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The CBD Expert Series: A Son’s Cannabis Journey To Crohn’s Remission

Coltyn, son of Wendy Turner, was able to hike after being in a wheelchair for years when he started using cannabis to manage his Crohn’s disease.

Wendy Turner holds many titles: CEO of The Coltyn Turner Foundation, CEO of Coltyn’s Crue, CEO of Turner’s Gymnastics and Dance. But the title she holds closest to her heart and highest in regard is that of Coltyn’s mom.

Recently, Nick Musica, CEO of CBD Oil Review, spoke to Wendy about Coltyn’s experience using cannabis to manage his Crohn’s disease, which is a painful inflammatory bowel disorder. Coltyn’s journey to remission was no walk in the park, and he and Wendy faced down obstacles every step of the way.

Coltyn’s story and The efforts of The Coltyn Turner Foundation are paving the way for much-needed research on cannabis and Crohn’s, and giving hope to others who are living with this disease. And it all started, almost a decade ago, with a near-death experience at a Boy Scout camp.

Coltyn’s Journey: From Side Effects to Snow Ball Fights

Nick Musica (CBD Oil Review): Let’s start from the beginning. What is Coltyn’s story?

Wendy Turner (Coltyn Turner Foundation): It all started when Coltyn ended up getting sick. In 2011, he drowned in a Boy Scout camp lake. He was 11.

He got a bacterial infection, and it had just gotten worse and worse and worse from there. Eventually, he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease.

Did the drowning have anything to do with the Crohn’s diagnosis?

It absolutely did. So, we and the doctors believe that the drowning was the trigger. Sometimes in Crohn's patients, they have a trigger like Coltyn did. They tend to think that Crohn's is in you innately, that you just have it and it's dormant for a long, long time, and it can come out mainly when you're in your thirties to forties or in your sixties.

So, it's really rare for kids to get it. I mean, I think that there's, like, 10,000 kids diagnosed with Crohn's disease a year, which is not a lot. That's considered rare. But he was 11, and I was like, “Whoa. he's only 11 years old, and he has Crohn's disease.” There's just not a whole lot of kids that have this. Sometimes you have a trigger. Sometimes it just rears its ugly head and, bam, you have Crohn's disease.

Initial Treatment at the Mayo Clinic

What was the initial course of treatment for Coltyn’s Crohn’s?

We took Coltyn to the Mayo Clinic, and we had some of the best doctors on the planet. We absolutely adored them and still do to this day. They were doing what they were taught to do, but they were listening. That's very rare, especially when it comes to GI specialists. GI specialists tend to be cut and dry.

So, in between 11 to 13 is when he was taking all of these pharmaceuticals. With all the medications, he ended up getting rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, which are side effects to these medications. Every pharmaceutical that we gave him ended up with some kind of crazy side effect. Whether it be a horrific rash where his skin blistered up and was red and itchy and hurt to touch, or he was making antibodies towards the medication, the side effects ended up being worse than the Crohn's disease itself.

diagram of Crohn's disease symptoms

Crohn's causes inflammation of the digestive tract, which can lead to extremely painful and sometimes fatal symptoms throughout the body.

 

We did three years of pharmaceuticals, and he ended up in wheelchair with complete growth failure. I think he was four means behind the standard in growth. He was around 75 to 80 pounds at 13 years old. He looked like a cancer patient with hair.

We tried to do the Westernized way, and it just wasn't working. When he was 13, he ended up getting a false positive for tuberculosis, which required a surgery for his lymph nodes—they took out the wrong organ. Instead of taking out lymph nodes, they took out his salivary glands.

By that time, I was like, “I'm done. I can't do this anymore. Something's got to give.”

That’s terrible. Did they ever figure out what was actually wrong?

They said, “Well, it's not tuberculosis,” after they had done this botched surgery. They said that it could possible be T-cell lymphoma, and T-cell lymphoma is fatal. He would have had about a six week window before we would have been putting him in hospice for the end of his days.

I'm like, “This is it. This is ridiculous.” Why are all of these medications worse for his body than the Crohn's? You know, we're giving him Humira that's causing pre-cancerous cells in his body, and his Crohn's disease is not getting better. It's not helping his Crohn's and, on top of it, he's getting something that's even worse than Crohn's. So, I was like, “I can't do this anymore.”

