BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s been two years since Maryland’s medical marijuana program went into effect and nearly 100 dispensaries are up and running across the state.
Business is booming as the stigma surrounding the use of marijuana is morphing into a new, natural way to treat a variety of health issues.
“I was one of the very first Maryland patients,” said artist Linda Biggs.
In 2012, Biggs’ life changed in an instant.
What started out as a beautiful day took a horrific turn when a car going 75 miles per hour slammed into Linda’s car as she was stopped along I-83 in Baltimore County.
“I saw a car coming in my rearview mirror and at that moment I just knew. I mean she was coming very, very fast. The next thing I knew I was being cut out of a Mini Cooper. And everything stopped. I couldn’t hold my head up, I couldn’t even move,” she recalled.
After two years of various therapies and countless prescription medications that weren’t really helping, Linda, a passionate artist, said she didn’t think she would ever get her life back.
“I was angry and just so frustrated and kind of like, out of the blue, I was introduced into cannabis and I was like ‘Nah, we’re not gonna do that,’” Biggs said.
WJZ’s Nicole Baker: “What was your hesitation to it?”
“Because in my mind, it was what I made sure my children didn’t have, didn’t touch, were not allowed — you know — that’s just so wrong,” Biggs said. “Meanwhile I had all this oxycodone and all these other things that weren’t really making a difference and at that point, I thought, what have I got to lose?”
That feeling she had is what’s attracting more and more people to dispensaries in Maryland, but it’s not just about marijuana.
She decided to try CBD, or cannabidiol, a nonintoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp that is sometimes used medicinally. It’s also often infused into certain food products or oils.
CBD products are just about everywhere, even at your local CVS or Walgreens.
“We have a lot of chronic pain patients, a lot of people dealing with anxiety, some treating effects of chemotherapy,” said Jackie Dolloway.
Dolloway owns Pure Life Wellness, a dispensary in Federal Hill. The products she sells include marijuana, CBD and a combination of the two.
“Typically you can’t really overdo it with CBD, but we always recommend start low, go slow and see how your body feels,” Dolloway said.
The reason you can’t overdo it with CBD is that it’s an extract that doesn’t get you high. It’s rapidly growing in popularity, but the FDA doesn’t support claims that it has health benefits.
Even Dolloway agrees there needs to be more research.
“The only thing that’s going to change it is making it more available. Let’s let the government be okay with this option. I would say if it’s something that’s helping people with pain, and it’s not hurting them, I think it’s worth looking into,” she said.
For Biggs, it’s absolutely worth it.
“From the first day that I tried it, each day was like another little miracle happened,” Biggs said.
After her accident, she didn’t think she would ever paint or draw again, but now her art is flourishing with a new meaning.
WJZ’s Nicole Baker: “How has your art played a role in your healing process?”
“It’s made it possible,” Biggs said. “Now my fairies are telling a story of how CBD has helped heal me because each image is from a portion of my life.”
“So once my focus came back and I was able to paint and I was like, look, oh my gosh I can paint, nothing was going to stop me and I’ve been painting ever since,” she added.