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What to Expect in This Episode

Episode 72 of Utah in the Weeds features Amber Franke, a Utah mom who says cannabis has changed her life for the better.

Amber told host Tim Pickett about her initial experiences with cannabis, both experimentally as a teenager and once again as a patient in Utah’s Medical Cannabis program. [02:20]

Her initial curiosity about cannabis medicine began with frustration about the amount of medication her son takes for treating autism. [04:20]

Though she hasn’t yet sought Medical Cannabis certification for her son, Amber began to wonder how it might help with some of her own issues, including problems with sleep, pain, anxiety, and mental health. She now uses cannabis as a replacement for all but a couple of her prescription medications. [06:10]

She described her old life of using multiple drugs she’d been prescribed, how they made her feel like a zombie, and what it was like to make the switch to cannabis. [07:50]

After sharing some funny stories about her part-time gig as a DoorDash driver, Amber went into more detail about her experience with Medical Cannabis and the program in Utah. [14:49]

Amber made a salient point about the necessarily restrictive nature of traditional prescriptions versus the relative freedom of choice a Medical Cannabis patient has at Utah dispensaries. [29:40]

We wrapped up this episode with a bit more detail about Amber’s use of cannabis to take charge of her life. She shared her favorite cannabis product types and a bit more detail about the drugs she has replaced with cannabis. [36:43]

This was a fun and fascinating episode for anyone who wants to know where curiosity about cannabis can take you.

Resources in This Episode

Podcast Transcript

Tim Pickett:

Welcome everyone out to Utah in the Weeds. My name is Tim Pickett and I am your host and today I have some pretty bad news. The audio for this podcast is terrible. Well, it’s not the end of the world news, like all the other news we’ve been listening to for the past year and a half. But it’s bad news for me. My guest today is Amber Franke. She’s a good friend of mine, I knew her in high school and we’ve known each other off and on for years and she really has an amazing story. And I wanted you all to hear it. So one, you are going to have to go to Utahmarijuana.org/podcast and read the transcript of this episode with Amber Franke or two, load it up on YouTube and watch the subtitles, or three pay close attention and listen here. So, folks, sorry about the audio, but I am really excited to bring you this story. She just has an amazing story. She was on so many medications and she tells you all about it. Be sure to listen to the end.

Tim Pickett:

Housekeeping items. The webinars are going really well and they’re a little more science-y, a little more educational. We do those every other Wednesday. Stay tuned on the email list at Utahmarijuana.org. If you need a card and you want to stop drug trafficking, stop driving to Nevada, stop driving to Colorado, just pay money to the state you live in, go to Utah Therapeutic, one of our clinics, and have an evaluation for a medical cannabis card. Just excited today to get this interview out there as good as it can be. My name is Tim Pickett. This is Utah in the Weeds. Let’s get into this conversation. Okay. So take me back to the beginning of cannabis.

Amber Franke:

Okay.

Tim Pickett:

In Amber Franke’s life.

Amber Franke:

I am new at this. Cannabis is brand new to me. So I, despite getting pregnant in high school and having a child out of wedlock and all that nonsense, I was a pretty good rule follower. So I was the one that was like, “It’s illegal. I’m not going down that road. It’s illegal.” It was against the rules and I don’t play against the rules, I have to be a rule follower, that’s kind of who I am. So my journey with cannabis didn’t start till after it was legalized.

Tim Pickett:

So after what?

Amber Franke:

After it was legalized in Utah.

Tim Pickett:

What?

Amber Franke:

The whole time cannabis was illegal, I didn’t use it. I tried it several, five or six times, in high school. But after that I didn’t touch it. I was on SSRIs, I was on anti-anxiety medication, I was on sleep medication, I was all sorts of pharmaceuticals and the most unhappy I’ve ever been. It wasn’t until it was legal that got my card and then tried it. So this is a pretty new journey for me.

Tim Pickett:

That’s cool. So you use SSRIs, you used normal stuff. You’ve lived in Utah your whole life.

Amber Franke:

I have.

Tim Pickett:

How does that start? Okay. You don’t live a main stream life, a Utah life, right? A “Utah life.”

