Cannabis has suppressed my ego, and it’s feeding my spirit. My purpose is much more clear, and cannabis is in the middle of it all.
Riley Cote is a man with conviction. Years of professional hockey, fighting, recovering, and watching his sister deal with multiple sclerosis made him see the ills life can offer and how to fix it. Riley saw how various strains of cannabis offered many opportunities for improved health and personal insight. Once his sister began successfully treating her multiple sclerosis with a measured intake of natural foods and cannabis, Riley’s mission came into focus. He sees society being misled by pseudoscience and downplaying all the positives benefits cannabis offers. Riley’s Hemp Heals Foundation is actively changing the plant’s stigma and teaches people about the benefits of healthy living for themselves and future generations, using cannabis as the cornerstone for sustainable living.
Riley’s Introduction to Athletics, Cannabis, and His Vocation
After growing up in Winnipeg and playing in the NHL as an enforcer, fighting guys far outside his weight class, hockey’s physical demands often left Riley Cote waking up sore and swollen. The wear and tear on his body became difficult to ignore. Dedicated to clean medicine, he managed his pain without opiates or other prescription pharmaceuticals. Over the years, he noted how much better cannabis helped with inflammation, rest, and overall health.
Like so many others who are trying to understand cannabis prohibition, Riley commented that he “always sensed that cannabis, being a plant, wasn’t as bad as everyone was saying.” It helped him get through the daily grind, and had none of the negative side effects of synthetic drugs.
But Riley didn’t always have such a rational, health-minded approach to using cannabis. When he was first introduced, the plant was used carelessly and was always associated with drinking and partying recklessly.
“[Our cannabis use] was always mixed with alcohol when I was younger. You never really truly understand the plant, because it’s mixed with other substances. That [fact] was, it was fogging me out and never truly revealed itself until I stopped drinking. That’s when I started focusing on myself and healing my body and doing yoga. Everything compounded in a positive way and how I view cannabis. It surely is a teaching plant. Bob Marley said it best when he pointed out that alcohol is the destruction of a nation and herb is the healing of a nation.”
Keeping Marley’s musical tradition alive as a way of reaching out to the masses, Riley will be speaking out about the plant’s benefits in Philadelphia at the Hemp Heals music festival he’s hosting. The event highlights the need to develop a healthy relationship to the cannabis plant and our natural environment. It will be held July 31, 2015. http://hemphealsphilly.com.
Promoting Conscious Living Starting with Hemp
Educate – Inspire – Empower
The vehicle to tell this story is Riley’s Hemp Heals Foundation. It is an educational entity that promotes the idea that deliberate and informed cannabis use, starting with nutrient rich hemp seeds, which promote good health and wellness. The concept being that consumption of whole plants in general promotes a healthier lifestyle. Jokes about junk food binge eating aside, cannabis can help the body reach homeostasis through increased appetite and improving signals that help a body find its balance. Sometimes people make poor choices about which foods increase vitality and how best to avoid disease. That’s where Riley comes in.
Treating Multiple Sclerosis
When Riley engages the public to speak positively about this misunderstood plant, he notes the public’s attention on the medicinal benefits of marijuana, hemp’s cousin. “And rightfully so,” he notes, “because it can help people heal right at this moment.”
Case in point, Riley’s sister, Jaime Cote, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 15 years ago. Over the past 6 months, she’s come to the conclusion that cannabis helps her condition more than prescription pharmaceuticals.
While on the Canadian medical cannabis program, Jaime has enjoyed its positive effects. Riley reports that “it took her a while to buy into it because of the way we were brought up being told that cannabis is bad and kills brain cells and other misinformation. She tried it and got good results and is still using it, so that’s exciting. With diseases like that, it’s about increasing your quality of life and doing your best to reduce inflammation. She approaches healing as a “whole” which includes nutritional understanding, homeopathic remedies, practicing yoga and more. I’m happy she’s changed her viewpoints on it.”
Riley explains that even though his sister has found medicine that helps, her loyalty to the old propaganda still lingers a bit. She is not totally comfortable ingesting cannabis during the day when she is active and working. “She still feels a little guilty, because even though it’s working for her, she is maybe a little more cautious which one could argue shows responsible use. Certainly, if you’re going to do that and consume before going to work, you’re going to have to be responsible and understand dosing and find a strain that works properly so you can still manage your pain.”
