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In this episode, we sit down with US Army Veteran, Tony, to discuss his journey of overcoming chronic pain and PTSD with the help of cannabis. We explore how Tony found relief and became a calmer, happier, and better Dad. Discover the benefits of cannabis, and it can improve the quality of life, especially for our Veterans.
- Release Date: Wednesday, May 31st, 2023
- Episode Number: Season 1, Episode 19
- Special Guest: US Army Veteran Tony Robertazza
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Why You Will Love This Episode
Sit down with Tony Robertazza and discover how he found relief from joint aches and PTSD and how he found solace in the use of cannabis.
We talk about how his life changed after recreational cannabis became legal in his state of Montana. He was fascinated by the benefits of the plant and immediately headed to a local dispensary to purchase some.
Within the first week of using cannabis, he noticed a significant reduction in his joint aches. Furthermore, he found that his PTSD symptoms began to regulate, allowing him to find peace and calm.
Tony doesn’t smoke, which led him to the world of cannabis edibles. With my guidance, he learned how to make his own edibles, which enabled him to manage his aches and pains better – without the unwanted high associated with smoking.
Throughout the episode, Tony shares his journey and how he overcame the stigma surrounding cannabis use. He hopes that his story can inspire others who may be going through similar challenges to explore cannabis as a form of treatment.
This episode is an enlightening conversation on the benefits of cannabis and how it can help those who suffer from chronic pain and PTSD, especially our veteran population.
I thank our guest, Tony Robertazza, for his service and for sharing his story with us. I hope that it inspires others to explore cannabis as an alternative form of treatment.
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Links & Helpful Resources
The helpful links and resources listed below will offer insight into the world of cannabis, providing knowledge and guidance if you are seeking answers on your cannabis journey.
Tony: Try it. We have too many veterans right now that are killing themselves. It’s the survivor’s remorse. It’s the guilt. I have a couple of buddies that have actually killed themselves as they got older. Don’t, don’t, you know, if anything, if it’s the last resort, try cannabis. Don’t pull the trigger. Don’t do something silly. Don’t do something that, you know, just don’t live, don’t die, live.
Announcer: Welcome to the Well With Cannabis Podcast, a show dedicated to telling the life-changing stories of those who live well with cannabis all while teaching you how to do the same. Meet your host, Emily Kyle, a registered dietitian nutritionist turned certified holistic cannabis practitioner. Emily changed her life for the better with the help of the cannabis plant, and now she’s committed to helping others do the same.
Tune in each week to hear heartwarming stories and gain the knowledge you need to feel connected, inspired, and supported on your own cannabis journey. Whether you’re a new cannabis consumer or a lifetime lover, you’ll benefit from these uplifting tales of real-life journeys that will show you how you, too, can live your best life well with cannabis.
Disclaimer: Hi there. Before we jump into today’s episode, I wanted to share a note on potentially sensitive content. The episodes on the Well With Cannabis Podcast are created for adult audiences only. We will, at times, cover sensitive topics, including but not limited to suicide, abuse, mental illness, sex, drugs, alcohol, psychedelics, and the obvious use of plant medicine. Explicit language may be used occasionally. Please refrain from watching or listening to the show if you’re likely to be offended or adversely impacted by any of these topics.
The information on this show is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. If any of the content on this podcast has brought up anything for you, please reach out or speak to a professional or someone you trust.
Emily: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the Well With Cannabis Podcast. I am super excited to have a special guest here with us today. I have Mr. Tony Robertazza, and we are going to have a really amazing conversation. Welcome, Tony. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Tony: Yes, thank you. Thank you for having me.
Emily: First and foremost, I want to thank you so much for your service to our country. I am forever indebted to our veterans. I really hope we can talk about that a little bit and how that’s been a part of your journey with cannabis. But first, thank you for your service.
Tony: Oh, thank you, you’re welcome.
Emily: Can we talk a little bit about that as we go into our interview? Because I have so many veterans who are finding relief with cannabis, is that okay to talk about it with you?
Tony: Sure, sure.
Emily: Perfect, so let’s start a little bit before that. How did you get into cannabis? Was it one special day, or had you been contemplating it? Just give us a little background of your history and how you got here today.
Tony: When I got out of the Army, it was, like, under house rules and then under Army rules. Now, it’s like, okay, I have no rules. I had a friend that introduced me to weed. It was illegal at the time. We’re talking back in ’89, ’90, so it was illegal and doing it, and it got me high or whatever. But then I went into drinking because of PTSD and all that. Anyway, that’s how I got started.
Then when I came back home to Montana, I just quit. It was, you know, no, none of that. They had been pushing for years and years in legislation to make it legal here in the state. As soon as it became legal, I knew the benefits of it for me as far as mental health, anyway. I didn’t know about the body, but the mind for sure. I was like, I’m getting on this, man. As soon as they opened up the dispensaries for recreational use, I was like, here we go.
Emily: That is so exciting. How long has it been since they opened up?
Tony: Actually, it’s been a little over a year now, so, I mean, we did it.
Emily: That’s amazing.
Tony: Yeah, we had medical marijuana, but I didn’t want to go and apply for the card. I don’t know how true it is, but they said you might as well forget if you have the medical card to own a firearm. And I’m like, wait a minute, just because I’m using it, I’m using it for other reasons than to get high, they’re going to deny me, a veteran, from owning a weapon. You know, I was like, Nah, so I just never got it.
