Spokeswoman for Cannabis Action Network knows firsthand the benefits of medical marijuana

Tabitha Burress is communications chair for the Florida Cannabis Action Network. Photo courtesy Burress.

Marijuana has often been at the forefront of conversations discussing how it can positively affect an individual’s mental state, or how it can negatively impact society. 

As strange as it may sound, when it comes to medical marijuana, there have been positive effects to the mind and body. The detrimental pain that some people cope with on a daily basis can be eased with medical marijuana. But some people can’t get beyond the word “marijuana.”

Tabitha Burress, communications chair for the Florida Cannabis Action Network, (FL CAN) is an advocate for promoting the usage of medical marijuana and educating people who know little if anything about it. The cannabis network is a statewide non-profit effort that aims to implement strategies to end cannabis prohibition in the state of Florida. Burress and other members of the non-profit believe that people should have access to the marijuana plant, including home cultivation.

Burress is also a user of medical marijuana. She said that her usage of medical marijuana started after she was in pain other medicine that she was prescribed didn’t fully work.

 “A few years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory loss and mood issues,” Burress said. “My doctor prescribed me Gabapentin and Skelaxin for the pain, as it didn’t help with my fatigue, but it did help with the pain.”

Six months later she went back to the doctor when the pain got even worse, so the doctor increased her dosage of Gabapentin to help decrease the pain, she said. What she didn’t know was that the medicine was slowing down the functions of her brain. 

“I would be in the middle of a sentence and just lose my train of thought,” Burress said. “I honestly don’t know how I didn’t drive my family completely insane.”

Six months later, Burress returned back to the doctor complaining of severe hip and lower back pain, in addition to having arthritis in her hands and feet. She was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, an autoimmune/autoinflammatory arthritis that affects the SI joints that connect to the pelvis and spine. 

This is what led her to medical marijuana. She paid the doctor and the state of Florida, and then patiently waited for her approval to purchase the medication. 

After many trial and error regimens, she found one that worked for her, a 1:1 concentrate.

“There were a few times when I used something that hit me hard and I was high for hours and times where products that either did nothing or made me feel incredibly anxious,” Burress said.

Burress says she made the right decision in choosing medical marijuana over painkillers like opioids. Even though it took six months, she was able to get off the Gabapentin prescribed by her doctor. The medical marijuana improved her brain and she was able to think and function better. She no longer felt trapped in a failing body, and though it’s not a cure-all, the good days now outweigh the bad.  The dosages have reduced her fatigue and have allowed her to lose 30 pounds.

According to BusinessInsider.com, 12 states have legalized both recreational and medical marijuana. Illinois is the most recent, as of January 1, 2020, and 12 more states – including Florida – have legalized only medical marijuana.