To treat her disease, Jaime has found optimal effectiveness from vaporizing a cannabis strain high in CBD mixed with another high THC strain.
The cause of multiple sclerosis isn’t clear, but the treatments that work best for Riley’s sister are. From his experiences helping friends and family heal, he feels that “a lot of the problems and diseases that we’re facing are self-destruction and the way we live our lives. We’re polluting and poisoning ourselves, and we’re looking for this magical cure. I believe in preventative medicine that starts with consuming nutrient dense whole foods such as hemp seeds. We must be constantly creating an all around cleaner environment by supporting sustainable textile products (like hemp fibers) as opposed to dirty crops like cotton which require a lot of pesticides and lots of water. Strong durable, carbon negative building materials include hempcrete, hemp insulation, hemp board and more. On top of this hemp’s cellulose can be made in plant based plastics and biodiesel for a sustainable fuel source. The list goes on. It ends up being a cleaner, greener, sustainable world that reduces pollution and therefore reduces disease. We’re killing ourselves. It starts with our unsustainable agriculture.”
Sustainable living is his goal, and Riley feels that he has found his vocation with helping people find balance and improve their qualities of life. “I feel like I’m a healer at heart. And there is no better way to help people heal than to help them reconnect to the natural world. I’m in the beginning stage of creating a wellness program and cannabis happens to be the cornerstone of it for most people. Patients will be taught that wellness is a way of life. It’s all education and enlightenment. It’s a learning process. The people that are truly suffering are just trying to find relief, and they need proper direction.”
With the Hemp Heals Foundation’s approach to education, the solution starts with diet. “You’re not going to find a more complete whole food than hemp seed as far as digestible protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and fiber. It really is a super food. The whole plant in general promotes a healthier way of life. Whether it’s medical cannabis or industrial hemp, people need to see cannabis as a viable resource. But it’s not about eating just hemp seeds, you have to do the rest of it too. It’s bigger than cannabis, but cannabis is a bridge to this all. It helps put things into perspective”
Riley see cannabis awareness as being able to help people reconnect with the natural world and their relationship to it.
Increasing Everyone’s Quality of Life – Creating Opportunities for Health
Riley’s philosophy for optimizing health is the foundation for the Hemp Heals Foundation’s specific nutritional program.
“With diet it’s more about simplifying. If you remove refined sugar, processed and denatured food from your diet and add whole food – superfoods like nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits and that good stuff – your body naturally heals. It depends on what your goals are. If you’re not an athlete and just an average person who wants to lean up and be healthy, then it’s about dominating your diet with whole foods and cutting out the rest of it. We’re nutrient deficient and our bodies are on overload with toxins. At the end of the day, we are a part of nature. Synthetic foods and synthetic medicines aren’t going to create natural results. But we seem to think we can live synthetic lives and live happily ever after .
“We have to get back to the fundamental basics of eating clean food and drinking clean water, managing stress, and exercising daily. Whole foods and herbs have healing properties. Rather than putting all focus on this one herb, we need to look at the big picture. We have to help change the way people think and in turn they will change the way they live.”
In addition to diets based on intake of whole plants, Riley maintains a steady yoga practice. “I spent a good part of my life wearing down my body and stressing it in a really high impact sport. Yoga is the complete opposite. It’s all breathing. It’s all stretching. It’s flow movements and the complete opposite of what I’d been doing my whole life. I have found all kinds of positive benefits from practicing yoga.”
The anti-marijuana lobbyists continue to lose strength, but one of their claims is that the entire plant and all its species should remain illegal because some people may overuse them. Riley contends that a person can abuse anything in life. “Let’s be serious. People are abusing prescription drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, refined sugar. Like Joe Rogan says, ‘you can abuse cheeseburgers’. People can find a way to nitpick with cannabis, while they nurse a host of other legal addictions, like alcohol, tobacco and consuming refined sugar endlessly. Substance abuse is usually deep seeded and finding the root of it is key. It could be a self-esteem issue. It could be a depression issue. I think cannabis can help people find the root of the problem, if you just let it and listen to it.”
Responsible Cannabis Consumption and the Plant’s Spiritual Value
As Riley teaches about the need for disciplined nutrition, he is focused on ensuring people understand the psychological usefulness of the plant, including its psychoactive properties. Some people refer to this characteristic traits of smoking marijuana flowers as simply creating a “high”. There is much more to the experience than mere joy though. From his NHL years treating pain, he noticed the plants’ effects would diminish his ego and highlighted our need as humans to live in harmony with the earth’s biosphere and for us to take care of each other.
