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What to Expect in This Episode

Episode 77 of Utah in the Weeds features Chris Voss, a patient who uses Medical Cannabis to treat his multiple sclerosis.

Voss, 37, was first diagnosed with MS last year. His diagnosis came during a particularly difficult time, because of the added pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, graduate school, and an earthquake in northern Utah. [3:09]

Fortunately for Voss, a friend gave him a cannabis oil pen to experiment with treating his MS-related leg pain. [04:58]

Voss talked about the initial symptoms of pain and numbness that led to his MS diagnosis, and the clinical stem cell trial he is now pursuing for treatment. [09:28]

Voss has researched and experimented with various cannabis delivery methods for treating MS. He has found topical creams can help with muscle tightness, and he also likes the Zion Medicinals 1:1:1 THC:CBD:CBG tincture. [15:55]

Voss has also changed his diet to help fight MS, and he talked about his use of The Wim Hof Method, and other techniques he uses to reduce inflammation. [17:51]

Voss and host Tim Pickett talked about the stigma that cannabis still carries for some people, and the shifting attitudes toward accepting cannabis as a medicine. [23:53]

Voss and Tim talked about some of the strains they’ve used for contemplation, then the conversation shifted to Voss’ passion for making “8-bit” music in the style of classic video games. [29:16]

We wrapped up this episode with some encouraging words for anyone who might benefit from Medical Cannabis. [38:54]

Podcast Transcript

Chris Voss:
And the only time I felt relief emotionally, psychologically was when I had cannabis. Life was like a living nightmare and that helped to kind of tone that down and to calm me down and get me in a good mental headspace. And I truly think about it, I don’t know what I would have done, I don’t know how I would’ve been able to handle that.

Tim Pickett:
Welcome everyone out to episode 77, lucky 77 of Utah in the Weeds, my name is Tim Pickett, I am your host. And here we talk about cannabis culture and medical cannabis in Utah. I’m excited to introduce you to Chris Voss, the music you heard on the intro today was his rendition of the Pixies. And we talk a little bit about that in the interview. We talk a lot about his experience with cannabis as really a life-saving plant for him, he was diagnosed with MS right at the beginning of the COVID pandemic when the world ended and remember that earthquake in Utah and how it was just crushing, to that sense of almost despair. So we talk a lot about that, enjoy this conversation.

Tim Pickett:
From a housekeeping perspective, for the entire month of November, we’re celebrating the one-year anniversary of the YouTube channel, Discover Marijuana. And we’re giving away something every single week from that in celebration and the prizes ramp up every week to the grand prize, which will be announced I think in a couple of weeks. So go to that YouTube channel, slam that subscribe button, we’re working on trying to increase that reach and make a comment on how you feel like those videos help or don’t help, or you want to see a video on some particular topic, that’s where to do it. Thanks for listening, thanks for subscribing to Utah in the Weeds. I’m super excited to just keep working hard on good content and education and I think it’s getting better and better and I think it will continue to get better.

Tim Pickett:
Anyway, my name is Tim Pickett, if you want to reach out to me the best way to do that is on that Discover Marijuana YouTube channel, subscribe to this podcast, Utah in the Weeds on any podcast player that you have or you like, and enjoy this conversation with Chris Voss.

Tim Pickett:
I guess we should just really get into this MS Thing and this, because you were diagnosed with MS at 36 years old, right?

Chris Voss:
Yep.

Tim Pickett:
And you’re living here in Utah, and this is exactly the time you’ve got the earthquake and COVID and MS, it sounds like this whole thing happened at the same time?

Chris Voss:
Yeah, it all happened at the same time. I was also going to school full-time working on my thesis for my master’s degree. While doing an internship and being a TA for the teachers up there. So I got slammed pretty hard psychologically, it crushed me. Pretty overwhelming, but the Godsend was the same month that I got diagnosed was the same month that Dragonfly opened up. And that’s just a couple blocks away from my house, so I was looking into that because I was in so much pain, so what happened with me was, when I was officially diagnosed, they said, okay, we’re going to get you in with the neurologist as soon as possible and then everything shut down from COVID.