Amber Franke:

Yes.

Tim Pickett:

We know each other a little bit more so we’re probably going to be a little bit more comfortable talking together just because even though it’s not like we hang out, but we went to high school together. So I knew you in high school.

Amber Franke:

Well, we ran in the same circles too.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah. So you don’t live a traditional Utah lifestyle, you used cannabis a couple of times, but then it becomes legal. How did you find out? Were you involved in the process at all? Did you sign a petition or it just became legal around you and then you decided, “Oh, maybe I should try this.”

Amber Franke:

The first time that I was like, “I wonder what cannabis would do,” would be, I have a disabled child who’s severely autistic. He was officially diagnosed medically at eight, and then he’s in and out of institutions, psych wards, inpatient, outpatient, step down program, he’s been to several different schools and been kicked out of schools. And the level of psych medication I was giving to my child was the first time that I was like, “I wonder what it would look like if cannabis was legal for kids and adults with autism.” But I didn’t want to try it on him because the last thing I need is to go to jail for [inaudible 00:05:01]. So I didn’t.

Amber Franke:

That was the first time that I was like, maybe there’s something to this plant. Because the level of psych medications I was handing to a nine year old twice a day, and the side effects of those medications, was criminal. It was so hard to give my child medication twice a day when I thought that there could have been a more natural alternative. So that was the first time that I looked into cannabis as the option at all.

Amber Franke:

He’s 18 now. I’ve never given it to him, he’s never tried it. He’s still kind of on the pharmaceutical train, but that was the first time that I started reading and thinking, “Oh my gosh, there’s so many other things that it can help with.” And then, I think it was June of 2016, I tried to commit suicide and I woke up in a hospital. Sorry.

Tim Pickett:

It’s total fine.

Amber Franke:

And the first thing they did was prescribe me more medications. And so I was in there for eight days. And when I came home, I couldn’t feel, I couldn’t function. I was on all sorts of mood stabilizers, and I coasted for about a year. And then I just thought, I’ve never been more unhappy in my entire life. Something’s got to give. There’s got to be something better than this. So I took probably three years and weaned myself off of everything. And then I got my med card and then I started experimenting with cannabis. And then I finally found something that works for me. For pain, for anxiety, for sleep, for my mental health. And I’m off of everything except cannabis and a couple things, [inaudible 00:07:12]. That’s it. I don’t need anything else. And all of a sudden, now I have clarity on how to navigate hardship without use of SSRIs. It’s been life changing for me.

Tim Pickett:

It’s just fascinating that we can’t use it as a tool in the hospital when there seems to be so much anecdotal evidence that it could be a useful tool.

Amber Franke:

I was on 11 prescriptions at one point. 11. Only four of those were for pain and mental health. And the rest were for side effects of those medications.

Tim Pickett:

Of the medications.

Amber Franke:

Yes. And I have some permanent damage from those medications that I do have to take. So I’ve been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia. It’s not a [inaudible 00:08:15]. It was a hiatal hernia, but there’s something else going on in my esophagus and my stomach from something that happened with excessive amounts of Ibuprofen and Tylenol and things to treat some TMJ. And I was on prescription, IB-800s for twice, I was taking more than the max recommended for 15 years. And it’s done enough damage that I have to be on heart medications the rest of my life as a result. So yeah, there’s so many other things that you can look at. And it’s not just cannabis. Cannabis got me to a place where I could detox from everything else. And then I started paying attention to my mental health and meditation and [inaudible 00:09:04] and exercise and diet and sweets and water consumption and all the other things that you need to be healthy.

Tim Pickett:

Healthy. Right. So you used cannabis as the gateway, right? It was the gateway drug for this next step or essentially the exit drug. It was thing that allowed you to take that next step and to say, “Okay, look, let’s look at this a little bit different.”

Amber Franke:

Yeah. It forced me to a place where it could sand the edges of my pain and my sleep problems enough for me to have enough clarity to be like, “I actually can take control of my life and what do I need to do to get there? What do I need to do to be happy again?” And part of that was quit numbing your feelings with SSRIs.