“The biggest thing is education and teaching people the power of the plant. It’s such a useful and healing plant. With everything I’ve seen with cannabis less is more. You want to find that happy medium where you’re getting relief and still consciously enjoy the experience. Most people overconsume. With dosing, less is more.”
The way cannabis is consumed matters. Especially for those people who are suffering from painful symptoms associated with disease. While some people ingest oils and edibles, Riley explains that vaporization from whole flower cannabis could be a healthier alternative to burning the dried plant material and inhaling compounds found in smoke.
Considering that hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians have used cannabis over the past year before any state medical marijuana laws have passed, it’s difficult for these people to find safe access while being forced to buy their weed on the black market. Consequently patients (and their dealers) rarely know anything about how the plant was grown or processed. Pesticides and mold can do great harm despite the cannabinoids’ healing properties.
Riley highlights the importance of finding and supporting trusted sources, especially those that adhere to organic growing principles. “It’s about being a conscious consumer. People are too easily brainwashed by marketing. Instead people should be supporting local collectives and growers and aim to find the highest quality medicine. It has to be grown and farmed the right way, otherwise it can be toxic.”
For many people, in the midst of a drug war dedicated to misinformation, the typical American introduction to cannabis has historically been done in ignorance. Too often smoking the plant happens at parties without being mindful of what “too much” may look like. Riley notes that his own appreciation of the power of psychoactive cannabinoids, like THC, was hindered for too long by the alcohol that was usually being abused at the same time. It wasn’t until he tried cannabis by itself did he begin to appreciate the need to seek a useful balance.
With cannabis still being illegal in some form in almost half the states, Riley notes “there is a lot of paranoia that goes along with cannabis. In higher amounts cannabis can create paranoia. The paranoia is a reminder to be careful. You’re dealing with an illegal drug and something that can cause the legal system to ruin your life. Alcohol impairs decision making and can lead to aggressive behavior. There’s no consciousness there at all. Cannabis is the complete opposite. I honestly believe the paranoia is giving you a reminder to watch yourself. Cannabis reminds us to drink water with cotton mouth, it stimulates our appetite as our body requests nutrition and it reminds us to be careful. It certainly promotes survival amongst human beings .”
Dr. Andrew Weil spoke at the Cannabis Therapeutics conference with Riley in West Palm Beach over Memorial Day of 2015. Dr. Weil supports Riley on this. The homeopathic doctor has referred to cannabis as an “active placebo”. This term points to how cannabis tends to amplify the mindset and emotion of the user. In other words, if someone is worried about being caught by the cops for smoking marijuana illegally, that paranoia can become exaggerated.
With deliberate attention to the psychological nuances of cannabis’s psychoactive cannabinoids, it’s often reported that a user can gain insight and empathy that is not normally available. The first federally funded study into the psychological effects of cannabis agrees. Riley points out that the plant offers not just biological homeostasis, but also wisdom and the occasional epiphany about what motivates a person in life. “It’s almost like the plant is helping guide you. That’s the beauty and mystery of the plant. You become more creative. You think in a different way. You become more interested in being outside in nature. I really do believe that the consciousness expanding and spiritual part of it really can help people connect the dots. It’s not going to be the answer for everybody. Because many people are so far off, cannabis isn’t going to do anything for them. I think if you’re a healthy person and you include cannabis as part of your ritual, it does help expand and clean your thoughts and put dark memories in the past. It really does help with the mental and spiritual part of the healing process. It helps your spirit make sense of it all.
“The healthier you are, the more the cannabis can speak to you. It’s breaking through the toxicity. Some people are really polluted: their thoughts, their physical body. Cannabis can help clean up the rational thought process over time.”
And so, Riley Cote created the Hemp Heals Foundation to share the plant’s wisdom and how to optimize its use. The focus is on the nutritional profile of hemp seeds and the many other renewable industrial uses of the plant. For too long people have believed the reefer madness propaganda and misinformation about the dangers of cannabis. As the legal restrictions are lifting, Riley is able to use his talents to move us all toward a more sustainable global community.
“The more we can paint cannabis in a positive light, the sooner people will understand the true potential of the plant. There is a bright future ahead of us. This revolution will hopefully change the way people think and live. It’s not going to save the world, but it’s damn near the closest thing that can.”