Emily: I completely understand. That is a huge fear for a lot of people. Someone’s going to have to come up with something that is going to protect people either way because it’s way too much of a gray area, and people like yourself who could have actually really used the benefits of medical abstain from it because you don’t want to have to make the choice between personal self-defense or medicine. It’s really unfortunate that they would even put our veterans in a situation where they had to choose between the two because you deserve both.
Tony: Right, well, I mean, according to our government, there are solutions now that you can go, but the paperwork that you go through, it’s phenomenal.
Emily: Oh, it’s not worth it.
Tony: It is in the long run if you get in, but unfortunately, our government, I feel, has personally failed the veterans. We have nonprofit groups, for-profit groups like Wounded Warrior Project, and others like that. They are private citizens and former, Soldiers, Marines, and Air Force that are helping veterans themselves, versus what our government should be doing. But that’s just me.
Emily: Can’t imagine how frustrating that is. And especially in the cannabis space, where it seems like cannabis is a viable solution for many things that our veterans face, especially PTSD. Can you talk a little bit about your experience with cannabis and how that helps you?
Tony: With the edibles that I make, I learned it from you; it’s more of a calming experience. I don’t get high where I’m like, ah, but it’s the calming where the anxiety is basically gone. I can function. If, say, a trigger that can cause my PTSD. As any other veteran knows, once you get that, then you go through stages, then you hit a really deep depression, and it’s really hard to come back from that. Having this outlet where I could just go and be calm, it’s just great.
Emily: Oh, I’m so happy that you found that, and I’m so happy that your state legally lets you access it. What’s your experience like going to the dispensary? Has it been fun? Has it been nerve-wracking? What’s it been like for someone who’s never been before?
Tony: It was funny because after I got out of the Army, it was used to, “Okay, we got to be real quiet; this is shady.”
Tony: Actually, going to a dispensary; I was still wondering if Big Brother was watching. But yeah, the turnout for the dispensaries, there were long lines the first few months.
Emily: The first few months? Wow!
Tony: I mean, out the door, people waiting in line.
Emily: Is there a wide variety of products to try?
Tony: There are. The one that I used to go to had gummies, caramels, and typical edibles. They had several strains of cannabis, the flower that you could buy. I don’t smoke it because of asthma and religious beliefs, so I don’t smoke, but I do decarb it and then make edibles out of it.
Emily: That is awesome. I’d love to talk a little bit more about that, just because a lot of people are under the misconception that smoking is the only way to consume cannabis. Would you share just a little bit about your edibles practice and how you learned to use cannabis without smoking?
Tony: Absolutely. With the edibles, it’s a totally different high, as you well know. Other people that have tried it know as well; it’s more body. And if it is the mind for me, it’s more calming. Whereas when I did smoke, I had paranoia with it because you’re so high. But with the edibles, I mean obviously, like anything else, if you overdo it, you can get into the psychotic feeling. It’s just been great. With the edibles, you eat them, and it just mellows you.
Anything that I hurt in the Army because I was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, I had some rough landings, I’ve landed in trees, all this other stuff. When you’re 18, 19, 20 years old, you feel like you’re Superman, but when you hit 50, it comes back to bite you. The joints are hurting, and it’s really helped with the pain, the inflammation.
Emily: Ah, I’m so happy to hear that. Now, have you ever dabbled with pharmaceuticals or anything to help with the pain, or has cannabis always been your kind of go-to?
Tony: Before cannabis became legal, it was more a lot of alcohol and ibuprofen and Tylenol. With the ibuprofen, it was getting to the point where it was affecting my stomach; I was getting acid reflux and really bad heartburn. Now with the cannabis, I hardly ever take ibuprofen. I hardly drink like I used to.
I used to drink like a fish just either to rid my mind of what happened. Of course, sometimes it took me even deeper, but a lot of the time, it was just to go to sleep so I could just get away from the pain. Now, it’s great. I don’t hurt as bad, I still have flareups, you know, because I’m 55, but it takes the edge off. So, absolutely.
Emily: That is awesome. Can we talk a little bit more? Was there a very clear transition from alcohol to cannabis, or was it a gradual one? Because I do know a lot of people enjoy alcohol, but maybe to a detriment, and aren’t quite sure how to transition from one to the other.
Tony: Actually, it was pretty much overnight. The first time I had the edibles, I just kicked back. I’m just watching TV; I’m interacting with my family. I’m just like, hey, this is cool. I had a beer, but it didn’t dawn on me how much I did drink before. Now, I would say I’ve gone from a six-pack a day down to about two to three a day.
Emily: That’s awesome. And yet you’re feeling better in the long run.
Tony: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Emily: Which is amazing.
Tony: My liver thanks me.
Emily: I bet. It’s just healthier overall. I don’t know if you have found this; I’ve talked to a lot of women, but I would assume it’s true for everyone. When you have cannabis, and you’re pain-free, or not pain-free but better, you just are more energetic; you’re more likely to exercise, you’re more likely to take care of yourself, and you’re more interested in eating better. Have you found that to be true as well?
Tony: Oh, absolutely. I would say probably the past two years with the pain, simple things around the house, taking out the garbage, mowing the yard, shoveling the sidewalks, I would hurt so bad I couldn’t do it. I’d have to have my son go out there and do it. It’s like, wait a minute; this is my job. Yeah, he’s a kid and can have responsibilities, but to me, it’s me; that’s what I do. It made me feel small because I wasn’t able to accomplish these things like I used to. Now I’m right back in the game.