Looking for Alternatives

Understandable. So, what do you do next?

My grandmother is Native American, and she kept saying, “Wendy.” From the beginning, she kept saying, “Wendy, you need to take him back to the earth. You need to take him back to the earth, take him to the reservation, make sure that he gets a medicine man or a medicine woman, and get him back to normal, back to the earth.” I kept blowing her off. She was just my grandma, and she has her ways, and she's always trying to give me mint when I have a bellyache. And I just didn't listen until then.

I was like, “Maybe my grandma is right.” I don't know. Maybe she is. Maybe I need to give him peyote or ayahuasca or something. Maybe I need to try Chinese medicine.

It sounds like that was the turning point to get out of pharmaceuticals and look for something that's a little more natural.

Yes.

So, the next suggestion in the line of biological medications after Humira was something called Cimzia. Cimzia is pretty much no different than what Humira is, but it's just you start with Remicade.

The other option that we had was to have surgery, take out the 22 centimeters of diseased bowel. He would have had two bags, an ileostomy and a colostomy bag on his belly, possibly for the rest of his life.

So, surgery, at 13 years old, taking out his ileum where all of your nutrients go, and at an age when you really start to grow. You really have to have a healthy ileum to have a healthy life and to grow and to gain weight. And without that, he would probably be stuck at the same height and weight that he was at that time. We weren't going to do that.

So, why was Cimzia the next step if it's essentially the same thing as Humira?

It's just what the doctors tell you. They have a line of progression: If this doesn't work, then we'll try this. If that doesn't work, we'll try that. If that doesn't work…You know? And that's just the way the protocol goes. That's exactly what it is, just a protocol. So, Cimzia was next, which was no different than Humira.

Did you voice your concerns about the possible side effects?

I went to his doctor, and I said, “Why are we giving this to him if this could be exactly the same position that we're in now and he could have a higher chance of developing T-cell lymphoma considering he already has pre-cancerous cells?” If they gave him Cimzia, then he had a 66% chance to develop T-cell lymphoma, and…I mean, there's no way. And the doctor knew that, so he wasn't completely into that.

Coltyn’s doctor looked at me, and he said, “We don't know what to do.” He's like, “This is the next step. You don't have to. This is your choice.”

Going “Grandma’s Way”

What did you decide?

The true story is that in 2013, in September, after all of this crazy stuff had happened to Coltyn, I started looking up alternative treatments, and I found a study that said cannabis beat the placebo for patients dealing with Crohn’s disease.

I was like, “Well, you know, what if we just gave him some pot brownies and see what it does,” because this study was just phenomenal.

So, we made him pot brownies in Illinois, in our house, and did it really, really late at night. We gave it to him for about a week, and he had energy, and he had less pain. We were like, “We're onto something here.”

So, Grandma’s way.

Yeah. So, we went Grandma's way. And it worked! We ended up doing the brownies in Illinois, and then we were like, “Okay, well, they worked for a week and he felt better, so let's see what would happen if we did this on a regular basis”

But he hadn't gotten the okay from the doctors to go ahead and try alternative treatments.

So, we made him pot brownies in Illinois, in our house, and did it really, really late at night. We gave it to him for about a week, and he had energy, and he had less pain.

So, we went back to the doctor. We were like, “Okay, what are we going to do? He's dying. We don't want to do surgery.” We could have, but what kind of life would he have had? What are we going to do? They were like, “At this point, we're going to give him to you, and you're going to do whatever you have to do.” I'm like, “Okay.”

How were you feeling when you heard that?

I was like, “What?” You know? Am I supposed to give him acupuncture? Am I supposed to take him to China? Do I need to take him to the reservation? They wouldn't say anything. They wouldn't tell me, “do this,” or “don’t do that.” That's what you expect doctors to do, and they just wouldn't.

But, as the nurse was walking out the door, she looked over at me, and she said, “Why don't you check out what's going on in Colorado?” And then shut the door. I was like, “Green light.”

Finally, somebody just said it. It's something that we knew, and she finally was like, “Just check it out.” But they can't say, “Hey, go do cannabis. Take your kid to Colorado and do a Schedule 1 illegal drug.”

Yeah. They legally can't say any of that.

