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What to Expect in this Episode

In this episode of Utah in the Weeds, hosts Chris and Tim welcome Medical Cannabis patient and photographer Randyl Nielson. Their conversation with Nielson covered quite a bit of ground – ranging from mental illness to different strains and how cannabis helps Nielson be a better photographer.

Nielson suffers from a combination of PTSD and bipolar disorder. He explained how he can be depressed one day and amped up the next [05:51]. He also described the experience of feeling anxiety and depression simultaneously, and not having the right medications to deal with it.

The interview focused a lot on the mental health aspects of cannabis as medicine [15:07]. The hosts and their guest touched on the stigma attached to both Medical Cannabis use and mental illness. They also discussed how difficult it can be for doctors and patients to come up with the right combination of medications to treat conditions like PTSD and bipolar disorder. [32:54] For many patients, Medical Cannabis turns out to be the best option.

At the top of the podcast, Chris mentioned a number of podcast reviews they’ve received on iTunes. [01:53] Utah in the Weeds has been well received to date, which is something Tim and Chris are both enormously proud of.

The conversation with Nielson may very well be what you need to hear if you are thinking of applying for a Medical Cannabis Card but are worried about the stigma or what your family might think. Nielson speaks about that directly, referencing experiences he has had with his own family and neighbors. [38:34]

Episode 48 is an absolute must for mental health patients considering getting their Medical Cannabis Cards. If you are such a patient, take the time to listen. You will hear from someone who knows exactly what you’re going through.

Resources in This Episode

Podcast Transcript

Chris: Should we start this off here, episode 48 of Utah in the Weeds. How are you doing Tim?

Tim: Yeah. I’m doing great, Chris. I’m excited to have people listen to this conversation. Randyl Nielson, who’s a patient, and really got involved in the cannabis space in a unique way with his photography.

Chris: Oh man, his photography is amazing. Go check it out. We talk about that in this episode. We’ll let you listen and get all of his links stuff but.

Tim: We’ll give you the website at the very end.

Chris: Yeah. But you’re going to enjoy this conversation. I was really excited to talk with him, especially about mental health, PTSD and how he’s using cannabis for that. But before we get into that, Tim, I want to apologize that we never got a release for our live episode that we did. Was it last week that we did that, Tim? I guess it was last week.

Tim: Yeah, it was last on Friday, we did a Facebook live. And if you want to listen to that or you want to watch it, I think Facebook is the only place to get that at this point in time. Oh, and YouTube, you’d be able to go to Discover Marijuana on our feed on YouTube and rewatch that if you wanted to listen to that conversation. We had David Sutherland, a patient, JD Lauritzen was on, Cole Fullmer from Salt Baked City.

Chris: And he had a strain tester. What was his strain tester’s name?

Tim: Oh yes. Yes, from Salt Baked City.

Chris: Wasn’t that what he-

Tim: The funnest job on the planet, right? Just go test products and strains, Larson. Isn’t the same Larson?

Chris: That sounds right.

Tim: Yeah. That was a fun conversation. Too bad it couldn’t be released, but you know what? It is what it is. It’s our first Facebook live and we’ll do more. We’ll dial it in.

Chris: We have some iTunes reviews that I wanted to read. We’ve got a couple iTunes reviews — I actually peeked this morning. And I was like oh my goodness, we got some iTunes reviews. So I want to read those really quick if that’s okay, Tim.

Tim: Absolutely.

Chris: The first one was left by Weightlifter Z and they say “Absolutely amazing.” They say “my wife has been using medical marijuana since it became legal here in Utah. I recently started using it as well for ASD and my life has changed. Please keep making these, if you can sometime do a show talking about the strange you can get at the pharmacies that have and what they are good for I would love that. Also happy to come on the show, if you ever need a guest.” Hey, so that’s actually a good idea. We should do an episode about a lot of the common strains.

Tim: Yeah, absolutely. We should gather up all the strains that we’ve tried and that are available and we should just go through them.

Chris: Yeah, no, that was a good recommendation. The next one was left by Aaron 5634. And she says, “I’m not in Utah, but love this podcast.” And she says “as a cancer patient who uses medical cannabis, I learned so much from this podcast. Thanks guys. Keep up the good work.” Hey, so that’s awesome. They don’t even live in Utah and they listen.

Tim: That’s sweet. I’m glad that people are getting something out of this. I think our patient’s stories are good. It’s nice to go someplace and listen to people’s stories that might be like yours. This one today with Randyl, if you have PTSD or you have bipolar and you’re on this journey to learn about cannabis and what works or what doesn’t for people, this is a good conversation to start with.

Chris: Utahmarijuana.org/podcast is where people can listen to podcasts. Right?

Tim: Yes. And they can listen and read all 48 episodes. They are all there. We are all caught up Chris and yeah, again, and if you want to connect with me, Utahmarijuana.org, you can chat with us and go listen to Chris’s other podcast I am Salt Lake.

Chris: Yeah. Iamsaltlake.com. Go check it out. We’ve been chatting with some really fun people on that one as well. A lot of local food artists in food restaurant tiers, chefs, people like that. So go give it a listen.

Tim: Absolutely. And then you can come see us. The last thing I’ll say is you can come see us at our new Bountiful location, Utah Therapeutic Health Center Clinic, right next to Wholesome Co Cannabis company in Bountiful in the same building. So you can get your renewal or get the evaluation and introduce you right to the product right there in the same building. Super cool.

