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Aubree Evangelist: Wellness Through Cannabis

Aubree Evangelist never thought of cannabis as “her thing.” She only tried it a few times in her youth and found she didn’t particularly like the intoxicating feelings that came along with THC. That all changed in 2017, when she developed crippling, medication-resistant migraines. 

“Doctors couldn’t even really diagnose what exactly was wrong,” said Evangelist, Assistant Inventory Manager at Ethos – Maryland. “They ran so many tests and I tried so many medications, but they just made me worse — I felt like a zombie.”

Evangelist’s treatment continued for about eight months and included multiple hospitalizations, she said. As she began to give up hope for finding a cure for her migraines, a friend suggested she try medical cannabis as an alternative. At that point, despite Evangelist’s prior bad experiences with cannabis, she was ready to try anything that would ease her pain.

“I tried cannabis maybe two or three times, and I never had another headache again,” Evangelist said. “This was after months of being in some of the worst pain I had ever felt physically.” This more positive experience with cannabis took Evangelist on path to discovering other ways cannabis could help improve her health and overall well-being. After all, if cannabis products could provide relief from her migraines that confounded her healthcare professionals, what else might it do?

“My whole life I’ve had anxiety issues and mental health issues — I had been on an SSRI for 10 years,” she said. “I hadn’t really thought about cannabis as an option before, but after it worked for my migraines, I started to do more research into how else it could help.”

Amazed by the growing body of evidence surrounding cannabis and anxiety – and observing her mental health symptoms worsening – Evangelist decided to try cannabis to help her manage this part of her life as well.

“In 2019, my anxiety peaked and I was very bad,” she said. “Every time I went to the doctor they just gave me another pill and another pill…. I was getting worse and not better.”

Realizing the medications were not having their intended effect, Evangelist weaned off with the help of cannabis, which helped ease the stress and discomfort associated with coming off SSRIs.

“At the time, I consumed large amounts of cannabis to counteract those withdrawal symptoms,” she said. “But, as time progressed, I really started to use [cannabis] as a way to center myself each night. I got into all these holistic practices and mental health routines that were helping me. Cannabis became something I could use to evaluate my day and open up an opportunity to look at my past and my present without being so emotional about it.”

Today, Evangelist typically only consumes high-THC cannabis for her evening reflections — for that, she prefers inhalation of an Indica-dominant hybrid cultivar that’s high in myrcene content, which she said helps calm her anxiety. During the day, she treats chronic pain with high-CBD products, particularly Doc Solomon’s lotions and Harle-Tsu 15:1 Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), a CBD-dominant RSO from Cresco Labs.

After experiencing firsthand how cannabis improved her quality of life, Evangelist decided to get involved in the legal cannabis industry, professionally. To do so, she pursued her Master’s of Science in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics, which she received from the University of Maryland’s School of Pharmacy. During her studies, Evangelist said she learned about the history and culture of cannabis, the chemistry of cannabinoids and terpenes, adverse interactions with prescription drugs, therapeutic applications, and how to advise patients on product selection and consumption.

Following her education, Evangelist sought a job in the medical cannabis industry once again, initially finding work in the dispensary environment with Ethos Cannabis. She served in that position for six months before becoming an assistant inventory manager with the company. Now, she is focused on the supply chain, sourcing the products that Ethos carries in its Maryland locations. In her role, Evangelist sees how the cannabis market is growing and continues to evolve, providing a wider range of consumers with the education they need to choose the right products.

“Education is the biggest thing, and having actual data to back up what you’re saying is really important,” Evangelist said. “Having that and more [familiar product options] like capsules and tinctures and creams, stuff people are more comfortable with than grinding up flower, helps bridge that gap a little bit.

“And once people try it they realize they’re more willing to look around and see what else is being offered.”

For Evangelist, when speaking with people who are new to cannabis or hesitant about trying it, she emphasizes that a little bit can go a long way when it comes to getting the therapeutic benefits. She also makes clear that cannabis is just one tool in the larger toolbox of a healthy lifestyle complete with mindfulness, diet, and physical activity — but it’s an important tool for many.

“In general, I switched my whole lifestyle to holistic-based healing, using these products along with other things like doing yoga or meditating,” she said. “People need to know cannabis is not a cure-all, but it can be a great tool in your arsenal.”

That’s not just true for the stereotypical cannabis consumer, but for anyone who’s in search of the relief cannabis can offer.

“There are still a lot of people who think you have to look like Cheech and Chong, or that you can’t be a business person if you consume, which is just clearly wrong,” she said. “Cannabis can offer a lifetime of help for you to grow as a person.”

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