Chris Voss:
So I didn’t hear from any doctors, I was calling in every day, I couldn’t meet with the neurologist for the first two months, so I had no kind of medication to help me out in any way, shape or form, and no direction either, it was just kind of radio silence. So I had this diagnosis, I was in terrible pain all day, every day, just neuropathy, it felt like my legs were on fire. So it feels like you have a third-degree sunburn just constantly.

Tim Pickett:
Down both legs?

Chris Voss:
Down both legs. Yeah. And my legs had also both become numb, so it was a weird feeling, it was like a novocaine feeling, but also this burning feeling as well. So it was very hard to deal with, very hard to walk, very hard to get around and man, I was waiting on a doctor’s note, I was waiting on trying to get in and a friend of mine, I know this isn’t legal, but I am incredibly grateful for him, he gave me an oil pen to try out just to help with the pain and, tell you what, it took things down from a seven or an eight down to a three or a four as far as pain goes.

Chris Voss:
The psychological pressure and burden of all those things, a master’s degree, TA, internship, earthquake, COVID, psychologically that was crushing. And the only time I felt relief, emotionally, psychologically was when I had cannabis. Life was like a living nightmare and that helped to kind of tone that down and to calm me down and get me in a good mental headspace. And I truly think without it, I don’t know what I would’ve done, I don’t know how I would’ve been able to handle that.

Tim Pickett:
You hate to vocalize this next part, right?

Chris Voss:
Yeah, I mean, the-

Tim Pickett:
I can hear it in your voice, right?

Chris Voss:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
That you’re like, okay, I know what I’m thinking about, this is severe depression, this is a place that nobody wants to go to. But I mean, I don’t have any idea what it was like for you at that time, but I remember what it was like for me at that time. And I remember thinking how overwhelming it was, especially right after the earthquake that you have … Basically the world has just come to a screeching halt and then we’re here and then the earthquake happens. and I can’t imagine adding severe pain in both legs. And you are starting a whole new chapter in your life too, being a … With this master’s degree and all of that stuff going on in school, all of the culmination of that, I totally can … I feel like I can understand, I guess, even though I don’t know what it was like for you personally, that sense, right?

Tim Pickett:
That’s what I think is so interesting about COVID and that time is here in Utah for people who were living here at the time and the earthquake happens, there was this shared sense of despair almost, right?

Chris Voss:
Yeah, I kind of got freaked out because we live in downtown Salt Lake and I know there are dams up the canyons. And I’m like, well, what if this earthquake somehow damaged one of those dams, there could be a kind of flood out in downtown Salt Lake. And at that time my mind was racing, I had all these other things going on and I was just like, let’s get some fresh water and let’s get somewhere safe, so, yeah, that was intense.

Chris Voss:
But again, without Medical Cannabis, I mean, I don’t know if I’d still be alive, I’m being completely honest. Just the amount of pressure, it was my final semester, I wanted to graduate with my friends, I was having severe fatigue and brain fog as well, so it was just like walking through mud and I emailed my professor and the Dean and they’re like, you know what? This is serious and I didn’t understand and recognize how serious MS was at the time, I was like, I’m going to bounce back, I’m going to hit the road running again.

Chris Voss:
And really, I’ve had to learn how to say no, I’ve had to learn time management and energy management, not taking on more than I can handle in a day. And so I feel like my energy and my productivity, it’s around maybe 60 or 75% of what it used to be, but-

Tim Pickett:
What’s MS like, how did it happen especially for a young man in their mid-thirties? How did this progression with your legs? Did it start in December? Explain that process.

Chris Voss:
Sure. So, the year before I was diagnosed, in winter, the University of Utah does a design-build program and we had designed a house for some Tibetan refugees and we were in the process of physically building that house, digging the foundations, doing all the work ourselves. And I was just, I kept on getting more and more tired, I had a previous back injury from a car accident and my back kept on hurting more and more. And so I finally got into a chiropractor and started getting adjustments. And one of my feet started going numb, my right foot started going numb and over the course of the week, it crept up through my calf, through my thigh and then my left foot started going numb, crept up through my calf and thigh and I was freaking out and chiropractor sent me in to get an MRI and showed that I had three bulging discs in my spine.