Chris: Yeah. Just drive to Wholesome, you’ll see a sign. I saw a sign there the other day when I went up there.

Tim: Yeah. A sign right upfront. You can come see us.

Chris: It’s cool. Let’s get into that conversation with Randyl, Tim. And thank you so much for listening to everybody. Enjoy the conversation.

—–

Tim: Tell us a little bit about you, who’s Randyl Nielson?

Randyl Nielson: Well, that depends on how much time you want to spend. I’m from a small town in central Utah called Oak City. I grew up there till I was 18, it’s 600 people. So pretty small close minded town. Went to high school at Delta High down there. Did a lot of things that I regret obviously as most adults do looking back at high school but-

Chris: Maybe.

Randyl Nielson: … It was an interesting place to grow up. I was a bit of a counter-culture person there. I wasn’t really well liked by a lot of people. I was a skater punk kind of kid. So I was kind of on the outside scene of things. I got into drugs and stuff when I was younger, kind of broke out of that as I got older, got married, divorced, married, again, I’ve been married now for 18 years to an amazing woman who’s dealt with more than I could possibly imagine anybody could deal with.

Randyl Nielson: But so I got remarried. Right after was when my mental illness kind of kicked in. Our first son passed away after a couple of days and it didn’t affect me right away. It took three or four years before it really kicked in, but when it kicked in, it kind of broke me. I was in the middle of school trying to get a degree and somehow I managed to get through it. I didn’t get diagnosed with PTSD and bipolar until my last actual semester at school. And so I was dealing with a lot of crazy stuff during that time. And right before that had happened, I had injured myself and got on some opiates, got pretty heavily hooked on them after being clean for eight years and overdosed one night. And I hadn’t told my wife anything about what I was doing.

Randyl Nielson: And so it was a surprise to her. She didn’t really know what was going on. And it was a real wake up call to me that I had gotten in over my head more than I really thought that I was going to. As a drug addict, you kind of underestimate your involvement in things, I guess. So the next day, literally the next day, a friend of mine got me some cannabis and it was the first time I’d used cannabis in eight or nine years, but it kind of started me on the path of dealing with things a little bit better. It got me off the opiates right away. After that experience, opiates now kind of make me sick which is absolutely wonderful.

Randyl Nielson: I don’t know if it’s kosher to say, but I’ve been getting cannabis from the alternative market ever since to treat pain, as well as the mental illnesses that I’m dealing with. For work, I guess you want to know about that. I’m a photographer/designer for climbing hold company. It’s a pretty awesome job. I get to do a lot of really fun stuff. And the photography work I do there kind of blends into the cannabis work and I learned stuff from both aspects. And so it’s a really fun way to kind of make the two work together, I guess.

Tim: We’ll get into this a little bit later in the interview, but people are going to want to know your photography is currently on display at one of the local pharmacies. Right?

Randyl Nielson: Yeah. I was up there two weeks ago and I saw it in a display case at Beehive up in West Valley.

Chris: It’s beautiful.

Randyl Nielson: Thank you.

Chris: It is some of the most beautiful photography. Your Instagram photography is beautiful too, but the stuff at Beehive is beautiful too.

Randyl Nielson: Thank you. It’s been a really fun thing to explore. I’ve been shooting for 18 years and it’s a whole new world of photography that I’ve had to learn.

Tim: Yeah. That close up. Okay. So describe that a little bit. We got to talk about this a little bit. We’re going to have to go back to the mental health.

Randyl Nielson: Okay. That’s fine. That’s fine. What do you want me to describe exactly?

Tim: I mean, how do you capture such close up shots, man? You could see every fiber of the cannabis leaves.

Randyl Nielson: Well, I bought a really, really nice lens. It’s a one to five X macro. And so 1X macro means that’s what your eye sees one-to-one, right. And a 5X is five times that size. And so the pictures you’re seeing with the trichomes kind of standing out in the light and stuff like that. It’s usually at 5X or I’ve put a doubler on it. And so it’s very close.

Randyl Nielson: I’m working maybe a centimeter away from the plant, right. And some of those pieces that I’m working with are no more than a quarter inch big. So I’ve got it jabbed on a little pin sitting there on my table. And then the way that you get the actual detail is a technique that I just learned this last fall. It’s a focus stacking technique where you take a picture at the front of the image and then you take pictures throughout the image until you get to the back and your focal point moves as you go through that. And then in software afterwards, you stack those together and it makes it so the entire thing is in focus.

Tim: Oh, this kind of makes sense. Now, I’m going to really take a leap here, Chris. Do you feel like the work that you’re doing with the cannabis — you’re getting so close to this — it really just seems this would be a cathartic project?

Randyl Nielson: Oh yeah.

Tim: I used to have a woodshop and you could go in there, you put the headphones on and you could build stuff and you’re just in there. Right. Do you feel that is your photography is that kind of therapy for you?

