Cannabis long agreed with Adam Trachsel, the bassist and keyboardist of Portland indie rock trio Mimicking Birds. But Trachsel’s relationship to cannabis got way more serious five years ago, on his 29th birthday, when doctors diagnosed him with both brain cancer and epilepsy.
Trachsel required multiple surgeries to remove a tumor in his brain. Although the operations succeeded, it took him over a year to regain control of his memory, motor functions, and speech. Side effects from his prescription anti-seizure medications added to life’s new challenges.
“Seizure meds are notoriously hard on mood stability and your happiness levels,” Trachsel said, chatting from his van before a show in Brooklyn. “They can cause all sorts of problems; they make you fuzzy, cranky, irritable. … But you can’t not take them. You have seizures.”
Cannabis, and the molecule cannabidiol (CBD) in particular, became a powerful tool for Trachsel. CBD has anti-seizure and other therapeutic properties that combated his seizures, and greatly reduced his need for prescription medications. He found the most success with a 1:1 tincture that he and his wife loaded into gelcaps. At times, he consumed up to a gram per day.
Cannabis greatly improved Trachsel’s quality of life, but he encountered new challenges when he brought his homemade pills on tour with Mimicking Birds. On one fateful occasion, he spent a night in a Texas jail.
“It’s dangerous to not take [cannabis] regularly. It needs to be a consistent thing in that healing process,” Trachsel pointed out.
Even though Trachsel has recovered from his cancer, cannabis is no less important to him. In fact, he now works at Uplift, his local dispensary in Portland, where he helps others in his community find relief through cannabis. Yet he’s quick to point out that the plant is not a cure-all:
“Even though I use CBD and find it beneficial, I can’t say I’m being cured by marijuana or CBD in any sense. I’m just a musician who takes CBD.”
Listen to all of Adam’s story below, in this episode of the Hash, now powered by Leafly.
The weekly, scripted, news and lifestyle podcast’s guests this 20-episode season include New York State Sen. Diane Savino, drag queen Laganja Estranja, and Cypress Hill’s B-Real.
The ‘Fresh Air’ of cannabis—each potent segment is co-hosted and produced by award-winning journalist and best-selling author David Downs (WIRED, Scientific American), and Max Savage Levenson (Pitchfork, NPR).
Adam first tried cannabis in high school in rural Iowa.
“On my 29th birthday my mom was in town. We were gonna go out to brunch, I started to not feel right. She said, we’re gonna go to hospital. I was taken into ER. I thought it was just gonna be something subtle. Doctor says you have brain cancer and epilepsy.”
After surgery, “when I woke up was in pretty bad shape…. I didn’t know what internet was. It was an out of body experience.” In 2017, Adam had a second surgery to remove the remnants of the tumor. He was awake for the operation.
“They did hand tests, and math tests while I was on operating table and poking around in my brain. It was relieving to be awake through it as opposed to not knowing what they were doing. That second surgery went way smoother. I came out smiling and joking, and speaking very clearly.”
Between the oil and his low dose of epilepsy meds, Adam hasn’t had a seizure in over a year. Now, he helps spread the word about cannabis at Uplift Botanicals, his local dispensary in Portland. “I want to help other people find products that will benefit them.”
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