Emily: It’s got to make you feel so good.
Tony: Oh, absolutely, absolutely.
Emily: Can we talk about your family a little bit and what it’s like to be a family man? I’ve talked to a lot of moms who use cannabis and have felt some sort of guilt moving through as a parent. As a Dad, how has your experience been with cannabis? Do you talk about it with your kids? Are you not ready yet? Give us a little glimpse there.
Tony: My children are older. I have a daughter that’s 21, I have another daughter that’s 20, and my son is 17. I’ve told them, “Hey, this is why I’m taking it; this is why I’m eating it for the pain.” They’ve noticed a change in less drinking. Again, they’ve noticed that I’m more interactive; they’ve just seen the change too. It’s not a stigma in the house. I was upfront with my kids right off the get-go. It’s going to be legalized. This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to try it; if it doesn’t work, we’ll go from there, but it’s been a success.
Emily: That’s awesome. I feel like being honest, especially at that age with your children, is just the best way to go. At the end of the day, when they see their dad feeling better, that’s all that matters, I’m sure, to them. I’m sure they don’t care about stigma; they just want Dad to feel better, which is awesome.
Tony: If my kids would’ve been, you know, five or six years old, I probably wouldn’t. But they’re all grown up, and they know. It’s like, here’s why I’m doing it, and it’s the only reason why I’m not going to become a junkie. This is for pain, pain management. For my PTSD.
Emily: They’ve got just to be so happy. If Dad feels better, anyone should want that; as long as you feel better, more power to you; that’s the end goal in all of this.
Tony: Right, absolutely.
Emily: How does life look now? Do you share with people that you use cannabis? Do you feel a stigma personally sharing socially? How does that work?
Tony: The people I work with, even my family members, they’re all cannabis users. We’re all edibles, and it’s all for pain. I have two brothers that are former military as well. We all went Army. There are people that judge, but it took the three of us to convince my mom that eating these edibles, or even if we smoked it, number one, it’s legal.
Emily: Yeah, yeah.
Tony: So hello, get off my back about that. But number two, we don’t smoke, and we’re eating it, and we’re doing it for the right reasons. It’s for pain, for body and mind, is why. She actually went to California to visit my oldest daughter, and she ended up going into a cannabis shop. She bought a salve, a THC-infused salve. She come back, and she just bragged all about it. She goes, “Tony; I don’t hurt no more.” I said, “See?”
Emily: Oh, that’s so sweet. Oh my god.
Tony: Yeah, she’s 74, and she’ll probably kill me for saying her age. But you know, she doesn’t eat the edibles; she just uses the topicals, and she’s pain-free, well, pain comfortable, let’s put it that way, I guess.
Emily: And that’s beautiful, you know, as we watch our parents age, they deserve to have a natural alternative option that they can reach for that would make them feel better, you know? I always say to people, wouldn’t you want your mom to feel better at the end of the day? No matter how you feel about it, it’s about relief and making people feel better.
Tony: That’s what it is. That’s what I appreciate about you because when I started getting in when they started to vote on the legalization, I went online and I looked at several people about making the edibles. You’ve got people out there that, I guess, are trying to give it this a try, that is trying to do it the right way. But when I found you, you are doing it the right way. Because number one, you’re professionally trained as a nutritionist, now you’re into holistic medicine, and what you do, it’s spot on. I appreciate people like you.
Emily: That’s so nice. Thank you so much. I really just want to provide that basic education so that people can go out and make their own decisions, you know? When it comes to cannabis, it’s so nuanced; it’s so unique to everybody. But if we can all start with the basic foundation education, everyone can kind of build their own journey up from there.
I’m so glad that they actually brought us together to have this conversation because I respect you as a veteran, and I hope that other people listen. I think that our veteran population deserves so much more than what they’re getting. Cannabis is a really viable solution that’s within arm’s reach for most people. If we could encourage or maybe make somebody feel a little bit more confident and comfortable trying it, I feel like this conversation is just going to be so meaningful for a lot of people.
Tony: Absolutely. Really, there aren’t as many drawbacks to cannabis as an opioid or even certain medications. All these side effects that they have that are detrimental to us might make you feel good this way but hold on, here’s the con. Where with cannabis, the only drawback is, is either you’re going to feel good, or you’re just going to be like, hey, all right, you know? That’s it.
Tony: You’re going to be space-brain.
Emily: Absolutely, it’s easy. The risk isn’t as high, I should say.
Tony: Right, I agree. But with the way that you’re doing it, education is the biggest thing. The movement, to me, with making cannabis legal, it’s not the fact of, “Hey, we’re just going to get high”. To me, I was like, “Wow, that’s all people want; they just want to get high.” But when I tried it, and I realized the benefits of it, I was like, wow. Of course, the price of it is based on supply and demand. The supply is short; the price is going to go up.
I went online and was searching for avenues of how to make it, found you. And I haven’t had to go back to the dispensary. I’ve got my own edibles in my fridge that I keep; I’ve got my gummies and my chocolates. I don’t do it at work; I don’t even take ibuprofen at work anymore. I used to carry a bottle with me all the time. I don’t take that anymore. I might have to when I first get up in the morning, have to pop a couple of ibuprofen, but that’s it.
