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420 For Everyone: Josh Litten

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Healing Through Horiculture

With formal training in horticulture, Ethos Cannabis Cultivation Supervisor Josh Litten has always had a passion for plants, and particularly for cultivating cannabis. But his road to the cannabis industry goes beyond a love for agriculture: For Litten, cannabis is an essential medicine. 

Litten, 38, suffered with the symptoms of Crohn’s disease for most of his life, although he was not formally diagnosed for years. Cannabis always helped him feel better, but the Crohn’s-cannabis connection was unexplored and undiscovered for much of that time. 

“I suffered with Crohn’s my whole life, and I didn’t know that I had Crohn’s for most of that time,” said Litten.

Litten tried multiple medications and procedures, ultimately undergoing bowel resection surgery in 2016 to help keep the chronic condition under control. Nothing seemed to be a permanent solution for addressing the painful symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease.

“Pills and pharmaceuticals only mask the symptoms — they didn’t treat any of the underlying issues,” Litten said. “I wasn’t getting better — none of the medications I was taking could do it.”

While exploring alternatives, Litten took a closer look at the plant that had been a part of his life for so long. He knew a lot about cannabis from his grandparents, who taught him about the plant from a young age. When the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program launched in 2016,  he was one of the first patients to register.

Litten began a regimen of Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), a highly potent cannabis concentrate that doesn’t require heat to activate the phytocannabinoids or terpenes contained within. He also taught himself how to make edibles at home with ingredients friendly to his sensitive digestive system. Litten made edibles at home compliant with a Crohn’s patient’s diet. Both products provided long-lasting relief from the pain, nausea, appetite loss, and other symptoms associated with Crohn’s, without the mental fog and dependency of other medications.

“I started getting cannabis into my system and the [pharmaceuticals] out of my system,” Litten said. “I can medicate myself with edibles without feeling disoriented or high. I could be functional and clear-headed while getting the medication I needed.”

Within six months — and to the surprise of his medical team — Litten went into remission for the first time. There was no trace of active Crohn’s disease in his body in the months after switching to cannabis.

“Cannabis quite literally saved my life,” Litten said. “Once I got onto RSO, I could return to normal life pain-free again.”

Research confirms Litten’s experience. Cannabis has a significant impact on many GI disorders, including Crohn’s. There is an established connection between cannabis and GI motility, gut inflammation, nausea, and vomiting — all symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Additional research found that phytocannabinoids, and particularly Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), reduced pain and improved quality of life in Crohn’s patients.

“My doctors would tell me that there was not enough research to support how cannabis can help Crohn’s patients like me,” Litten said, “but I was living proof that cannabis works.”

Shortly after his Crohn’s went into remission, Litten decided that it was time to unite his love of cannabis and his knowledge of horticulture into a career. His experience, background, and passion could be excellent assets to the medical cannabis industry.

“I knew my love for the plant would propel me forward,” Litten said.

Litten said he joined Ethos in the midst of a tragic personal loss: He received an invitation to interview two days after his father’s death. Litten took the timely call as a signal that he was headed in a direction destined for him.

“I had a dream the night before the call came, where my father asked me if I heard from the grow (Ethos) yet,” Litten said. “When I got that call, I took it as a sign from the universe that I was making the right move.” He started at Ethos two weeks later.

“I take pride in my job because the plant begins to lose its integrity the moment it’s cut down, and everything I do after that moment ensures that you, the patient, gets the best and highest quality,” Litten said. “Here, I have the plant’s best interests at heart. Overseeing the trimming, processing, packing, labeling, jarring, and shipping — my role ensures that patients get the medicine they need.”

As he reflects on his upcoming one-year anniversary with Ethos Cannabis, Litten said that he’s proud to be a part of helping others who long suffered like he once did, while doing what he loves — working in cannabis cultivation — every day.

“It’s surreal that I get to work with something that is my greatest passion,” Litten said. “If you love what you do, it’s not work. When I’m hands on with cannabis, I’m in my happy place.”

Read more 420 Stories here.

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