Cannabis Care Blog: Finding acceptance, relief among new patients

By Abbe Kruger - For Times Leader
Abbe Kruger of Justice Grown, right, speaks to a group interested in learning about cannabis legalities in Pennsylvania. - Times Leader file

Editor’s Note: This is a new Cannabis Care blog featuring Abbe Kruger, CEO of Justice Grown, PA, the dispensary permit holder for Luzerne County. It will appear at timesleader.com and at www.cannabiscarepa.org.

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The experience opening one of the first operational dispensaries in Pennsylvania has exceeded my expectations in multiple respects.

I expected resistance from those who were foreign to cannabis or fearful of the outdated belief that it would lead to drug use. What I found was far less resistance to the idea of cannabis use than I anticipated.

Sure, there are a number in the medical field that would like to see more research before signing on. I think everyone in the cannabis industry agrees that more research is desperately needed.

But for patients who cannot find relief from traditional, well researched medicine, most physicians I have spoken with have been receptive to the idea of cannabis use.

From my personal experience with cannabis and terminal illness, I knew that we would be easing the suffering of patients. But I don’t think I truly appreciated the impact of cannabis on the quality of life for some many patients burdened with a variety of disease states. The realization came almost immediately after opening our doors. On our second day, a Parkinson’s patient came in who required great assistance from his wife and had a walker. He had tremendous muscle rigidity and stiffness in his limbs and trunk. His movements were slow (bradykinesia) and his face was devoid of expression.

He was stooped, frozen in a position favoring one side and his gait was a slow shuffle with a very small stride. I was not able to understand him and relied on his wife for communication.

Since it was so early in the Program, most of our products had high THC with very little or no CBD. THC is the cannabinoid that has a psychoactive effect and is great for neuropathic pain. CBD, the cannabinoid with no psychoactive effect, is a wonderful anti-inflammatory that is neuroprotectant and can be beneficial in managing Parkinson’s. The combination, or entourage effect, is ideal.

I was concerned that the only products I could offer up at the time were THC based and expressed such to this patient and his wife. Nonetheless, he wanted to try it. We sent him on his way and hoped for the best.

We cautioned him about the potential limitations of THC alone and reminded him to “go low and slow.” One week later he returned, requiring less assistance from his wife. He was still stiff but I was able to understand him this time.

He had detectable expression in his face as he told me that his muscles were not as stiff and that he was feeling better. He found it easier to walk and his posture didn’t favor one side as much. He bought more product and returned the following week again. This time, he walked in on his own, managing the heavy set of double doors to enter the sales floor without any problem. His gait improved, his stiffness lessened, and his voice was far stronger.

This patient was not cured of Parkinson’s — cannabis is not known to cure disease but instead, provide significant symptom relief. His quality of life was improved tremendously. With tears in her eyes, his wife thanked me as the impact of cannabis was felt by them both. Just as disease impacts both the patient and his/her family, so too does its alleviation.

This patient became a regularly user of cannabis as it has helped to ease the debilitating effects of his disease and profoundly enhance his ability to be independent.

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About Abbe

Abbe Kruger is the CEO of Justice Grown, PA, the dispensary permit holder for Luzerne County.

As an Editor on Law Review, she graduated from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of law and practiced law in New York City. Thereafter, she developed and managed legal recruitment departments at a national legal search firm.

For more than a decade, Abbe has dedicated herself to the advancement of Luzerne County, serving on a variety of boards and committees for nonprofits including the Domestic Violence Service Center, Blind Association,Wyoming Seminary Parents Association, CASA, Jewish Community Center and Temple Israel (founding its Social Action Committee).

After witnessing the passing of close family members who could have benefited from the use of medicinal marijuana, she dedicated herself to facilitating patient access to ameliorate symptoms from a variety of ailments and conditions.

Abbe Kruger of Justice Grown, right, speaks to a group interested in learning about cannabis legalities in Pennsylvania.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_Medical-Marijuana-2-1.jpgAbbe Kruger of Justice Grown, right, speaks to a group interested in learning about cannabis legalities in Pennsylvania. Times Leader file

By Abbe Kruger

For Times Leader