Chris Voss:
So we were all under the impression that it was sciatica, that it was something to do with the bulging disc that was causing my legs to get numb. And so I continued with chiropractic treatment. Didn’t get any better, it got worse until I could finally find the time to get into a doctor, which was during spring break, because like I said, it was school, it was finishing building that house, it was being a TA for the professors up there, I just didn’t have free time. So I just kind of pushed through the pain and the frustration until it was just finally too much. And then as soon as I got into a doctor, they sent me over to the ER.

Chris Voss:
So for about three months, I didn’t know what the heck was going on, I was just in tremendous amounts of pain and then my mind started to go, it was very hard to focus and concentrate and my energy levels were just gone, I was just dragging myself everywhere I went. So this isn’t all to say, poor me, but I’m just describing what I’ve been through until I got my diagnosis.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, I mean, that’s the whole idea, right? And I’ve interviewed quite a few people with some pretty severe illnesses and injuries and yeah, I don’t think anybody feels like that, but the explanation, MS is a demyelination disease, right? It’s a disease of the central nervous system and you have a coating around all of your nerve, your nerve fibers and that coating is like a power insulator and it keeps those signals running through the correct channel, running through the correct pipeline. And MS destroys that coating around the nerve so to speak, so that the signals are crossing, jumping all over and you’re getting pain signals when you shouldn’t be and you’re getting … But in there’s this added fatigue to it. And I’m certainly not an expert in the neurology of MS, I just understand it from, because I’m medically trained and treated a bunch of people with it. But you get, it’s my understanding that there’s kind of either a spinal MS, or a brain MS, is that kind of how it was described to you?

Chris Voss:
So I’ve got lesions present in my brain and in my spinal cord. And it’s the weirdest thing because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with my hands or legs, but the signals that I get right now is just numbness in my hands and my fingertips, it feels really raw like I’ve run them over sandpaper. I’ve had some improvement in my symptoms, but I still can’t fill my feet and it still feels like my knees are kind of ratcheted up. So, I’m on some high efficacy medication right now, but my last MRI still have some progression, so my wife and I, we’ve been looking into clinical trial for stem cell therapy for the treatment of it and they’re doing clinical trials on the East and West Coast, we’re working with somebody in Portland right now, still waiting to hear back on things they’re going over records, but I’m a good candidate for it.

Chris Voss:
But essentially I don’t want to say it, because I’m not a medical doctor, but it appears to cure MS. They’ve been doing stem cell treatments for MS in Russia for the last 20 years. They’ve treated over 2,000 patients over there with just tremendous results. So that’s kind of my next leg on my journey with MS, very excited to hear back on that.

Tim Pickett:
When it comes to cannabis and you starting cannabis, had you ever used, have you ever smoked weed before the event, right? Your friend giving you the pen?

Chris Voss:
Sure. So, I was young and dumb like a lot of people, when I was 17 I had plenty of opportunities to partake. And I had a very difficult home life and I had some kind of traumatic things happen to me growing up. And I feel like just the use of it back then just lifted a lot of psychological burdens as well, it just helped me to function as a normal person instead of always been on edge. I feel that there’s a lot of stigmas around it and what the world sees as a pothead in the United States, just all the media and culture. And I really don’t see it that way, it’s been nothing but helpful, it’s not like I’m sitting in my parents’ basement going through bags of Funyuns and playing video games all day, I’m a productive member of society, I don’t drive when I’m under the influence and I typically only use at night to help both the pain and help get me to sleep.

Tim Pickett:
Typically you started out with a vape pen.

Chris Voss:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
Once you got access to Dragonfly that’s right by you, did you start to experiment with different forms?

Chris Voss:
Oh yeah, yeah, I picked up some edibles, I was on some online forums and just asking a lot of questions, finding out more and more. Yeah, so I also got some of the balms, some of the topicals to see if that would help out. And it does help out with tight muscles like this fascisity, but it doesn’t help out with the sensation, the numbness or the burning or anything else like that, because that’s actually going on in my central nervous system, it’s not taking place in the localized area. The muscle tightness is. And so when I use the cream, it actually kind of relaxes it and helps me. I also use one of those percussion massagers, they’re a little expensive, but it was worth every penny to get one of those to help out with the muscle stiffness.