Randyl Nielson: 100%. Up until, I mean, I always shoot landscapes and wildlife and stuff like that. I’m a big bird nerd. I take pictures of birds all the time, but I’ve really struggled since I got on medication for my bipolar anti-psychotic. It kind of killed that creative drive that I had flourishing during school where I’m surrounded by artists and creating all the time. So it’s been years since I’ve really gotten involved in a project photographically that I kept going back to again and again and again. And yeah, this cannabis thing I started last, I think it was spring once I first got my first legal purchase in Utah. It was April, I think I used my recommendation letter to go up to Dragonfly. I started shooting it then and it was a way to kind of connect and show other people the quality that we’re getting here because there’s a lot of negative talk out there about how ghetto the quality of flower and stuff is here. And I mean, I’ve been to States where it’s legal and yeah, there’s stuff that’s super high end but we’re getting there.

Randyl Nielson: And so I kind of want to show that off, the naysayers that are like yeah, this bud is no good. And it’s well, I don’t know. It looks pretty good to me, but it’s been super cathartic to just… I have this crappy little office here, but right behind me I’ve got a table with a studio set up, I’ve got lights sitting here, I’ve got a blackout curtain, I’ve got multiple backdrops. So I can do everything just sitting here in my office and the kids can be doing their homework, my wife’s painting or drawing or whatever. And I can just shut the door and spend four or five hours through the process of taking all those pictures, stacking them, finding the right flower structured, oppose the calyxes, the stigmas stuff like that. Searching for little track homes, standing out that I can find and it’s also kind of fun to vaporize that flower while I’m actually shooting it and get kind of a little bit more of a connection with it. Understand it a little bit deeper, I guess kind of sounds hippy-ish but-

Chris: Yeah, man. You got to become one with it.

Randyl Nielson: Yeah. I mean, you have to do that with any subject that you’re really trying to understand photographically. I mean, if you’re shooting photos of a person, you have to talk to them and get to know them a little bit and understand them in order to really capture the essence of who they are in a photograph. And I’ve kind of approached this flower project as the same way as a portrait’s set up where I’m actually setting up the lights very similar to a portrait setup and I’m posing the flower if you will, trying to define these really weird little shaped clusters of calyxes and stuff like that, that are kind of an abstract, but also really cool looking because they’re covered in trichomes and hairs and all sorts of stuff. But yeah, it’s something I have a hard time not doing it.

Tim: Yeah. It draws you in to the point where like I said, at the beginning of our discussion here we’ll get to the photography, but it just draws you in as it’s such a cool thing. I’ve got one as my screen saver.

Randyl Nielson: That’s amazing to hear. I love having people connect with my work, whatever it may be, but I’ve gotten compliments and stuff like that through my Instagram page, but the coolest thing that’s come from it is I’ve shared a little bit of my bipolar and PTSD on there in posts, but I have people coming to me, messaging me in the private messages that are asking me for suggestions on flower, on what works for whatever symptoms they’re trying to treat. Asking me for advice on different things. And it’s probably the coolest thing that’s come out of this is being able to connect with other people and just say, yeah, this works for me because of this and this.

Randyl Nielson: I try to treat the flower strictly as a medicine when I’m using it. I try to analyze the effects that it’s having on me and the symptoms I’m treating with it so that I can say to someone, yeah, this is what I was doing and not sound like a fool.

Tim: You mentioned before that you were on some antidepressants and some anti-psychotics and one of the kind of depressing side effects of those medications is this downregulation of creativity, kind of this —really it just kind of makes the world gray. It takes that’s how I’ve heard it described. And do you feel with cannabis that has brought back that, that’s how you’ve gained this creativity back?

Randyl Nielson: It’s been essential in my work as a wall designer. I don’t know if people understand what I’m saying, indoor climbing gyms. I designed the grips that go on the wall. So I shaped them out of foam. And then I worked for the company that we mold them and put them out and sell them whatever. And so I spent a lot of time in my garage, basically sculpting foam. And when you’re on the down swing of a bipolar episode, and you’re just so depressed, you don’t care about much, but you still have to be creative. There’s no way I could do it without cannabis. It takes away that flat feeling from the depression. And it allows me to be in the moment more rather than being stuck in this fog.

Tim: I’ve been doing a lot of research on mental health and cannabis and aware in the brain it works and this. I mean, you’re upregulating things and you’re downregulating things. But one of the things that we are trying to counteract is these effects of the typical prescription medications, because those they’re just harsh side effects. They tend to work in some ways and for a lot of people, but the side effects are just so harsh. And so trying to find a balance in mental health treatment with cannabis is a very up and coming field with really interesting brain research. Have you decreased your medications or changed them because of the cannabis?

Randyl Nielson: I’ve definitely. So I had a prescription for Xanax for anxiety, panic attack type stuff. I used it three or four years ago we went out to New York, New Jersey for a vacation, and I didn’t have any cannabis with me while I was there. And so as I was dealing with extreme anxiety, I was taking that and it was making me feel better in one way but worse in other ways. Luckily by the end of the trip a very kind friend out there had found me some edibles from someone who was a medical patient in New Jersey. And I was able to actually relax enough to enjoy the flight home and not be miserable the whole time. I’m very happy to be off of benzos. I hate them. I try not to use them anyway, but ever since I’ve been buying medically in Utah I have not had to take a single Xanax.

Tim: There you go.

Randyl Nielson: As far as the atypical anti-psychotics and stuff like that I got really lucky that I only had to go through three or four meds before I found one that worked. And then just recently we added an antidepressant so that I could kind of stay out of those nine months long, mild depressions that I tend to get into. But the cannabis is a very, very active part of my treatment plan.

