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Cannabis Advocate

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Tara DeMond was too excited to sleep. She had just started her first job in the medical marijuana industry, and it would be the first step on her journey. DeMond took a pay decrease by taking the job, but she wanted to get her foot in the door in the industry. “I couldn’t stop,” she said. “It didn’t matter what they were paying me.” 

She was working six days a week. If they had been open Sundays, she would have worked then, too. The startup reminded her of the adrenaline rush she experienced helping people when she first became a nurse. She was so excited to be at the forefront of medical marijuana in Florida that she would tell her husband, “It was like Christmas Eve, I couldn’t sleep because of the excitement.”

Tara DeMond was semi-retired when she moved to Florida, working part-time as a legal nurse consultant focused on occupational diseases. When the opportunity to work at a medical marijuana treatment center became available, she thought, “I bet my husband would think that would be really cool if I went to work for a marijuana doctor.” His response? “You’ve gotta do it.” 

She started off as a sales associate, though she never previously worked in retail. For her, it was all about patient education, taking it as a challenge to educate herself on all aspects on the medicine. She read of marijuana helping children have fewer seizures and of Parkinson’s patients having their symptoms decrease.

She became a physician outreach liaison, where—as a nurse—she would go out and educate physicians who were not yet familiar with marijuana. She also worked in patient advocacy; she would do events and talk about the benefits of medical cannabis. 

Instead of starting with a marijuana strain that is too strong, DeMond advises patients to start off with a low CBD product then proceed to one with a higher CBD content that has a touch of THC. 

“All of my patients seem to get a better response with that,” said DeMond. 

She understands every patient is different and what works for one may not work for another. It is important that they test different products to find the one which works best for them. 

She then got a call from another MMTC. Surterra promised to be a place where she could work directly with patients. She started off as a patient advocate, “going to music festivals and home shows trying to interject myself into the community where other MMTCs weren’t… Nobody was really going out into the community.”

DeMond recently has also taken on the role of provider advocate. She educates doctors on new developments in the medical marijuana industry. “As with any medicine, is important for a doctor to be educated about what he/she is prescribing,” DeMond says, so she teaches the basics as well as more in-depth concepts.

DeMond also works with Florida Gulf Coast University in their newly created cannabis program. She goes into classes and teaches students about what it is like in the industry and helps find them internships and opportunities for real world experience. The couple’s goal is to inform students about the whole process “from seed to sale” to give them the full scope of the medical cannabis business.


The Grateful Veteran, a non-profit organization, was formed by Tara and her husband Jeff, a disabled veteran who retired from the Navy after 20 years of service to our country. The Grateful Veteran was formed to assist veterans in all aspects of life including educating them about the benefits of medical cannabis.

Their goal among others: To teach how Marijuana can be a safer equivalent to addictive pain-killing opiates.

To learn more or seek assistance from the Grateful Veteran organization, email [email protected]

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GRAM Mag Sets NOW AVAILABLE!

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GIVE THE GIFT OF GRAM

You can now order sets of our
printed magazines. Give the gift of
knowledge this year to your friends,
family, or yourself and only pay
the shipping and handling.

What a deal!

Set includes 9 vintage GRAM Mags
(2019-2020)

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Turmeric

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Turmeric is a root vegetable commonly used as a spice in various Indian and other cultures’ dishes. Turmeric is in the zingiberaceae family, as is ginger. The turmeric plant is native to the southeastern region of Asia and commonly harvested in places like India, Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia, and Taiwan. It is responsible for curry’s signature orange color, and its vibrant pigment will give essentially any meal an orange hue. 

Turmeric contains a substance called curcumin, and curcumin has been shown through research to offer anti-inflammatory and other therapeutic benefits. The scientific name for the turmeric plant is Curcuma Longa, and likely where the name curcumin comes from. When people are talking about the health benefits of turmeric, they are referencing curcumin so you may hear the two names used interchangeably. Curcumin is part of a group called curcuminoids, with curcumin being the most active and the most beneficial for health. Flavonoids are another substance found in various plants and give these plants their color. Curcumin is a flavonoid and is responsible for providing that bright orange color to turmeric. In addition to providing aesthetic value, flavonoids are also strong antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.

The Journal of Biological Chemistry published a study done by Sanjaya Singh and Bharat B. Aggarwal of the Cytokine Research Laboratory at the world-renowned cancer hospital, M.D. Anderson. The study found that curcumin suppressed NF-κB, a protein complex responsible for controlling inflammatory responses. In other words, turmeric shuts off the body’s inflammatory response. Anti-inflammatories can be beneficial for many different ailments, including chronic pain and digestive disorders. A lot of CBD companies even put curcumin in their products because of its benefits. It is believed to be a synergistic pair with complementary therapeutic properties. The thought is that the two plant medicines are powerful on their own; as a combination, they can deliver even more anti-inflammatory and medicinal benefits. 

Many people simply add turmeric to their dishes as a way to easily incorporate it into their daily routine. It is pretty mild in flavor and can be added to many dishes without changing the overall taste too drastically. Some say that turmeric isn’t strong enough on its own to receive the anti-inflammatory properties that curcumin provides, and therefore recommend a curcumin supplement. Research varies on that, so in the end it is just up to personal preference and your doctor’s approval. Curcumin supplements come most available in capsules. Pregnant women can safely use turmeric as an addition to their food, but should avoid taking high-dosage supplements. Those who are interested in supplementing with curcumin products should talk with their doctor first. 