Then when I get home, I eat a piece of chocolate or a gummy bear and give it time to kick in. In the meantime, I feel good. I can sit there; I can cook dinner; I can go out and mow the yard; I can go out and do whatever. Of course, it’s wintertime, so I’m not doing that now. But I can go out and shovel the sidewalk and do stuff, and then when the stuff kicks in, I can just relax.
Emily: Ah, isn’t that nice? Everybody deserves that when they come home from work. It’s truly an opportunity to relax. I feel like that’s so hard for people just to feel that sense of calm, and cannabis can bring that and give that, which is what makes it so magical.
Tony: Absolutely. When my kids were younger, the bad part of not having the cannabis is when I would come home from work; I’d tell ’em, “Give me an hour.” I need an hour of “me time” because my mind was trying to process the day. It’s because I was on edge. It’s like, “Dad needs an hour, don’t talk to me for an hour.” Now it’s like I come home, they know, “Hey, Dad!” Even though they’re older, they can approach me. I’m more approachable now, is what I’m trying to say.
Emily: Gosh, if that’s not a huge win, if anyone’s listening here, is on the edge of cannabis, to be more approachable with your kids, there’s really nothing better than that. It truly is a gift. I’m so happy because, at the end of the day, you’re improving your relationships with your family. There’s nothing more important than that.
It’s crazy that a plant can help with that. We’re always talking about how it helps with pain relief, anxiety, and things like that, but there are so many hidden gems of little things that it helps with that people might not necessarily know. I’m so glad that you shared that with us because there are just these little pockets of sunshine that occur with cannabis.
With your platform and the way things are going, the education and getting it out there, it’s just going to get better and better. One thing from survival training in the Army, what you learn from nature is that one thing can hurt you or make you sick, within reach, there’s going to be something that’s going to make you better. You know what I mean? With cannabis being a naturally grown thing from the ground, there are natural fields all over the United States, I think down South; what does that tell you? The Native Americans used hemp and all those things. It wasn’t a party; they did it for a reason.
Emily: It’s amazing that we as a society are kind of just making that shift forward. I mean, with legalization, you felt so much more comfortable trying it. I’m so glad. I know we’re not there where we want to be, but even just to have stories like you where you can finally walk into a dispensary and get what you need, and now you don’t need that at all. I feel so much more comfortable when it’s legal, and we don’t have to feel like we’re sneaking around or doing something wrong.
Tony: Absolutely. My granddaughter, they’re going to be coming and moving up with us here in Montana. My son-in-law is a Marine, so he’s getting out. Anyway, they’re coming up and going to live with us, and my wife will say, “Hey, you’re not going to do that stuff around our granddaughter.” It’s like, “It’s edible. What are you talking about?”
I’m not going to eat or smoke anything in front of her. She goes, “Well, I just don’t feel comfortable.” I said, “Well, if that’s the fact,” then I said, “Once our son-in-law comes up, he can’t drink beer in front of our granddaughter.” Because they’re both legal, are you kidding me?
Emily: That is the best argument.
Tony: I’m not going to sit there and process the stuff in front of her because she’s not old enough to understand.
Tony: And you hear of these THC poisonings? That’s because of the parents. Just like with guns, if you leave a loaded gun where a kid can get ahold of it, guess what? Well, that’s the same thing with your edibles or even your marijuana if you smoke. If you leave it out and your kid can get to it, guess what? That’s how they’re going to get sick. It’s because of our, not disregard, but it’s because of our carelessness that our children are getting sick from THC.
Emily: Absolutely, and I feel like, as adults, we are responsible for a lot of things on a daily basis. Whether it be guns, finances, or driving a car, there are so many things that we do that are dangerous that we all seem to figure out and do responsibly just fine. I think we can also figure out how to use a plant responsibly without having any kind of adverse reaction. That’s the beauty of edibles; no one has to see you eat them. No one’s going even to know if you eat them.
Tony: Yeah, they’re not going to smell it.
Emily: Nothing, nope.
Tony: I’ve noticed with the edibles, when I used to get high before when I smoked, it was like, you could tell you were high, your eyes are so small and bloodshot, and with the edibles, you’re not that way.
Emily: No, it’s much more for me, longer, more mellow, enjoyable type. I don’t need to reach for another gummy in two hours. That’s the beauty of it; just that little dose is enough. And hey, if it makes your time with your granddaughter more enjoyable if you’re pain-free and able to throw her up in the air and get down on the floor and laugh and giggle, what’s wrong with that?
Tony: Absolutely, the only time I do it is at night. You know, I get that hour in where I can get stuff around the house, and by that time I get things done, it’s kicked in, and then I can kick back, and if I want to crack open a beer, I’ll crack open a beer, but I’ve already put in my day.
Tony: Then I can interact with my family. It’s no longer where I say, “Give me an hour.” It’s like, all right, let’s do this.
Emily: So nice, and such a win. I really hope any parents listening to this, especially Dads, listen. I feel like we don’t have enough representation of cannabis-using dads, so I’m so glad you’re here. To come home and say, when I come home, I’m happy and excited to see my family. If we could pass that on to another Dad, that would make everything, this whole interview, just so worth it. I want dads to know that just because we talk about cannamoms, as parents, we’re all in this together, and if you can do something, parenting is hard. Whether you’re a mom or a dad, it is hard. If something can help you and help your family, you should feel comfortable and strong enough to use it.