Randyl Nielson: I have a variety of not only different types of flower, but I have tinctures and edibles and vape pens and stuff like that, so that I can tailor exactly what I need for the symptoms that I’m dealing with. Because with the PTSD/bipolar combo, sometimes you just don’t know what the hell you’re going to find when you wake up. You can be happy and having a good day and you wake up the next day and it’s going to be three or four weeks of pure hell of being miserable and depressed, or even worse getting into a mixed episode where your anxiety is amped up. And the cannabis is essential in calming me down.

Randyl Nielson: The way that I used to describe it to my wife before she got her med card and got to understand how it works is it’s like a nerve blanket. So it’s my nerves are just fried, they’re frazzled, they’re raw. And it’s like somebody just put a blanket around those nerves and just calmed them down and helped me relax.

Chris: It’s a good way to explain it.

Tim: That is a good way to explain it. Have you been able to get the product that you need around town all the way since — we see Dragonfly have in their year anniversary all over social media, right? We’ve been doing this a year.

Randyl Nielson: During the pandemic — I’m sure you guys experienced it or understood it — the whole show-up-at-Dragonfly-and-wait-for-four hours. Because I drove up from Utah County, I wait in the car for four hours because I’ve got no other option. And then I’d spend 500 to 1000 dollars because I don’t want to come back up for a couple months.

Randyl Nielson: And so once the other pharmacies started opening up, it was hard for me to get out of that mindset of having to stock up. I literally drive by Deseret Wellness on my way to and from work every day, it’s one of the biggest blessings in my life. I can just stop on my way home and say, I need some tincture today, I’m out. And they’ve had pretty much everything that I’ve needed most of the time. I mean, there’s obviously been some shortages of flour here and there and it’s been a little bit slow going, getting the RSO and the concentrates and things like that going, but other than maybe needing a little bit more on the concentrate side of things I’ve been pretty happy with everything that I’ve been able to get ahold of.

Tim: Do you like those guys down there at Deseret?

Randyl Nielson: Oh yeah. They’re great. They’re awesome. Yeah. I love going there. I dropped off a few photos to them just so that they could put them in their break room and stuff. And so we always talk about that kind of stuff when I go in, it’s great.

Tim: I know, right. At Beehive, your backgrounds are all black and the vibe in there is a little different down at Deseret, the vibe is white, you don’t have to have a white background with your-

Randyl Nielson: I can do that. Yeah. It’s definitely doable. But yeah, I like the way things are starting to pan out. It would be nice once the other pharmacies down South open up, so that there’s a little bit more option if I’m traveling that way. But if you’re prepared it’s not that big of a deal anyway, because I don’t have to worry about driving with cannabis anymore.

Chris: Isn’t that nice?

Tim: Yeah. Isn’t that nice?

Randyl Nielson: Yeah. I don’t medicate before I drive, but if I’m going on a three hour drive, I know that by the end of it, I’m going to get there and I’m going to get medicated and I’m going to feel better. And so it makes that drive a little bit more tolerable.

Chris: What’s your favorite way to consume cannabis? You mentioned all the ways. Okay, so vaping. Okay.

Randyl Nielson: Yeah. Dry herb vape is my favorite. I love the whole plant aspect of it.

Chris: What Kind of vaporizer do you have right there? What was that?

Randyl Nielson: This is Arizer Solo 2.

Chris: I’m not familiar with.

Randyl Nielson: A-R-I-Z-E-R.

Tim: A-R-I-Z-E-R, Arizer 2. And it looks like it got a pretty good sized battery there.

Randyl Nielson: So this one it’s not awesome for being portable as far as outside the home, but for being in the house and walking around, it’s amazing. It’s about a three hour battery life, but you can also use it while you’re charging. My favorite thing about it is it’s an all glass vapor path. So the flower never touches anything besides glass. There’s glass stems that you pack flower in the end and then you put it down in the chamber and it’s got a convection air coming through and heating it up as you draw.

Tim: People who get into vaporizers, they end up in this glass or ceramic thing. Don’t they? Right. The taste is-

Randyl Nielson: It’s all about, I mean, the flavor is amazing.

Tim: The flavor is a little bit better. The draw with your vaporizer does the draw have to be really slow? The Firefly is, it doesn’t have a glass all the way through, but the draw has to be so slow to get that air to warm the plant.

Randyl Nielson: No. It’s got this jet fire thing at the bottom of it. And so the chamber is heated partially, but then it’s got the heat jets underneath so that as you draw it just heats it immediately. So the only thing that affects the draw is how tightly you pack it.

Tim: Did you get the vaporizer here locally or did you have to order it?

Randyl Nielson: No, I ordered it. This is actually I’ve had three of theirs so far. I have a smaller portable one that I gave away to a friend and I just ordered another one two weeks ago and they still haven’t gotten it to me. So if you’re going to go for Arizer, do it from Planet of the Vapes or another second party, their customer service isn’t great. Their products are amazing.

Randyl Nielson: But yeah, as soon as the law was passed, two little over two years ago, right? It was December that it happened. I got a letter of recommendation from my APRN, my psych APRN. I’ve been working with her for seven years now. We’re very well versed on what works for me and what doesn’t. And so she’s very supportive of this. She’s actually become a QMP recently. So I’m going to have her taking over my card recertification stuff. But yeah, as soon as that law passed, I bought a vaporizer and I stopped smoking. And I tried it once since then and it tasted I was sucking on an exhaust of a car.

