Indiana legalized the use of CBD, or cannabidiol, this year. With improved access to the substance, more Hoosier seniors are trying it to relieve pain or treat chronic illness. But it is still hard for the cannabis extract to shake off the stigma.
Carol Rector had heard about CBD and thought maybe it could help her husband.
Her husband, Jim Rector, is 74 year-old. He has diabetes, and Carol read that emerging evidence shows CBD can treat the chronic disease.
When Indiana legalized its use, Carol got it for Jim and told his doctor.
"He said let’s do an A1C, so they took his blood work and it came back perfect," says Rector.
Jim also suffers from chronic pain related to bursitis, and Carol says his pain went from a 10 to a 5 in a few short days.
And it doesn’t only help Jim.
"It helps me because I see somebody who has hope now," says Carol.
Indiana was one of the last states to legalize CBD, an extract from the cannabis plant. Carol and Jim purchase it at Davidson Greenhouse in Crawfordsville.
Owner Mark Davidson is a self-described “plantsman.” He has also used CBD for a chronic pain condition.
"I said if this ever becomes legal in Indiana I’m going to sell it right out the front door of my store because I know this can help so many other people," says Davidson.
CBD can be sourced from marijuana or hemp. Davidson says the plants are related.
"Just like every sister I know, they are very different sisters," says Davidson. "The hemp plant doesn’t have very much THC and it has a very high level of CBD, which is cannabidiol."
CBD sold in Indiana has to be manufactured with less than .03 percent THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
Carol Rector says some seniors still stigmatize CBD.
"You tell some people, ‘I put Jim on CBD oil’ and they’re like gasp… 'he’s going to get high' and I say ‘no he’s not,’ because he’s not into that, and that’s not how it works anyway," says Carol.
Dr. Dan Stock is a family medicine practitioner in Noblesville. He prescribes CBD for some patients with neurological or immunological disorders. He explains how receptors in the endocannabinoid system works.
"When that system becomes deranged then the transmitting cell just keeps sending signals and yelling and it tends to make the receiving cell become hyperactive," says Stock, "so CBD can normalize that system and importantly it normalizes it without ever making it hyperactive."
Stock says it’s effective for conditions related to aging.
"If a lady comes to me with post menopausal depression and anxiety because of hormone deficiency, then I’m going to recommend CBD," says Stock.
It took Indiana lawmakers years to approve the use of CBD for medicinal purposes. Every year numerous scientists testified the substance is safe, effective, it has no side effects, is not addictive and it doesn’t get you high.
Jeff Staker leads Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis. At the VFW in Kokomo, Staker has a stack of books about cannabis and health benefits.
The past few years he watched the debate on CBD.
"I think I was really frustrated because you hear the same story again and again and you think what is up with these politicians not listening," says Staker.
Staker says senior vets were difficult to convince, too, but now they’re even in support of measures to legalize medical marijuana.
"Some of the senior officers that were sitting up on the stage, they took me aside afterwards and said ‘two years ago I never would have voted this way but you educated us,’" says Staker.
Lawmakers will study the issue of medical marijuana next month.