Alexandra Sussin/ Tropical420: Thank you so much for interviewing with me for WeedTRACKER.com! I love the ProjectCBD.org website and wanted to help you guys get the word out about your awesome important project. Please tell us what Project CBD does and what their main goals are?
Sarah Russo: We’re an educational non-profit organization that promotes education and research about cannabidiol (CBD) and other components of the cannabis plant. It was started by two journalists, so our focus has been to cover the news stories about the reintroduction of CBD into the grassroots cannabis supply. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound in cannabis with huge healing potential. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-spasmodic, anti-anxiety, and neuro-proctective properties. CBD also counteracts the negative effects of THC that some people have, such as paranoia, anxiety, and a rapid heart rate. CBD works synergistically with THC and amplifies its healing properties. Some users who were previously turned away from medical cannabis because of the unwanted effects of THC may benefit from using CBD rich cannabis. It was believed that CBD had been virtually bred out of the gene pool in California, due to the desire to breed exclusively for THC content. CBD is making a comeback, and it is estimated that 1 in 500 samples are rich in CBD.
Our goal at Project CBD is to be the go-to site for CBD related information. We feature a survey created by the Society of Cannabis Clinicians to assess the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of CBD on patient’s health. There have been lab studies and a few clinical trials looking at the healing potential of CBD, but the real life study has just begun. That is why the survey is so important. We want to know about first hand experiences with CBD medicine. Everyone is part of this exciting research. If you are a patient, try CBD medicine and tell us how it worked for you. Collectives have a special role in the story, they can be responsible for getting CBD medicine into the mainstream and providing it to patients. Growers have the opportunity to work with new genetics and be on the front lines of cutting edge research. Doctors can help educate their patients about CBD. There is still a massive amount that we are learning about CBD, so Project CBD wants to act as a sponge to soak up this information and share it with the public. If you have CBD related information, we want to know about it. We can also help you educate your community and promote CBD rich medicine.
Tropical420: Wow, I had no idea it had become so scarce. I have many anxious friends that definitely benefit from the properties of CBD and enjoy a rare sense of “calm” after medicating with CBD rich strains. There is definitely a lot of great info to absorb on your site. What is it like to be the Outreach Coordinator for Project CBD?
Sarah Russo: I love my job, PCBD is a very small organization, so we all wear many hats. I enjoy being part of an organization that is cutting edge. I deal with the inquires that come to ProjectCBD.org from patients, collectives, growers, doctors, and anyone else who is interested in the work that we do. I act as the liaison with collectives who are interested in becoming involved with our organization. I also work tables at events to get the word out about Project CBD. I get a lot of responsibility and freedom with my position, which I love. I work mainly from home, so most of the time I can create my own schedule. It is a fun position but practicing research without a grant is a challenge. However, the work is very gratifying and I am very content with my job.
Tropical420: Sounds like a very interactive job, it’s good to know that you are the person to go to if anybody has any PCBD inquiries! How can a collective benefit from working with Project CBD?
Sarah Russo: Project CBD encourages them to become involved and become a “Participating Collective” with our organization. We would like to help promote CBD and educate patients about its healing potential. CBD is making a comeback into the grassroots supply and collectives play a key role in making CBD rich strains available to patients and taking part in the data collection effort of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians. If they do not currently provide CBD rich medicine, we can help facilitate connections with those entities that offer CBD rich medicine. If the collective is currently carrying CBD rich medicine, then Project CBD can provide educational materials to help educate their patient base and promote the use of CBD rich medicine.
Project CBD is asking that collectives notify us when making CBD-rich medicine available to patients. The CBDiary section of our website is the catch all news column and we want to get the word out about what is happening with CBD at your collective. Participating Collectives with Project CBD also have the ability to be a part of a new and exciting part of the medical cannabis movement. They are the front runners in getting CBD rich medicine available to those that may benefit from its use.
Tropical420: That is great how you can hook up a collective with everything they need to provide their patients with CBD rich strains and information about them! How did you become involved with the medical cannabis community?