Right. She took a really, really big chance, and we appreciate that so much.

Becoming a Kid Again in Colorado

Did Coltyn end up going to Colorado?

Yes.

We had sat our other kids down and said, “Listen, Coltyn's going to Colorado. He's going to try marijuana,” and they were like, “Whatever it takes. Just whatever it takes. We want our brother back.”

So, here I am, putting my son, who is medically fragile, in a car with my husband Tommy, whom I absolutely trust but really doesn't know too much about what I did for Coltyn, even though we discussed it. He always let me make those decisions because I would research them.

I'm putting my kid in this car. He's going to go 14 hours away to Colorado where recreational cannabis has just exploded, and he’s going to use recreational cannabis because he didn't have a medical card at the time, and we weren't going to wait.

Did you and the rest of the family make it out there?

Yeah. It was about six and a half months later.

Got it. What was it like when Coltyn and Tommy first arrived?

As soon as Coltyn and my husband Tommy got to Colorado, they had no idea what to do. All we knew was that pot brownies would help. We tried to get ahold of Charlotte's Web, and they were backed up until October. So, we weren't going to be able to get any kind of medication from them because everybody was looking for it. Charlotte was just on the news in 2013, and people were going in droves to Colorado.

image of Colorado flag with cannabis leaves

Colorado was one of the first states to legalize recreational cannabis.

Yeah, Charlotte's Web was only CBD company really having this kind of conversation at the time.

Right.

We watched her documentary on with Sanjay Gupta and we were like, “Okay, if this CBD stuff is helping her, then it can't hurt Coltyn.” Because everybody was like, “Oh, if you give him marijuana, then he's going to be a-motivational and he's going to lose IQ points.”

The old War on Drugs narrative.

Yeah. But here's the thing. I was giving my 11-year-old morphine and OxyContin and Vicodin and fentanyl and Dilaudid to keep him healthy, to keep him out of pain. He was 11 years old. That was not approved for him, but there was nothing else that I could do.

Then, we were giving him Humira, which was not approved for adolescent males by the FDA because the chance of T-cell lymphoma was higher for adolescent males than it was for anyone else.

And in Colorado, we're giving him a Schedule 1 drug, and he's fine.

He's getting more medical benefit out of a Schedule 1 drug versus the cocktail of drugs that were prescribed to him prior.

Exactly. He was gaining weight. He had gotten out of his wheelchair. He hiked a mountain.

Oh, he was in a wheelchair going to Colorado? Is that right?

Yeah. The last time I saw him, before he left for Colorado, he was in a wheelchair.

But after just a few days of cannabis, Coltyn was out of his wheelchair. This was March of 2014. By July 10th, he hiked up Blue Mountain in Colorado at a Boy Scout camp, first Boy Scout camp that he'd ever been able to attend since he’d become sick.

He got up at, like, 3:00 in the morning or something crazy like that and hiked up this mountain with all of his Boy Scout friends and his brother, and watched the sunrise.

It sounds like he was recovering quickly.

He had not seen our son walk in almost four years, let alone run.

Yeah. But just a couple of weeks after he started cannabis Tommy said that cabin fever was setting in, and he was like, “Okay, I've got to get this kid out of here, because he's starting to get energy, and he's getting restless.”

He's turning into a kid again.

Yeah. They drove up to Pikes Peak, and went over Wilkerson Pass there, and stopped to see all of the peaks. This was still March, so there's still snow. As they are walking back, Tommy gets hit in the head with a snowball. 

Tommy turns around like, “What the hell just happened?” And he sees Coltyn running away from him. He always says, “My first instinct was to pick up a snowball and throw it back at the little turd,” and then he realized what he was doing. He had not seen our son walk in almost four years, let alone run. And he was running away. So, they had a snowball fight.

picture of Coltyn Turner and his dad in the snow

Coltyn and his dad smiling for the camera after their snowball fight – it was the first time in 4 years Coltyn had the strength to walk.

A Not-So-Warm Welcome Home

So, you moved back to Illinois from Colorado with the family. What has it been like?

In the beginning, it was hard, because in Colorado, Coltyn has a medical card. He has great access to cannabis because, like everybody says, a dispensary is on every corner, like Starbucks, in Colorado. In Illinois, access is a little bit more limited. He had to become a resident of Illinois and then wait to get his card. So, he ended up waiting 82 days.

