Britt S. of Jacksonville, FL
Diagnosed with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder at 12, Britt S. never felt like traditional medications helped. Now that’s she’s found medical cannabis, this young LGBT caregiver is all about that #DispensaryLife.
At an age when most kids are worrying about pre-algebra or crushing the next level of Fortnite, Britt S. was struggling with far more adult problems.
She’d bravely announced to her family that she was gay in seventh grade after becoming involved with another young woman, but the relationship quickly turned abusive. Britt endured both physical and mental trauma at the hands of her first girlfriend, and like many survivors of domestic abuse, believed she was the one at fault.
After finding bruises on their daughter’s arm and learning that she’d attempted suicide, Britt’s parents rushed her to get help. The doctors saw that I couldn’t get a hold of my feelings and behavior at the time after dealing with things a 12 year-old shouldn’t have to face, and they immediately put me on medication,” recalls Britt, who received multiple diagnosis at the time for depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.
“They gave me Lamictal, which made feel awful, and I was on it for eight years before realizing this isn’t working for me. I really started to question it when the same medication was later prescribed to my sister, who has epilepsy. That’s when I found medical cannabis.”
Finding the right medical cannabis strains with Harvest HOC
Now 20 years old with a thoughtful disposition and a far healthier dating life, Britt uses cannabis daily to manage the symptoms of anxiety and depression that often still trouble her. Before Florida legalized medicinal cannabis in all forms in early 2019, all that was available to her was street weed. It helped when she was able to find a good connection, but she couldn’t get comfortable with the “loosey-goosey” nature of dosage and quality.
“You never truly know what you’re getting unless it comes from a dispensary, so I was always kind of nervous about it,” she says. “So I went sober for a while until I finally got my card. I’ve been all about dispensary life ever since.”
She’s a fan of Harvest HOC dispensary in Jacksonville for its friendly atmosphere and stocked inventory of new products and old favorites, including an indica strain called Grimdica that acts as a calming agent and helps with sleep. (“I call it ‘indacouch’ because it keeps me locked down,” she says with a smile, her hands giving a decisive clap.) Her preferred form of delivery is smoking, though the burgeoning chef has been experimenting with making her own cannabutter and recently picked up a copy of Stephanie Hua’s Edibles: Small Bites for the Cannabis Kitchen.
Most of all, she appreciates the value Harvest HOC offers. “I’ll spend about $100 a week for my medicine, which buys me a couple of eighths and maybe two or three prerolls of new strains I’d like to try,” says Britt. “I would spend twice that at another dispensary.”
How medical cannabis helps Britt work towards her goals.
She plans to finish her college degree in business management in the next few years, with an eye on north Florida’s lucrative real estate market. For now, Britt works as a caregiver, putting in night shifts to watch over her grandfather, a WWII veteran in his 90s who needs round-the-clock supervision. She holds tremendous respect for him and her grandmother as members of America’s Greatest Generation, though she wishes they’d update their opinions about cannabis as medicine.
“I try to explain to them that this is something that is helping me and could help them with their pain and insomnia, but they’re not into it. I think the biggest issue is how certain parts of the media still portrays it as negative. My grandma will always say, ‘Well, I saw on the news it kills your brain cells.’ And I’m like, ‘Grandma! You sitting in front of the news all day is killing way more brain cells!’” she laughs.
Her grandparents are far more progressive about her dating adventures, and Britt always brings home new girlfriends for their approval.“I know how lucky I am to have such a supportive family, because so many gay kids grow up without that,” she says. “They’re still pretty conservative, though. Sometimes they’ll say things and I’ll be like,‘hello, the gay one is here!’” She extends that gentle activism to a larger audience, participating in annual Jacksonville’s Pride Festival and Run as well as the Pride Prom for LGBTQ teens.
While she sees herself as more complex than a label or a diagnosis, she has no problems with letting others know what she’s been through.
“I don’t necessarily introduce myself as, ‘Hey, I’ve got depression and anxiety! I’m crazy!’ But I try to reach out to LGBT people my age as much as I can because so many face depression and are at risk for suicide. I want them to know they’re not alone, and maybe by sharing my experiences, someone else can be helped.” After a beat, she adds, “I’m proud to be who I am. I’m proud to be here.” With her whole life ahead of her, Britt doesn’t take a day for granted, honoring her elders and documenting Florida’s wondrous sunsets on her Instagram. She’d also like to become more involved in helping make medical cannabis more accessible to all, and welcomes the community that continues to build around her dispensary life and the people she meets there.
“Cannabis helps people cope in these crazy times,” she ponders thoughtfully. “I don’t know if spiritual is the word for it, but I definitely feel a bigger connection.”