his left eye—a dark spot on his brain. And although Carter has since made several lifestyle changes—diet (low salt, no fried foods, no sug- ar), weight loss, and so forth—he still consumes cannabis be- cause he believes it's his medicine. "I'm not a doctor, but I believe that I've been medicating my- self my whole life, and I didn't realize it," he said. "It wasn't un- til I stopped consuming marijuana that this condition came to light. Based on what the doctors said and the science, the cav- ernoma had been there for a while." Doctors continue to monitor it every six months because if it increases in size, he'll need to have brain surgery. An Early Start in Cannabis and CBD In 2015, Carter decided to enter the cannabis space with his brother, George McGill, founder of Comfy Tree Enterprises, three years before his seizures started. The two traveled around the country giving educational seminars and then moved into prod- uct development where they developed Comfy Hemp, a cannabi- diol (CBD)-derived tincture. Shortly after, they became licensed in the state of Kentucky to cultivate and process hemp. Carter started advocacy and policy work in 2019 after suf- fering several epileptic seizures and his week-long hospital stay. The Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana contacted him, and shortly after, he was asked to testify in front of the House of Representatives on cannabis legislation, which eventual- ly landed him a role in the documentary Hemp State (1) pro- duced by Elijah McKenzie. "I read a while ago, Pericles had a quote that said, 'Just be- cause you don't take an interest in politics, doesn't mean that politics won't take an interest in you.' And that's the viewpoint I have," said Carter. "I've had an interesting relationship with politics—I was fed up with all the bickering and the lies; it turned me off, but then something happened that caused me to jump into this fight head-on. I've been doing it ever since." The Road to Advocacy A well-known fact about Kentucky is its soil is rich in limestone. It enriches crops with magnesium and calcium and is the rea- son why so many crops are grown in the Bluegrass state: corn, tobacco, soy, barley. "At one point in time, Kentucky produced 90% of the na- tion's hemp," Carter said. "They call us the Bluegrass State—a pun because every year on the legacy market, Kentucky rates in the top three in the nation for illegal export of marijuana." Carter and his brother George, along with several good friends, had the same vision that Kentucky was going to have premium CBD and cannabis products due to the limestone in the soil. "We wanted to come up with a non-profit vehicle where we could educate the masses on the cannabis plant," he said. "Once upon a time [harvesting hemp] was a very la- borious process. You'd have to get down in the dirt to turn it into the rope and clothing they were making. It was all done

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