Aug. 8 2016 05:57 PM

Advocates extol its life-saving effects

Edgar Garcia uses CBD to treat his lung cancer.
Photo by Sebastian Montes

Consider the hemp store owner who was told she had weeks to live after suffering massive liver failure.

Or the cannabis chef plunged into a miasma of pain-killing narcotics after his car careened off an I-805 overpass.

Or the life-and-death leap of faith Edgar Garcia is taking as he tries to beat back the tumors growing in his pulmonary sacs. It's been a year since doctors told Garcia, a 24-year-old manager at Point Loma Patient Co-Op, that his lung cancer had escalated to Stage Two. A battery of medications might extend his life a few years, they said, but the crippling reality of treatment soon left him wondering whether it was worth so much misery.

"It was like death knocking on the door," he said. "It's a tricky situation when you're contemplating whether or not you want to approach the darkness."

Resigning himself to whatever outcome might be, he trashed his meds and entrusted his fate to a menagerie of cannabis tinctures, edibles and oils.

The news from his first doctor's appointment since: The tumors have shrunk by a millimeter.

"Whether it's placebo or the plant, something is obviously working," he said.

That elusive something in Garcia's case—and in an exploding number of cases worldwide—is cannibidol, the most medically promising compound of the hundreds so far identified in marijuana and hemp. Where THC has by comparison a handful of possible uses, scientists and self medicators are compiling a roster of CBD-treatable conditions that reads like an inventory of the entire human body.

Here, a point of emphasis: CBD does not get you high—at least not in the pseudo-hallucinatory sense so familiar with THC. But to hear users' anecdotes, it certainly does, well, something.

Take for instance the way La Jolla resident Lida Thompson recalls the first time her cancer-surviving husband gave her a CBD pill for her extensive nerve pain.

"I was like wow, I'm melting into the Tempurpedic," she said shortly after cozying up to a CBD dab at a recent pot expo near City Heights. "I thought, 'What the hell?' I'm not tired, I'm not high. I'm just relaxed.'"

That dab had come courtesy of Chef Deantra, owner of the Oceanside-based Papa'z Potionz. His own CBD awakening traces back to a horrific car crash that left him all but crippled. He hasn't taken a single pain pill, he says, in the seven years since he turned to a CBD regimen and started spreading the gospel of its curative powers.

"It's not hush-hush anymore," he said as he tended to a long line of patients at the expo. "People are saying it out loud: I've been cured by cannabis."

The clamor for CBD is such that even out in Alpine, Cherie Bromley-Taylor has to hustle to keep the shelves at Mt. Hempire stocked. Dozens of families are queued up for each shipment of Charlotte's Web and other CBD products, she says, as they try to ease their children's agonizing struggles with epilepsy and other ailments.

She's all too familiar with how desperate that need can be. Ten years ago, doctors delivered the bleakest of prognoses after she suffered sudden and massive liver failure.

"The doctors handed me my two-week expiration notice. To this day they don't know how I survived it," she said. "I can tell you for sure that cannabis was part of it. It saved my life. It absolutely saved my life."


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