Sarah Russo: I first starting using cannabis when I was 15, but it still took me a minute to realize that a majority of my father’s books were about marijuana, and I first became involved with the cannabis community in 2006 in my hometown of Missoula, Montana. Missoula is a lovely college town in the mountains surrounded by nature. I am currently living in San Francisco, CA but Montana will always be home to me.
In 2006 there was a job opportunity to help collect signatures to put Initiative 2 on the ballot, I-2 as it was known, made cannabis offenses in Missoula county law enforcement’s lowest priority. I showed up to get started and met Angela Goodhope, who was the Director for Citizens for Responsible Crime Poly, the organization who was running the signature collection. Angela and I ended up becoming friends and she inspired me to become involved in the community. Before I was involved in the community, I was just a girl who liked to smoke weed and who was pissed off at the system. I realized that I didn’t like how some people were all about pot but didn’t do anything to address the injustices behind its use and I wasn’t going to be one of them any longer. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Angela who had been a very vital part of the cannabis community in Montana and she has been an inspiration to me ever since and I can thank her enough for getting me into activism in general. Cannabis is just one of the issues I fight for. I believe in the right to use a plant that grows in our earth.
Tropical420: That’s really interesting how you got into the industry. I was also perplexed by the way something so harmless could be so demonized, that also helped me become more involved in the community and want to start educating the general public about marijuana’s medicinal properties and hemp’s endless uses just like you! How do you give back to the community?
Sarah Russo: In respect to the cannabis community, I believe that my work with PCBD is providing support and information to those who are interested in CBD. I hear from many people each day who are interested in the work we do at Project CBD, and it makes me very pleased to assist those who are wanting to become involved. It is a great feeling to hear from a patient who had been trying to locate CBD rich medicine and got to try it for the first time. That is why I love my job so much, I feel like I am helping people each day. As far as the community at large, I believe that being generous is contagious, so giving as much as you can will benefit yourself and those around you. I have been wanting to volunteer my time with organizations in my Mission District neighborhood working with immigrant rights issues and art activism as well.
Tropical420: Your work with PCBD has definitely helped the MMJ community immensely and we can’t thank you enough for your ongoing work. What is your involvement in the hemp community?
Sarah Russo: I was involved with the Montana Hemp Council for two years. The Montana Hemp Council is a non-profit organization working to educate people about the benefits of industrial hemp. They also put on the Missoula Hempfest every year, and I was the Volunteer Coordinator for the event. I am very passionate about hemp. While the prohibition of the cannabis plant in general is beyond unacceptable, hemp being illegal is pure insanity. It was patriotic to grow hemp during WW2, and US farmers are missing out by not being able to grow this fantastic crop. I believe it is the large powers that be that don’t want to see hemp legalized. It would take out the oil companies, cotton, building materials, everything. It would revolutionize our country and the world. Hemp for victory indeed.
Tropical420: Exactly! Hemp is naturally anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, resistant to UV rays, it’s grown without the use of pesticides while renewing the soil with nutrients, and it’s the strongest and longest lasting natural fiber on earth. Ships used hemp rope in WW2 because it was the only thing that wouldn’t break in the arctic cold. It was also used in parachutes and George Bush Senior’s life was saved when he used his hemp parachute to jump out of a plane shot by enemy fire. So crazy that it’s illegal to grow hemp in America. How long have you been a medical marijuana advocate? What are some things you have learned from being a part of this community?
Sarah Russo: I have been actively involved in the medical cannabis movement for 5 years. Before that I attended protests and such, but wasn’t what I call active. The cannabis movement is what got me fired up about activism in general. It was a catalyst for change in my own life. I realized that I was pissed off about how cannabis is viewed in society and that a plant with medical and psychoactive use for thousands of years was illegal. It taught me that complaining about how messed up things are was not doing anything to help the problem. It also made me see things differently. My view of the world and the people that live in it is different now. And I am thankful I was woken up to that new reality.
Tropical420: Amazing how this plant can change lives and bring people together. Do you remember your first experience with marijuana?