Tim Pickett:
Because you get localized muscle pain from the, it’s basically the nerves overstimulating the muscles and causing spasms?

Chris Voss:
Yeah, I get that too.

Tim Pickett:
Is that what’s causing a lot of the fatigue?

Chris Voss:
I don’t think so.

Tim Pickett:
I think we’re getting into the medical side of it, to really probably stuff that somebody will call me and say, Tim, remember that is not at all what causes the fatigue. But so topicals and then do you use … At night, you’re probably using something that’s long-acting, edibles or oil or something like that.

Chris Voss:
Yeah, I use Zions Tincture. I had a 1:1:10 tincture, which was awesome. I know am doing a 1:1:1 one and that’s been incredibly helpful that just-

Tim Pickett:
The CBG, CBD.

Chris Voss:
Yeah, exactly. The CBG-

Tim Pickett:
Do you feel like the CBG makes … You feel like that makes a difference?

Chris Voss:
I feel like it does, I got some CBG flower in one of the packs, vapes as well and that really helps out, because it doesn’t affect you, it doesn’t give you the head effects, but it does reduce inflammation all throughout your body. I’ve also been using, in conjunction with Medical Cannabis and you know what I’m on medically for MS, I also have changed my diet to an anti-inflammatory diet. If you have MS, you’re supposed to avoid dairy, because some of the proteins in dairy can mimic the Myelin sheath and that can trigger a relapse or a flare-up. So I’ve eliminated all dairy, all gluten, and all refined sugar. I eat really healthy and it’s one of the other things to deal with inflammation that I practice every day is the Wim Hof Method.

Tim Pickett:
What’s that?

Chris Voss:
It’s a breathing technique. It’s this crazy guy over in Poland, great guy, many world records. He’s known as the Iceman for all of his world records like going up Mount Everest in basically a pair of shorts, that’s it? So I do cold exposure therapy as part of the Wim Hof Method, which is cold showers and the breathing technique, which has been clinically shown to reduce inflammation in the body. They injected, can’t remember the name of the virus, but they injected some dead virus as a control into other people, it makes them sick within hours, they get over it fairly quickly, but they injected him, they had him hooked up to all this equipment and he did his breathing technique, he did not get sick, the inflammation levels did not go up. I think it’s something like Interleukin 10 or Interleukin 7, something like that, it’s an anti-inflammatory that gets released in mass quantities when you do this breathing technique.

Chris Voss:
So they thought he was a freak of nature and he said, give me 10 people, give me four days, I’ll train them to do the same thing and he was able to repeat it. So, yeah, I practice that daily to help with inflammation, I have an anti-inflammatory diet, I’m on the medication and Medical Cannabis too just reduces inflammation, especially the CBG. So I’m doing everything I can.

Tim Pickett:
You are taking the shotgun approach, right? But why wouldn’t you?

Chris Voss:
Well, I mean, just the amount of pain that I was in 24/7, it was an absolute nightmare, so I was open to anything and everything out there, I didn’t care what it was or what the source was, I would try it out. One other thing that I do is soft chamber hyperbaric oxygen therapy. You get into this spinal chambers, zip yourself in, they feed oxygen in through a cannula, it’s concentrated oxygen and then they pressurize the chamber to 1.3 atmospheres pressure. And that also medically has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, so I do that as often as I can, as well.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, I’ve seen those even commercially, right? These hyperbaric centers that’ll even charge you to go and get in one of those pressurized, we did a lot of … We recommended a lot of hyperbarics when I was involved in GI surgery for wound care for healing. And it seemed to work really well, I wasn’t really involved in that piece of it, but the people who did it and seemed like, it’s just that one more thing. But like you say, you’ve got a long road ahead of you, it’s not like you’re 75 diagnosed with this. I mean, at 36, you’ve got a lot of years, so I can see why it’s even you feel like it’s more important to do everything you can, because you’re not only trying to cure and trying to make this disease go backwards, but you’re also preparing for the future, in 20 years you want to keep all the myelination you can that exist now.