Tim: Yeah. I think I wish everybody had that experience, huh Chris?

Chris: With what? Smoking it.

Tim: With smoking it. Right. There has been some-

Chris: I don’t know if I’d say smoking on the exhaust of a car though, that’s-

Tim: Well, yeah, for sure.

Randyl Nielson: I’m talking like the flavor was just not there from the smoke and my lungs hurt the next day. My mouth tasted I had drank hot coffee and burned all my taste buds off. It was such an unpleasant experience that I’m just like, yeah, I’m never going to do that again.

Tim: We’re going to put you on a commercial for the department of health. I’m calling-

Chris: They love you all of a sudden.

Tim: They love you.

Chris: No, I mean you speak a lot of truth because I used to be a cigarette smoker and now when I get around cigarettes, I’m just like, oh, that’s disgusting. What’s going on?

Randyl Nielson: I was the same.

Chris: When you’re part of it, you don’t think it’s going on until you pull up.

Tim: Do you guys still get that craving though of cigarette smoke? You walk around somewhere and you’ll smell somebody smoking cigarettes. And you’re like, “Oh man, that just smells it would taste good.”

Chris: No, not really.

Tim: Am I the only one that happens to? Dang.

Randyl Nielson: On a very rare occasion.

Tim: Should I have not admitted that?

Chris: No, I hear people that that happens too, but it just doesn’t happen to me luckily, so.

Tim: I don’t know. I think it’s because I grew up with some smokers and so it’s got some sort of limbic system, some sort of emotional brain connection for me. Right. It brings me back to some childhood thing where I was like, oh yeah, my family smokes.

Chris: So did we ask what your favorite strain is Randyl, what’s your favorite strain, your all time favorite strain that you’re enjoying, or at least strain you’re enjoying these days?

Randyl Nielson: All-time favorite it’s kind of a tie between Afgoo and Durban Poison, because Afgoo I haven’t been able to find it in years, but it’s just mind-blowingly good. It’s amazing.

Randyl Nielson: But the Durban Poison that came out from Standard Wellness last fall, I stocked up on that when it came out because it was fire. I actually just vaped the last of mine a couple of days ago. It’s been fantastic. But as far as being able to regularly go back and get medicine, Dragonfly Lava Cake, and now I recently got the second round or maybe the third round of the Standard Wellness Miracle Alien Cookies. And they both have the same effect on me as far as anti-anxiety and being able to just kind of calm my overactive brain.

Tim: Is that the same with Durban Poison? Because isn’t Durban Poison a pretty good sativa?

Randyl Nielson: It is, but because it’s a land race, it acts very different than almost every other sativa. I picked up some of the Good Sun Green Wildfire, Green Crack. Yeah. That stuff gives me some anxiety and I have to use it when I’m depressed and I need that upper. It’s great for that. But the Durban Poison, it calmed me down. I don’t know why, it was great.

Tim: This finding that equilibrium man, finding the equilibrium, finding that happy place with the flower and all that’s going on in there, the entourage effect. Yeah. That’s cool that you’re using different strains for different types of things. And I think it’s good for people to hear too, right? That Green Crack. I mean, yeah it can give you a little anxiety so you got to watch out.

Randyl Nielson: Yeah. Definitely.

Tim: For some people Durban Poison would be the same way, right?

Randyl Nielson: Yeah. I talked to, I think one of the pharmacy agent over at Deseret. And he said, yeah, it gave him a little bit too much anxiety. He didn’t really like it that much, but my wife who has high anxiety as well it was the same thing for her just completely calm and relaxing and yeah.

Tim: So interesting. Just goes to show you that it’s so self… You have to give yourself permission first of all, to experiment with your medicine. And this is so foreign to people.

Randyl Nielson: Well, it’s bizarre. Yeah.

Tim: But on the other hand you said it in the beginning of our interview, you were lucky with bipolar and it took you about three medications to find the right one. So most people with a bipolar condition or a severe mental health condition they might try three, four, five, six different medications over the course of a couple of years, right? Mind you, a couple of years in order to find the right medications. And so is it that much different that we’re trying different strains, different delivery methods, different consumption method? With cannabis I can see there’s an argument that it’s not that much different, except you have to give yourself permission to experiment.

Randyl Nielson: It’s the stigma, right? We’re not supposed to be doing this anyway because it’s federally illegal. And so for me, most of my life, it’s been something that you don’t talk about. There’s the code, you can tell that guy’s a stoner but you don’t really talk about this kind of stuff because you don’t want to be prosecuted for it. Right. You don’t want to get in trouble. And so yeah, now you have the ability to say, hey, I can go do this. I can go to the store. I can try this out. If it doesn’t work for me, I can go back and try something else and I can drive too, and from there comfortably, knowing that if a cop pulls me over, he’s gotten-

Tim: Isn’t that awesome?

Randyl Nielson: As long as I’m not medicated, it’s a miss.

Chris: Have you run into any problems with the law since anything or, I mean am just curious.

Randyl Nielson: I have not. I kind of anxiously awaiting excited, but not. It’s just nice to have that. I had a run in with law enforcement. It was right before I got diagnosed. I was self-medicating and I was being dumb on a manic tear. And I ran into law enforcement and got charged.

