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What to Expect in This Episode

Episode 79 of Utah in the Weeds features Erica Ballif, who received approval via Utah’s Compassionate Use Board to use Medical Cannabis to treat her anxiety.

Erica grew up in Washington and moved to Utah in 2011. She told us about her earliest use of cannabis, to cope with depression in her late teens. [01:55]

Erica said members of her family also use cannabis for treating tremors, nausea, and sciatica (nerve pain in the leg). [14:57]

When Utah began its Medical Cannabis program, Erica was disappointed to learn anxiety and depression were not among the qualifying conditions.  So, with the help of a local Qualified Medical Provider, Erica successfully petitioned Utah’s Compassionate Use Board for access to Medical Marijuana. [18:40]

Host Tim Pickett and Erica talked about the costs of cannabis medicine in Utah compared with other states. [34:07]

Erica told us about her favorite Medical Cannabis products, including the 1:1 THC:CBD Watermelon Zkittlez vape cartridge and Blue Dream flower. [36:13]

Erica says having access to Medical Cannabis makes her a better parent because it helps her be more patient and spontaneous. [43:16]

We wrapped up this episode with a helpful hint from Erica. She recommends microdosing as a good way for people with anxiety to approach Medical Cannabis use. [52:25]

Podcast Transcript

Tim Pickett:
Welcome, everyone, now to episode 79 of Utah in the Weeds, and this is a great episode with a patient that got approved through the Utah Compassionate Use Board for anxiety. Yes, it can happen, people. Anxiety is not a qualifying condition in Utah, but Erica Ballif, my guest today, did in fact get approved. We talked to her about her upbringing, her exposure to cannabis, what she uses it for, the anxiety, depression, how she went through the Compassionate Use Board, all of that. And, if you listen clear up until the end, you’ll get a picture into what she thinks about parenting and cannabis.

Tim Pickett:
Subscribe to the podcast on any podcast player that you get your hands on or your little thumbs on. Make sure to also subscribe to my YouTube channel, Discover Marijuana. You can slam that subscribe button and join. If you comment on one of those videos in the month of November, you will be entered into our YouTube drawing for subscribers, very excited about that. Happy holidays to everybody, happy Thanksgiving next week, everybody enjoy this episode and be preparing for all of that family anxiety. Be preparing, people. It’s coming at us. Some of the best times of the year are coming and some of the most stressful times of the year are certainly coming. Enjoy this episode with Erica Ballif.

Tim Pickett:
Tell me about you. Did you grow up in Washington?

Erica Ballif:
I moved to Utah in 2011. Up until 2011, I lived in Washington, besides going to a semester of college in Idaho and then coming home, but other than that, yeah, I grew up in Washington, which I think everybody quite knows that is a very pot-friendly state.

Tim Pickett:
Cheap, good product up there, right? I’m like, “We’re going to talk about that all day.”

Erica Ballif:
Yeah. I have a lot of family members that use marijuana too, and they’re up in Washington and they’re like, “Oh, it’s so expensive,” and I’m like, “Tell me what’s expensive to you because I can definitely [inaudible 00:02:41] it.”

Tim Pickett:
Okay, so you were the Seattle area and then you said something about Gig Harbor.

Erica Ballif:
So Gig Harbor is where I grew up. It’s about an hour southwest of Seattle, but most people don’t know about Gig Harbor. It’s next to Tacoma over the Tacoma Bridge and Seattle’s probably the closest place that people would recognize when I say Gig Harbor. Sometimes, when I say I’m from Washington, they’re like, “Oh, D.C.?” I’m like, “No, from the state.” I have to correct a lot of people with that.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, I’m sure.

Erica Ballif:
But, yeah, so I grew up LDS, so I came from a strict family, but I didn’t have a lot of LDS friends or anything. I had a lot of friends that smoked marijuana or cannabis. I don’t know how you want me to refer it to, but I’m going to refer it to as pot, marijuana, and cannabis, but …

Tim Pickett:
Okay. Here’s what I’ve gotten from being in this world, right, and I’m using air quotes right now, so everybody can imagine my air quotes, when you live in this cannabis world, everybody in this world uses the word cannabis and, okay, this is just my experience, I get a lot of flack for this, but, honestly, I think 99% of people just still use the word pot, marijuana, weed, right? They’re not enlightened individuals. And I don’t mean to, okay, I do kind of mean to give shit to the people in the industry who are uppity about it because, for me, you can call it whatever you want on, right? It helps people feel better, right, we want to talk about it, we want to normalize it, and so, shoot, I don’t care what you call it. Okay, so LDS, Seattle … I’m looking at pictures of Gig Harbor right now.

