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TBI and Cannabis: A Teenager's Perspective in the State of Minnesota

Trey Brown was a normal thirteen-year-old child that played community sports in the heart of Minnesota with his family. His entire life and health changed on April 25th, 2011 when a line drive baseball struck by an aluminum bat, imbedded into the left side of his head. “I have an inch and half whole on the left side of my brain- the learning center.” He was diagnosed with TBI (Total Brain Injury) which is a sudden injury from an external force that affects the functioning of the brain. It can be caused by a bump or blow to the head (closed head injury) or by an object penetrating the skull (called a penetrating injury). Some TBIs result in mild, temporary problems, but a more severe TBI can lead to serious physical and psychological symptoms, coma, and even death 1,2,3,4.

As a young teenager fighting for his life for solutions to his many ailments of TBI, Trey began to suffer from secondary conditions such as but not limited to Hypothalamic Storms, Serotonin Syndrome, and Thyroid Storms. Pharmaceuticals were used in a variety of forms, and if Trey even missed a dose of levothyroxine it would throw him into
A Thyroid Storm. TBI is no joke.

He and his mother searched for non-conventional solutions as the modern pharmaceuticals hindered his growth and PTSD and depression set in, a common condition of TBI sufferers. Medical cannabis was and is his solution yet due to a lack of a program in his state of Minnesota he was forced to move to Colorado and become a Cannabis Refugee. He contributes his medicine – Cannabis – as the reason why he is here today. Now he shares his knowledge in hopes to help future teenagers and their families struggling on whether medical cannabis – as a treatment option – is right for them.

What is it like being a Cannabis Refugee and the challenges you experienced?

There have been many challenges moving to Colorado. My dad hindered the move because he didn’t want to leave his opiate dealers in Minnesota. We had very little support here in Colorado to assist in getting us here. Jennie Storms, Sierra Riddle, and our private grower friends are who to thank. Without their open doors, I would not have survived. So Mom had to fight every step of the way to get me here. It took her two pain-filled years, the realization she needed to make this move as a single mom, her massage business, friends and all that was familiar. We left behind my older brother, Delany, and my niece who is more like a sister; Kourtny, Del’s lady, and her daughter who have wormed their ways into our hearts. It has not been easy to be so far from home. However, through all that loss we have gained so very much. My dad is now clean; Mom made sure he would be around to realize everyone has worth if you just look. Now he can speak out about how my cannabis saved his life every time he tried to take it via opiates. My Mom met her new partner because of our struggles here. With him comes his knowledge and ability to grow amazing cannabis, his love and support, my now youngest brother and a sister, as well the promise of an amazing future.

Cannabis is quite controversial, and there are many stigmas. Do your peers think you are just a stoner?

I am more than just a stoner. I am a young man who enjoys the freedom of a clear mind and a body I have some control over- thanks to cannabis.

What routes of administration work best for you?

I have been using a PAX Vaporizer since the beginning. It was my go-to during ‘The Storms’ before it broke. I enjoy my Beta bong, various spoon pipes that I smoke flower out of. My Mom makes infused coconut oil in our Magical Butter Machine™ that I take on a regular schedule throughout the day. I enjoy making edibles, cause why not have fun with my meds?! Topicals that my mom makes come in handy after long days too. I consume Dabs, wax, whatever as long as it is from clean bud with clean ingredients.

The above kinda explain I have a routine, but I know damn well how fast a Storm can come in or how hard an Overload hits. So I need to be prepared. I got an opportunity to try Ebbu’s isolated cannabinoid solution during an overload once. Hopefully, we can have their products around here soon. It was the first time I had ever had control while in overload, that is epic. My body has been through so much. So often I was diagnosed with ‘stuff’ that was opposite then the real issue. My Mom pushed till we found answers.

Has cannabis hindered you from working and living a normal life?

My boss is cool with me medicating while I work. I can work and earn my way in life because I have cannabis. My Stashlogixs travel bag (https://www.stashlogix.com/collections) helps me keep my meds organized and safe while out and about.

What are your favorite strains that work for you and your conditions?

Favorite strains? The next one I smoke. I do believe someone famous dubbed that phrase. I do enjoy White Dog, Golden Goat, and currently the strains being grown by my mom’s partner, David Lippoldt, specifically for issues with brain injuries. He couldn’t find strains that worked right after his TBI, so he is creating them for us. I am grateful he started this journey, it has eased mine.

Golden Goat is a heavy hitting mind-expanding sativa with a sweet and piney terpene profile and THC in the high 20s. https://www.leafly.com/products/details/calyx-garden-golden-goat
White Dog/Chemdawg: is a hybrid (sativa/indica) that provides a relaxed, euphoric, happy, uplifted, and creative mood. Known for decreasing stress, pain, depression, lack of appetite, and insomnia. https://www.leafly.com/hybrid/chemdawg

I want to feel the relief of swelling in my brain. I want to be clear-headed, open to learning, and open to new experiences. I enjoy being able to relax and sleep. So whatever strain helps me to be the above average teen, bring it on!

What is the best advice you can provide for TBI Sufferers?