Tony: Oh, absolutely. Again, that goes to our responsibility. Just like anything, drinking, whether it’s alcohol, liquor, or beer, you can overdo it. And the same thing can be said with cannabis.
Emily: Yeah, absolutely.
Tony: Know your limits. Know your limits, number one. And number two, as I said, for me and what I’ve noticed with you, it’s not about, it’s not the getting high, it’s not the partying. It’s the actual nutrition behind it and the healing properties of this product. It’s not about, back in the day when I was 19, 20 years old, we’re going to party it up, I got so hammered. It’s not about that. It’s about health. That’s the message we really need to get out there. It’s not about partying, you know, it’s about health and healing.
Emily: Beautifully said. Men need to hear this more from other men that they can look up to because there are a lot of women’s voices here. I feel like having a respectable, honorable man say that, thank you so much, because it really brings so much to anyone who’s listening and needs to hear that little voice of confidence too.
Tony: Yeah, it is, exactly. It’s like, all right, I know it does have a stigma, but my dad always used to say, “You get mad, scratch your butt and get glad.” Well, pretty much that’s it; you just got to get over it.
Emily: Yeah, absolutely.
Tony: You know, you really do; it’s like, buy it, and if it’s not for you, then it’s not for you.
Emily: Absolutely, there’s no shame in trying.
Tony: If prescription drugs aren’t doing it for you, if the side effects are just way too much for you, so you quit, if it’s going to keep you in that funk, try it. It’s not a bad thing. If it’s legal where you live, go for it. Do it in moderation, just like anything else. You’ll find, for me, it was the moderation and figuring out, okay, when can I eat it? I had to come and use it at the proper time. And because I’m doing it and I’m using it responsibly, I feel better about it.
Emily: And now you’re in control, really, of your own health because as you learn to use it, you learn that you can manipulate it. If you’re feeling a certain way, you can take a certain dose, or you can change it up. It really puts the power in your hands to be able to feel like you can control or at least care for your mental, physical, and emotional health without having to run to a doctor or get a pharmaceutical. I feel like, for a lot of people, that’s very empowering.
Tony: Oh yeah, absolutely. You know, because I try to keep two different strains of gummies. I’ve got one that’s more like, what do they say, how do they put it? Sativa. I got a friend; he grows his own.
Tony: The funny thing is we got to talking about this, and I was like, “Yeah, I’ve been researching how to make gummies and stuff.” I said, “I got to have this flower.” I’m learning all the terminology. Back in the day, I was just like, “Hey, twist it up. Who’s got the baggie?” The guy really studied up, and he’s got it down to a science about how it grows. The stuff that I make, the oil and the cannabutter I make, is only from his trimmings. It’s crazy the amount of THC that we are pulling from it, just from his trimmings. We haven’t even touched the bud yet, or the flower. It’s just the trim. Because we have so much oil, we don’t need to.
Emily: It’s amazing.
Tony: He’s storing it, and he goes, “When we run out.” And he ran out.
Emily: It’s so nice that you are able to do that. There are so many cost savings compared to going to a dispensary. I don’t know if you feel this way, but I enjoy the process of making oils and gummies and feeling like I’m making my own medicine, feeling in control of the ingredients and what you put into it. It just is a very cathartic experience.
Tony: Absolutely. Here in Montana, even though they do have recreational marijuana, it’s still regulated. You’re only allowed, in all the products I’ve seen in the stores, 100 milligrams per candy bar, crunch, or whatever. Here with your calculator, I guesstimate where our content is. With his strain, which is Sativa that he grows, it’s up there in a teaspoon. We’re running probably about; I’d say, 30 milligrams per teaspoon with his stuff.
Emily: Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s insane.
Tony: The next thing we’re going to try to do is FECO.
Emily: There you go, there you go.
Tony: We’re going to try the FECO. All I do is the only money I’ve got into it is the price of the MCT oil. I can get that here at a local grocery store.
Tony: $10 for an 18-ounce container. This last batch that we had made, we ended up with, I think, 40 ounces of oil out of it. It was two ounces, but it was of his trimmings, and a 16-ounce mason jar lasts a long time.
Emily: I bet. I bet. Do you have any plans for growing for yourself in the future?
Tony: He’s going to start teaching me. I’ve got the book. He calls it his bible.
Emily: It is a science. I have none of that education. I am always impressed by it. It is the most magical botanical science experiment I’ve ever seen.
Tony: It’s funny because he told me two different kinds of grow lights that he does because he does it indoors. We’re in Montana. Well, you’re in New York; you get cold up there too.
Emily: Oh yeah.
Tony: Here in Montana, we got the snow. He has high phosphorous, all this science stuff.
Emily: Oh yeah, it’s great.
Tony: He’s got the lights, LED, and he goes into it. CBN, CBDA, THC, THM, he knows his stuff. All I do is take it, and I turn it into stuff. You know what I mean? He’s the science guy behind growing what he’s growing. I’m going to try to get into it once my granddaughter moves out, then I can take over my game room again.
Tony: Then I can have a little corner where I can grow plants. He took me to his house and showed me his outfit; we’re only allowed four plants. But these plants he had, I mean, they were a good three foot tall, and they were just full of bud. I was like, wow-
Emily: Aren’t they beautiful?
Tony: Oh, it was awesome.
Emily: The first time to see one, it was a wonderland.
