Marijuana master grower Jay Price's mission to help MS patients
Of all the conditions that bring patients to The Clinic Medical Marijuana Centers, one is especially important to master grower Jay Price: multiple sclerosis. He knows which strains help the muscle pains and which strains help the eye spasms or the depression that often comes from battling the incurable disease. But helping a handful of patients find the right strain to ease their symptoms can only do so much, which is why for the last four years, the Clinic has been committed to fundraising for the national MS Society, quickly becoming one of the top donors in the region.
Big photos below.
For Price, helping people with MS started as a personal mission -- though at first he didn't realize it, and then he wasn't sure he wanted it. When he was just seven, his father was diagnosed with a progressive form of MS, meaning his physical and mental deterioration would continue to worsen. Back then, medications and treatments for MS were in their infancy, Price says. By the time there were drugs available to halt the progression, his father was too far along to want the treatments. "He didn't want to pause it there," Price remembers. "He wanted it to run its course and be done with it."
By the time his father died, he could no longer remember his son; Price was just fourteen. For a long time, he didn't want to think about the disease or the painful memories that accompanied it. Even seeing Richard Pryor on TV suffering from the early tremors and speech issues was too much for Price. For years, he shut out the disease.
Master grower Jay Price with The Clinic general manager Ryan Cook.
And then MS crept back into his life through another door. His girlfriend (now wife) had led a personal MS Walk team before the two met; she solicited Price's help to raise money for her team. He did that for a few years, growing increasingly more comfortable with MS, as well as more knowledgeable. Then came the medical-cannabis side of things, which not only led Price, a caregiver at one time, to his gig as the lead grower for the Clinic's five-dispensary operation, but also to dealing directly with MS patients seeking relief from cannabis. Patients would come to him with stories about the relief they had found from certain strains, Price says, and he would take notes.
One of the most important lessons he learned is that multiple sclerosis is a tricky disease and doesn't always present the same way. "There is no cover-all where you can say, 'I have MS' and we give you this strain. There are many different ways that the disease can present in a person, so there are many different ways to treat it. One person's experience with MS and what they are going through is totally different from someone else's," he notes.
But he did notice that a few things seemed to provide universal relief, he says -- notably strains high in cannabidiol, or CBD. That led to a breeding program of sorts. For example, the Clinic has a Pre-'98 Bubba Kush plant that tested out at 15.33 percent CBD and 10.64 percent THC when it won the 2011 High Times Medical Cannabis Cup in Denver; it's posted similar results ever since. Price bred that Pre-'98 Bubba with a number of different strains, including Corleone OG, to produce strains high in CBD, but with other interesting characteristics. The Luca Brasi, for example, regularly tests between 8 percent and 12 percent CBD, with slightly higher levels of THC. And in general, that is the range MS patients should look for.
"One of the most common things they are going to experience is neuropathic pain, which is basically that for no reason, something hurts," Price says. "For that, obviously, high-CBD strains work. But for more specific symptoms, like optic neuritis -- which is basically a freaking-out of your eye nerves -- we've found that hazes work really well, just not the real racy sativa hazes. Stuff like Super Lemon Haze or Jack Flash or something indica to bring it back more to that fifty-fifty zone."
Continue for more about The Clinic's mission to help MS patients.