Tim Pickett:

Yes.

Amber Franke:

Quit it.

Tim Pickett:

You feel like SSRIs were just leveling you out.

Amber Franke:

I was a zombie. Yeah. I was a zombie for 15 years. I call it the walking dead for me. I felt enough to think that I was doing okay and that I was normal, but big problems I didn’t have big reactions to. I was kind of just this melancholy little tiny spikes and little tiny depressions. And it’s not until you’re in a really uncomfortable situation that you’re like, “Oh shit, I have to actually do something because this feels terrible.” I wasn’t able to do that when I was on SSRIs. I didn’t have access to those really big feelings. I could feel a little, I could identify, “Oh I should sad about this,” or, “I am sad because of this.” But it wasn’t a discomfort feeling that forced me to change something.

Tim Pickett:

When you talked about, you said something that was interesting to me, cannabis, and essentially it sounds like the THC in cannabis, was able to sand the rough edges of your pain. How is that different, or is it different, than the SSRIs dulling, making your life gray? So I often describe it as Gabapentin is a good example of a drug that essentially makes-

Amber Franke:

That’s the one I just got off of.

Tim Pickett:

Right. It makes your life gray. And cannabis allows people to have oranges and yellows and colors, right? And Gabapentin just kind of grays everything out. When you say sand the rough edges, is that the same or is it different? I might be getting into the weeds here a little bit more.

Amber Franke:

I feel for me, sanding the edges with Gabapentin just sanded them so much that there was nothing left. Sanding the edges with cannabis, or THC, allows me to recognize that there’s a problem, but doesn’t debilitate my ability to solve that problem myself.

Tim Pickett:

Yes. And this is really what I was kind getting at, was hoping to get at, was this idea that by using cannabis, it’s not that you’re dulling the senses, it isn’t that you’re dulling the senses, it’s that you’re able to deal with the things that you want to deal with. Right? But you’re not necessarily suppressing them in the same way.

Amber Franke:

Right. But I also feel like there’s a level of control on my end of it. So depending on how much or how I’m navigating my cannabis, it’s cannabis. It’s a plant. It’s the same thing that I’m taking, but if I’m not having an extremely rough anxiety day, I don’t need as much to go to sleep at night. Where, when you have a pill, I was on like 50 milligrams of Trazodone every night. And there was another one that I coupled that with that starts with a Z. I can’t remember, but it was a sleeping pill, and I would kind of get a hangover the next day, or I couldn’t just fall asleep and then wake up an hour later. It was, I’m out for eight hours and I can’t find my phone the next day because I stuck it in the freezer.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah. Because, the Z one is Zopadem, that’s Ambien, that’s five milligrams Ambien with Trazodone. And let me tell you, those are two… If you’re on that and you’re on Gabapentin, plus you’re on an SSRI, my God, you’re on a lot of medications. How we get to this point where we’re putting people on all of these medications? See, this is my whole soapbox, and forgive me for being this way, but you’re taking somebody’s life away from them by adding all of these medications to their list and not considering something like cannabis, where at least it’s a tool, just like everything else. You’re willing to put them on five FDA approved medications, but you’re not willing to let them try a little bit of cannabis? That’s what society has, I think, really screwed up 100 years ago by eliminating this and making it such a cultural negative. We have done this, we are doing this to people. We keep doing this to people. I.

Amber Franke:

It’s interesting too, because when I was on Gabapentin and Ambien, I would wake up with a jar of peanut butter in my bed.

Tim Pickett:

I know people with blocks of cheese, bottles of peanut butter. They’ve been out to the mailbox and done something, painted something.

Amber Franke:

But I would also look forward to those funny stories because they were something to brag about, which is so bizarre to me when I look back now, because I’m like, “It was out of my control, but that was my way of being like, ‘Oh my gosh. I did a thing and it’s because of the meds I’m taking.'” And now I have accountability where I’m like, I don’t actually get to make that excuse anymore because I’m not on those medications. So now I’m making better choices in my everyday life so I don’t have stories. I still have stories, but they’re within normal range. Like my story today, I DoorDash when my kids are in school, I DoorDash for extra money and I was DoorDashing and as I was putting a Fizz order with four sodas in my car, I hit my handle and spilled all four sodas in my… Stupid choice, but I was able to laugh about it and it had nothing to do with anything… And given those two, I would rather have that story than, “I did a thing.”