Tony: It is. When I looked at it, the one plant, I’m like, “Well, that doesn’t look like a lot of weed.” He’s looking at it and says, “Oh, I’ll get two ounces off of that.” I’m like, “What?”
Tony: Again, he’s using it for medical purposes for his anxiety. He had tried to make the edibles, the oils, the tinctures, and he couldn’t do it. He said he kept ruining it. I said, “Let me try it.” I found you and your stupid easy-to-follow guide that you’ve got, and it was a success.
Emily: It sounds like a beautiful partnership.
Tony: We want to open a dispensary. Right now, within our city limits, our city commissioners aren’t allowing it.
Emily: We’re doing some of that in New York too, where you can have it here, but not over here type thing.
Tony: There are only a couple of cities here in Montana that are pretty open, too; Missoula’s one; they’ve got shops all over the place. I think Bozeman’s the other one. Then, of course, they’re college towns.
Tony: They’ve got the dispensaries, I don’t want to say every block, but it’s a lot more frequent than here where I live.
Emily: That is so exciting. Traditionally, when I think of Montana, I think of maybe one of the last states to legalize. To hear that there are actual dispensaries you can just walk into recreationally is so exciting for you.
Tony: They’re all outside city limits, obviously. They’re in the county, but it’s not far. I’ve got one right up the hill that’s maybe a mile and a half away if I really want to. I’ve got my stuff in my fridge.
Emily: That’s amazing. You don’t need them. Dispensaries are expensive, and if you have like this beautiful partnership with your friend where he grows it, you make it; why not? That is the best of both worlds. You’re saving money; you’re helping and learning from each other. I’m sure you’re building a friendship and a relationship. And you’re probably going to share it with other people who it’s going to help as well. It really is just a beautiful thing.
Tony: They hear us talking, and they’re like, what? There’s stuff that we can’t do at work, obviously. But it’s like, “Here’s where I live. If you want to come over, I’ll give you a couple to try; see what you think.” Again, they’re worried, “If, oh, if I go to a dispensary, they’re going to see my car, they’re going to make fun of me, or I’ll get in trouble.” It’s like, dude, it’s legal; you’re okay.
Emily: It’s still so hard. I have the same. The first time I walked out of a dispensary looking around, “Was that allowed? Am I allowed to do that?” You are not the first person to say that. I feel like everybody has that moment: “I just did something completely legal that feels very illegal; oh my god, someone’s going to get me.”
Tony: Absolutely. Because I make it and I share with my friend what we make, if somebody wants to try it, it’s like, “Hey, I’ll give you two, I’ll give you a couple for free. See what you think.” I also tell them that every person’s metabolism is different; it works a little differently for everyone. I’ll give you this; this is what you can expect; this is what it does for me. It might do something different for you. They try it, and they’re like, “Oh, okay, you know?”
Emily: How beautiful is that? You found the relief, and now you’re sharing that with others and giving that and passing that forward. I think what I see so much in this cannabis community, what’s so beautiful about that, is that’s how this works. It’s one person holding another person’s hand and saying, let me help you. This is what worked for me, and let me help you try it. I think is just a beautiful thing on a human level because we don’t see that so much anymore.
Tony: I try to follow your platform. I tell the people, “I do this not to get high.” You can; you can really get high if you really want to eat it. It’s more about the body; it’s more about feeling good, about feeling better, not hurting, and not having near as much anxiety without having to go to big pharma with the side effects. If I can help somebody out that way, I know what it’s done for me, and I know how freeing it is for me personally; if I can do the same thing for somebody else, why not.
Emily: That’s beautiful. I hope that this podcast just amplifies your voice and lets even more people hear your wisdom. Everybody deserves what they have, to feel comfortable and to be able to come home from work and feel relaxed and happy. There’s nothing better.
Tony: I’d love for the stigma to be taken away. As I said, only a few states in the United States are legal, and even in those states, Oregon or Washington, there’s still that stigma. You can walk into a dispensary, and people walking around give you that old ugly eye. It’s like, dude; it’s legal. Come on; I’m not a stoner. It’s not like back in the ’70s and ’80s when people just, hey dude, I’m so high, you know? It’s not that. It’s about, you know, feeling better, to me, personally. I feel that that’s how you present it. That’s your platform. It’s about the body and mind. It’s not about getting high; it’s not about partying.
Emily: That’s perfect. I’m so glad you said that because people need to hear that from all people, all different walks of life, and say, “Wow, maybe I’m wrong when people keep telling me repeatedly how awesome it is.” Hopefully, people will be like, maybe I should give it a try. That’s my hope, anyway, that people will be open-minded enough to try it once and see if it helps.
Tony: Right, we’re not trying to become pushers.
Tony: Somebody will come up, and they get to talking, “Hey, this is how I feel, I’ve tried this.” It’s like, well, I’ve got something that you can try, I can meet you in the parking lot, I can give you one, see what you think. Don’t do it at work. Don’t do it at work. Do it at home. Try it and see what you think. This way I can get them into a dispensary, and they can get to feeling better. I know there are a couple of people around work that I’ve, I don’t want to say introduced, but I’ve taken them from their thought of just getting high and partying to where it’s actually making them feel better. If you dose it right. If you’re feeling bad, it’s crazy but fun. This has to be turned away from being a stigma. It’s not. And your platform is perfect for that.
