Photo courtesy of Sharon Letts
This month for our Canna Conversations feature we spoke to our dear friend, Sharon Letts, about her long-running career in cannabis and how nothing, not even cancer nor a recent severe car crash, is going to stop her from writing about the plant she loves. Bonus: Sharon shares her recipe for her favorite DIY cannabis and chamomile salve.
Rogue Paq (RP): Your career path fascinates me. You have been a gardener, a TV host, a producer and a writer. Sometimes all things at once. You mentioned that your experience with cannabis and cancer was one of the most defining moments on that path. Can you elaborate?
Sharon Letts (SL): Sometimes it feels as though my path was chosen long before I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.
My company name alone has morphed along with my career path. Named from a favorite childhood book, The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodges Burnett, I started my own gardening company at 24; designing, planting and maintaining flower beds – not cannabis - in Southern California. When a local TV programming manager asked me to produce and host a visiting gardens show, my company became Secret Garden Productions – which remains today. The irony is the word secret and its relation to the once covert cannabis market I grew up with.
I never realized I was a producer until the credits rolled on that local access channel program, I created, In and Out of the Garden - which in itself is a play on words, reflecting the cannabis industry I now cover. From there I went on to Executive Produce a travel show, Off the Beaten Path, for PBS in California; then I became a Field and Segment producer in Los Angeles for national documentary and magazine shows.
It was actually television that brought me up to Humboldt County in Northern California, as I was hired to produce a news show; then became lead features writer for the Times-Standard, the county’s oldest daily newspaper in the County Seat of Eureka.
When I presented with breast cancer, while working in media in the cannabis capitol of the world, longtime local cannabis farmer and remedy maker, Pearl Moon of The Bud Sisters, brought me a jar of strong cannabis oil, telling me to take bits of it with a toothpick and the cancer would go away. It did, and changed my life and work forever. For more than seven years since, I’ve been writing of cannabis as remedy, with a focus on patient profiles. My full story is on my website.
The saddest part for me is, I can’t go back to mainstream media with these stories until the Federal Government admits cannabis is remedy and takes it off Schedule 1, alongside heroin.
RP: You are highly skilled (no pun intended) at apothecary. If you could make only one recipe but you’d be able to share it with the entire world, what would it be? Please describe why you chose it and what its benefits are.
SL: I’m a self-taught Apothecary, but all that means is, I’ve learned how to extract beneficial compounds from plants. If you can cook you can do apothecary. The recipes are so incredibly simple, anyone can make them in a home kitchen via steeping, simmering, and simple reductions.
My hands-down go-to recipe is a simple coconut infusion of half cannabis and half chamomile flower.
Cannabis & Chamomile Coconut Salve
1 part ground plant material: half/half chamomile/cannabis
3 parts coconut oil (solid)
OR one cup ground plant material to three cups coconut solid.
Simmer on low in a crockpot for three to four hours, stirring often. If it gets too warm, shut it down and start over.
Mixtures should not brown, should be golden/green.
OR, I use my Magical Butter Machine and follow the instructions.
Cannabis and chamomile are the perfect combination, as chamomile is another superfood, and nearly mimics the healing properties of CBD, with the bonus of being calming, taking the edge of the activated THC from the cannabis, while doing away with anxiety – something plaguing our species in the Western world.
Chamomile is also a natural anti-depressant, per a study; and has a 93 percent success rate of killing cancer cells in a laboratory study. More information about chamomile is on my website under Apothecary.
You can eat the coconut infusion with a spoon, cook with it, and apply it topically for pain, cuts, and bruising. I even add it to my store bought lotions for a beneficial hack.
Note: This half and half mix is also great for dosing pets, as the chamomile takes the edge off the THC/high, and is calming for pets. Start with a small amount and increase every few days as they adjust.
Learning to make your own remedies is paramount to making your own food. It’s part of being a sustainable human on this planet, in my mind. Plants are here for us, allowing us to function at our highest level, physically and mentally. If you ingest a concentrate everyday of superfoods you will prevent getting sick in the first place and you will feel better overall, mentally and physically.
Sharon Letts, Writer/Producer/Apothecary with Jim Belushi, Actor/Comedian and owner of Belushi Farms
“Your endocannabinoid system doesn’t give a shit you just want to get high.” Everyone benefits.
RP: You believe that even recreational cannabis has medicinal effects for the user. Can you cite an example of someone you’ve known or interviewed who had no idea their cannabis use was actually a form of self-medication? Please describe the epiphany.
SL: I can site everyone I’ve ever spoken to who has used cannabis recreationally as being helped medicinally, for there is absolutely no difference between medical and recreational cannabis – it’s all the same plant, the same beneficial compounds being administered to every organ and system in the body.
My favorite personal quote is, “Your endocannabinoid system doesn’t give a shit you just want to get high.” Everyone benefits.
One example of using the plant rather than pharma is, those who say they just want to “chill” at the end of the day. How else would they do that? Pharmaceutically-speaking, they could take a valium or some other muscle relaxer – perhaps a pain-pill, or an over-the-counter sleep inducer to take the edge off.