Tim Pickett:

This is totally off topic. You DoorDash Fizz? Do people actually literally DoorDash Fizz?

Amber Franke:

Dude, some of my weird DoorDashes have been… My favorite are to nursing homes or hospitals, because I will pause my Dash and have a conversation with the Alzheimer’s patients. But I have picked up flower arrangements from Smith’s Marketplace and walked into a funeral home with a tank top and shorts, not dressed appropriate at all, and delivered flowers in the middle of a funeral.

Tim Pickett:

Oh my God.

Amber Franke:

It’s so great.

Tim Pickett:

So is it like Task Rabbit? Do you know what that is?

Amber Franke:

I don’t know what that is.

Tim Pickett:

It’s like DoorDash, I can go on DoorDash and I can order just anything? Or they have to be a business that associates with DoorDash.

Amber Franke:

It has to be a business that associates with DoorDash. But grocery stores do. And so that’s like the flower order, I was like, “OK, flowers. I guess I’m delivering flowers.” And then I go to Russon Brothers on Main Street in Bountiful and I’m like, “Oh my God.”

Tim Pickett:

Oh my gosh.

Amber Franke:

And there’s all these cars there. And I’m like, “I have to walk in looking like white trash. This is great.”

Tim Pickett:

Oh gosh. This is great. I can’t. I mean the Fizz thing, okay, sorry. The Fizz thing is crazy. I just cannot. For all of you out there, listeners, I do not like that we have Fizz, I do not like that we have Sips, I do not like these places. And yet, once in a while, I’ll go to Beans & Brews and get my coffee. So yes, I’m a hypocrite. I totally am a hypocrite.

Amber Franke:

No you’re not. You’re a human.

Tim Pickett:

I’ll buy my coffee to drive through. But, man, your Diet Cokes and your vanilla whipped cream thing, I don’t know. I just cannot figure out. And it’s a Utah thing.

Amber Franke:

Oh my gosh, the soda chains.

Tim Pickett:

These things are huge.

Amber Franke:

Yeah they’re huge. [crosstalk 00:17:39].

Tim Pickett:

And then not only do you go, but you DoorDash.

Amber Franke:

Yeah. You can DoorDash Little Caesar’s pizza now.

Tim Pickett:

Holy shit. It’s more money to DoorDash it than to buy the pizza.

Amber Franke:

I know. I delivered a $10 Little Caesar’s order and got paid $6 to deliver it. Less than three miles away from Little Caesar’s.

Tim Pickett:

And, again, this side of me though, I’ve done the Costco delivery. I’ve done the Instacart. And, man, I love to have that stuff…

Amber Franke:

If you can afford it, you can do it. Because you know what? It keeps people like me who are DoorDashing? It keeps me from having to get a real job.

Tim Pickett:

Well, that was my next question. If you’ve got kids in school and you’ve got an incredibly flexible schedule, so you can do that, and if you’re making enough extra money and you don’t to go work a full time or a part time, you can do this gig economy, on that side of it, it’s really cool.

Amber Franke:

Yeah. I really like it. I really like it because it does open up. I have one that’s disabled and he’s at a post high program called Vista down the street from us now, but he does a hybrid so he’s only in person two days a week, he’s home the other three. So I would love to get a full time job somewhere, but I don’t have that kind of flexibility. So for me, when he’s at school, I can DoorDash. And I usually average right around $20 an hour when I’m DoorDashing. And I’ve got all the apps that count my mileage, how much I have to take out for taxes, all that kind of stuff. Different savings account that I plug it all into.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah. So how long have you been doing this? Do you credit cannabis for helping you figure all of this sort of stuff out?

Amber Franke:

100% yes. Because I think it cleared my vision enough to make the major life changes that I needed to make without the fear attached to what that’s going to look like.