Erica Ballif:
It’s a gorgeous area. It’s a very gorgeous area right in the Puget Sound and I had a lot of good times growing up there. In high school is where I first had my experiences with knowing about pot and marijuana and stuff. I was the youngest in my family and my parents very much sheltered me in a way, but all my friends pretty much smoked cannabis, and I even had a friend who dealt it too, and so I was very much around it, but I never tried it until I was out of high school. And it was just really funny because everybody saw me hanging out with these people that smoked weed and everybody knew that they did and I was this little Molly Mormon girl hanging out with them, and everybody was so confused why I would hang out with them, but they were my friends and I enjoyed being around them.

Tim Pickett:
Were they people that graduated and were fairly normal other than they were the potheads?

Erica Ballif:
I think all of them, except maybe two, of them actually graduated from high school. One of my good friends is a geologist and he’s getting a PhD in geology in Central Washington and he’s doing great.

Tim Pickett:
Oh, it’s scary, they all became normal people. But-

Erica Ballif:
I know. Can you imagine that?

Tim Pickett:
I have a 16-year-old and I don’t want my daughter, I don’t want her smoking weed at all, but, at the same time … Do you think it was easier to get alcohol or pot in high school?

Erica Ballif:
It was easier to get pot than alcohol.

Tim Pickett:
I feel like that same thing was at my high school. I knew two people I could get an eighth from, today, but I didn’t know anybody I could get alcohol from, right, in high school.

Erica Ballif:
Yeah. The only people I would’ve known is my older sisters or something, but I didn’t drink or smoke or do any of that stuff in high school. The worst thing I did was lie about dating somebody in high school and, yeah, I didn’t do it until it was almost a year after I graduated high school, and the only reason why I did it was my boyfriend had broken up with me and I was very depressed and just wanted to do anything to get over it, which isn’t the best thing to do and I don’t recommend it. But I remember my first experience at my friend’s place, who sold it, and I brought a water bottle with me because I was like, “Oh, no, I probably am going to die coughing trying this,” and, we used a bong and that I took a huge hit apparently and I just sat there, coughing, drinking water, and then all of a sudden they were like, “Oh, she’s spacing out.”

Erica Ballif:
And I look up and that’s when I really felt the effects of it all, and I was like, “Whoa, this is different than anything I’ve experienced before.” And I started laughing and I just had a really good time and it took my mind off of the things that were really stressing me out right then, which my boyfriend had broken up with me and then I was due to start school the week after, and so all of this stuff piled on me. I was pretty stressed out. And, at that time too, I was not diagnosed with depression or anxiety yet. I’m somebody that takes responsibility. If I do something wrong, I take the responsibility to take care of it. I don’t like putting that kind of stuff on my parents or anything like that. Even when it came to like my depression and anxiety, I wanted to take care of it.

Erica Ballif:
I didn’t vocalize it to my parents at all that I was very depressed until one day, maybe a couple years after high school, somebody broke up with me and my parents, they asked me, “Erica, are you depressed? Do you feel like this often?” And I was like, “Yeah, I do,” and they’re like, “Because we noticed it takes you a really long time to move forward with something that’s really difficult.” And I was like, “Well, isn’t that normal?” And they’re like, “It’s not normal to be this sad about it for six months,” and I was like, “Oh, okay. I didn’t know that.” And so they got me into a doctor and I finally got put on some medication. And, during the time that I was trying and experimenting, it ties in with my religious background and everything, and so I was trying to figure out what I believed. I was wishy-washy and, by the time I got on my depression medication, I didn’t really rely on marijuana as much until I got to school. And my medication was actually making my depression worse at that point and so-

Tim Pickett:
Oh, really? How long had you been on it?

Erica Ballif:
I had been on it for almost a year, yeah, about a year. And there were a lot of things that factored into that as well. I went to BYU Idaho for one semester and, right at the beginning of the semester, a few weeks in, my grandfather passed away, and he lived in St. Anthony, which is really close to Rexburg, and so that was really tough. And, at the time, my sister, she was having a very big struggle with opioids and hard drugs, and that was a big stress on my parents. And part of the things that I did was I put her on my phone plan because she kept stealing money to pay for minutes on a phone and I was like, “I’m going to put you on my plan so you’re not doing that.” And then her friend racked up … and this is when minutes were counted, [crosstalk 00:11:05] not go over the minutes.

Tim Pickett:
Totally. Yes. This was a big deal at the time. All the companies were competing, they were going to give us more minutes, and, if you had a family plan and shared minutes … and then they started doing rollover, remember that? Yeah, so I totally understand, right, somebody’s racking up minutes.

Erica Ballif:
Yeah. And so I had a very finite budget when going to school, and I was planning on working because I had my loans and grants that I was going to use to get me through the semester. And my sister’s friend, she used my sister’s phone in the middle of the night without her knowing and she racked up $400 worth of charges on my phone plan. And so I was dealing with having to now find a job while in school, and I could go on and on about that, so I was very depressed and I got suspended from the school because my grades were too low.

