Originally published November 2016
HelloMD spoke with Charles Rutherford of Boveda. Boveda leads the industry in humidity regulation technology and allows both producers and patients alike to preserve the quality of their cannabis products. Charles spoke to us about his personal journey with medical marijuana and his experience using cannabis to ease his nerve and phantom limb pain after losing his foot in a terrible motorcycle accident.
Do you use cannabis as a medicine?
Yes, but I never had fun with cannabis recreationally in my life, it wasn’t really for me. Three years ago, I got hit by a careless driver on my motorcycle, and this resulted in the amputation of my left foot. Phantom limb pain and nerve pain have become a constant and painful problem for me. Yet, the doctors only means for me to deal with this pain was to give me more and more opiates.
Opioid abuse is not a road I wanted to go down. I live in Minnesota, and we have a medical marijuana program, so I was able to try marijuana for my phantom limb pain. Because of cannabis, I was able to stop using opioids because I could use marijuana for both the pain relief, and it allows me to sleep at the end of the day.
The funny thing is, that even though we were operating our business within the cannabis industry, I was very skeptical about patients using cannabis as medicine. It was only due to my own desperation to stop my own pain that I eventually tried cannabis. It has been amazing what it has done for me. I went from being a skeptic to a believer overnight.
How did your success with cannabis to relieve your phantom limb pain influence you?
My personal story, and how cannabis helped me with phantom limb pain, informs everything we do at Boveda in relation to cannabis. I have a personal passion for medicinal cannabis and how it can help others. Through marijuana we can alleviate the huge epidemic of opioid addiction and death, so I have made it my own personal crusade to make sure that the flower stays in the best position it can be for people who do use it as a medicine.
I also work to help expand the knowledge and understanding of the industry. At Boveda, we have commissioned a lot of testing so we can see what exactly is happening to the cannabis flower at different stages of storage and what is really the maximum storage time it can have. We’re also looking to see if there is a best objective curing method and a best objective storing container, and since my story informs all of that, I would say that 95% of my attention is on cannabis.
What I’ve discovered is that people around me who were skeptical about cannabis and had a certain idea of what a cannabis user looked like has completely changed. I’m a competitive athlete—I still compete in skiing, golf and mountain biking. I’m a professional, and I don't look like a cannabis user.
In my circle of influence, that has definitely reverberated. People who’ve had certain feelings about cannabis and about what “those people (who use cannabis)” look like or do, know that I’m not any of those things. Since I don't have a fear of sharing my story, and I’m not involved with a lot of things that the stereotypical marijuana user is, it’s good at helping convert people to the idea that cannabis is a medicine, and it can be used safely and effectively.
What do you think about recreational use of cannabis?
The reality is, I come from a spot with personal beliefs of personal responsibility. I think people are being hurt by the status quo, so I think we shouldn’t be asking if we should legalize medical marijuana, but rather, are people getting hurt by the status quo?
Charles and I met at the cannabis conference, New West.
Are we OK with people getting addicted to opioids? Are we OK with making the cheaper and logical leap after opioids, something that can kill people even faster, like heroine? Are we OK with people getting a medication that can kill them right from their doctor?
So, there’s clearly a paradox in the status quo. The safest option for people medically is something that isn't prescribed to them by a doctor, meaning marijuana. Yet the thing that can kill them, opioids, is what their doctor is handing out to them. I think people should have the ability to responsibly decide what they put inside their body and clearly cannabis is a safe and effective medicine.
How do we sway the negative stereotype of cannabis?
People need to tell their story of how marijuana has helped them. I encourage friends who have family members who are against medical or recreational marijuana to tell my story. I’m a conservative, Republican, Christian who has volunteered at church every Sunday for the last six years. I’m an NRA member; I carry a gun. I’m a competitive athlete, and I’m a professional. Those qualities don’t normally fit into what people see as a typical cannabis user, which is why my story, in addition to being a medical case, is a political case as well.
This is also what a cannabis user can look like. Marijuana legalization, however, doesn’t have to be a political issue, because being a conservative, I believe in personal responsibility. So once again, using cannabis responsibly is exactly what I believe in. Stories of people who don’t normally fit into the cannabis mold and show people that a cannabis user can be anyone are important. Peoples’ perceptions or prejudices may keep them from listening to certain people, so finding the right messenger to get the message to certain people is crucial.
Anything else you would like to add about Boveda?
Our product is unique and uniquely valuable. Boveda is being used by some big brands because they understand that it’s the right thing to do for safety and quality of their cannabis. For personal use at home, we recently just released our 58% humidity formula for people who wanted a slightly lower humidity for their cannabis flowers. You just pop a Boveda pack in with your flowers, and it adds or removes moisture as needed, then locks into the moisture that’s encrypted into the Boveda pack.
Our Twitter and Instagram are both @bovedainc.