Tim Pickett:

What did the legalization mean to you? Would you have done this if it wasn’t legal?

Amber Franke:

No. Nope. I wouldn’t. I’m a rule follower. I wouldn’t have. If it wasn’t legal, I would be too scared to get caught or have something happen that I would have to then answer for. No, I would’ve never tried it. I would’ve never tried it medicinally. I did it a few times in high school, everybody experiments with different things. But no, if it wasn’t legal, I would’ve never tried. I would probably still be in an abusive marriage and a stay at home mom with disabled kids and trying to avoid breakdowns in psych wards for the rest of my life.

Tim Pickett:

Do you like that Utah is a medical program versus adult use or recreational program?

Amber Franke:

I don’t think that’s even a fair question to ask me just because I wouldn’t use it recreationally. The first few times that I even like upped a dose on a gummy, I’m like, I have to make sure I’m not going anywhere tomorrow. I’m very careful with my consumption as it is anyway. I don’t know that I would actually use it recreationally. I don’t know if there’s really a difference though. Because once you get past that place of getting high, it doesn’t have the party vibe anymore. That kind of goes away.

Tim Pickett:

It does for a lot of people. I definitely agree. There’s a point which you understand, you know what’s going to happen. You know I’m going to take this and I know pretty much exactly how I’m going to feel in an hour. Because I’ve done this before, I do this every day or every few days or when I have a bad day, whatever it is. And you’re used to that and that is not really recreational. What would you call that? How do you view that? Because I know on the other hand there’s people who would use it “medicinally,” but then, “I’m a musician” or “I paint and I like that creativity that gives me.” Or something like that. Is there a difference with that? I don’t know.

Amber Franke:

I think that’s up to the individual, don’t you? I mean, for me, the reason I started taking it, because I was coming off my SSRIs anyway. I was coming off my anxiety medication anyway. So whatever the outcome of that looked like for me, I was going to be fine with it. What I told myself. “OK. I’m going to allow myself to try it for this specific reason to see if it helps.” The excuse that I gave myself is my TMJ because I was breaking two teeth a year and having to call the dentist and go in for an emergency dental because my teeth are clinching, my molars are clenching.

Amber Franke:

So for me it was like, “I’ll just use it at night. I’ll just use it for sleep. And if I break a tooth, then I have it for pain.” So that’s what I qualified under. That’s how I got my medical card. And it wasn’t until I started experimenting, because I tried the flower, I tried the capsules, I tried the tinctures, I tried the stuff you rub on your jaw, like the balms, I tried the vape. I tried all it. And that’s when I noticed, “Holy shit, this is actually helping my anxiety. I wonder what would happen if I used it for a panic attack.” And so I would try it that way. And I think that’s when I was like, “Oh my God, this isn’t just a party drug.” And there’s so many uses. There’s so many different things that this is helping with.

Tim Pickett:

I know. I’m letting you talk because we’re having this conversation, but it is. It is like, wow. And it’s not the cure for everything. We don’t cure very many things with cannabis, but we’re just, human beings like to manipulate their environment, they like to manipulate things. Right? We know we eat certain things and we have more energy. That’s how we are. We learn to do these things and we learn to use different products. We drink coffee in the morning to help wake ourselves up, we use cannabis to help ourselves feel a little better. And if you have pain in your jaw.

Amber Franke:

Yeah. And I don’t think this is really a bad thing, especially during a panic attack, the Xanax that I would take would last four or five hours and I would be knocked out. I would have a panic attack, I would take a rescue medication, and I would go to sleep. And I would be asleep for four, five, six, seven, eight hours. And then I’d wake up starving and I’d wake up and I’d eat. And then I would feel like crap because I would feel guilty for having a panic attack and beat myself up. And my mental health would just plummet and then depression would set in. And then sometimes I wouldn’t get out of bed for three or four days and then I would start to worry and then I’d have another panic attack happen. And I’d taken another Xanax and it was the same cycle over and over and over again.