Erica Ballif:
And so I was sent home and I started hanging out with my friends again and, soon enough, I started smoking pot again and that helped me, and I noticed that marijuana helped my depression and anxiety when I needed it. And eventually, though, I stopped because me and a friend actually got arrested in a parking lot for it and so I had to make some choices right then whether or not I was going to continue doing that or not, and so I didn’t want to jeopardize anything at that moment and so I stopped and-

Tim Pickett:
This is in Washington-

Erica Ballif:
This is before it was legal.

Tim Pickett:
… but this is before it was legal, so this is before 2012, right, because, in 2012, Washington became the first state to legalize cannabis, right? Maybe you would’ve still gotten in trouble for public use, but definitely not arrested.

Erica Ballif:
Luckily, they didn’t put me and my friend in handcuffs or anything. They wrote up a ticket, show up on this date at the court, and so we were able to go home that night, which was really nice because I didn’t want to be taken to jail and then have to call my parents and tell them about that. Luckily, I was able to get through all the court stuff without my parents finding out about it. When I was trying to figure out what I’m going to do with my life … I was 21. I know I was 21 because, a few days later, my car burnt down. I was suspended, arrested, and my car burnt down within a month period, and so things were really stressful at that time.

Tim Pickett:
Oh, my gosh.

Erica Ballif:
All I can do is just laugh about it and just like, “Okay.”

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. And then, besides the fact that the medical system isn’t really supporting you because, on the one hand, you’re using medications that really aren’t working, right? You were using an antidepressant that, for you, wasn’t being helpful. Statistically speaking, if you look at individuals, you can find really good benefit with antidepressants, but if you look at big population data, there’s not that much benefit to antidepressants, statistically speaking. It’s not uncommon at all for people to go on antidepressants and not have really any benefit or sometimes even feel worse, just depending on what’s happening in the system.

Tim Pickett:
You were using cannabis at the time and you talk about using it and feeling better, but now you have the benefit of hindsight. You can look back and you can be like, “Wow, I did feel better. I always just felt a little bit better when I was consuming cannabis or when it was in my life.” Where did it click for you that, “Oh, wow, this is actually part of my life. I don’t want to give this up?”

Erica Ballif:
Yeah. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and with religion and everything, I decided, “Oh, that’s what I wanted to do,” and I decided to make the move to Utah. And so it was 10 years, I hadn’t smoked anything, and, during that time, it was legal in Washington, and my sister, who became clean, thankfully, she’s sober, she’s been sober for a while now, for eight years or something like that, but she uses marijuana and she has IBS and her IBS causes her so much pain, it held her back a year in school, and now she is able to use that daily and be able to function and work and do the things she needs to do to provide for her son that she has and all the other responsibilities that she has.

Erica Ballif:
And so, at the time back then, in the mindset I had, I still thought marijuana wasn’t good for you or anything like that. And I thought, “Oh, I probably shouldn’t be doing this because it’s not going to be great for my health or anything like that and I want to be a faithful LDS member. I’m not going to do that.” I got on a different medication that helped me, but I’ve had to increase it and lower it throughout the years to whether … if it’s going to help me or not, depending on my daily life. I had a job once that just caused me a lot of depression and anxiety that they raised it so that I could even function. And so, when I saw that my sister was benefiting from it, and then my parents, who were very strict, they started partaking in it every once in a while, so that my dad-

Tim Pickett:
What?

Erica Ballif:
Yeah. I was shocked knowing that my mom tried anything. My dad, he had a wild side when he was a teenager, so he tried it before, but my dad, he has dementia and a very bad tremor and it helps his tremor, and it helps his nausea too. He has acid reflux and it will help his nausea. But, my mom, she was having really, really bad sciatic pain that was just shooting down her leg and she couldn’t sleep at all. They were giving her shots and just things weren’t working. And finally somebody gave her … I think it was my brother-in-law that gave her a salve and she put it on and she was able to sleep, and then she started just becoming more comfortable with it.

Erica Ballif:
And now my sister will make brownies with the coconut oil she has, the infused coconut oil, and my mom will eat a brownie, and it just is shocking to me. And so, as soon as they started accepting it more, I was like, “Okay, well, that kind of gives me the okay that I can support this and be okay with it.” And so in 2017, 2018, when Utah was trying to get the initiative on the ballot-

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, Proposition 2, yeah.

Erica Ballif:
… I was all gung-ho. As soon as they came to the door, I was like, “Yes, I’m signing this,” and-

Tim Pickett:
You’re like, “Oh, I know who you are.”