Rehospitalized

What were those 82 days like?

We didn't do things the way we should have done things. We took Coltyn's health for granted. We didn't give him his medication like we should have, because we were afraid that our child, who was 18, who was an adult, was going to get in trouble.

And if he does get in trouble and he gets a DUI or gets incarcerated for using cannabis illegally, then he goes to jail, and they give him Humira, or they give him Cimzia, or they give him surgery, and he's off cannabis completely. 

Even though we didn't want to take that risk, we had to take that risk to a certain extent, but we didn't do it to the extent that he needed it, and he ended up getting sick. So, he ended up in the hospital for 31 days. They were trying to tell us that he needed surgery. He was having a pain in between his chest, like in between his ribs, like where his gallbladder was.

I kept saying, “It's his gallbladder. It's his gallbladder,” and they were like, “No, it's not his gallbladder. It's his Crohn's disease.” I'm like, “Yeah, but his inflammation is only three centimeters. So, when it's 22 centimeters, you tell me that he needs to have surgery, and we can talk about then. But until then, something's wrong in his gallbladder or his pancreas or his liver. Something is wrong up there.”

And they kept telling us, “No. There's nothing up there. There's nothing up there. It's referring pain to his ileum, which is down by your right hip. That's what is causing all this pain and inflammation.” And we kept saying that it wasn't.

They would push on that area down by his hip, his ileum, and they would say, “Does that hurt?” And Coltyn's like, “No, it doesn't hurt.” But the second that you press up by his ribcage, he was in tears. And they kept saying, “Oh, no, we have to cut out his ileum. It's totally inflamed, and blah blah.” I'm like, “Does he have an obstruction?” And they're like, “No, it's not a stricture.  Everything's open down there, and things are getting through, but we have to take that out.”

Did they end up removing his ileum?

I absolutely refused. I said, “No. We're not doing it. Something else is wrong, and that's what's going to happen. You're going to fix what's wrong.” By this time, we had been through the ringer with this hospital. 

By this time, they were trying to put Coltyn on Xanax and antidepressants because he was in the hospital for so long and he was starting to get frustrated because they weren't listening. We were like, “Just take his gallbladder out.” 

I'm like, “All the signs point to this gallbladder.” He failed one of the tests that was for his gallbladder. Completely failed it. We were like, “It's his gallbladder.” But we were wrong also. 

And at this point, they had sent him home on Dilaudid, because they couldn't control the pain. He was taking a five milligram Dilaudid every around three hours, which is ridiculous. That's a lot of Dilaudid.

It sounds like a whole lot of symptoms-based treatments.

It was a whole lot of stupid. That's what it was. But they weren't listening. The Mayo Clinic listened to us. These doctors just did not listen. So, we spent 31 days in the hospital for no reason.

So, we got him out of the hospital and we started giving him more cannabis. We tripled his dose. He started feeling better. He started gaining weight. We took him to a local pediatrician, and she was like, “Well, he has an ulcer right there in his duodenum.” We were like, “What? That's what's causing all this pain?” She was like, “Yeah.” So, we gave him some Pepcid.

And that solved your problem?

That solved the problem. The Pepcid and the cannabis solved the problem. He's completely fine now.

The Highs and Lows of Dosage, Ratios, and Diet

How did Coltyn’s trip to Colorado connect to the founding The Coltyn Turner Foundation?

We ended up starting The Coltyn Turner Foundation just a couple of months ago, and it's dedicated to the research for Crohn's disease and cannabis. We specialize in Crohn's because my son has it, and we've helped thousands of patients start their cannabis journey and have seen just remarkable results with the type of medicine and dosage that Coltyn takes. 

We've kind of become the industry standard in dosing when it comes to Crohn's disease, which is just fantastic. Helping other people that are dealing with Crohn's has just been…there's no words that can describe that.

So, what does that look like, becoming the industry standard and helping others on their “cannabis journey”?

Every day, we go through Facebook and go through all of the groups that we're involved in that have to do with cannabis, Crohn's, or cannabis and Crohn's. On these Crohn's pages, people will ask, “Who has used cannabis for Crohn's disease?” and, “What's your story?” and,
“Does it work?”