Amber Franke:

When I started using cannabis and I thought, I wonder what would happen if I just smoked some flour, used vape. I’d panic 20 minutes, and I would be like, “I think I got this. I think I can handle this. I think I can do this.” And then I would almost elevate to this different mindset and then I’d talk myself back down and I would be OK. And then I was ready to continue the day. Not as if it never happened, but maybe would have it up to an hour of, “Oh, that was a rough one.” And then I would be back to normal and then I could manage it. But I would also do is process what triggered that panic attack as well. What am I avoiding? What am I not looking at? And what can I do to make that not trigger [inaudible 00:25:38]? How can I expose myself to that trigger to make it so it’s not nearly as impactful as it was [inaudible 00:25:43].

Tim Pickett:

Are you doing this essentially during that psychoactive period?

Amber Franke:

No. I think I’m unreachable in that moment. It’s usually reflection after.

Tim Pickett:

After. Okay. You’re basically saying, okay, the panic attack, we’re going to put that over on the couch for now, we’re just going to get it through. And then after that kind of calms down and everything kind of settles, then you can reflect, you feel a little better, and then you can start to get a little clearer.

Amber Franke:

Yeah. That part’s pretty instant. So I might still have, obviously you’re still going to the cannabis in your system, but I’m not technically high anymore. And I’m already tired and exhausted from the panic attack, but they’ve never lasted as long, they never were nearly as intense. And then I was able to actually revisit that panic attack and try to identify the trigger so I knew what I could do to avoid it being trigger.

Tim Pickett:

You’re doing a lot of work.

Amber Franke:

I know.

Tim Pickett:

You really are doing a lot of work. I mean, congratulations on heading down this path. Certainly we all have places where we’re still going, but you have come a long way

Amber Franke:

In a short amount of time. But I have to say, walking into the dispensary and being able to ask questions legally, without worrying. I’m there at least once a week, “This isn’t working for me. This is giving me headaches. I don’t like how this is doing. I need a different strand of this.” Like I said, I’m a newbie at this. Sativa and Indica? I didn’t even what those were a year ago. I’d never heard of those words before. So this is all kind new to me, but knowing that I’m okay to walk into the dispensary and say, “This issue that I’m having, how do we problem solve this?” And having them actually take time to explain things to me so I can understand it and put my mental health and my physical health back in my hands, is huge.

Tim Pickett:

When you finally gave yourself permission to use this and to try it, it does sound like you really had to give yourself permission to experiment with everything.

Amber Franke:

What do you mean? Say that again?

Tim Pickett:

Like experiment with different delivery methods. “I’m going to try the gummies. I’m going to try the vape. I’m going to try the flower.” Do you feel like that’s a big hiccup or that’s a big hurdle for people who basically grew up with you and me?

Amber Franke:

I think it’s extremely overwhelming. There’s so much information. Just walking in the first time with my med card, I felt really small because I knew that I was walking in as completely uneducated, never before interested in this at all, and I was clueless. And so I already walked in with the idea of, “OK, you’re gonna feel stupid” because you have no idea what you’re doing. You have no idea. You just got this card and now you’re free range. You can do whatever the F you want. But I was like, I need guidance, I need help, I need guidance. And then being able to be like, “Oh no, you can try this and you can try this and you can try this and you can try this. And just keep a journal and just see what works for you and what doesn’t.”

Amber Franke:

And then being able to go back and say, “Okay, I tried this and this and this, this didn’t work for me for this reason, this didn’t work for this reason, cetera.” And have them say, “Okay, try this instead. Or let’s try a different delivery method.” I think that for me, took all the judgment and fear completely out of it. But I didn’t go crazy either. I want crazy buying everything, but I didn’t go crazy trying it all. I did keep a journal. I was meticulous what I tried and making sure I’d try it for three or four days to see what the effects would be before I decided to try a different method.

Tim Pickett:

How long did it take you to figure out dosing? How you were going to feel?