Erica Ballif:
Yes, and-

Tim Pickett:
“Yes, I read all the lessons. You can baptize me by pot right now.” Sorry. For those Utah listeners, we know exactly what that inside joke is. I love those guys and gals. I [crosstalk 00:19:12]-

Erica Ballif:
Oh, they’re great people, yeah. I followed that very, very strongly. I put one of the signs in my front yard and was very vocal about it and I was very happy that it passed. And then I was not very happy to find out that anxiety and depression were not a qualifying condition in the state of Utah, so I was like, “Okay, well, I guess I’ll just have to keep on my prescription medications and hope for the best.” I’m a mom of two little girls, a five-year-old and a now three-year-old, and any mom who says that that’s an easy job is lying to themselves. It is one of the toughest jobs ever, being a parent, and my anxiety has increased being a parent and, with anxiety and depression, I’m very short with people. Just, with my kids, I’m not very patient with them sometimes because I’m just so overwhelmed and I’m trying so hard to be patient with them. And it makes me feel terrible that I snap at my children.

Erica Ballif:
And it’s just I have a hard time even just getting on the floor and playing with them. I have ADHD as well, and so my attention to try and do imagination play with them cannot sustain longer than five minutes with them. And so I was just feeling like a terrible parent, as most people do when they don’t know what the heck they’re doing raising people. And I started getting into the CBD. I was finding that helpful. I specifically found these vape pens that were aromatherapy. They’re called MONQ, M-O-N-Q, and they did these essential oil blends that were like a vaporizer, but you would breathe it in and just hold it in your mouth and exhale through your nose so that you would get the essential oils benefits and calm down. And so that helped me, and then they came out with a CBD version and I really enjoyed that. That one, I could see some noticeable effects of that.

Erica Ballif:
And so, with that and also going to Good Earth and getting some CBD there, it would be helpful, but it wasn’t enough for me. I needed something more to really get me into a more relaxed mindset so that I wasn’t so, for a lack of a better word, anal about everything going on around me, because also, with my anxiety, I’m a perfectionist and I like things done a certain way. My husband will do the laundry one way and it drives me nuts. Even though the clothes are clean, he didn’t do it the way I wanted it done, and it can cause me a lot of anxiety and, with marijuana, I can just like, “Oh, it doesn’t matter. We’re okay.”

Tim Pickett:
Right. It’s okay.

Erica Ballif:
Earlier this year, I started looking into if there were any changes in the bill, whether or not anxiety and depression were covered under that, and it hadn’t. And so I’m a part of a group on Facebook, I think it’s just Utah Patient, Cannabis People, I don’t know, but I wrote in there asking a question, I’m like, “Is there anybody that has gotten approved for anxiety and depression because I really need this and I just can’t keep going like this.” And people reached out to me, and then one person, her name is April and she works for Terra Health and Wellness, she was like, “Give me a call and I’ll talk to you about it.” And so I called her the next day and we chatted and she was telling me how she has successfully gotten through the CUB’s process, which is-

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, the Compassionate Use Board-

Erica Ballif:
… the Compassionate Use Board and she said that she’s gotten people approved for the anxiety and depression and she’s like, “It can be really tough to do that, but it’s always worth a shot to give it a try.” She and the physician that I saw to get the paperwork going, they told me to write a personal letter to the board about my history with medication and marijuana use and just explain why I needed it.

Erica Ballif:
And so I wrote out a letter and explained my story about it all and I even copied a link to put in my letter, which was a link from the Utah Health Department. They did a study one year ago in November and, in the study, they asked people about how their anxiety improved. Most people were very low before cannabis and then they saw that 80% of the people said that their anxiety got better, and it was about like 75%, that their depression got better too. And so I specifically used that in my letter because that was proof showing that it does help and this would benefit me. And I also had said, “I hate living with anxiety. If this makes it worse, I will not use it because I don’t want to keep feeling that way.” And-

Tim Pickett:
Right, right, like, “Hey, I actually have anxiety and, trust me, if anything is going to make it worse, I’ll just stop using that substance, plain and simple. This is not rocket science people. If it doesn’t make my anxiety better, not using it,” right?

Erica Ballif:
Yeah. That’s a [crosstalk 00:25:24]-

Tim Pickett:
That’s a really good point to make for providers too, right, just hit the nail on the head. If it’s helping, you’ll probably continue to use it and, if it’s not addictive and it’s safer, or as safe, as the other medication that you’re taking and it’s working, then what’s the problem? Certainly, if it’s going to make your anxiety worse, paranoia worse, your depression worse, then I promise you, tomorrow, you’re going to think twice about using it, right, because you don’t have the physical addiction or the withdrawal symptoms of not using it. It’s not a risk. You’re at pretty low risk of using it again, right?

Tim Pickett:
Keep going with your story because this compassionate use thing, we have patients that go through the Compassionate Use Board once in a while. There’s a couple of hundred people that have been through the compassionate use board so far in Utah and I have never, literally never, talked to anybody with anxiety-

Erica Ballif:
Oh, really?

Tim Pickett:
… who got through the compassionate use board. That’s why this is so fascinating to me because you did the application, your provider did an application, I know that part of it, and then you wrote this letter. Great idea, by the way.

