Rashad Houston is a Navy veteran, a recording artist, an author, a father of two, and a mental health and epilepsy advocate in support of the new cannabis oil law passed in Virginia.
Houston was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2015 after he had four Tonic-Clonic seizures in a 2-month time period. As of now there is no connection between his time in the military and his illness. Some doctors believe his epilepsy was dormant for years, but there still is no explanation for why he has seizures.
He described living with epilepsy as “living with unexpected brain activity that can occur at any moment. I’m on edge most of the time and admittedly I’m nervous to seize. I get what are called auras all day, and sometimes they are warning signs that a seizure is coming either right at that moment or even later on in the day.”
He went on to say, “Stress does not help; it only fuels the electrical activity in our brain. Every morning I take about pills with my breakfast, along with brain-healthy vitamins. I carry my pills with me everywhere I go and have to take five more pills in the afternoon. Fear of the unknown is a daily emotion. Because I can seize while driving, I’m nervous when I have my kids in the vehicle with me. I don’t ever want to put them in danger, so I want this pain to end by any means necessary.”
Now that the SB1027 has been signed into law, allowing Virginia pharmacies to make and sell marijuana extracts for treating intractable seizures (not helped or controlled by medicine) after obtaining a permit from the state Board of Pharmacy. With the proper permit and under the care of a licensed pharmacist, pharmaceutical processors can grow low-THC cannabis, manufacture the oil, and even dispense it to patients who have written certifications from specified doctors. Only doctors who specialize in epilepsy and who have enrolled with the Board of Pharmacy are allowed to write such certificates, and patients must enroll in the program with the state Board of Health.
“Both CBD and THC-A oil have healing benefits and both are non-psychoactive. To put it simply, they won’t get you high. They have shown promise in studies on animals, and human trials have been authorized by the government. Both oils can be used to calm tremors, reduce the amount of seizures and relax people with epilepsy,” Houston explained.
“One of the most common ways to consume CBD is under the tongue or simply dropping oil on food before consumption. It’s a more simple process than taking 10 or more pills a day. CBD THC-A doesn’t have adverse side effects, unlike medications. Pills can be rather debilitating, leaving you exhausted and frustrated all day. So why not try alternative medicines such as CBD and THC-A? What do we have to lose? We just want to live. For ourselves and the people we love,” he says.
The Board of Pharmacy has until December 15 to issue their proposed regulations for the program. Meanwhile Houston says he knows this is only the beginning of a long process, but he has spoken with his doctors and is prepared and also eager.
“I will be at the forefront of this movement and will help in any way I can, so people like me can receive the help they need. From the community to the capitol, we will be heard, loud and clear.”