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A healing journey with cannabis

A Nevis resident shares his story

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Nevis resident Jeremy Moen has made it his personal mission to increase public awareness of the cannabis plant, including CBD oil. Lorie Skarpness/Enterprise.

Educating the community about the benefits of cannabis, a plant referred to by many as marijuana, is the mission of Nevis resident Jeremy Moen.

He said cannabis has helped him cope with the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that has haunted him since December 1997. He was 19, and home in Floodwood on leave from basic training in the Army. The vehicle he was driving had an accident with a semi. His grandma, a passenger in the vehicle, died as a result.

“One day after her funeral I had to go back to finish basic training,” Moen said. “I lost myself in my work. I didn’t call home, I stayed away. “People who look at PTSD from the outside say it looks like people like me hold onto the past and can’t let go of it. But it’s the reverse side of that, it’s the past not letting go of us. It’s the past always coming up and not being able to remove it.”

Moen said he started smoking marijuana in high school and found it calmed him.

“I was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in second grade,” he said. “Smoking helps me focus and be more polite because it gives me time to think of what I’m going to say before I say it.”

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He said when he was working construction, smoking cannabis helped him “follow the plan and get the job done.”

So when thoughts of the accident wouldn’t let him go, Moen again found relief in smoking cannabis. “At that time things weren’t going well for me in my head,” he said. “I was getting more depressed. I was embarrassed. I was an infantryman. I didn’t feel like I was able to do my job. So instead of going home and getting drunk every night, I went home and got stoned.”

Moen said his military career ended in 2001 when he tested positive for cannabis during a random urinalysis.

“I was kicked out of the military and didn’t have the guts to stand up and tell them why I was using it,” he said. “Using cannabis makes it so I don’t have to think about the accident all of the time. It’s a break. I can pay attention to the moment instead of half paying attention to the now and half paying attention to the past.”

Stuffed in a ‘cannabis closet’

Moen said he has felt like a criminal for half his life because of using cannabis.

“There are a lot of people who judge me, thinking they understand it, thinking they know what it’s about,” he said. “I feel like cannabis consumers have been stuffed in a cannabis closet for way too long. Most people are scared to come out.”

He said most of the time people can’t tell if someone is using or not. “But once they know, people scrutinize every action,” he said. “It’s a lifetime of being under a microscope and being treated differently.”

Moen said all of his life he has heard only about the evil of cannabis, never the benefits. “It’s not the devil,” he said. He said the Chinese used the plant to treat depression 2,600 years ago and the plant is featured in medical journaIs dating back to the 1600s in Europe.

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“George Washington was a hemp farmer,” he said. “But in the 1970s, cannabis went on the first page of the controlled substance act to criminalize the plant.”

Making cannabis more available

These days, Moen said the only way he uses cannabis is smoking the raw flower. “Hopefully, it gets legalized because there are so many things that can be done with this plant,” he said.

Under current state laws, Moen said the process for being able to use cannabis starts with seeing a doctor. “They certify and say you have a qualifying condition,” he said. “Then you fill out an online form.”

Moen said, once certification is complete, you can legally possess and purchase medical cannabis. Recertification is required annually.

“Here in central Minnesota, you need to go to Moorhead, Hibbing, Duluth or St. Cloud to get cannabis,” he said. “That’s at least a four-hour drive, round trip. Say it takes one hour once you’re there. That’s five hours out of your day. A person on medical cannabis cannot get off work, stop by the pharmacy and go home. You have to take a day off of work, plus spend the money on gas to get there.”

Legalizing cannabis brings revenue

Moen said, once cannabis is legalized in Minnesota, he would like to see something develop here.

“Having cannabis available in this part of the state would be an economic boost,” he said.

“We have two main highways coming into this area, Hwy. 71 in Park Rapids and Hwy. 64 coming up to Akeley. Nevis is right in the middle. I would like to have something in Nevis for our community to grow with the times, whether it’s the production side or the growth side of it for CBD and hemp.”

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According to an article in the Nov. 2019 issue of “The Farmer,” the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute concluded Minneota has the potential to be a key hemp producer as the industry evolves.

A Jan. 2 article on the CNN business page claims the first day of legal recreational cannabis in Illinois brought in $3.2 million. Illinois is the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis.

Moen said the definition of “recreational cannabis” doesn’t mean it is available just so people can use it and have fun. “It just means cannabis is legal for adult personal use,” he said. “I want people in this area to know what I know about this plant so we can work together. I don’t want to work against government or law enforcement.”

He said, after using the plant for almost 20 years, he sees the positives far outweigh any potential risks, citing research done in other countries about its benefits to the immune system and brain along with its anti-inflammatory properties.

“We can’t do the research that we need to do in this country until they take it off the controlled substance act,” he said.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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