Tim Pickett:
So when it comes to, back to our discussion about cannabis, because I think this discussion brings up a lot to me that cannabis is simply just another tool, right? It’s not the cure, you’re not curing yourself of MS with cannabis, it’s not the only thing you’re doing, right? You’re trying to manipulate the cannabis intake with as much information in science as we have of the cannabis plant now, right? Including the CBG, because while there’s 120 cannabinoids in the plant, we don’t know, maybe CBC is the right one for you, but we just don’t know yet, right?

Tim Pickett:
But as a tool, you’re using cannabis to … And really that psychoactivity was disassociating you with your pain, right? Taking that pain doesn’t make it go away, but it’s just putting it over there on the couch.

Chris Voss:
Yeah, the perception of your pain shifts with cannabis, you understand and recognize that it’s still there, but it does not dig into you, it just floats away, you recognize it’s still there, but it just doesn’t matter as much, it’s not the forefront of your mind. And again, psychologically more than anything else I’ve done or gotten treated with, cannabis has helped me so much with the quality of life, I realized that what I’m doing and what I’m using isn’t going to cure what I have, but cannabis more than any of the other things that I’ve done has improved the quality of my life, like, tenfold.

Tim Pickett:
Is that something you’re talking about more and more you find, that you’re a consumer of cannabis? When you grew up, when I grew up, everybody was anti-, especially around here, right? Did you grow up in Utah?

Chris Voss:
Yes.

Tim Pickett:
So all the things, right? All the Mormon stuff, all the culture we grew up with, all of that bias that we grew up with, not only from the religion, but from just the US, everybody in the world really looking at weed as the bad thing. So, yeah, do you find yourself talking about it more?

Chris Voss:
Yeah, I really struggled with it for a while, I kept it kind of secret for a while, I didn’t want to talk to people about it for a while, because of all those stigmas, it was embedded in me. But every time, every single time I’ve talked to somebody about it or opened up about it, they’re supporting me a hundred percent, I think socially and culturally Utah has changed. And I think it might have to do with semantics saying cannabis versus marijuana, marijuana, everybody’s eyes just go crazy. Medical cannabis, it’s like nobody bats an eye, it’s like, yeah, that’s great.

Chris Voss:
So I think it’s great that some slight changes in the words that we use may have helped mitigate some of that stigma, I don’t know if that’s entirely the case, but I think it’s part of it.

Tim Pickett:
How have your doctors been with your cannabis use?

Chris Voss:
Nobody cares. They say, do you use it? And I want to tell them what I use and how much I use and they’re like, we don’t care, so. They’re not interested.

Tim Pickett:
They’re like yeah, we’ll just make a note.

Chris Voss:
They make a note, they’re kind of dismissive, so it is what it is. I’ve got to tell you a little side story, when I first started smoking when I was 17, I never actually paid for anything, I was always just kind of in the place at the time, I was like, okay, yeah. Because I recognized and understood how it affected me positively, I had heard all these bad things about it and growing up with the [dare 00:26:00] program, it’s like, everything is demonic, right?

Chris Voss:
And I was thinking to myself, even back then I’m like, well, if it’s so bad, why do people do it? There’s got to be some kind of benefit and I think the drawbacks of cannabis, the benefits far outweigh any kind of drawback that you experience with it, including lots of different medications that I’ve been on in the past, some of the side effects are terrible, but the side effects with cannabis have been minimal, the negative stuff, I’m just like, why isn’t this more mainstream? Why isn’t this more available?

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. Yeah. I find the same thing now, I was more paranoid when I would use it in my teens and twenties more, I almost was more paranoid, because it was illegal, we talk a lot about, once you give yourself permission and you talked about this too, right? When you started using it again even medically, you’re hiding it from people, not really talking about it, not knowing what to say I guess, but once people allow themselves, give themselves permission to use it and to be okay with it, it seems like it opens the door to the mental benefits of cannabis, I find that a lot of the anxiety people have from using cannabis is related to that stigma still in their mind, less so the actual THC causes the anxiety?