Tim: Charged with cannabis with possession.

Randyl Nielson: Not have that anxiety — Yeah. I got charged with possession and paraphernalia and to not have that paranoia and anxiety of are my neighbors going to smell it I’m out in the garage. Are they going to know, are they going to call the cops? It’s hard to really let yourself have permission to medicate when nobody else wants to give you that permission. And so now that we have this law that says, yeah, go do it, go try to find something that works for you. The only thing that’s weird about it is it’s kind of you go figure it out. Maybe you talk to your pharmacist or you talk to your doctor a little bit, but it’s still kind of just an experimental thing. Whereas with pharmaceuticals, they’ve got a longer history of what it can treat. And so they can put you in a little bit better general direction right away, theoretically.

Tim: Yeah. Theoretically you kind of have this is the algorithm and this is how you treat it. This is beside you don’t have EVS system to work for you.

Randyl Nielson: Right.

Tim: You can just write a prescription on my side and you just write a prescription, they can take it down. They can fill it and they can start feeling better.

Randyl Nielson: Well, I mean, a perfect example is for bipolar, the go-to is lithium. Right. And it has been for years, there’s some horrible side effects from lithium and you have to monitor it all the time. Right. And so it’s like we’re saying they have that general direction, but they’re still kind of spitballing and like well, let’s throw this at the wall and see if it sticks. No, that one made you sleep for 16 hours a day, that one’s not going to work. Let’s throw this one. Oh, that one made you feel like you wanted to tear your skin off. Maybe that one’s not a good one. The advantage of doing it with cannabis is you don’t have those negative side effects.

Chris: This one give you the munchies and this one.

Randyl Nielson: Right.

Tim: Yeah. Oh, this one made me take a nap. This one made me watch Ferris Bueller. This one gave me anxiety so I’ll stay away from that one. And this one made me shoot these amazing photos, let’s stick with that.

Chris: The worst thing anxiety there. You just listed a bunch of stuff that happens but like the-

Tim: Right. I mentioned-

Chris: Tearing my skin off.

Tim: … Yeah. But the worst of that is like… That’s like, oh, I used the wrong flower and I have three hours of anxiety. I don’t have two days or two months of anxiety trying to get used to this medication. That’s the other thing about traditional medications is the standard education is, okay, start with this dose will ramp up to this dose. If you feel bad, side effects, we’ll cut you back. We won’t stop it and change it. We’re just going to keep you on it. This is a three month trial. This isn’t a three-day trial. We’re going to give you this for three months, measure your liver function. Right. So you don’t get lithium toxicity. You don’t end up in the hospital.

Randyl Nielson: Yeah. It’s scary shit man. You read those warning labels on some of that medicine and you’re like, I really don’t want to take this, but-

Chris: What are my other choices? Well now your choice is medical cannabis.

Randyl Nielson: Right. So benzos, perfect example. They’re one of the worst things to come off of once you become dependent on them. There are people that have literally killed themselves because they were under so much extreme pain in one way or another coming off of those drugs and to not even have to deal with that is a huge blessing. To be able to say I was telling Chris earlier, before we started recording yesterday was actually not a good day for me to do this. So today works out better because yesterday I was super high anxiety. I had to take a high dose of that standard RSO. And it didn’t even kick in until fully until our interview would have been over. But I know that it works for me. It’s not as instant necessarily as a benzo, but as far as treating my anxiety symptoms, a high dose of edibles does the exact same thing only better.

Tim: How often do you have those days with your conditions and do you think that those days are decreasing overall?

Randyl Nielson: It depends. It’s kind of situational. My PTSD is fairly complex. There’s death and then I rolled a car a couple of years ago. And so driving is an issue for me and there’s a lot of issues that go into my anxieties. And whenever I’m in an elevated or lowered mood state from the bipolar, it ramps up those anxieties quite significantly. And so it’s something that I still deal with fairly regularly. Maybe not every day, maybe not every week, but it definitely happens pretty often. I worry about my kids walking home from school still, pretty heavily to where I check the ring sometimes in the middle of the day to make sure they made it home, just because I have that anxiety about a child dying, therapy has helped immensely.

Randyl Nielson: It’s helped me be able to actually talk about it without breaking down. But I don’t know, I was up skiing with a friend the other day and he asked me, he’s a doctor, an ER doctor. And he was, “Do you think you’re ever going to get past this?” And I couldn’t give him an answer because I don’t know. I know that I’m at a point where I can function with it and get through life and not have it break me apart like it used to, but it still affects me fairly regularly.

Tim: This idea of getting past it might not be the right way to, in my opinion, this is my opinion about behavioral health, but might not be the right way to look at it. Your over time if you can try to tell yourself a new story, right? That’s what we’re trying to do with behavioral health. And with these mental health therapies is trying to allow the patient to not have to avoid certain situations like you. If you roll the car, we’ve got to have you be able to drive a car and avoid driving a car. So we need to learn that behavior, but we need to learn a story. We need to teach the brain a new story. The new story being your kids are coming home, they’re safe. You’re going to get to the store in your car, you’re safe. Right. And that seems to be time-related plus all of these therapies.

Randyl Nielson: Yeah, definitely.

Tim: But I’m not sure we want to understand it, get past it.

