SAN JOSE, Calif. - After surviving two car crashes, Rahsahn Smith lives in constant pain. His partner suffers from multiple sclerosis. They say their chiropractor and cannabis are the only things that help them cope.
"Cannabis, honestly, it relieves the pain. It does. It doesn't completely take it away, but it soothes it to the point I can have a sustained life," Rahsahn Smith said.
But they say the high that comes with using medical marijuana makes it tough to function.
"There are times I have things to do. And I have to decide either to deal with the pain or risk being able to accomplish what I need to get done that day," Rahsahn Smith said.
But now patients can say goodbye to the buzz. There's a newly identified strain of cannabis that experts say is high in the healing compounds called CBD, but contain low levels of euphoric producing THC.
"One of the great benefits of CBD rich medicine is that we're able to deliver the medical effects of cannabis to patients without the psychoactive affects, which many patients see as undesirable side effects," Steve DeAngelo, who dispenses medical marijuana, said.
Steve DeAngelo calls the discovery a major breakthrough.
"One of the demonstrated affects of CBD in laboratory animals is that it slows, stops, or in some cases reverses the growth of cancer tumors," DeAngelo said.
"That's like Eureka," David Lampach, a researcher, said.
David Lampach, of Oakland's Steep Hill medical cannabis-testing lab, identified the strain. While research on CBD is still limited, he says it's like striking gold, "We thought, 'Wow here's a whole new angle on cannabis we really never knew existed.' I think there's a lot of people who need cannabis for their medical conditions and don't want to get high. And for those people, CBD is a very good thing."
Smith and his partner are excited to try the new strain for themselves.
"I am pretty active. I do still drive and with cannabis I'm not able to do these things but with this new product I'd be able to," Smith said.
Medical marijuana advocates say although the CBD-rich strain reduces the euphoric side effects, making daily activities easier, it's not for all patients. Depending their medical conditions, some medical cannabis patients need the high levels of THC.