Erica Ballif:
Yeah. I watch HGTV shows and they’re like, “Oh, write a letter to the homeowner. Sometimes that [inaudible 00:26:51] them in a way,” And it does. And I just really wanted to make sure that they knew my story and why I wanted to try it, and also I’m just a very factual person, I like facts, and just being able to provide that evidence that the health department did, I think that also helped my case, showing that there was a proven benefit for anxiety and depression. And so there’s a deadline each month that you have to get those applications in. And, also, something that is helpful for those applications is getting your medical records and showing how you’ve been on pharmaceuticals and how consistently you’re still having depression, you’re still having anxiety, it hasn’t completely helped you.

Erica Ballif:
And just, even the day before we submitted the paperwork, my doctor raised my depression medication because I was still experiencing a lot of anxiety. I was put on Adderall for my ADHD, and so I’m on this concoction of drugs that one’s supposed to help me stay focused and it raises my heart rate, and that can cause my anxiety to go out of control too, and I’m trying to balance it with like Celexa and Wellbutrin, and it’s very hard sometimes. And so I was able to show in there, “Look, my medication was even just raised for this because I’m still struggling.”

Erica Ballif:
They also like to see people who are applying for anxiety and depression, that they’re in therapy, or they will require you to go to therapy if they approve you. I was already in therapy and so my therapist was able to write a letter showing, “We’re making progress, we’re consistent, and we’re working on the anxiety and depression.” And so with a combination of the cannabis and therapy, it’s been really, really helpful for me. They put in the paperwork. Sorry, I feel like I jump all over the place.

Tim Pickett:
No, you’re doing great. I’m riveted.

Erica Ballif:
Thank you.

Tim Pickett:
I’m riveted right now, right? You put in this paperwork because … but, like you say, you’ve got medical documentation … the key things, right, people who want to go through the Compassionate Use Board, medical documentation, it’s a big deal, having a paper trail that you’ve tried these things or that you’re using these other pharmaceuticals, it’s almost a requirement for the Compassionate Use Board to see. They want to see failure of something else before they move to this because, and to be fair, cannabis is not first line in school. We learn first-line medications for all kinds of disorders and disease processes, and anxiety and depression, cannabis is a long ways from first line in school, although, to your other point, 85% of patients who use, or people who use, who smoke weed at all, say that, at some point in time, they’ve used it for anxiety and it does help. Right? And, again, there’s even studies in the Utah Department of Health that show that as well.

Erica Ballif:
Exactly. And another key point with the medical history is that the Compassionate Use Board is made up of doctors, so they can actually evaluate this and really be like, “Okay, we see this history, we see this, let’s give her a shot,” basically. And I was approved, which was awesome. I had to wait two months because I didn’t get all the necessary documents in time, and I was having a difficult time with the portal online and so that caused me to go over the deadline for the month of April. For the month of May, we got the paperwork in. And so it took that a week for their decision, which really, really surprised me because I was told that it can take up to 90 days for them to make a decision, and so I was like, “I’m going to have to wait three months to know anything,” and it only took them a week, and that was amazing that I got approved in a week. And I shared it with April from Terra Health and she was pleasantly surprised because she’s like, “That is a hard one to get approved.”

Tim Pickett:
Oh, for sure. The Department of Health, the state, the legislature, they do not like anxiety. I know them.

Erica Ballif:
Neither do I.

Tim Pickett:
Fair, totally fair.

Erica Ballif:
Yeah, I got approved, I got my letter, and I got the card and I was ecstatic. That week, I had actually been in Washington for a family emergency and so I was able to try some 1:1 CBD gummies with just five milligrams and it was so helpful. I was so stressed out. My family, I love my family more than anything, but my family is very loud. I’m the youngest of six kids and we’re just very loud. And I now live in Utah with my husband and his family is not so loud. And so now, when I go visit my family, it gets extremely overwhelming for me and being able to have that gummy, I was able to face my family without having this terrible panic attack of loud and all this information they’re trying to give me for now visiting. And so I was just able to be there and it was the right amount that I didn’t feel like I couldn’t control how I was acting. I still felt normal.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. You weren’t high. You weren’t really stoned, right? The lack of anxiety is the treatment, right? Blake Smith talks about this in our YouTube series on Discover Marijuana, where it’s not necessarily the feeling of the THC or the feeling of the CBD, it’s the lack of symptom. It’s the lack of negative symptom that you feel that’s so key to the correct dosing, it seems like. For you, right, five milligrams and 1:1, you get that CBD that helps with that anxiety, it takes the edge off, but they work together, and, boom, you found the sweet spot.

Erica Ballif:
Yeah. Yeah, I was so excited to get my card, and so I immediately went to a dispensary. I went Curaleaf in Lehi, that’s the closest one to me, and overwhelmed with the price of things. It was just crazy for me. In Washington, I was like, “I can’t believe a vape cartridge is almost a $100, one gram,” and I asked my sister, I was like, “How much are your vape cartridges in Washington?” And she’s like, “Oh, they’re expensive.” I’m like, “Well, what’s expensive to you?” She’s like, “Well, I think maybe 30 or $40, if it’s top, top shelf 50.” I was like, “We’re paying almost [crosstalk 00:34:49].

