Article by Phil Wong, High! Canada
How did you get your start in football?
I had a hectic schedule with training on and off the field. The demands that are placed on you as a student were definitely intense. Aspirations of playing professionally were with me since before college and that opportunity put me that much closer to reaching my goals. And then I received a professional 5-year athletic scholarship out of high school to Indiana University otherwise known as the Hoosiers. We lived and breathed football daily. On top of class, you had a regime that filled every moment.
I played in the CFL for 10 years, starting off with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and then the Hamilton Tiger Cats. At the start of my last season with Hamilton, I was traded to the Toronto Argonauts where we went on to win the Grey Cup Championship making it one of the most memorable and rewarding years of my career. I finished my final two seasons with the Argos at which point in 2007 I felt it was the right time to retire.
You must have gone through some pretty intense training mentally and physically. What was the norm for dealing with injuries during your career?
Injuries were part of the game, some experienced more than others. I had quite a few injuries throughout college and playing with pain was something that became somewhat of the norm for me. Well, for me those lines became very blurred and common sense took a back seat in my mind when you had such a small window to make it happen. Meds were part of the regime. It made working through those injuries a bit more tolerable and that was a good enough reason to use them. There was a time in my college career I was using Toradol relatively heavily. I recall going through over 100 pills per month for quite some time. It helped keep the inflammation down thereby affecting swelling and pain; it was something that helped keep me going.
My senior year brought the possibility of a professional career in the NFL. Pre-season I was in the top 10 ranking for my position in the country; was heading into what was going to be my best season just at the right time. I suffered what was at the time a career ending injury and was redirected to the CFL where I was drafted a few years prior to graduating as a result.
Sounds like using pharmaceuticals in your athletic regiment was nothing new coming to the CFL?
No, not at all, it was part of the program. Halfway through my first season one of my athletic trainers suggested to me something that was a completely alien idea and out of the norm, “Marijuana for post pain, discomfort, lack of appetite/dehydration? Try weed.” I really didn’t see it as having any medical value back then but I quickly found out it worked! From that point I started using almost none of my traditional post game pharma concoctions. A more natural alternative was a way to go for myself.
How do you think cannabis has changed your life?
For me I would absolutely say cannabis has made an improvement in my life and not just from a pain perspective. It has stopped me from what would have turned into a long term habit and necessity of using traditional pharmacopeia to deal with pain. I never became a habitual user as most people thought you were if you smoked. For a long time it fit in the post-game and pain recovery protocol, for a period of time it even made its way into my physical training regime helping me make some of my best gains!
More recently, I have added CBD’s into my daily regime, and it has been making a bigger noticeable difference in daily life. The natural anti inflammation properties of CBD and the sharpness and clarity it brings to me after my high impact, well documented concussive career makes my experience all worth it. CBD and THC are both components of cannabis that have been noticeably helping me at this stage in my life and definitely will make a difference throughout the rest of my life.
A combination of CBD daily and THC periodically has helped me sustain a much healthier balance. We are just starting to realize how they work together separately and together as a complete cannabis profile. Lately you hear a lot more about the endocannabinoid system that we all have inside of us and how cannabis use affects that system in a positive way. Health care providers such as Dr. Uma out of Boston and our own doctors working with Cannascribe believe there is a lot to be said about this system. It is a crucial part of our health and wellbeing that has been surpressed by the medical industry since the criminalization of the plant.
How did you deal with the stigma back in the day?
It wasn’t that long ago that medicating with cannabis was frowned upon. The smell, the taboo of being around such a bad substance, those were never really issues I had because I always have been rather discreet and infrequent about it.
Patient to patient access, licensing and legality have been a cluster of a problems in the recent years, the sudden change in access to cannabis left ambiguity with authorities and patients alike. Looking back at history change never comes easy and without a struggle; especially those on the front lines. Change is moving fast and the future of cannabis will impact our lives more than anyone yet realizes.
Is that why you are motivated to help others gain legal access?
Yes absolutely, I feel lucky to be involved in the medical cannabis sector. Even with rec market around the corner, I feel that there is a lot to be done and developed on the medical side. My experiences have affected me profoundly enough to become a patient advocate and to start Cannascribe Medical Marijuana Prescription Services. Which was created to help patients connect with open-minded and well trained physicians in this field, which at the time was very rare.
Through Cannascribe, we have also been helping to reduce the stigma of using Medical Marijuana. Educating the health sector, general public, law makers and the government to make this is a viable alternative to traditional pharma. Creating change while helping thousands of patients in the process.
In addition to Cannascribe we are working on developing vertical and lateral businesses around the cannabis industry. The consortium I am part of are also proud to be involved with the research and development side of the industry. There we are working on new medications and data collection to help identify where and in which conditions cannabis is most effective as a treatment. These are exciting times and for me to play even a small part in the evolution is something worth experiencing!