Marijuana Legalization Invites Education

Amy Mevorach
Issue Date: 
December, 2018
Article Body: 

A political lobbyist since 2003, Tara Hopper, Natick Town meeting member, spoke at Cannabis Business conventions in New York, Maine, Rhode Island and Boston prior its inclusion as a ballot question in the 2016 election, and was recruited to be in-house counsel to a medical marijuana dispensary before she decided to put her marijuana where her mouth is and try it herself.
“I was working for the company,” said Hopper, referring to Garden Remedies, a dispensary in Newton. “I figured I should be brave enough to try it.” Since receiving a medical marijuana card in January 2017, which allows her to gain entry (along with her drivers’ license) to medical marijuana retail facilities, Hopper has transitioned from taking five pharmaceutical drugs to only using medical marijuana. “For fifteen years the PTSD medicine suppressed my memories,” she said. With marijuana, Hopper regained memories of childhood trauma and was able to attach emotion to them, process, and grow. “If you don’t want to deal with your problems, take pharmaceuticals. If you want to own it, accept it, and grow from it, I recommend medical marijuana, but it’s not easy.” Hopper recommends working closely with a doctor experienced in medical marijuana when transitioning from other drugs. She works with Dr. Ben Caplan.
The diverse nomenclature of marijuana refers to hemp, which was planted widely by European colonists arriving on First Nations land because it was the primary fiber the Europeans used for constructing clothing and ship sails and rigging. The word “Marijuana” originated in Mexico from the conjunction of Maria and Juan. The plant has a 5,000 year history of medicinal use before it was banned in 1937 because its use dissolves rigid mental structures and lays bare the contents of the unconscious mind, according to Wolf D. Storl, and the idea of losing the foundation for rigid social structures and work schedules was threatening for some people.
The many strains of the herb can be classified in three categories: cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and hybrid plants. Like wine connoisseurs, educated marijuana users cultivate knowledge of the various strains of the plant and what sensations they effect.
The indica species produce high amounts of resin and generally deliver a sedative effect, whereas cannabis sativa can feel invigorating and energizing. Hybrid strains balance the effects of indica and sativa in various proportions, with names that stray from the Latin botanical taxonomy. “Bruce Banner,” for example, is a cannabis hybrid named after the comic book character whose alter ego is the Incredible Hulk, referring more to its shade of green than to the nature of the temperament it is likely to effect.
Marijuana edibles are available as hard candy, gummies, and chocolate, and topical applications include salves, lotions, bath salts and bath bombs. The psychoactive component, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is balanced by cannabidiol (CBD), which relieves pain and inflammation without altering cognitive abilities. THC is toxic to pets because they do not have the same endocannabinoid system as humans.
Prescribed oxycodon for slipped disk, Hopper prefers to medicate with marijuna which carries no risk of overdose. “I don’t want to be on an opioid,” she said. “There’s a choice.”
The legalization of recreational marijuana for adult use offers the opportunity for each person to assess their own limits and make their own choices. “Paranoia and side effects,” said Hopper, “comes from having too much and not educating properly. We are going to have to be socially responsible.”
At the time of our interview, Hopper was preparing to travel to Las Vegas to attend the Cannabis Business Conference, the largest cannabis industry conference in the world. From November 14 to 16, over 20,000 cannabis business professionals and 1,000 exhibitors would gather at the Las Vegas Convention Center to network and seal business deals. “It will be interesting to see how it works in Sin City,” she said. “If those places are not falling apart, the responsible, smart people in Natick will be able to handle it.”