Emily: Thank you so much. Doesn’t it feel good to make other people feel good? It’s like you said, we’re not pushing, you have to tell someone when you feel so good, and you’ve almost found a secret. It’s like, you want to share it with other people. You don’t have to do it, but I’m really passionate because it worked for me.
Tony: Right, and that’s it. That’s the perfect word right there. Passionate about it because it worked for me. It’s not that, “Oh hey, here’s $20 for a hit.” It’s not that. It’s trying it; if you like it, there are dispensaries up there that are legit. They got the same stuff, but mine’s a little stronger. I’m not regulated, but that’s for my own personal consumption.
Emily: Yep, absolutely.
Tony: It works for me. If you don’t like it, then guess what? The effects will wear off, you go to bed, and you’re done.
Emily: On for another day, that’s right. It’s not like you’re going to wake up with a hangover, you just start a fresh new day.
Tony: Absolutely. One thing I was just going to say for a couple of people that I’ve given it to, they actually like it because they slept through the night.
Emily: That’s a big one we don’t always talk about, is like, wow, what a difference it can make for sleep.
Tony: Without sleep, or lack of sleep. Being in the Army, we had sleep deprivation when you’re out in the field. You got somebody out there that’s wanting to come around and shoot you or do whatever to you because you’re in their country. It’s like, you’re wide awake. We also know the bad effects of that, heart disease, again the anxieties and stuff, and you’re short-tempered. If you get a full night’s sleep, you’re going to feel way better in the morning. I know, I do.
Emily: Absolutely. Sleep is so essential for so many things in our life. If you could use one thing just to help that, take away the pain, the anxiety, anything to get a full night’s sleep. As you said, you’re such a kinder person in the morning when you wake up.
Tony: Yeah. Absolutely, it’s not like, “I need my cup of jo before.”
Emily: Yeah, yeah.
Tony: Now you wake up and say, “I had a good night’s sleep. I feel good.”
Emily: Which is great. For a lot of people, that’s all they’re looking for. You don’t need to get high, but if you want a better night’s sleep, if that’s all you want, you can get that with cannabis.
Tony: Absolutely. You just take it an hour or two before bed, and once you feel it start to kick in, you grab that pillow, and bada bing, bada boom.
Emily: Sleep like a baby.
Tony: Absolutely forget about it. Then you wake up the next morning.
Emily: Then you wake up the next morning feeling good too. There’s no hangover, there’s no fog. I personally am not extra tired or anything because I consumed it; I just feel like I’m fresh and ready for a new day.
Tony: Absolutely. I’ve noticed too that with using cannabis,I’m not up as many times a night to use the restroom because I’m tossing and turning. And it’s like, “Well, I’m up anyway, might as well do this.” You see those old people commercials or movies where you see the guy getting up four or five times a night to use the restroom. That’s really cut down because I’m sleeping. You take it; I feel it kicking in. It’s like, time to go to bed, then you go to sleep, you wake up, and that’s it. You just feel good because you’ve slept through the night, and you slept hard.
Emily: Priceless, really. I mean, you really can’t even put a price on the gift of sleep.
Tony: No. I know prior to it being legal here in Montana, I would wake up in the middle of the night hurting. I’d have to take some ibuprofen. Now, I’m sleeping through the night like a baby. I’ve been doing it for a year now. My kids have seen the change, my wife’s seen the change, and it’s all positive, it really is.
Emily: I’m so happy for you, and a year really is a short period of time in the grand scheme of things. To have such a transformation like that is got to be so awesome. I’m so happy for you.
Tony: Once you hit 40, that’s when things start hurting. From the pain aspect of things when my body’s catching up to what I did when I felt, I was indestructible. From 15 years, basically, of tolerating the pain, you know? Prior to that, after I got out of the Army, I was 21. Back then, you didn’t have PTSD; you just had to suck it up and drive on.
We don’t have that; we don’t know what you’re talking about; you’re a pansy, you’re a wuss, you’re whatever. Now that it’s actually recognized, but you know, dealing with that for that amount of time and then self-medicating with the alcohol. Actually, I got into cocaine use, and that threw me down a big rabbit hole. I’ve been off of that stuff since 1994, when I came back to Montana and got out of that scene. Then it was back to the self-medicating with alcohol. Now, this past year has been a huge growth for me. I feel better; it works better, all just because of, like you say, a plant.
Emily: It’s so nice knowing, moving towards the future as you get older, you have a tool in your tool belt now for whatever comes along your way, and that you can live these next years happy and healthy and not even like predict that pain is going to be a part of the equation, which has got to feel amazing.
Tony: Absolutely, I never thought of it that way, but yeah, the predictable pain, it’s really not predictable anymore. The flareups, now there’s nothing I can do because I’m at that age where something’s going to flare up. But for the everyday day-to-day where I would consume at least 12 to 18 ibuprofen tablets a day.
Emily: That’s a lot.
Tony: Every four hours because I hurt, and my stomach paid for it. Now I’m not doing it. I might take two, I take two in the morning, and I’m done.
Emily: That’s huge; that’s a drastic reduction. I’m super happy for you. That is great.
Tony: Yeah, it’s awesome. My stomach is repairing. I don’t get the acid reflux nearly as much as I used to.
Emily: That’s great.
