Nathan G. of Jacksonville
Cancer survivor Nathan G. was already sold on cannabis as medicine. Now he wants to spread the word on everything else it can do.
Growing up in New Jersey around conservative attitudes about cannabis, Nathan Gluck never bought into the hype.
“I always knew that a plant couldn’t be as dangerous as they said,” says the soft-spoken 46 year-old as he leans forward excitedly, holding up his palm.
“If you take in your hand just one single cannabis seed, it has the potential to enrich the soil and clear carbon from the atmosphere. These seeds can be used for food —they’re higher in protein than eggs and tuna — and the oil can revitalize your skin and power a car. You can make hempcrete and build a house! And that’s before you even grow the plant.”
Still, under the prohibitive laws of the time, he had to keep his enthusiasm on the down low. Most people he knew couldn’t wrap their minds around Henry Ford’s hemp diesel fuel or paper that didn’t require cutting down trees. “Reefer madness” propaganda and attitudes dominated, validated by badly behaved stoners who didn’t share his cultivated worldview.
“Of course there’s the psychoactive effect from THC and that’s maybe what most people gravitate towards. Anti-cannabis people, that’s what they focus on, the getting high part,” sighs Nate, crossing his inked arms. “But the plant does so much more.” He knew anecdotally of cannabis’ use as medicine, but it wasn’t until 2014 that he truly understood it as a necessity. Diagnosed with stage 3 Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in his esophagus and stomach, he was immediately put on an aggressive chemotherapy cycle that killed the cancer cells but zapped his energy.
“No cancer is good cancer, but if you have to have it, non-Hodgkins lymphoma is a good one,” he shrugs. “It’s highly treatable if they catch it in time. But I had no time to prepare or research other alternatives. I felt like absolute garbage for a long time.” Ironically, the longtime cannabis champion didn’t use it to mitigate the effects from chemo at first. He confesses his reticence may have come from losing his mother to pancreatic cancer and witnessing her refuse it as an option.
“I’d always been a casual smoker, but I’d slowed way down by the time I was diagnosed. When I started chemo, I stopped because I didn’t know if I was going to have an adverse reaction or something. I’ve always been kind of anti-medicine, and it was in my mind that I shouldn’t. Then I completed that first cycle and thought about it: I’m pumping myself full of manmade poison to kill the cancer, why wouldn’t I use something I already know is natural and healthy? I’m being an idiot.”
By this point, medical cannabis had become legal in New Jersey. But when he spoke to his oncologist, he was discouraged from applying for a card since his cancer wasn’t considered “terminal.” He continued to self-medicate rather than “jump through the hoops” only to be denied.
Finally, tired of the cold and the uptight regulatory atmosphere, Nate moved with his wife and son to sunny Florida in 2018, where he was able to procure a medical cannabis card with ease. After a lifetime of hiding, legal access compounded the comfort of the medicine itself.
“It’s such a relief. It’s what I wanted and needed all along — to do what I know helps. It’s helped me physically, with stress, anxiety, my appetite. It’s been instrumental in my cancer recovery as well as my attitude,” he says. “I’ve always experienced cannabis in a positive way, but I never liked having to do it in the dark.”
Using cannabis for cancer with the help of Harvest HOC
Before finding Harvest HOC of Jacksonville, he rotated between several dispensaries, looking for a community-minded place that didn’t treat him like a faceless number or evoke memories of the oncologist’s office.
“Everyone here at Harvest HOC is professional, but it doesn’t feel clinical. I’m not waiting for someone to tell me to turn and cough,” he laughs. “The design, the staff here, everything about it makes me feel good. It’s a better culture.”
Life in Florida is far brighter than it was in the Northeast, though it isn’t without its challenges. A musician who toured worldwide with the punk band Ensign in the late 1990s, Nate now puts his stamina to the test working three jobs: Weekdays as a supervisor at Staples, weekends loading and unloading U-Hauls and evenings driving for Uber and Lyft.
“I do everything that I have to do to take care of my family,” he nods, adding that while he and his wife welcome the more relaxed atmosphere around cannabis, he is still protective of his son, who just started Pre-K.
“If he decides to come to cannabis, it will be his choice. For now, we keep it completely separate, nothing he can see or find by accident. Eventually he’ll know about it, because we want to be open and we aren’t doing anything wrong. At the same time, I’m not going to have him in my lap while I’m smoking a pre-roll.”
He’s far more forthcoming with his Uber and Lyft passengers, with whom he shares his passion for cannabis’ myriad applications and the injustice of those still feeling the social effects of prohibition and the war on drugs.
“You’ve still got people sitting in jail for possession, and in the meantime there are murderers and rapists out in a few years,” he says, shaking his head. “But the future is coming. Everything has changed.”
Since his cancer diagnosis, Nate has been informally studying the potential medical uses of cannabis in earnest, diving deeply into the way the plant can fight pollution and the healing capacities still to be discovered via the human body’s network of cannabinoid receptors. He hopes to find work in the legal cannabis industry as it grows, and is writing down his reflections for a possible blog or book.
As he continues to spread the cannabis gospel, he finds that many folks are as excited about the future as he is.
“People get it that this one tiny little seed has the ability to affect the world — not just me, not just you, but the entire world,” he says, eyes lighting up.
“This little seed could do it all.”