Tim Pickett:
Yep, a top shelf, one gram cartridge in Spokane or something like that, it’s 50, 55 bucks, maybe 45, and here, certainly, they’re going to be 90, $95, right, 80. Yeah, that’s true.

Erica Ballif:
Yeah, I’ve seen some that are 105, but I feel like the sweet spot for the one grams is between 85 and 90 for here is what I’ve experienced.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, for here, yep, yep. And I’m not saying that’s bad or good, I’m just saying that that’s just the way it is. I think if you go to Mesquite, the prices are pretty similar, or if you go to Wendover, the prices are pretty similar to here in Utah. There are certainly places in downtown Denver, I think the prices are about the same, maybe just a little less than here, Vegas, same thing. But if you travel to Oregon or to Washington, where they’ve had legal programs for a long time and there’s a lot of product, there’s a lot of people who know how to make this stuff, yeah, that’s where the prices are really dramatically different than here, right?

Erica Ballif:
I feel like, as time goes on, that prices will come down, but, at the same time, I feel like Utah state really loves money and they might not do that either. Most of the time, when I get something from the dispensary, I try to find any deals that they have going on that week and if there’s anything within those deals that is going to help me. Most of the time, I try to get something that is a 1:1 and the one that I really like is Watermelon Zkittlez from I want to say it’s Pure.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. It’s a 1:1 CBD to THC vape cart, right, and Watermelon Zkittlez. This is something we haven’t done a ton on the podcast yet, but I’ve been asked a lot about this, is when you’re talking to people, like, “What do you use?” Here you go, there’s a good 1:1 CBD to THC vape cart from a person … and here’s what’s great is you’re a person that’s been approved for anxiety, so you’re definitely more open to talk about it, about using it for anxiety. A lot of folks that we talk to, and not just on the podcast, but in real life, their qualification is pain. They’re having to tiptoe around like, “Well, I’m using it for a lot of different things.” But do you find that you have … is it the ratio that’s important or is it this product that you’ve come to like?

Erica Ballif:
It’s the ratio. The CBD definitely helps with the anxiety a lot. If there’s too much THC, it can definitely make me more paranoid and cause my anxiety to be a little bit more and that’s uncomfortable, and I think that’s pretty common with people with anxiety. If they do something that has too much THC, it can just cause more anxiety. And so there has been some trial and error for me. I have been trying different ones. Most of the time, I’ve tried something that’s more indica dominant or just indica and then, recently, I discovered Blue Dream and heard wonderful benefits about that, and so I got some flower and I tried that in just one hit, I was like, “Oh, wow, I just need one hit,” and, all of a sudden, I felt good. And so I really recommend Blue Dream for people. That’s a really popular one. I think it’s the most popular in the United States and it’s really helped me.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, it’s one of the most popular genetics for sure. Do you feel like the flower versus vape cartridge, how does that go in the family too, right? That’s a whole different ballgame because it’s definitely not as discreet.

Erica Ballif:
Yeah. We have to use a vaporizer here in Utah. They say you can’t use flame to flower. And one of my difficulties is that, to get a quality vaporizer, you do have to spend a little bit of money to get that. A quality vaporizer is going to be around 200 to $300 and I got a really cheap one and it just has this coil that heats it up and basically just chars the weed and I’m just like [crosstalk 00:39:37]-

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, yep. Okay, okay.

Erica Ballif:
I think-

Tim Pickett:
We need to get you a Pax or a Firefly. We have got to get you a Pax or a Firefly. They’re awesome.

Erica Ballif:
Yeah. I’ve heard amazing things about them and, yeah, I basically should just smoke it because the coil basically just burns at the thing. That is a little difficult for me. I shouldn’t necessarily say that I do smoke it, but I don’t really have any other way to consume it right now and I’m saving up for my vaporizer and I even asked for one for Christmas, so we’ll see what happens.

Tim Pickett:
Ooh, nice. We have these gift baskets. If you follow us on social, Utahmarijuana.org, and our Discover Marijuana, and I’m entering you in our giveaway because, this week, we’re giving away, I think, a Pax 3, or a Firefly and, next week, we’re giving away a Pax 3 on YouTube. You got to-

Erica Ballif:
I’ve been trying to figure out how I enter into that because I’ve watched something [crosstalk 00:40:47]-

Tim Pickett:
All you got to do is comment. You’re entered. You got to comment on one of our videos, I think if you comment on one of the videos, you’re in.

Erica Ballif:
Okay, perfect. [crosstalk 00:40:58] do that.

Tim Pickett:
Oh, you have to be subscribed.

Erica Ballif:
I think I am.

Tim Pickett:
I think you’ve got to subscribe to the channel, you’ve got to comment on one of the videos, and you’re entered in.