Randyl Nielson: Get past it to me, there was a study that I read recently about how they’re starting to understand how cannabis helps with PTSD and it helps rewrite those traumatic memories, like you’re talking about to rewrite that story. And to me getting past it is getting past those triggers. I was triggered the other day by just a random situation being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And something just snapped in me and I had to leave and go kind of collect myself. And that’s what I mean by getting past, I want to get past the point where I have to worry about that as much? And like I said, that depends a lot on therapy, but also on medication.

Tim: Oh, totally. And cannabis makes it easier to not have to avoid those situations. Right?

Randyl Nielson: Right.

Chris: You were mentioning not having to hide smell of cannabis with the neighbors and friends and dah, dah, dah. I mean, are your family and friends and whatnot pretty supportive of your cannabis use? Or are you still kind of, don’t talk about it or what’s that situation. You were mentioning your wife is a medical cannabis patient as well.

Randyl Nielson: I’m not shy about it. I don’t openly go to my neighbors… Actually I guess I did. My next door neighbor.

Randyl Nielson: After I got my card and I just said, “Hey, man, just so you know if you smell anything, it’s legal, don’t worry about it you don’t need to call the cops.” He’s like, “Cool, no problem.” I have other neighbors that wouldn’t react the same way. So I haven’t approached them about it. I’m more than happy to discuss it with them if they feel it needs to be discussed. My family’s very supportive. My mom now that she understands kind of more about it, she’s very supportive of it and very glad that I’m doing it. My dad is actually looking into maybe getting a medical card for himself. He’s got metal plates in his back and different things like that. And so he’s actually starting to look into it, which is a surprise because I didn’t think that that would ever really happen. But yeah, I’m pretty supported in it and I’m pretty glad.

Chris: I was just curious because I know a lot of people, a handful of people that I’ve talked to they’re interested in it, but they’re nervous of what their family might think and they don’t feel they have anybody to talk to about it. I don’t know and I’m sure Tim’s seen similar people like that or talked to people like that.

Tim: Oh, yeah.

Chris: I’m sure it’s common here in Utah. I live in Utah. I mean, no offense. It’s like this is Utah and people don’t know how to use cannabis or how to even approach it.

Randyl Nielson: How to even approach it. Yeah. And that’s why for me I’m not judging anybody for smoking or doing anything. That’s not spot on with the law. For me I try to follow the law as well as I can to the letter so that I’m promoting it as a medicine and not as somebody just getting high because that’s the big argument from everybody against it was, it’s just going to turn into recreational. And in my eyes, if you’re posting on Instagram, you’re doing bong loads with the lighter that’s smoking it and you signed a document that said you weren’t going to do that.

Randyl Nielson: And so I think being on point with it and following those rules and treating it like a medicine that’s what kind of brought my mom around and made her more understanding about it with saying, okay, mom, here’s the law. This is what I can do. This is what is allowed. And the fact that I wasn’t smoking it around her and stuff like that, I think it really had an impact and helped her understand a little bit better that people in Utah are trying to treat this as medicine, not just as a subversive way to get recreational weed.

Tim: Again, can we call the department of health —

Chris: Give this guy a job.

Tim: …. And have you be their spokesperson. I just want to-

Randyl Nielson: If they want to pay me, let’s go for it.

Tim: I don’t disagree with you at all. I think that you have hit the nail on the head when it comes to de-stigmatizing the plant for Utahs. It’s about laying out the rules, laying out the benefits, the risks, saying that it’s legal, educating people about it, and given them access.

Tim: And then treating it like another tool in the toolbox from my side, the provider side. Right. And then see what happens.

Randyl Nielson: Yeah. And I think even a big part of that is just how we talk about it. What words we use to describe it, right. If we’re saying, “Hey, I got to go get my weed.” Somebody is going to be like, uh. But if you’re like, “I’ve got to go pick up some cannabis, I’m having some anxiety.” They tend to have a little bit more understanding and like, “Oh, okay. Yeah, that makes sense that it would be something that you could do.”

Chris: Yes. What would you tell somebody who’s listening that might be a little apprehensive about trying it? What would you tell them? They might be a little skeptical.

Randyl Nielson: My wife was even after I got my card or had my letter and got my card, she was still a little bit skeptical about using it for herself about getting her card. And I’m like, “Hey, you’ve experienced the same trauma that I have. It’s okay for you to go and find something that helps you treat this anxiety that you’re dealing with on a daily basis.” And for her it was taking away that whole smoking aspect and turning it into a medicine. We’re going to go get you some gummies. We’re going to start you at 0.25 milligrams so that you don’t freak out. Because even that five milligram can make some people really turned off to cannabis as medicine. They’re like, no, that was too much. I can’t do it. But you go two and a half it’s nice to see some of the smaller doses coming for those kinds of patients.

Randyl Nielson: Some of the tinctures, my wife has one of the Boojum sprays that’s only 2.3 or 2.4 milligrams per spray. And so for her five milligrams is her max. She doesn’t want to take more than that because it makes her feel loopy and out of control. And that five milligrams is almost too much to be able to go do the things she needs to do throughout the house and throughout the day. And so if she takes that two and a half, she knows that her anxiety is going to be lessened, but she’s not going to have that messed up head that she’s trying to avoid.

Tim: Yeah. Thanks to Boojum for those sprays.

Randyl Nielson: Their tinctures are amazing.