We figured out diet and nutrition is extremely important to the healing body.
Here are some very helpful tips for TBI sufferers that we discovered:
Gluten is the devil, don’t touch it or anything that may resemble it. Processed soy is a pseudo hormone that will [email protected] your world. Glutamate destroys already damaged areas, taking out more and more healthy cells as it floods your brain. That MSG (Monosodium glutamate) in your processed food is so not worth the self-harming
Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hide that happens when brain injury meets chemicals that cause it to swell and release floods of that glutamate and excess serotonin creating Serotonin Syndromes (SS). It often occurs when two medicines that affect the body’s level of serotonin are taken together at the same time. The medicines cause too much serotonin to be released or to remain in the brain area.
It took my mom awhile to figure the foods out. We have Jennie Stormes, RN, BSN and Mike Morse, both from Colorado, to thank for helping us weed through what hadn’t already been cleared out – The what to and what not to eat, How to pair foods so you can have some fun, and so on.
For Example: If I want to eat cashews I better have a cup of green tea too so that I don’t rip another door off its hinges. Green Tea helps me chill out.
Green tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, which is found almost exclusively in tea plants (Raj Juneja et al., 1999). L-theanine acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, meaning that it sends signals to neurons. Several studies have shown that L-theanine appears to increase alpha-wave generation in the human brain, signaling a state of relaxation (Raj Juneja et al., 1999).

What is the most profound thing that you have learned about kids and
cannabis before and after (change in perception)?

All I knew before was that my grandpa used to grow and used it in his final days for comfort from cancer that killed him. If the world had just allowed us our rights, I would have known him.

I have learned that kids need cannabis, even the seemingly healthy ones. Who knew a CBD/THC gummy could help a guy pass his algebra test? Did you know that a cannabis suppository will ease the pain, cramps, mood swings, etc. – I bet there are a few young ladies that would enjoy sanity.
Did you know that cannabis can help our teens by opening their minds, easing their anxiety, reducing all the messed up things that happen as we grow into ourselves? Dr. Komandis does, it’s worth your time to look into his work. (Minnesota’s Cannabis Summit 2016).

What advice do you give to other Teenagers and Parents who are considering medical cannabis?

1. Cannabis creates new life. The turmoil and all the negative attention my mom’s case caused – aside from the Cannabis – has greatly, positively impacted our lives. We are better people for walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Through the hellfire that cannabis creates within uneducated people. It made us fight to rise above it, made us want to open eyes to the truth. A truth that must be told just right for it to be heard.
2. Do not believe everything you are told. There are many lies out there even if you think they are the truth, they may not be. Do your research, look deep and far. Ask those who have come before, we have paved a way, and it was so very hard, so let us help you.
3. Start Low and Go Slow. Low and Slow is the way to go. Keep acidic juices and foods around – don’t let a possible bad trip ruin you for the wonders of cannabis. Acidic foods cut down THC in your fat cells to lower your “high” euphoric effects. You can also vape your flower at low temps to bring out more CBD to lower effects of THC.

4.The first person you talk to about your use should be someone who will fully support your journey. That person may not be in your circle. Thankfully there are many well-educated advocates, nurses, doctors, scientists, and experts. In the state of Minnesota, you can go to Sensible.MN for all your questions and concerns.
5. Do not be afraid!! Do not fear your neighbor’s views while your child lays suffering!

What impacts has cannabis made for you and your future? What are you doing now?

Sensible Minnesota just had their first Summit. I had the privilege of speaking on the Patient Panel. This August 2017, I will be speaking at Seattle Washington’s HempFest. The more people that know Traumatic Brain Injuries are unlike any other creature when it comes to cannabis, the better.

 

Education is Power – a phrase handed down from my Grandpa Elsner along with his desire and love of growing a plant that brought him a lot of fun in his youth and eased his pain at the end. Cannabis wasn’t allowed to save his life back then. So I thank all those who have made it so Cannabis could save mine. Right now I am making myself proud. I never thought I would get to go back to school and excel at it, attend prom, speak out and save lives, bust my butt digging trenches for an awesome boss, and I sure never thought I would ever get a drivers license. My Mom was told I was going to die. She didn’t listen, so why should I? This is my life, Mine to do as I see fit with. Regardless of what my birth certificate says, the government does not own my body. I have a right to consume a plant that gives me life.
Sensible Minnesota:
Founded in February 2015
Mission:
To educate the public on the uses, benefits, and relative safety of cannabis; to support persons harmed by prohibition, and to advocate for sensible policy changes.
Sensible Minnesota is a 501(c)3 tax exempt non-profit organization working on sensible cannabis policy changes in Minnesota. We offer some different services for the public including assisting patients with accessing medical cannabis, working with communities harmed by prohibition, speaking to and engaging communities in the discussion, and providing resources for outside agencies and organizations. We envision safer communities as a result of sensible policies through education and advocacy. https://sensible.mn

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). How many people have TBI? Retrieved June 12, 2012, from
http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/statistics.html[top] https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/tbi/conditioninfo/Pages/default.aspx
https://medlineplus.gov/traumaticbraininjury.html

What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

 

Resources:

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contact_sport
2. http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?
Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%
2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6630507.PN.&OS =PN/663 0507&RS=PN/6630507
3. https://www.google.com/patents/US6630507
4. http://www.medstarsportsmedicine.org/research/which-youth-sports-cause-the-most-concussions
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2140075/
6. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2375128
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3865832/
8. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007272.htm
9. http://www.health.state.mn.us/topics/cannabis/about/update1016.pdf

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