Chris Voss:
No, I mean, the first time I went in to Dragonfly I was scared shitless man, I was like, I still felt like what I was doing was illegal and I was nervous at the counter and the bartenders were all relaxed and they’re like, you know what, chill out, it’s all right, we’ll walk you through this, I met with the physician, they kind of put my mind more at ease, but I think I just hadn’t processed from in my teens when my parents found out that I was using and their reaction to that, this little anecdote here, some friends, he gave me some seeds and I was actually growing a little plant in my room and I named it sprout and I came downstairs one day and my dad was staring into my room and he was looking at it pretty intently and I’m like, oh, okay, maybe this wasn’t so smart.

Tim Pickett:
Here we go.

Chris Voss:
Yeah. Gave it to a friend to take care of, it ended up dying, it is what it is, but having those uncomfortable conversations with your parents and them thinking it’s the devil’s weed, my son’s gone off the deep end and he’s going to start doing this and that and robbing banks and everything else, so nothing could be farther from the truth. But I hadn’t fully processed that and I realized that was part of my anxiety too. And so as an adult, when I talked to my parents about the use again, they were like, no, that’s awesome, good for you. There were no kind of holdups, there were no kind of judgments. I was like, why was I so scared for so long?

Tim Pickett:
We do truthfully live in a very conservative community. You know what I mean?

Chris Voss:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
You can associate with some pretty liberal people and some pretty leftist folks here in Utah, but the majority is still pretty conservative. So has it affected your work? Because you work in design-build and architecture, has it affected your creativity and things like that? Have you found that there’s benefits outside of the medical? It’s kind of an off question really, but do you find that there’s benefits outside of just pain control or just helping you sleep? Or does … You know what I’m saying?

Chris Voss:
Yeah, it’s really personality-wise, I was pretty high strung and I find a lot more joy and pleasure working on what I’m working on instead of being so anxious and paranoid and this, that or the other deadlines, I’m like, I know how to do what I know how to do and I’m going to get it done on time. And I feel like my interactions with my coworkers have improved greatly as well, I feel like no, I’m an introvert And I feel like it’s kind of helped me to open up and become more of a social butterfly and not care as much about what other people think of me and not be trying to please other people, I feel like I’m becoming more of my true, authentic self and I’m becoming comfortable with myself and people are responding very positively to that.

Chris Voss:
It hasn’t affected my work quality or my production level or anything else like that, if anything it’s helped. So the one thing that I was paranoid about too was some of the projects I work on are LDS temples, and I was worried how my coworkers would react and I opened up to project managers and senior architects and I’m like, listen, here’s the deal, I have MS, I’m in terrible pain all the time, I use medical cannabis and so it’s kind of a fun thing to say now that I’m a pothead and I work on temples, so.

Tim Pickett:
I wasn’t going to say it, but I really was hoping you would.

Chris Voss:
Yeah. I mean, in my own personal understanding of things the plant is here for a reason, it’s meant to be used as medicine and it works as medicine and it’s effective and it’s uplifting, relieving, soothing, all the things you could hope for. I also have struggles with PTSD and it’s related to sleep issues and that’s some fantastic strengths to help me with PTSD, Tahoe OG, Gorilla glue, number four, this has been great.

Tim Pickett:
I’m going to ask you which strain you’d grow if you could choose one to grow.

Chris Voss:
Oh, man. so recently Dragonfly has dropped in their Nova pods God’s gift. And that, man it’s awesome, it really is. And I can get into these very deep meditative states where I just go through my subconscious and go through an inventory and say, Hey, what are some of the limiting beliefs that I hold that I’ve held since my childhood that have been dragging me down and keeping me from progressing in life? And I’m able to address issues, it’s like therapy with myself going into my own mind and becoming aware of things I wasn’t aware of before. I really feel like cannabis has helped me to get into those deeper states and do some shadow work, meaning, what were the good intentions behind some of my bad actions in life and helping me to exempt myself fully and love myself fully, instead of saying, well, I’ve got these bad things about me and therefore I’m a bad person. So it’s really helped me to … It’s been like therapy, honestly.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, I’ve had similar experiences with a couple of strains, Fatso being one of them where it’s like you’re behind the waterfall watching the thoughts go. And then you actually go back up the river, it seems like in your mind. And it can explore these things that are much, much deeper, but it’s like you can’t access that in the fully conscious state, I don’t know, for me, I get that same type of high-strong, little high energy, always what they would call forward-thinking and not able to access those quieter thoughts, which I think cannabis can be really helpful for. That helps healing too, right? Understanding yourself and understanding where all that comes from and helps people move forward.