Somewhere in that conversation, Coltyn and his dosage will be mentioned. So, everybody's like, “Well, you need to start with a 1:1 [THC:CBD], 15 milligrams, four times a day.” That's Coltyn's dose. That's been Coltyn's dose for the last five years. It's great to see we have established a starting point.

What is Coltyn's delivery method? 

He puts his cannabis oil in a capsule and just pops it in his mouth.

Coltyn's dose for his Crohn's is 15 mg of cannabis oil containing a 1:1 (THC:CBD) ratio.

And he doesn’t get high from taking cannabis in that ratio and delivery method, right?

Well, I mean, Coltyn can get high if we put too much of his medicine in it. But we know where his threshold is. In this trial and error section of our life, trying to figure all this stuff out, we’ve gotten Coltyn high. He's hilarious, by the way. So, I wasn't too worried about it. And plus, I've seen him on morphine, so I would much rather him be high on cannabis than on morphine.

Some people can get really, really high and have more of the psychoactive situation going on, and you don't want that. I mean, it's not fun, unless you're meaning to do that. But when you're sick, the last thing you want to do, especially when you have Crohn's disease, is throw up. And sometimes you do vomit with this high feeling that you get because you're dizzy.

So, we don't want that to happen, but we wanted his receptors to be completely saturated. I understand the start low, go slow approach. Get up there, see how it works. But then I also see the approach of, “Bring in the army. One soldier is not going to be able to win the war.” You need to bring the army in. Get saturated, see where your threshold is when it comes to the high, and then drop down from there. 

CBD:THC Ratio, Dosage for Crohn’s

How do you recommend people using cannabis for Crohn’s think about the ratio of THC to CBD? Is it best to start at 1:1?

Well, it's more milligrams. We microdose. So, we started Coltyn with the whole start low, go slow approach. We started him with Harlequin and brownies, and then we ended up getting another regular cannabis flower that was a little bit higher in THC, and he did a little bit better. Then we stopped and went straight CBD. And that did not work.

Not at all?

Yeah. We found out that giving him more THC, whether it be in a cookie or crackers or just in butter in his regular food, he needed THC. So, we ended up getting the oils that were both THC and CBD, and then we found out that we were giving him just as much THC as we were CBD. That's where the trial and error was through.

Once we found out that we had a standard, that this was not making him high and he was feeling great, we just stayed at that standard. We just stayed at that level, and he's been at that specific level ever since, I'd say maybe October of 2014. He's been at the same milligrams since. So, it's really about the milligrams. I say that it needs to be a 1:1, but sometimes people can take 15 milligrams of THC and CBD, and sometimes it's only 10. Sometimes it's only five.

So, really, we suggest the 1:1, but we also suggest that you work on the milligrams, because, like my husband says, everybody has their own road. And sometimes your road is full of potholes that need more CBD than they need THC. But when it comes to a Crohn's patient, it looks like all the potholes are about even. 

chart of thc and cbd health benefits

THC and CBD are both derived from cannabis, and offer their own unique benefits.

Got it. So, the ratio is pretty ready steady from your experience, but the amount given is the variable?

Yep. It does not matter about their weight when it comes to Crohn's disease. I know a gentleman who is probably 200 pounds. Big guy, has Crohn's just like Coltyn does, and has gone through everything that Coltyn has. Very, very similar stories. And he only takes 10 milligrams of the 1:1, while Coltyn is taking 15 milligrams. Then we know a little girl who is taking a little bit more than Coltyn. I think she's at 17 milligrams.

Coltyn’s Diet: Trial, Error, and Hamburger Helper

It really depends on the person.

It absolutely depends on the person. When it comes to Crohn's disease, we always say every person is different. Every single person is different. Coltyn cannot have high fructose corn syrup, and he cannot have lettuce. He cannot eat lettuce to save his life. He's not a fruit and vegetable type guy. But then there are other Crohn's patients that can eat those things. So, your diet really depends on you also.

I’d imagine diet has a big impact on the life of someone with Crohn’s disease.

Cannabis and diet are very, very important to Crohn's patients. But Coltyn has the worst diet on the planet. Like, his favorite thing to eat is Hamburger Helper. He loves it. And it's probably the worst food that you could ever eat. It's full of chemicals—it's probably just completely synthetic. But he loves it, and he eats it, and he can. But eating a salad will tear his stomach up.