Erica Ballif:
Okay. [crosstalk 00:41:04] do that.

Tim Pickett:
And we gave away a Pax 2. Then we gave away a Firefly this week and then, next week, we’re giving away a Pax 3.

Erica Ballif:
Ooh. [crosstalk 00:41:13] good.

Tim Pickett:
Oh, yeah, some good consumption devices.

Erica Ballif:
In terms of being discreet and stuff, I am a pretty vocal, open person about my anxiety and depression, which is weird for some people because there’s a mental health stigma on stuff and I’m very [crosstalk 00:41:35].

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, but it’s refreshing.

Erica Ballif:
Yeah, it is refreshing. And so, for me, I’m very vocal about my anxiety and depression. It runs deep in my family and so they’ve always been vocal about it. And so I’ve never felt a stigma against myself in terms of people judging me about my anxiety and depression. I just go out on my back porch and use my vaporizer. If I do use flower, I’ll do it at nighttime or in my garage if I need to. But I was about to go over to a neighbor just to be like, “Hey, by the way, I’m prescribed medical marijuana. I just want you to be aware that this is what’s happening in my backyard.” And my neighbor, I saw that she had a cartridge on her counter and I was like, “Oh, I don’t need to explain this to you. You know exactly what I’m going through.”

Tim Pickett:
Right, right, right. Now that’s not a COVID cough over at the neighbors’.

Erica Ballif:
Yeah. I don’t have any houses behind me. I have a big green field. There’s houses up above on this cliff that may be watching me, but, honestly, if anybody had a problem with it, if somebody called the police on me or something, it’s like, “I’m doing it in my yard. I can do that, it’s my personal property, and I have a card for it.” And so the only time I get worried about it is if I had to smoke the flower, then I would be concerned about somebody seeing me there because, that, I could get in trouble for.

Tim Pickett:
Do you feel like you are a better parent?

Erica Ballif:
Yes. I am 100% a much better parent. I might get emotional, so forgive me if I cry, but, when I was growing up, I always wanted to be a mom. That was the thing that I always wanted to be, and I got to be a mom and it wasn’t as great as I thought it was going to be. And that was really hard for me to grasp because I was like, “I’m going to be a stay-at-home mom. I’m going to be the best mom ever. I’m going to do this, this and this,” and it’s overwhelming. And I love my kids more than anything in this world, but it’s hard to be a mom. And I have a very hard time being patient with them and, like I said, I have a hard time playing with them and cannabis allows me to be patient with them, it allows my imagination to be theirs a little bit.

Erica Ballif:
I’m more open to like, “Hey, yeah, let’s go for a walk. Let’s do this,” because, with my anxiety, I like to have things planned because I think the worst case scenario. I’m like, “Oh, if I don’t bring this, then this could happen.” And so, if people randomly are like, “Hey, let’s go to the park,” I’m like, “Oh, I’m not ready for that because I have to do this, this and this.” With cannabis, it allows me to just ignore that, I’m like, “Yeah, let’s go do that,” and I’m able to just give my kids a fulfilling experience by going to the park or going for a walk, and even when they’re [crosstalk 00:44:47]-

Tim Pickett:
Not in a dangerous way either, right?

Erica Ballif:
Yeah, no.

Tim Pickett:
This isn’t saying that you are ignoring the important stuff. This is saying your brain is allowing itself, right, or, somehow, inside those neural pathways, it’s okay. You don’t have that inappropriate anxiety for that event. That’s the key to THC and CBD combined as a treatment. It decreases that anxiety, that, in a lot of ways, is somewhat inappropriate and somewhat put on ourselves by society because, like you say, you’ve got to have this, that, and the other thing all ready to go, you’ve got to make sure you’re prepared. We almost have created that.

Tim Pickett:
I like when you talk about how, and it’s very true, how sometimes that THC can allow us to think and be creative with our kids, right, right, play with them, not play to them. Yeah. I really think that’s so true and it’s such a cool thing to hear real people who are having these experiences. For anybody out there who is concerned, right, who is wondering whether this is right for me or should I try this, what I’m doing now just doesn’t seem to be working, what would you say?

Erica Ballif:
I would say give cannabis a try, maybe start out with CBD or something just very low. For me, it helps, and so I’m not going to say it will work for everybody, but I think, if there’s an ailment that you’re trying to help yourself with, I do think that marijuana does cover a wide variety of things that it can help you with, and I like marijuana a lot more than I like my pharmaceutical drugs. I really hate the side effects that I get from my pharmaceutical drugs, but, with that said, my pharmaceutical drugs have saved my life from my depression and my anxiety. I don’t want to say that they do not help because they definitely do help people. I’m very grateful for that. But, with marijuana, it makes things so much better for me, and I love the mom that I am with my kids.

