Throughout our lives we will all face a range of challenges that will ultimately define who we are as people. For some the challenge will become an obstacle which we struggle to overcome, but the way that we respond to such obstacles often leads us to places we never imagined and frequently we learn a huge amount about who we are when we have to rise in the face of adversity. For others the experiences we encounter will become learning tools that allow us to help others who may find themselves in similar situations to us and through our own tumultuous times we can perhaps at least find solace in this. Increasingly, we hear from people all over the world who are doing everything they can to find ways to help people using the incredible properties of CBD, THC and a whole host of other cannabinoids and recently we spoke to a number of people who had found the support of one man to be invaluable. His name? Alan Robinson.
A few years ago, Alan was working in a factory and pushing through the usual nine-to-five grind until he was abruptly fired after failing a drug test due to testing positive for THC. Apparently, another member of staff had reported him to the management after they believed they smelled cannabis on him. Although he hadn’t been smoking in or around the premises, the level of THC in his blood was reason enough for them to dismiss him without any further discussion. Seeing this as an unfair dismissal, he began to research why cannabis was still on the EU directive list of substances which were banned from the workplace (especially when not being used in the workplace) and launched an appeal, but he found that it was ultimately fruitless. In spite of this, Alan found that the experience provided him with a fair amount of knowledge and began to consider how he could use this to help others.
Alan’s desire to spread the word about how cannabis can have a positive impact on people’s standard of living came initially from his own experiences. Having struggled tremendously with his mental health, he followed the traditional path of approaching his physician to get help and was prescribed a cocktail of anti-depressants, relaxants and various other tablets which were intended to help him to find a level of inner peace. Sadly, as is so often the case in these situations, Alan found that the tablets caused him to suffer from intense side-effects which did little to help him heal. What made matters worse was that every time he tried to get further advice he was advised to switch from one pill to another and was constantly trying to deal with new symptoms as a result of the medication he was prescribed. Eventually, he felt that he had no other choice but to seek out alternatives.
One day, whilst walking through Belfast city center, Alan saw a CBD shop and decided to enquire within. Having been a recreational smoker for many years, he knew that that the cannabis he had been smoking sometimes provided more effective relief than any of the myriad pharmaceuticals he had encountered and he was intrigued by the recent rise in visibility of cannabis extracts which were available outside of the black market. After speaking with one of the members of staff he decided to try CBD oil to see if it could help him with his insomnia and over-active thoughts. The impact was remarkable and it wasn’t long before he began the steady process of weaning himself of the anti-depressants which had brought him so much additional suffering. Soon after he was able to stop taking all of his prescribed medication entirely. This was a revelation for him and, in light of his awareness of the tremendous issues surrounding suicide rates in his home city, he felt that there was a need for him to speak out in the hope that his experience might be an inspiration to others.
Using social media, he started a campaign and began to spread information far and wide. People began to join his group, but he was acutely aware that some of the people he spoke to were afraid to share their own experiences for fear of reprisal. Unperturbed, Alan encouraged people to be more open and honest and also used the group as a way of advising people who were considering using CBD but had not yet taken the plunge. He knew that there was so much potential, but he also knew that people were most likely to respond to positive success stories and he held out hope that more of the group’s members would come forward over time. One person in particular approached him for advice and informed him that they were becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of success they had found in using traditional topical creams and tablets in the treatment of their psoriasis. He directed them to a CBD topical cream with a high CBD content and informed them of a reputable retailer who stocked it. Soon after they were singing its praises and were amazed at the impact it had in a relatively short space of time; their troublesome psoriasis had practically disappeared. Unsurprisingly, they were overjoyed. Once this story was shared, he found that more and more people were prepared to come forward and his group began to flourish. The NI Cannaguy was beginning to make a name for himself.
Just like so many other grassroots movements, Alan sees that the only way to make a defined and long-lasting change is to help people to not only gain access to a reputable supplier but to educate them how to grow their own plants. He worries that the shifting dynamics of legislation might hinder access to high-quality products or the people who make the important decisions might limit THC/CBD content to the point where medicinal product are less desirable or effective than the options available on the black market. Recently, he has helped people with a wide range of ailments and illnesses including Chron’s Disease, Parkinson’s and Cancer, but he is keen to stress that he is not a doctor and he is not trying to ‘cure’ people – he is just helping people to see alternative ways of relieving the symptoms which impact on their lives. He wonders whether the best approach to cannabis is to follow the likes of Charlotte Caldwell, who he has worked with previously, in trying to build relationships with politicians or whether it is better to build up a reputation within the public eye by spreading information at every opportunity. Having spoken to key charities and various officials, Alan has been disappointed with the endless red tape he comes up against (including Cancer Research UK explaining that they are not able to consider the results of key research from around the world in spite of the fact it could benefit the people they aim to help) but that hasn’t deterred him from his mission.
Recently, he has been building a network of like-minded individuals with a variety of backgrounds, knowledge and connections who are starting their own underground movement. They call themselves the Green Jackets and their aim is to combine their skills and understanding to assist people who are finding it problematic when it comes to accessing medicinal cannabis. From lawyers to mixed martial artists and from media-savvy tech-heads to established retailers, this group are committed to spreading the word and hope to see great success in the near-future. Watch this space for further updates as we’ll keep an eye on their progress in the coming months.
By PSY 23
Originally published in Weed World Magazine issue 140