So, how do Crohn’s patients know what’s okay to eat and what’s not?

If you can eat it, and it does not make you have diarrhea, constipation, or nausea or pain, then eat it. But if it makes you have those things, don't eat it. That's just the way it is. It's hard, because some Crohn's patients can't have ice cream, and who doesn't want to have ice cream?

That's true!

Crohn’s and Cannabis Research

You said earlier The Coltyn Turner Foundation is focused on Crohn’s and cannabis research. What have you guys done so far and what are you planning to do?

November 20th, we're having a big fundraiser in Kansas City, and we're going to raise money for a survey that we have started with PharmaACE. The survey is going to be specific for Crohn's, and it's going to target efficacy. It's going to target what terpenes are you taking, what's your CRP [C-reactive protein] level, what's your sed [sedimentation] rate, what is your ratio so we can see, in a collaborative effort of collecting data, what is actually helping Crohn's patients in general. That's phase one of the study is the survey.

Then, phase two will be about what specific medicines are people taking. Like, Coltyn has his own medication that he formulated with Mary's Medicinals. It's called the Remedy 1:1 By Coltyn. That's what he takes. Mary's was absolutely phenomenal when it came to letting Coltyn be very specific about what he wanted. He's been on this medication for almost two years. It's been great, and it's helping many, many other people.

picture of Coltyn and his Mary's Medicinals blend

The Remedy 1:1 (THC:CBD) by Coltyn cannabis oil – sold and developed by Mary's Medicinals.

The next phase of the trials will be like an observational trial on what kind of medicine is being taken. I don't know how that goes. I mean, we just hired a company to do that, but we were very involved in the survey and the questions that we want to ask and what we need to know as cannabis patients, like ingestion method.

Fighting the Stigma

One of the studies that Coltyn was in was the Candid study in Colorado at the Children's Hospital. One of the questions that they ask is how many times do you dab or take oil a day. 

Dab or take oil? What does that mean?

Well, when you dab, you have a rig, and you inhale it, and it's very, very concentrated. You have to light it with butane, or whatever you light it with. I've never dabbed. I've never even smoked a joint. It's just a really, really concentrated form of cannabis, so you're getting more cannabinoids quicker, but you also have to smoke it.

But as a mom, if I were to look at my son while he is taking a dab and think that was okay, I'd be like, “Oh my gosh. This is how he has to ingest his medicine?” Visually, it looks like you're doing crack. You know? It's not that. If Coltyn had to dab, I'd be like, “Dab it up, buddy.” I am not against it, but it's just the perception of it and the visual aspect of it. So, it looks like they're taking drugs.

And it doesn't help with the lingering stigma around cannabis.

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that that's what this was trying to do—bring more stigma around it, because they asked, “How many times do you dab or take oil?” And it's in the same question. I'm like, “Dabbing and taking oil are two totally different things.”

So, we went to the doctor that was creating these surveys, and we made them to go back to the IRB [Institutional Review Board], and we made them change that question, because it was looking like Coltyn dabbed four times a day, but he wasn’t.

How did they react to your feedback?

Well, they weren't very happy about it.

I wanted to prove efficacy, and that's what they were supposed to be doing. What they were really looking for was drug use, making these kids look they're drug addicts. Because another one of the questions that they asked on the survey was, “Have you ever sold your opioids?” Have you ever sold your opioids?

Now, why in the world would you ask that question? Why do you need to know? Are you currently on opioids? Absolutely. Do you feel that the opioids are helping you with the pain? Absolutely. But selling them? What does that have to do with efficacy of anything?

We're tangling up medicating and drug use and selling drugs all in one survey.

Yes.

So, we threw a fit about that too. We made them go back to the IRB three different times for things that were just wrong, until finally they said, “You don't have to answer those questions.” I'm like, “Well, if I don't have to answer these questions, why are we doing this survey?”

What kind of information are you trying to get? We wanted it to be a comprehensive survey. Are these kids getting relief from cannabis, or are they not? You know, if they weren't, that's fine. If the majority of kids were not getting any type of relief from whatever type of cannabis they were using, that's okay.