Chris Voss:
It really does.

Tim Pickett:
Okay. I’m going to switch gears here, because I’m interested to know whether or not you still make music, like the game boy music, this whole, I was listening to some of these things on YouTube. And why this hasn’t taken off, what’s the deal? So explain what I’m talking about there, will you?

Chris Voss:
Okay. So-

Tim Pickett:
Chris Voss, the … I don’t know what it’s called, what do you call it? It’s a-

Chris Voss:
It’s called chiptune or 8-bit music.

Tim Pickett:
8-bit music. The 8-bit musician.

Chris Voss:
Yeah, I guess. My monitor-

Tim Pickett:
Describe what you do.

Chris Voss:
Yeah, so my moniker is old 44, but a while back, I’ve always been interested in computers and electronics and programming and all this other stuff, as well as just art in general. And I grew up, I had to learn two-ish instruments growing up, I learned piano and trumpet and I dropped out of both of those things. But one of my loves and passions in my earlier life was video games like Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Regular Nintendo and some of these games I would just turn on, so I could listen to the music, there was something magical about it. And I found this program that some German dude wrote called LSDJ that he flashed onto a cartridge for the Nintendo Game Boy and it’s a four-channel sequencer, so you can sequence and arrange music and play it live.

Chris Voss:
I got into modifying Game boys, I put in a back-lit screen for it, so I could see it in dark rooms, when playing concerts and stuff like that. And really, my goal was never to become successful, I’ve just been doing it for the love of it, because I would get these tunes stuck in my head, this music stuck in my head and I would have no way to get it out and get it down. So I learned how to use a bunch of different programs, most of them are free, another one is called Schism Tracker. And I just, I write music for the love of it, I was performing for a while, I would just perform in small local venues here. There were a couple of times I got flown out to Ohio to perform, but it’s never been about money, it’s just been about having fun.

Tim Pickett:
It’s a pretty interesting style because it mixes techno and that, but you can hear the gaming behind some of those sounds that are classic, I’m 43 and there are classic Nintendo Sega game sounds, right? Just really bring you back. I know if I played one, it doesn’t even have to be the memory, but my wife would walk in and I know she’d be like, oh, where’d you get the Tetris? Or where did you get that other, whatever game we used to play. And it’s so classic and so you still make some of that now?

Chris Voss:
I haven’t written anything in a while and I kind of unofficially retired the project and played my last show, but it’s not like I’ll never write anything more, but it’d be cool, I know this isn’t live, it’d be cool if you could, like on the intro to In the weeds, if you could have a short little segment of that music playing or something, I don’t know.

Tim Pickett:
Oh, that’s for sure what we’ll do, no question about it. And maybe even you, because you’re a, one of the comments was so interesting, the guys on Instagram, and he messages you on YouTube, he’s like, Hey, Chris, do you have Insta? I’ve never met a Daoist chiptune guy and just the way he strung the who he thought you were together, was classic, it was funny. And then listening to your monologues, right? Because this is a long time ago, oh, you’re mid-twenties at the time, right? 2011 or so.

Tim Pickett:
And I find that sort of stuff fascinating now with modern technology that we’re able to go back and watch ourselves, dialogue with ourselves, it’s so much more, I don’t know, it’s so much more personal than even reading your journal.

Chris Voss:
Yeah, it is, because you see the facial expressions, you see your mannerisms, you see how you’ve grown over the years too, it’s nice to have kind of a time capsule.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. Right, it’s a built-in time capsule, you’re living forever there. So what else is important to you right now that you want to share?