Tim: We’re going to review those and their tinctures are pretty good too.

Randyl Nielson: Everything about their tinctures and sprays are amazing. I have one in office at all times.

Chris: Did you catch that episode we recorded with… What’s his name, my mind? Dashiel, yeah.

Tim: Dashiel.

Randyl Nielson: I haven’t had a chance to listen to that one yet.

Tim: Yeah. It’s pretty good. You got to listen to that one, we talked to them about the Boojum tree and their whole outlook on things and they’ve got some legit products. I read their research papers and yeah I really liked that company. I like their products.

Randyl Nielson: One of the great things about them besides their products is in their social media, they’re doing everything they can to educate patients about why they’re putting what they’re putting into their product and why it should be helpful for you instead of just here’s a tincture, it’s got some THC and CBD good luck. They’re saying here’s a tincture with citral in it. The citral does this. This is why you want this one. If that doesn’t work, go get the merci in one or the limonene in one or they’re starting to tailor it for exactly what people need.

Tim: It’s pretty cool idea. And their products are really cool.

Randyl Nielson: Yeah.

Tim: So Randyl, what’s your website. Do you have a website up for people to connect with you or to see your photography?

Randyl Nielson: Yeah. It’s nielsonphoto.com, N-I-E-L-S-O-Nphoto.com. Just my last name. And right now I still have to go figure some things out. I got it roughly thrown together the other night because I was worried you’d asked me about it.

Tim: Yeah.

Randyl Nielson: I just updated all the photos. I had a bunch of old stuff on there that wasn’t that cool. And so I updated it recently and got some of the more recent macro stuff on there.

Tim: I’ll tell you what if you have listened all the way to the end of this podcast, then you have got a treat because nielsonphoto.com, I am on it right now. And I’m telling you what these photos are fire.

Randyl Nielson: Thank you.

Tim: They off the hook. I mean, trichomes in detail. You’ve got that brown. I don’t even know what to call that. That tail off the top of the flower.

Randyl Nielson: I think that’s the stigma.

Tim: The stigma. I mean, these things.

Randyl Nielson: A little hair thing out.

Tim: They’re so awesome.

Randyl Nielson: Thank you.

Tim: Yeah. People are going to love this.

Randyl Nielson: I don’t want to get any hopes up, but I did just receive from China today an adapter for a microscope objective for my camera so that I can get way beyond that 5X magnification and get in there even further.

Tim: Oh yeah.

Randyl Nielson: So it’s becoming a little bit of an addiction. I’m spending-

Tim: You’re buying microscopic lenses from China, then yes.

Randyl Nielson: That’s the only place I could find what I needed sadly now but —

Chris: You need some of these photos in your office, Tim.

Randyl Nielson: Yeah, it’s-

Tim: Done. This is on the list. There’s no question that you’re going to be able to see these photos in my office.

Randyl Nielson: I’m not 100% sure if it works yet, I’m trying to set it up so that people can buy prints off the website. I don’t know if anybody’s going to have a problem printing pictures of cannabis. So I’ve got to make a test printer too and order and see what —

Chris: Dude if you took these somewhere they wouldn’t even know what it was.

Randyl Nielson: If that works out.

Chris: Like if you just, yeah.

Randyl Nielson: Well, that’s the thing. Yeah.

Tim: I agree.

Randyl Nielson: That’s true. With the macro ones for sure.

Tim: Yep, for sure. And we’re going to put a blog post together about this because this is so cool.

Randyl Nielson: Thank you. I love this plant, man.

Tim: This is really cool. I’m sorry. I’m getting sidetracked.

Chris: Tim’s looking at weed porn.

Tim: I am mesmerized by this photos. Sorry, I’m looking at weed.

Randyl Nielson: I’m okay with that. I will not complain.

Tim: It kind of is, I mean, that’s really what it kind of look-

Randyl Nielson: Yeah.

Tim: Sorry.

Chris: But cool man, go check out his photography. When I saw that you were interested in coming on the podcast, Randyl, I was like man, I already love his Instagram stuff. And so that was why I was just like —

Randyl Nielson: Thank you. I appreciate that.

Tim: Your outdoor photos are cool. Your story is great. I’m really excited for you. I think I’m just so happy that you found that creativity again through cannabis.

Randyl Nielson: Yeah.

Tim: That’s just exciting.

Randyl Nielson: It’s a game changer for sure. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do for work without it. There’s times when my mental health doesn’t want me to do anything and I have to do it and cannabis usually almost always makes it happen.

Chris: Anything else you want to talk to him about Tim or anything you want to talk about Randyl or anything? I know you really wanted to touch about mental health and PTSD and all that. I wanted to make sure that you talked about everything that you wanted to talk about there.

Randyl Nielson: Yeah. I mean, I feel we kind of covered everything.

Chris: Yeah. Your website one more time is nielsonphoto.com and then your Instagram is, what’s your Instagram name? I didn’t have that written.

Randyl Nielson: So the one for the cannabis is @utah.herbal.medication. And then I’ve got a separate one for just random photos @RandylNielsonPhoto.

Tim: Nice. Well, thanks for coming on.

Randyl Nielson: No, thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you for liking my work. It’s nice to hear.

Tim: All right, everybody stay safe out there.

2 responses to “Utah in the Weeds Episode #48 – Mental Health & PTSD with Randyl Nielson”

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