Tony: There are so many benefits to this. I forget about some of the other things that it does help, but mind and body for sure. Sleeping, there’s a lot of benefits to it. With you doing this and getting this out there, hopefully, you can get enough people behind you, where this is a good movement. I mean, it’s the right movement; it’s going the right way. It’s trying to take that; I hate using the word, but to get that stigma away from it. There is an actual benefit to cannabis; there really is. When I first smoked, it was just to get high, but now I realize there are actual benefits to it, and it has been used in the right way; it has helped. As I said, this past year, my life has changed big time.
Emily: I’m so happy. And I do want to be respectful of your time. I like to ask my guests all the same four questions. Are you up for them?
Emily: Alright. So, first of all, what are you most proud of in your life to date?
Tony: To date, I’d have to say that I’ve actually successfully raised my three kids. They’ve all graduated high school. Even prior to the cannabis, I actually slogged through life. I don’t want to say coast, I was treading water trying to stay afloat, but I didn’t screw them up.
Emily: I mean, as a parent myself, I know like that is the ultimate goal to be able to say that; it’s got to feel awesome.
Tony: My kids have seen the change this past year. How much more mellow, laid back. I just wish this would’ve happened 10 years ago, this would’ve been legalized, and it just would’ve been a better deal. The thing I’m proud of is that we own a home. My three kids, they’re grown up; they’re graduated. My daughter has a granddaughter now that’s a little over a year old. I mean, that’s why I’m proud of his family. That’s the way I was raised my family. Obviously, there’s service to the country, but the biggest is family.
Emily: Now you’re showing up just even better for your family. I’m so proud of you because that is the most important thing for you. Just to put the cherry on top of that and show up for your family in a new way is really awesome. I’m super happy for you for that.
Tony: Oh yeah. I am too.
Emily: I bet your kids and your wife are, too.
Emily: This will piggyback off what you just said; if you could sit down with yourself 10, 20, 30 years ago and give yourself a piece of cannabis advice, what would it be?
Tony: 30 years ago, that would’ve been about the time when I started getting just high. It’s like, don’t use it just to get high. If I would’ve had the knowledge then that I do now of making the edibles and the actual value to it, I’d say, “Hey, there’s a value to this. It’s not a party drug. This is actually a get-well drug. This is going to help you with your anxiety. This is going to help you with your PTSD. I didn’t have the aches and pains back then that I do now, but those two benefits alone would’ve probably changed the whole outcome of my life.
I probably wouldn’t have been as reckless making those stupid decisions. Of course, if I hadn’t made those decisions, I wouldn’t have the wife I have, I wouldn’t have the kids I have. To tell me back then, it’s okay, don’t use this for a party drug. There are actual benefits to it.
Emily: Wonderful advice. Now moving forward, what do you think your life would look like if you never gave cannabis a try?
Tony: Honestly, I’d still be the grumpy old fart that I was. Short-tempered-
Emily: Don’t seem like that now at all, so I mean, cannabis has served you well.
Tony: It has. And you know, in the future, it’s just onward and upward, basically.
Emily: Oh, perfect. If you could be remembered for one thing in the cannabis space, what would it be?
Tony: Trying to get that stigma away from what cannabis is. Yeah, you can party with it, don’t get me wrong, but just like alcohol, alcohol is used in moderation, and you can have fun. You don’t have to get drunk. You don’t have to get wasted. That’s the same thing with cannabis. To get the stigma off of it, to educate people like you are. There are benefits to this, and I am living it. I’m living it; I feel it.
Emily: It’s perfect. It’s perfect. I’m going to ask one more question. Speaking to our service members, if anybody is listening to this podcast, do you have any words of wisdom for them if they are struggling and not sure if cannabis is the right choice to try or not?
Tony: Unfortunately, for my brothers in arms out there, the government. They say that they have our backs, but I’ve been through the mill with those guys. All this paperwork you’ve got to go through. But guys, give this stuff a try. Use it in the right context. Go in using it to, to tell yourself, all right, this is going to help me with my anxiety, this is going to help me with my PTSD. It’s not there to be a party drug. It can help. You got to get the right strains, but you know, it’s not a bad thing.
It can actually help you. It’s helped me; it can help you, you know? Is it perfect? No. Are pharmaceuticals perfect? No. As a matter of fact, pharmaceuticals have more drawbacks than cannabis does. All cannabis will do is put you to sleep. Oh man, I’m high, you know? If they’re out there and you’re struggling, and they’re hurting, it is one way. If you can’t get into it, see what they call a Veteran Service Officer. If you can’t get in to be seen, give it a try.
Find somebody, find a good holistic relief. You don’t want to go to just a pot shop. I hate to say it, but you know what I mean. One or two around here are strictly what they are: a pot shop. They’re about the high or the money. Where for me, it’s more about the body. Find holistic relief; find one that doesn’t have the THC. The cannabis, it works. Try it. We have too many veterans right now that are killing themselves. It’s the survivor’s remorse. It’s the guilt. I have a couple of buddies that have actually killed themselves as they got older. Don’t, don’t, you know, if anything, if it’s the last resort, try cannabis. Don’t pull the trigger. Don’t do something silly. Don’t do something that, you know, just don’t live, don’t die, live.
Emily: I have goosebumps. Thank you so much for sharing your words of wisdom; I truly hope that on the other end, somebody will listen to your words and your advice, and it will make a big difference in their life. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. Again, thank you so much for your service to our country, and thank you for now, in this next phase, hopefully helping our veterans and helping our next generation accept cannabis and bring you the joy and relief that you have found, so thank you.
Tony: Absolutely. You’re welcome, thank you.
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