Amber Franke:

It was six months of hit and miss. And there was a little bit of struggle with anxiety and a little bit of depression and being sleepy. But I would just go and talk to people and ask questions and they would help me fine tune a couple of different things. And I know how my body reacts to certain deliveries now. And I like being in control of that. I don’t like going to a doctor and having them say, “You need three months before you have any sort of effect and don’t change anything because it’s detrimental if you just stop taking that SSRI.” And then I’d go and I’d suffer for three months and I’d know on day four this isn’t going to work for me. And then I’d have to live out that three months of taking this drug and then I’d have to make an appointment and go in. And then they would adjust the dose, but they wouldn’t adjust the drug itself. And I think that level of control in the hands of somebody that spent 15 minutes talking to you is kind of gross.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah. You have turned it on its head, right? You’re taking all the control. This is a very good way to put it. In traditional medicine, we have somebody who spends 15 minutes with you, and yet you’re giving them 90 plus percent of control over the medications and your therapy and your treatment.

Amber Franke:

You either take it or you don’t. And do you have any idea?

Tim Pickett:

You either take it or you don’t.

Amber Franke:

Yeah. Cold Turkey with an SSRI? Come on.

Tim Pickett:

Oh, it’s not pretty. But, on the other hand, cannabis medicine is almost exactly the opposite. I’m the one who’s giving you permission to use this medication, puts the fence up around the pasture, so to speak, and says, “Okay, inside this room or inside this area, you can do what you need to do. I’ll be here whenever you need me and periodically.”

Amber Franke:

Which is a lot in the beginning.

Tim Pickett:

Which is a lot in the beginning. The pharmacists are there, the dispensary’s there. Utah set up a pretty good program for that with the pharmacists, I will say. And now you have almost all of the control.

Amber Franke:

Yes.

Tim Pickett:

And the provider is just there in case or there to guide. I like that way of putting that. And that essentially is what allowed you to figure yourself out a little bit, right? Figure the drugs out, figure the medication, decide what works, what doesn’t. How it works.

Amber Franke:

But this isn’t just for drugs. It’s everything. It’s taking control of every aspect of my life. And that includes the people I surround myself with. That includes the crowds I out with, what kind of job I want, or what I teach my children and coping skills. It’s clear the cobwebs out of the way so I can actually function.

Tim Pickett:

And cannabis doesn’t deserve all of the credit there. It’s just a little piece.

Amber Franke:

Sure. Right.

Tim Pickett:

And then you essentially do the rest.

Amber Franke:

It’s not a fix all, that’s for sure.

Tim Pickett:

No.

Amber Franke:

But I think for me, why it was so important for me, is because, like we were talking earlier, that it just sanded the edges enough where it wasn’t so painful that I could actually look at it. And then I already have, I can take control of what my life looks like and who I hang out with and the things that I want to do with my future and what I teach my children. And if I stayed on the SSRIs, I don’t know that I would have ever come out of that coma really.

Tim Pickett:

I’m glad you did.

Amber Franke:

Me too.

Tim Pickett:

I am. I am really glad you did. And I’m glad that we’re having this conversation because, frankly, there are people out there who, they’re still really lost and they’re still in that gray area. And maybe hearing somebody say, “Hey, I’m normal. I’m like you. Here’s what I did,” gives somebody that permission to allow themselves to do the same thing in their own way. And that’s what’s so cool. What do you see next for you as far as everything goes? You’re going to keep doing what you’re doing now? Sounds like things are going pretty well.

Amber Franke:

Yeah. I think I’m learning how to slow down and kind of enjoy what’s in front of me instead of always wondering what’s going to be the next big step, or where I’m going to be in five years. It’s just a matter of enjoying, smelling the flowers, enjoying my children as they grow, enjoying just existence and being okay with discomfort, learning how to be the best person myself with the tools I have in my tool belt.

Tim Pickett:

Did you go back to your provider and let them know all of these things? Have they been included in all of this?

Amber Franke:

Yeah. Of course. I even went back to my dentist. Said, “I’m not going to be breaking anymore teeth.” And he’s like, “Dang it.” No, everybody’s on board. I feel like transparency is huge with me too. I don’t believe in hiding or lying. I think that’s why I’m such a rule follower, but yes, I definitely went back to my doctor and said we need to eliminate these medications because I’m not taking them. He’s like, “Well what are you doing instead?” “I have my cannabis card.” And he basically gave thumbs up, “Good for you.”

