By Sharon Letts
Patient Profile: Sage Amdahl
Washington State patient, Sage Amdahl, 38, was born in 1978 with cataracts in both eyes. Refractive Lensectomy surgery as an infant resulted in glaucoma in both eyes and a detached retina in her right eye.
Created in the early 1970s, Lensectomy was a new procedure when practiced on Amdahl. It’s typically done to reverse near or farsightedness, but in Amdahl’s case, the procedure left her legally blind.
“I was initially diagnosed with glaucoma when I was 12 years old,” she shared. “At the time there were huge pressure changes. I’ve been taking Cosopt drops ever since with no issues, but my ophthalmologist feels the drops are no longer working. The pressure is being kept down now with cannabis.”
Amdahl said she first smoked cannabis as a teenager with amazing results.
“I noticed when I smoked it, within seconds my eyes watered and the cloud that blurred my vision lifted,” she explained. “It was like a camera was coming into focus, the fog was gone. Everything was clearer.”
Two years later, at 20 years-old, Amdahl said she ate her first edible – a classic, recreational pot brownie. Her psychoactive experience was typical of most brownie stories, vertigo ensued with the intake of too much THC, but then something surprising happened.
“The pressure was brought down for a very long time,” she said. “Longer than the two-to-three hours of relief I had from smoking, which were equal to taking the medications. The effects from ingesting lasted from six-to-eight hours – nearly double the relief.”
Her ophthalmologist was stumped, asking what she did differently, as the numbers that were upwards of 35, were now down to 18 in one eye and 24 in the other.
“It was a substantial difference,” she added. “I told him I ate an edible, and the length of time it relieved the pressure was double that of taking the medications, but he wanted to know more. You know, he wanted to know how I did it – how did I put it in my food, things like that. He honestly could not believe the ‘drug’ he knew as ‘marijuana’ would cause this positive change in my vision.”
Caregiving with Cannabis
By 2008, Amdahl said she had enough knowledge of the plant to become a caregiver to a friend’s mother who suffered from Parkinson’s disease.
“She would have verbal outbursts and uncontrolled movements,” Amdahl explained. “Edibles seemed to calm her and she would smile. At that time I was making tinctures the old-fashioned way – soaking the plant material for months at a time in alcohol.”
The U.S. Government issued Patent no. 6630507 on October 7, 2003, stating that cannabinoids have antioxidant properties, is a neuroprotectant, and limits neurological damage following stroke and trauma; or in the “treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia,” to quote the patent. Hence the help Amdahl’s mother’s friend received for symptoms from Parkinson’s disease.
Primrose is a senior care facility in Santa Rosa, California with a focus on dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Since it’s a private care center, patients and their families have the option of using cannabis as medicine on site, with their doctor’s recommendation.
For the past several years patients who may be disruptive, have tremors, and/or difficulty sleeping are given a small square of chocolate after dinner, infused with 15 mg. of active THC for calming results.
Ironically, on the heels of medicinal findings, due to Washington State laws favoring recreational cannabis, Amdahl is no longer allowed to be a caregiver. She consults under the shingle Sage Advice, LLC, and has helped many via her Facebook page, of the same name, with a devoted following.
“My website, 420sageadvice.com, is set up to teach patients how to make their own natural therapy products at home,” Amdahl explained, “It’s not just about cannabis, it’s about using other key herbs, essential oils, and target carrier oils to create optimal therapy products. I get patients contacting me every day with questions. There is a real demand to learn about the knowledge of healing with nature.”
Advice includes recipes for remedies and medibles-alike, dosing information, and general support from patients who may be new to cannabis, and for those who want to learn more. She also follows the festival circuit when able, speaking out on her own experiences and how she’s helped others with myriad ailments.
“I’m originally from California, and I remember when cannabis first legalized in 1996,” she recalled. “I think it’s come a long way, but the issue now is recreational cannabis dominating the market in what were once medical states. That’s what’s happening in Washington now, and I just hope that California can really keep the integrity of its medical program.”
The cooperative model for caregiving with cannabis began in California with AIDS patients in San Francisco in the late 1990s, six years before California voters approved Proposition 215, allowing cannabis as medicine in the state.
Dennis Peron’s “Cannabis Buyers Club” became a vehicle for the people who farm the plants to help those in need. The cooperative model guarantees the farmer gets paid for the work done in the growing months, as well as ensure the patient is well supplied with medicine. Prior to Peron setting up shop in San Francisco’s Castro district, street corners were the only access available to patients looking for relief from the plant.
“A lot of my frustration comes from the fact that most patients have been corralled into rec stores,” she explained. “In Washington State, no medicinal products are even offered in rec stores – they have mainly stoner-type products. The only advantage to a patient still holding a medical card is they are not charged a state tax.”
According to the Washington State Department of Health’s website, “all licensed and medically endorsed marijuana retail stores are required to have a certified medical marijuana consultant on staff to work with patients and create recognition cards.”
“If you ask them about a cannabis oil protocol for cancer, they will sell you oil, but they aren’t allowed to tell you how to use it,” she surmised.
After taking the 20-hour course, consultants are instructed that they are not allowed to give medical advice, or to suggest replacing the patient’s prescription medications with cannabis.
Amdahl’s consultation work includes kitchen apothecary to-die-for, as she posts amazing creations on her Facebook page, Sage Advice. Delectable cannabis chocolate covered cherries, infused stewed lamb shanks, puff pastry pizza, and more are posted to inspire and heal. If you can dream up a dish, Amdahl can surely make it.
She also makes capsules filled with assorted strength oils, made from many beneficial herbs, combined with cannabis. Recipes of topical applications include medicated salve, lotion, deodorant, and lip balm are shared via her sites, that include “live” postings.
“I have no formal training as a chef, but as children, my mother had me and my brothers in the kitchen with her,” she shared. “I’ve always known how to cook, but my bad vision has heightened my sense of taste. For instance, after traveling through Europe and Asia, I came home able to recreate many dishes.”
While the states grapple with legislation that works for everyone, Amdahl said she will continue to make her remedies, helping others to heal themselves while continuing her advocacy for the plant via comfort food, a healthy dose of cannabis in the mix, and plenty of Sage advice.