Erica Ballif:
They see a happy mom, they see one that’s not yelling at them or snapping at them, and they see a mom that’s very forgiving too. They spill something, like, “Oh no, no.” I’m like, “Oh, it’s okay, it’s okay.” And other times, when I’m very on edge and I’m having anxiety and I haven’t gotten my medicine and I could be very reactive and be like, “Oh, my gosh, why did you do that?,” whereas, when I am in a good zen place with my cannabis, I feel like I am the best mom with my kids. And I do it very responsibly. I don’t do it where they’re going to come in and get some kind of secondhand high or anything. That will never happen with them. I’m just very grateful for it.

Tim Pickett:
That’s awesome. This has been really great. I really appreciate you coming on and telling your story. I think, like I said before, it’s just important for people to hear real people talk about it. There’s no way we can destigmatize cannabis without talking about it openly and talking about parenting and how we’re interacting with the world and what we’re doing, what we’re trying, what we’re using, all of the things, right? And so this is a perfect time of year for this discussion, too, because there’s a lot of family to be seen coming up next weekend and over the holidays and that is a lot of anxiety for a lot of people, right? There’s some PTSD coming for a lot of people. I really appreciate this from you, Erica. This has been great.

Erica Ballif:
Yeah. It’s my pleasure. I was a little nervous at first. I was talking to my husband. I was like, “Yeah, I got an email saying that they wanted to do a podcast with me. I don’t know if I should do that,” because I have been pretty conservative on social media about my use of it. I have a lot of active LDS friends and family and, even though some are very progressive in views, there are some that are not. It’s been common that people in the state of Utah have called CPS on people for using marijuana. And, even though I have the card and everything, I don’t want to go through that process possibly if somebody thought I was doing something wrong and CPS comes and do an investigation, and I’m not doing anything wrong. My husband can attest to that and I think my kids, with their smiles and their laughter, can attest that I’m doing a pretty good job.

Tim Pickett:
That’s great.

Erica Ballif:
I’m happy to be here and talk about it. I didn’t realize how uncommon it was. I knew it was difficult to get a card with anxiety and depression, but I didn’t realize how difficult and that I’m the first person that you’re talking to about it.

Tim Pickett:
Oh, yeah, for sure. It’s just not a thing. It’s just not a thing in Utah. There are other states where, of course, it’s allowed, there are other states where anxiety’s not on the list, but it’s easy to get approved through their compassionate use system and Utah’s is just somewhat unique and difficult. Kudos to April, who was able to help you, and it just sounds like the experience went pretty well, took a while, but it ended the way it’s supposed to be, right? This is the way it’s supposed to be.

Erica Ballif:
Yeah. I’m much happier now than I was six months ago and that is a really great thing. But one other thing I wanted to mention was I went to my doctor, my primary physician, and I was a little nervous to tell him like, “Hey, I’m going to be doing this. I’m trying to get approved. What are your thoughts on it?” And he was like, “Oh, that’s great that you’re doing that,” and he’s like, “but why do you have to get approved for it?” And I was like, “Oh, because Utah doesn’t recognize anxiety and depression as a qualifying condition.” He was like, “Well, that’s really strange because I thought a lot of people used it for their anxiety and depression,” and I was like, “Well, yeah.” And he was like, “Well, good for you. Then, if you get approved, let me know how it goes.”

Erica Ballif:
And he doesn’t want to pay the money and do all the classes. He has a very good business of what he does already that he doesn’t need to add that on to his service to approve people for it, but he was really supportive of it. And, the next time I saw him, he asked me questions about it and I showed him my vape pen and he’s like, “How do you use this?” And so I was educating my doctor about it.

Tim Pickett:
Wow, that’s great.

Erica Ballif:
Yeah. He’s now able to tell people, “Hey, if you want to try this, go there.” And so he wasn’t able to write me that recommendation letter or anything like that, but it was really nice to have his approval and just another firm verification that, yeah, this is helpful for people with anxiety and depression. Does it help everyone? No, but, for me, it does. And I think, if people microdosed it more, I think that it will help. T`hose who get too anxious on it, I think that would help be helpful for them too.

Tim Pickett:
Yep. Well, this has been great. Erica Ballif, thanks for coming on.

Erica Ballif:
Yeah. And, if anybody has questions and wants to reach out to me, I welcome that. They can find me Instagram at Erica.Ballif. You can send me your questions and stuff, I’m happy to talk about it, just trying to be more open and honest about it to help other people. Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
That’s great. Thanks. Remember, this is Utah in the Weeds podcast. Subscribe on any podcast player that you have access to or you want to. You can also listen to these and enter our video giveaway on YouTube. The channel is Discover Marijuana. Subscribe to that channel. And if you want to reach out and get ahold of us, you want to come on the podcast, you have a great story or something that you want to share, comment on one of those Discover Marijuana videos. We look at all of those comments and that’s really the best way to get ahold of us. Thanks, Erica. All right, everybody, stay safe out there.

 

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