Tim Pickett:

He’s like whatever works.

Amber Franke:

Yeah. And it’s in my chart now. So he knows now that I do take cannabis. So any type of medication that I need in the future can interact with it badly. So I think it’s important.

Tim Pickett:

It is. It sounds like your experience with your regular provider was pretty good. We get phone calls pretty frequently from other providers who are like, “Well, can I do this with this other medication? Is it okay?” And we’re starting to answer those questions. People are slowly coming around, one at a time.

Amber Franke:

I love that.

Tim Pickett:

That’s okay. One at a time’s more than zero at a time. That’s fine.

Amber Franke:

Yeah. I love it. I think that now the next step is getting insurance companies to cover the costs.

Tim Pickett:

Yes. I agree.

Amber Franke:

It is.

Tim Pickett:

I think that’s a big lift. And I think working more providers into it so you don’t have to pay outside for the evaluations, lowering the prices of the medication, the flower, all of it, needs to come down and be more accessible. The more we do, the more accessible it becomes. It’s expensive right now, still.

Amber Franke:

It is.

Tim Pickett:

It is.

Amber Franke:

But it’s worth it for me, for my mental health, and for what I’m doing to the inside. I don’t know what kind of long term damage 20 years on the SSRIs did to my brain or any of that stuff. I’m the one that was like, “I’ll be on this for the rest of my life. There’s no way I’m going to be without a mood stabilizer. I can’t function without it.” And here I am. It’s been a couple years now, almost a little over a year now where I haven’t had any SSRIs. I feel like my growth spurt is monumental and I have nowhere to go but up. I can really get better.

Tim Pickett:

That’s awesome. Do you have a favorite strain?

Amber Franke:

I think the one thing that I will not ever not purchase are the gummies.

Tim Pickett:

You like the gummies.

Amber Franke:

I do. Right now I’m taking the mango peach 40 milligram gummy at night. And if I’m exhausted, I only take half of it. And if I’m anxious, I take the whole thing. I like being able to fine tune that. And then, the panic attacks, using the vape for panic attacks is the other one that I probably will never go without.

Tim Pickett:

That’s good.

Amber Franke:

Oh. And I’m also, because I was on ibuprofen 800, I was on Diclofenac or something?

Tim Pickett:

Yeah. Diclofenac. It’s a name brand ibuprofen type medication. And all that’s gone.

Amber Franke:

All of it’s gone.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah. That’s pretty cool.

Amber Franke:

I think so.

Tim Pickett:

I love these stories. I like people to take back control.

Amber Franke:

Yeah. And I think it’s nice too, because it’s not a replacement. I mean, it can be, it’s a replacement, but really for me, it was just opening my eyes to know that I’m mentally strong enough to do these things on my own and this helps me get there. This helps me get there. And it just doesn’t make my anxiety quite so overwhelming that I shut down. It actually makes it manageable, and I can pay attention to it and I know when it’s coming.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah. Cannabis isn’t doing the work. You’re doing the work, cannabis is just helping you to be able to do that.

Amber Franke:

It’s clearing the cobwebs. Yeah.

Tim Pickett:

Yep. Clearing the cobwebs.

Amber Franke:

Yep. For sure.

Tim Pickett:

Well, this is awesome. Well, thanks, Amber. I really appreciate you. I appreciate your willingness to be open and honest with me, with people. I think it’s just amazing. Congratulations.

Amber Franke:

It’s been a journey. Thank you.

Tim Pickett:

And if I’ve ever DoorDashing Fizz, I swear, if you ever show up when I DoorDash Fizz.

Amber Franke:

You better tip me big.

Tim Pickett:

Oh, big. Don’t you worry.

Amber Franke:

You better tip me big.

Tim Pickett:

That’s right. All right, everybody. Utahmarijuana.org/podcast is where you can find all of the podcasts. You can also subscribe to Utah in the Weeds on any podcast player that you have. You can download us everywhere. Amber Franke, it’s been a real pleasure.

Amber Franke:

It’s been a pleasure being here. Thanks, Tim.

Tim Pickett:

You bet. Stay safe out there, guys.

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