Temporarily Giving Up THC For The Scientific Advancement of Psilocybin
It's been 47 days since I last smoked a joint or blunt, had a dab, or popped an edible. My last THC intake was on May 17th 2022. I know this, because it should have been the 16th but my Rx from my Primary care physician was filled too late for me to pick it up that day - so I was able to have one more "last hurrah" on the 16th.
Why would someone who talks about the benefits of THC stop all of the things that gets it into her system? For one reason: Psilocybin.
I have Bipolar II Disorder, it's something I've been able to manage and have a handle on for a long time now. After watching a Red Table Talk (RTT) with Jada Pinkett-Smith and Michael Pollan that discussed the profound benefits of Psilocybin, and how most African-Americans haven't tried it because "they dont feel safe;" I did a little digging. One of the reasons that was mentioned for black people not taking hold of the life-changing benefits that Psilocybin therapy can offer, was because it is often seen as a "white people" or "hippie" drug historically. Additionally, most black people don't see people of their own color talking about how it's changed their lives. They don't even seen people of their own color in positions of authority that allow work with individuals to help them understand how Psilocybin can enhance lives. So I went searching for a program that would allow me the credentials to be able to offer it as a part of my holistic healing practice.
The cost was a bit pricier than I could afford, especially when the research was limited on how it would help me educate my cultural community and encourage them to try it. Mentioned on RTT was the use of Psilocybin in a number of clinical trials. Interested, I went onto ClinicalTrials.gov to see if I could find one that I could participate in. To my surprise and excitement there was a study being conducted at Sheppard Pratt that evaluated the use of Psilocybin to treat the depressive symptoms in individuals with Bipolar II Disorder. I was ecstatic and went onto to email the person listed as the contact for the study, Sam Rudrow.
After a few days of not hearing anything back, I'm not going to lie, I started to lose hope. I was prepared to try and continue on my path by use of my own self produced experiments but I would have much preferred the scientific data of a clinical trial to stand on - if nothing more than for my own confidence in teaching people about the benefits. About two weeks later I received a long anticipated email from Mr. Rudrow! He was requesting more information about my demographics, where I was located, how long it had been since being diagnosed, etc. After some back and forth for a few days via email, a date was set so that I could chat with him via zoom.
During our zoom call, he told me more about the trial including the dose of 25 mg, how long the trial might last, and things that would be necessary to qualify. As a holistic healer, I make my own natural medicine to treat my Bipolar II symptoms so there was no worry about "weening" myself off of any antidepressants. But then I told him that I have a medical marijuana card and I use it for sleep: as the study requires no other "mind-altering" medications, this presented a small problem. He told me that I would eventually need to stop smoking, but having a medical card didn't disqualify me from the study. I knew in that moment that I would need to stop sooner rather than later because I'm a consistent daily smoker and had been for almost 4 years - so the THC was definitely in me.
I made the appointment with my PCP so that I could find an orthodox remedy to help me sleep. I had hoped for Ambien since I knew from experience that it was an effective solution for me. Instead, I was prescribed 1 mg of Lunesta. About 2-3 weeks after starting Lunesta, I turned to alternative remedies.
1. Because it didn't prove effective in keeping me asleep and
2. The side effects, like the chemical taste it left in my mouth were not pleasant.
I ordered some rapid release melatonin capsules from Nature's Bounty on Amazon. For about a week or so it was effective in getting me to sleep and staying asleep longer than the Lunesta, but I found myself waking often still and having weird dreams to boot. I sought out another natural remedy of CBD gummies with added melatonin. This solution has proven to be more effective in getting me to sleep and keeping me asleep.
*This all natural combination is what I'm currently using to help treat my insomnia since I cant have THC (the thing that really gets me to sleep and keeps me asleep effectively).
On June 29th, I went in for my long anticipated bloodwork and drug test. To my surprise after just over a month - I was THC free! As excited as I was that I was able to move forward with the trial, I was also kind of disappointed that I was THC free. And on this day, I found out that the THC was helping me in ways that I didn't realize. For years, while smoking, I've been able to talk to just about any therapist or significant person in my life about my depression, my suicide attempts, my hospitalizations, my PTSD from sexual trauma + growing up in an abusive household - but this experience on the 29th was different. I got through the questionnaire fairly unscathed but afterwards, when I was by myself I found myself crying. For the first time in years, I talked about my past and it brought me sadness! The only difference? I was sober - actually and truly sober. My guess is that the THC would act as an antidepressant in someways helping calm my brain's anxiety when thinking about my past experiences (more research to come on this theory).
The past 47 days have been interesting. It's proven that weed isn't addictive as the United States Scheduling system would have many believe. I'm literally weighing out gifts for my clients and the smells, oh the smells!, are so good - but I'm able to have the willpower to not stray from my purpose behind not smoking. I'm able to be in a room with my family while they take dabs and not have the temptation to partake. The one thing I will say is that I miss the act of smoking, I guess there's a-lot of people who stop smoking and still feel this need smoke whether that be from THC or nicotine - I learned there's a whole market for smoking cessation products. One of which that I tried and found effective was luvv.co. They provide Nicotine and THC free vape solutions that have full-filled my need to smoke and obviously (according to my drug test) don't have any drugs in them.
My next appointment is a virtual one and it's on Wednesday July 6th. There we will discuss the results of my bloodwork to ensure I don't have any genetic issues that would prevent me from being in the study. I'll also be meeting my dosing therapist so that over the next couple of weeks leading up to my Psilocybin dosing day, we wont be strangers and it will be a more comfortable experience for me. This is imperative since "setting" is one of the most crucial factors in a positive Psilocybin experience.
I'm excited about the possibilities that this trial will open, not just for me but other people who could really use the healing power of Psilocybin. It's also exciting to see the power of natural medicine on a truly sober mind. In this way, even people who have never tried anything before can see that it's not so scary.