M.D. Anderson Cancer Center did another study in 2007 exploring curcumin for cancer treatment. The study found that curcumin inhibits ovarian cancer growth and angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels). It does this by targeting and manipulating the NF-κB pathway, the same protein complex responsible for controlling inflammatory response. According to a report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “The nuclear factor NF-κB pathway has long been considered a prototypical proinflammatory signaling pathway, largely based on the role of NF-κB in the expression of proinflammatory genes including cytokines, chemokines, and adhesion molecules.”  

The trend with curcumin seems to be it’s ability to control inflammatory responses in the body. It does this by multiple pathways, but a commonly researched one is the NF-κB protein complex. Because this pathway is able to be manipulated by curcumin to encourage anti-inflammatory expressions, its potential for successfully treating various ailments is there.

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Psilocybin + Magic Mushrooms

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When many think of plant medicine, specifically those plants with psychoactive effects, they think of “magic mushrooms,” or fungi containing psilocybin and psilocin that can cause hallucinations depending on the dosage consumed. In many states, there are active efforts to decriminalize these otherwise scheduled substances, lowering penalties for their use and possession. But what value do psilocybin-containing mushrooms offer? New research suggests a range of therapeutic and psychological value ranging from the treatment of substance abuse to anxiety and depression management.  

What are Magic Mushrooms?

Magic Mushroom use dates back to 10,000 BCE and references continue throughout the era. Their modern popularity began when the term “magic mushroom” was coined by two etnomycologists who learned of a Harvard study on local doctors in Mexico using these substances, noting the substance’s ability to affect the nervous system. These findings were eventually published in Life magazine in 1957, and the term became the universal reference for psychoactive fungi and truffles, specifically those containing high concentrations of psilocybin and psilocin.

Psilocybin & Psilocin: The “Magic” in Magic Mushrooms

Psilocybin and psilocin are part of a family of psychedelic compounds found in magic mushrooms. Psilocin is pharmacologically active, and psilocybin is converted into psilocin when consumed or activated. Similar in structure to serotonin, there are more than 50 species of mushrooms and a variety of truffles that produce both the precursor, psilocybin, and the psychoactive compound, psilocin. Unlike LSD, magic mushrooms do not affect dopamine receptors, solely targeting serotonin sites

How are Magic Mushrooms used?

Magic mushrooms are often used for recreational, therapeutic and medicinal reasons. “Effects range from mild feelings of relaxation, giddiness, euphoria, visual enhancement (seeing colors brighter), visual disturbances (moving surfaces, waves), to delusions, altered perception of real events, images and faces, or real hallucinations.” Recreationally, this is often known as “tripping.” As an alternative health option, these fungi are being used for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and trauma, as well as psychological disorders such as substance abuse disorders, and science is beginning to back the potential for these applications.

Research on Mushrooms

Evaluations of currently available scientific studies suggest a growing number of therapeutic benefits and treatment options. “In the past few years, a growing number of studies using human volunteers have begun to explore the possible therapeutic benefits of drugs such as psilocybin…looking at psilocybin and other hallucinogens to treat a number of otherwise intractable psychiatric disorders, including chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and drug or alcohol dependency.”

Magic mushrooms have been respected as a “safe & natural healing sacrament for millennia throughout Mexico, Central America and the world,” and are known to be beneficial for depression, recidivism (the tendency to repeat past transgressions), and encourages openness, creativity, as well as personal and spiritual growth. UCLA and NYC have done studies on the applications of magic mushrooms in the treatment of end-of-life anxiety and other studies have backed up the use of psilocybin and psilocin in the treatment of substance use disorders, depression (especially in cases of terminal conditions like cancer as well as treatment-resistant depression), and reducing depression and anxiety overall.

Best way for people to consume?

When it comes to the consumption of mushrooms, advice on dosage is about as specific as it was with cannabis under prohibition. Consumers must purchase on the black market and are subject to whatever may be available. 

“Recreational doses range from 1–5 grams of dry mushrooms depending on the species and individual strength of the specimens… After ingestion, the psilocybin is enzymatically converted to psilocin. Absorbed from the gastro-intestinal tract, hallucinogenic effects usually occur within 30 minutes of ingestion with a duration of effect of 4–6 hours.” 

My recommendation as someone who has used magic mushrooms both for recreational and therapeutic purposes, is to grind the mushrooms into a fine powder and either encapsulate them in small increments and/or combine with lemon juice. Capsules will allow you to titrate your dosage as needed with a recognizable increment, while lemon juice will expedite onset time.  

The Legality of Magic Mushrooms

In the United States, psilocybin is a Schedule I controlled substance, with no accepted medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. In contrast, the Drug Policy Alliance states that “Physically, psilocybin mushrooms are considered to be one of the least toxic drugs known.” With that being said, local efforts such as Decriminalize Nature – Oakland and Decriminalize Denver have pushed for and successfully passed initiatives and legislation to reduce penalties and make enforcement a low priority, as was done in the early days of cannabis activism. This has spurred multiple local and international efforts to “Decriminalize Nature,” efforts that we learn more about in this month’s feature.

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