Sarah Russo: My first experience with marijuana was snowboarding when I was 15. We went up the chair lift and went off into the trees and smoked with about 5 kids from my class. I didn’t really get high that time. I remember thinking it was cool, mainly because it was illegal.
Tropical420: Ha ha, very cool how you “went off into the trees”. What do you like to do when you medicate?
Sarah Russo: I like to be active and go for a walk or be in nature. I love to have a project to work on when I am medicated. These days, I generally prefer to use CBD rich cannabis because it is more functional for me. I can do work and be social while medicated which is important to me. I don’t like to be lazy and sluggish. I would rather not use cannabis that leaves you feeling stupid and unmotivated. It doesn’t jive with me.
Tropical420: Always nice to prove those myths about “stoners being lazy” wrong. I am also more motivated to be active and get things done after medicating. What is the best strain you ever had?
Sarah Russo: My favorite strain is Jamaican Lion, which is a CBD rich variety from the Bay Area. I think it is the most creative strain I have ever had. I think that the THC:CBD ratio is perfect. It makes me feel very energetic and happy. I am also a huge fan of G13, Pineapple, and all the fruity strains. Looks aren’t very important to me. I really prefer strains that provide a favorable effect as opposed to ones that look nice.
Tropical420: Yummy good choices, G13 is definitely a good one! Do you prefer Indica or Sativa?
Sarah Russo: I like the uplifting effects that are associated with sativa strains. However, through the research I have done, I have realized that Indica versus Sativa is a matter of taxonomy rather than effect. There is a lot of focus on these 2 varieties and the effects they produce. The effect of cannabis on a user is a matter of the phytocannabinoids and other components of the plant, including terpenes. We have just begun to start testing for these compounds. Uncovering how these components affect a user will be the real key to figuring out which varieties are best suited for the effects you desire.
Tropical420: Cool, a Sativa girl! It will be awesome once people can start creating strains composed of the exact ratio of components that heal their specific issue. What is your preferred way to medicate? Bong, joint, edible, vaporizer?
Sarah Russo: I love my Volcano, which I try to use as much as possible. When I am on the go , I use joints almost exclusively.
Tropical420: Vaping is definitely the healthy choice. Do you make edibles?
Sarah Russo: I have recently started making more edibles. I have made them a couple of times in the past and really enjoyed it. I wanted to start making my own because the edibles that collectives provide are generally too strong and the dosage can be a mystery. I find I generally overdo it with edibles, so making my own is a better way for me to be able to get the proper dosage.
Tropical420: Good advice. What is your favorite marijuana related movie?
Sarah Russo: Half Baked.
Tropical420: Mine too! Do you think medical marijuana will ever be federally legal?
Sarah Russo: That is the goal. I feel things are changing and I feel I will see it in the next 5 years. Hopefully sooner. Too many people are sitting in jail. And the future is bright for cannabis research. If it was legal, it would be a lot easier to study.
Tropical420: Seriously right? Cannabis research is way less restricted in other countries, what you guys are doing is so important. What are your future plans to help this community achieve it’s ultimate goals for this harmless medicinal plant?
Sarah Russo: I hope to continue my work with Project CBD and eventually see CBD become readily available and its medicinal effects documented by the mainstream cannabis community. I believe that CBD is a powerful tool to show the nay sayers that cannabis is more than just the familiar THC component. CBD and THC have been most studied, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. There are over 100 cannabinoids in the plant, as well as other components that influence the effect of cannabis in humans. We have only just begun to scratch the surface. I look forward to seeing cannabis testing becoming the norm so that users can know what is in their medicine. It is a very exciting time for cannabis research.
Tropical420: You are most definitely a female pioneer working with people on the forefront of the future of medical marijuana testing. Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?
Sarah Russo: Get your cannabis tested, become well informed.
Tropical420: Excellent message! Thank you so much again for interviewing with me for WeedTRACKER.com! We will check out ProjectCBD.org and keep up with the CBDiary and will look forward to reading about the medical marijuana scientific breakthroughs and news about cannabis on your site.
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