Chris Voss:
Cannabis has helped reorients me to some of my earlier mindsets of life, just understanding, it doesn’t matter left or right, all seats are all bullshit. And just realizing the different things I’ve needed to do for mental health like delete Facebook, what’s important to life in me right now, it’s not money, it’s not things, not objects, not anything like that, it’s experiences and it’s people, connections with people. Money comes and goes, things come and go and people come and go as well, but your connections with other human beings more than anything else I think is the most valuable thing that you can focus on and try to improve because there are so many people that are just grinding, they’re so focused on their careers, focused on money, focused on cars, social status is a huge thing. People want to be perceived as higher than other people and they’ll do whatever they can. They become fake, they’re no longer their authentic selves.

Chris Voss:
And so what’s important to me right now is just being true to who I am and showing love to other people, showing love to myself, having self care when I know I need it and showing love to others and having connections with others. Aside from that, all the other stuff, it’s just so ephemeral, it’s just so meaningless, it can provide creature comforts, but as long as I have a roof over my head and I can get the food that I need, it doesn’t matter where I live or what my status is.

Tim Pickett:
It’s important to remember, especially now with the craziness that is the world, the politics, the social media, I think it’s harder in a lot of ways to do that, but I’m glad that cannabis found you and you found it, again, it sounds like it’s a pretty good relationship.

Chris Voss:
It is.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, I’m glad that we have the program here in Utah and that we get to share it with other people, yeah, I think that that’s super important. Well, other than your YouTube channel, is there any way … If somebody wanted to reach out to you, is that something you are interested in? Somebody has questions or things like that. How would they do that?

Chris Voss:
Yeah, if anybody wants to reach, so they could reach out to me through email or they could reach out to me through Instagram which I do keep. And I just keep Instagram around to upload something every now and again, I don’t really spend time on it to scroll through all the feeds and get stuck in this endless loop of this micro hits of dopamine.

Tim Pickett:
Tell us what your Instagram handle is, that’s probably better than email.

Chris Voss:
Oh, it’s C-H-V-O-8-4.

Tim Pickett:
Say that one more time.

Chris Voss:
C-H-V-O-8-4.

Tim Pickett:
Well, Chris, this has been really great. I’m glad that, well, I got to talk to you. Your story is important.

Chris Voss:
I’m glad I got to talk to you too.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. This has been pretty cool. And I think this whole thing about your MS and how you got back into using cannabis, consuming cannabis, fascinating. If we could go back and I could take away the MS and take away the cannabis, I’m guessing you’d give up both.

Chris Voss:
Yeah, but I mean my quality of life has improved so much. And again, now I go to these MS support groups and I’ve brought up cannabis before and everybody’s like, they respond very negatively, they’re like, no, I’ll use that as a last resort, I’ll use that as the last resort. I’m like, use it as a first resort, holy cow man, they have it in their heads that it’s this awful thing and that it’s going to ruin their lives and that they can only use it when they’re like in a wheelchair or something. And I’m like, no, no, get it now, use it now. See how your life improves.

Tim Pickett:
No, learn how to use it now, because when it’s bad, when it gets bad, you’re going to really want to know how to use it already, right? I talk a lot of people about that, no, use it now, learn how to use it, learn all the products, learn what being high feels like, what being stoned feels like, what sleeping good, sleeping bad, all that, you need to learn all of that now because later you’re going to really like the fact that you know what you’re getting, what you’re using and it’s the symptom management, it’s not the curing of the disease that … Anyway. I’m surprised because we see a lot of patients with MS.

Chris Voss:
Yeah, and it must just be my local support group, but it’s just the … It’s mind-boggling to, well, it’s not mind-boggling, I understand on some level, but it’s harmless.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, it pretty much is, when it is used right, the risk profile is very, very low, very, very low. Well, take care of yourself and, yeah, glad to talk to you. Just for our listeners, Chris Voss, this has been a great episode, you can download this podcast on any podcast player that you listen to podcasts on Apple, Spotify, all of them. utahmarijuana.org/podcast. You can find our podcast and if you want to reach out to me, Tim Pickett, then the best thing to do is go to Discover Marijuana on YouTube and comment on one of the videos or on this podcast, because it will be uploaded there. All right everybody, stay safe out there.

 

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