Or, they have alcohol. Wine moms are switching to owing the moniker “weed mom” at a surprising rate in legal states, stating they are better and more involved parents on the plant, being lifted, than passed out, grumpy, or sloppy from booze in front of the little ones.
What actually happens when a state legalizes is, that edible taken for recreation becomes a "medible" if the partaker has any ailments, disorders or sleep issues at all, and the plant is realized as remedy. The beneficial compounds are all still there along with the THC that gets you high. In fact, the high itself is beneficial, lifting endorphins immediately to treat depression and other neurological and mental issues.
The other thing that happens when someone feels comfortable to experiment in a legal environment is, they may try an edible or tincture for one single symptom, then realize help with many others, as cannabis as a superfood covers a wide ranging array of benefits and healing most aren’t even aware of yet.
Sharon's stash guarded by her friend's cat, Nikola Tesla.
RP: You have interviewed some of the most fascinating folks in the cannabis world including Jim Belushi and Billy Hayes. Who did you connect with most deeply on a personal level and what part of their story most moved you?
SL: I’ve fallen al little bit in love with everyone I’ve ever interviewed - including the woman interviewing me now! So, it’s hard to say who’s made the greatest impression. I’m moved when someone ignores all odds and gives the plant a chance. I’m moved when someone realizes that cannabis is a truly powerful remedy and are then inspired to help others.
The main takeaway I’ve gotten from interviewing celebrities is, they are just like us. They receive a negative diagnosis in the same way, and their families and friends rally round with as much love, support - and skepticism for the plant.
Tommy Chong’s interview at his home in Los Angeles is memorable, as it turned into an intervention, with family members split on his treatment, and doubting the oil’s efficacy from his first bout.
As someone who had gone through the treatment prior and is knowledgeable of protocol and outcomes, I was put in the middle of a family spat in an effort to educate, to no avail.
When the story went to press it read that Tommy would give cannabis oil a chance first, as we discussed, before heading to traditional treatments. But, his family’s wishes were upheld and he went through surgery, radiation, and ended up with a colostomy bag for some months, making my story incorrect.
From Tommy’s family I learned how not to get ahead of my story, and that every family has conflict surrounding the plant. Even if you are Tommy Fucking Chong.
As a footnote, Tommy is a kind, gentle and intelligent soul, and I’m honored to know him. I just hope he’s keeping up on his maintenance dosing!!
"[My interview with Tommy Chong] at his home in Los Angeles is memorable, as it turned into an intervention, with family members split on his treatment, and doubting the oil’s efficacy from his first bout."
Sharon's Rogue Paq found by a police after right after a severe car wreck. The officer returned this piece not knowing what it contained.
RP: A few months ago, you and your Rogue Paq got into quite a terrible car accident. Can you tell us about that experience and how, yet again, cannabis came to your rescue to aid in your recovery?
SL: As with any travel accessory, my Rogue Paq and I have already had many adventures together - most fabulous, some not so great.
A few months ago, my Rogue Paq and I were headed for a road trip to Colorado to teach a Kitchen Apothecary Workshop at a Glowing Goddess Getaway, when a dog ran in front of my car. I flipped, caught air and rolled a few times, but was amazingly unhurt. As I sat at curbside, looking at my now up-side-down car, a policeman walked up and handed me my now shredded Rogue Paq, that was ejected from the car to the highway - unaware of the paraphernalia inside.
The inside of her Rogue Paq, post-accident remained perfectly in tact. All contents were protected and whole.
After refusing pharma from the Paramedic, as soon as the car was righted, I retrieved my apothecary bag and took one chamomile concentrate capsule for shock to calm my shaking hands; and one cannabis concentrate capsule for the assumed concussion on the left side of my head (recipes on Sharon’s website under Apothecary).
What the officer and paramedics could not have guessed was that would be my only treatment for the next six to eight weeks, as the swelling and pressure went away, and my eyesight returned – with no traditional therapies needed.
The happy ending is, I received a brand new monogrammed Rogue Paq days later, and it continues to accompany me on my adventures!
I absolutely love my Rogue Paq, and not merely because it’s functional and beautiful. I love the way its maker, Jessica, envisioned a more refined and acceptable place to keep our remedies.
Because that’s what a Stash is, a portable apothecary. It’s not what we are hiding, or stashing away in shame, it’s what we own up to as our medicine. How we stay well.
I also love the conversations that ensue when I whip my Paq out. Just as with my series What’s in Your Stash? (High Times Magazine), when you look into someone’s stash, you are looking into how they medicate and recreate – which is the same thing.
When we begin to have the conversation about how we medicate, we begin to understand the benefits of the cannabis plant. And that’s a truth we’ve been without for far too long.
"I absolutely love my Rogue Paq, and not merely because it’s functional and beautiful. I love the way its maker, Jessica, envisioned a more refined and acceptable place to keep our remedies."
Follow Sharon on LinkedIn, Instagram: @sharoneletts Twitter: @SharonLetts and Facebook Pages: Sharon Letts, Kitchen Apothecary, Educated Stoner, Cannabis Nag, Weed Traveler, Daily Dose, What’s in Your Stash? and Cannaopolis.
For more information on Sharon and Apothecary/recipes visit, www.sharonletts.com