I'm not saying that we have to do these studies, and it has to show this great efficacy, and everybody should take cannabis, and it's a miracle, and it cures everything. I'm not saying that. I'm saying we need the research. We need to know. Does it help, or does it not? Those are the only questions that we need answered. 

Crohn’s and Cannabis Survey and Dr. Sue Sisley

So, where are you with the PharmaACE survey for the Coltyn Foundation now?

Our survey, we're still writing. And we have to raise money, so the survey is going to cost about $250,000.

We have to fundraise, but we are also fundraising for Dr. Sue Sisley, who is a friend of mine. I love her dearly. Talk about a badass. I mean, she is just a cannabis badass, and she has two studies coming up for cancer. One is how cannabis helps cancer patients deal with the pain. The other one is cannabis versus fentanyl. So, we want those studies to be funded. [blockquote align=”right”]I'm not saying that we have to do these studies…and everybody should take cannabis, and it's a miracle, and it cures everything. I'm not saying that. I'm saying we need the research. We need to know. Does it help, or does it not?[/blockquote]

How has the fundraising been going for those studies?

It's hard, because a lot of it is privatized. She doesn't get a whole lot of government funding, because she has to go through NIDA [National Institute on Drug Abuse] and the DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration], and they still say, “No, this is a Schedule 1 drug, and if you're going to study it, then you have to get your cannabis from the University of Mississippi.” And they aren’t real good at growing cannabis. Let's just say it like that.

So, we want her to be able to do this and do it with ease. Money is always the root of all evil and, of course, this is one of those things where we have to raise a lot of money to be able to get these surveys and these studies done. It takes money.

Changing Perspective and Policies on Cannabis

All in all, it seems like a little bit of grandma knowledge can go a long way.

Oh, listen to your grandparents.

They have lived through this probably, or something similar. Or they know more than we do because we haven't lived as long as they have, and we haven't seen the things that they have seen. We take for granted two types of people in our lives. We take for granted the elderly, because they have so much wisdom and knowledge. And we take for granted our hippies.

Did you say “our hippies”?

Yeah. Because if it wasn't for our hippies, if it wasn't for our underground black market, these people that kept this plant alive throughout federal prosecution, my son would be dead.

And a lot of those folks are in jail because of historical cannabis laws.

Yeah, absolutely. It's a sad, sad state. I can't imagine being a mom of Coltyn and him being prosecuted for the medication that he uses to keep the Crohn’s in remission.

If Coltyn went to jail because he takes a Schedule 1 drug, he would end up on these other medications, surgery, whatever, and he would not survive. His quality of life would diminish quickly, but his life expectancy would diminish quickly also.

I know that he's healthy. I know that, for the last five years, he's been healthy, and it's been because of cannabis. No other reason but because of cannabis. For the government to come in and take these kids away from their parents because they're desperate and nothing else is working, is evil. Pure evil. I feel bad for every parent that has had to go through this, or every adult, everyone, anyone who has had to go through this because of a cannabis plant. It's just wrong.

coltyn holding sign that says "I'd rather be illegally alive than legally dead"

The risks and gains the Turners made have helped paved the way for cannabis use in Crohn's patients.

Hitting the Cannabis Campaign Trail

We need to change the laws. And Coltyn tries. You know, he does a lot of lobbying. We worked with the government and the State of Illinois in the beginning of their pilot program. Then we also worked with them when we got back with the rec [recreational cannabis] program, because Illinois will allow rec on January 1st of 2020. 

We gave our input. We gave our concerns. We tried to help move it along the correct way. We've been to [Washington] DC. We've talked to senators and representatives in DC to try to get banking so we can have a normal industry. We have tried to get them to fund research to de-schedule this plant. We work really hard to do those kinds of things.

We've been to other states, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, California. We've been to so many other states doing the same thing, telling our story and saying, “Hey, listen, this cannabis plant is not as bad as what you think it is, and it could help a lot of people.” We have to tell our story. 

Everyone has to tell their story. You probably have a story that's probably incredible that will help somebody else. So, we need to talk about cannabis, we need to have the conversation, whether it be to our government officials, whether it be to the police officers that are having to enforce these laws, whether it be to our neighbor or our grandparents, anybody, we just have to talk.

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