Ryan Huntley: The Night and Day Difference of Cannabis
MMJ Patient: Ryan Huntley, San Diego, CA
Growing up in Texas, he was only 16 years old when his doctors started introducing him to heavy prescription drugs. More than 18 years later, he knew the harm that those were doing to his body was far more than he was willing to sacrifice and so he turned to cannabis. In his own words, everything changed: His sleep, his pain relief, his health, his life changed for the better! He’s sharing his story to educate others about how thankful he is to have medicinal access to the plant and how he wishes others in unlegalized states could have the same.
What medical condition(s) have you been struggling with?
When I was about 16, I started realizing that I was having trouble sleeping; my mind wouldn’t stop racing. I tried everything over-the-counter and nothing would work and I couldn’t keep going night after night without sleep, so my doctor gave me a very heavy medication to take, normally prescribed for people with seizures. Over the years, I’ve tried to get off the sleep medication, but with the stresses of owning a business and the long hours of being a photographer, I still found it too hard to sleep. I couldn’t sleep without nightly medication.
The other medical issue I struggle with is a bulging disc in my neck. When I was 23, I was training and doing Kempo Martial Arts. I was in EXCELLENT shape, best shape of my life, and I loved the sport. But one day, when I was sparring, I got hit in the chin in just the right way, my head jerked to the side, and I was immediately in pain. I found it hard to drive or sleep. It was so painful. I went to a chiropractor, but that only made it worse. When I finally went to the doctor and got an MRI done, it turned out that I had a bulging disc. The only real cure for it was surgery, but even that was only temporary. I’d have to get it done every 10 years. So, I was prescribed pain pills during times of flare-ups.
What type of medications have you been taking that were prescribed to you by your doctor?
For my Insomnia, doctors have put me on a mixture of sedatives and tried various other medications as ‘experiments’ to see what would stick. Keep in mind, that all this began from the young age of 16. Many of the medications were not even specifically meant for sleep, per se, but for anti anxiety and other irrelevant issues that I didn’t have.
For my neck injury, I was prescribed the typical high dosages of pain pills.
What side effects did you experience from the medication prescribed by your doctor?
When I began taking prescribed medication for my insomnia, it would often take me about 3-4 hours in the morning to come out of a groggy state. One particular medication I was on for quite some time would even induce memory loss during those first few hours in the morning. In fact, I could have gone to a meeting and had no recollection of what was spoken about.
When I began taking prescribed medication for my insomnia, it would often take me about 3-4 hours in the morning to come out of a groggy state. One particular medication I was on for quite some time would even induce memory loss during those first few hours in the morning.
The pain pills were the most debilitating. They highly affected my day-to-day operations. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t make calls, and I couldn’t function. All I felt like doing was sleeping when I was on them. These pills numb you, sedate you, and cause slurring of speech, memory loss, and more. Fortunately, my bulging disc didn’t always cause me pain, but when I did incur a flare-up, I was unable to run my business because I’d have to take the pain pills.
The other side effects are largely unknown to me, except that I know my insides weren’t happy with it. Long term use of many of those prescriptions are hard on the liver and kidney.
What type of alternative medicine have you tried aside from your doctor’s recommendation?
For my insomnia, I’ve tried melatonine and combinations of Gaba and L-Theanine. While these can help most people, it seemed to be a short lasting effect for me unfortunately. Finally, I turned back to cannabis, but purely as medicine. My relationship with the plant has varied throughout my life. Early in my life it was predominantly a recreational vehicle, but has quickly turned to a completely medicinal relationship with the plant. In fact, I use it directly before bed each night. It was an arduous personal struggle with getting off the *highly addictive* prescription cocktails that I was given. The withdrawal symptoms of weening one off of these drugs is quite difficult; involving physical withdrawals and even worse attempts to sleep, but I was determined to get off of the pills.
After several weeks of suffering, I was able to find the right strain of cannabis (a strong Indica called Fire OG) that did the trick. I’m officially off of my nightly use of my prescription pills! I should note that I was forced to use the prescribed drugs on a recent trip outside the State of California to visit my family as it is still currently illegal to bring my herbal medicine on a plane and across State lines. While it was only 5 days of having to go back to using the sedative, it started the entire weening-off cycle all over again and has been difficult to get back to my normal holistic remedies. It’s a shame that people can’t have access to what they need!
For pain, I use CBD oil. I had noticed that smoking cannabis helped, but I was unable to keep doing it because of the psychoactive effects. I wasn’t able to function on a business level while feeling high. Then, one day, my (super hot) girl friend told me about CBD and it has literally changed my life during my neck episodes. A few drops of CBD oil and within ten minutes, the pain simply disappears and all my other cognitive functions are fully in tact. It is truly amazing. I am able to continue working as normal; zero memory loss, zero fatigue. I was able to focus on it, if not, better than I was able to before. It really did change everything.
A few drops of CBD oil and within ten minutes, the pain simply disappears and all my other cognitive functions are fully in tact. It is truly amazing.
How long have you been using the alternative medicine?
I have been using cannabis purely as a medicine for my insomnia for about 4 months now and I have been using CBD off and on during neck episodes for about 9 months now.
How have you felt since you started using the alternative medicine compared to that of your prescribed medications?
Night and day difference.
1) When I was using the prescribed pills, I had to time my sleep for about an hour from the time I was to take the pill to the desired sleep time. This was annoying to have to figure out versus “I’m ready for bed now.”
2) I am able to take Cannabis as I’m laying down to go to sleep and I’m usually out just minutes after!
3) I am able to wake up fully refreshed (with a full 8 hours of sleep!). I’m still not a morning person, so it takes me about an hour to really get my mind prepped and complete my morning routine (a 2 mile walk, cup of coffee, and a shower)…versus the 2-4 hour daze and memory loss!
4) I feel more healthy! I’m no longer inserting man-made toxins into my body every night that were brutalizing my insides!
Do you think you will continue with using alternative medicine?
Absolutely. And I look forward to the day that the rest of population can benefit from this versatile plant. Is there a ‘stoner’ culture that will continue to use it in this way? Of course! Just like bar patrons enjoy cocktails. The beauty about this plant is that it has countless amounts of medicinal uses and can also be safely enjoyed responsibly by adults who wish to have it in a social setting.
I am thankful for living in a State which has recognized this since 1996. I’m also thankful to those sites such as Leafly who are putting together databases of which strains are best for certain conditions. I do want to say that because of lack of research, not all strains were helping me; In fact, they were having opposite effects (Sativa strains or light Indica) of restlessness. So be sure to do research as much as you can. I wait for the day that there is documented research about what strains are best for what the patients need.