This one is a fun one to write. I had the absolute privilege of interviewing Charles “Uncle Chuck” Duncan. He is very well known by the cannabis advocacy community. Not only has he had 35+ years of experience in the world of Mary Jane, but he has done MANY remarkable things to help the community. I am truly in awe of the things he has done for people, and I can’t wait to introduce you to him.
Charles is very knowledgeable about cannabis and strives to help others in any way he can. He spends most of the week making sure he is doing something by reaching out to people and explaining just what cannabis is, how well it helps those with mental illness and other problems, and helping people find a way to legally obtain it. His heart is with the people.
I asked Charles questions I felt like you all might be curious to know. I am using direct quotes from him during our interview. I always want to make sure I am posting the most accurate information. If you have any further questions, I will leave his websites and contact information at the bottom of this page.
I was curious to know just how long he had been using marijuana for and how he got started on it.
“Well I have been smoking (I am a old fashion joint smoker and not really into edibles as a regular daily consumption) for about 35 years now. I was raised an Air Force brat. Moved from one state to another every year. When we settled here I realized I had anxiety talking to groups. I never had “groups” of friends before. So thankfully, that was 7th grade and I had a friend that smoked. After discovering cannabis, I was never fearful to talk to groups of any size. so it was a match for me that has led me to smoke almost every day for 35 years now. That led me to researching it, even before there was an internet.”
I know that cannabis has many benefits so I wanted to know if it had helped him with anything besides his anxiety with speaking to groups.
“Well one of the side benefits from weed for me was it let me actually draw better and stop struggling with art. Not really anything specifically but those are my targets for consumption. Globally it has allowed me to share what I have learned and in turn gain experiences from people all over the planet who I have spoke with either at shows or in one of my classes. I would have never met these people otherwise, people with PTSD, depression, anxiety, sleep issues, pain medication, addiction etc. To be let in to someone’s world that suffers from PTSD is an amazing humbling gift and for them to reach out to me for guidance on a natural medicine empowers me daily.”
I know that when we are younger (and older in some situations), we view marijuana as more of a recreational thing. I wanted to know when Charles began to view it as less recreational and more beneficial for those with mental illnesses.
“Well for me it was always a medicinal thing. I never really differentiate between medicinal and recreational. I see those terms as just different ways you can be taxed and limited access. I will say that my parents smoked weed (but hid it; not always that well). So I never really saw it as a “hippie stoner” thing and when I first really saw it in movies and TV, I already knew that wasn’t what most people I knew were smoking for. I kind of knew the war on drugs was crap from day one. Medicinal vs recreational is just a different version of that.”
As I said above, I know there are many benefits that marijuana brings with mental health. I wanted to know what benefits he has had the pleasure of experiencing.
“Well I haven’t kept up with the latest numbers, but the number of opioid overdoses have dropped in a lot of states with legal cannabis. That is a medical benefit that doesn’t get enough attention. I would also argue that cannabis has allowed a large number of people who might have taken their own life by now refrain with the help of cannabis as it helps them navigate depression challenges. they are also making amazing advances with RSO oil (a thick concentrate of pure cannabis) and seizure therapy. It is typically given in a single dropper dose under the tongue. I have seen it reduce seizures from many a day to a few a year. Sometimes all together.”
I was excited about asking this question because I love knowing the science of things. I was curious to know just how cannabis affects mental illness in the brain.
“Well the entire reason cannabis works at all is because of how the brain talks to your body. The brain sends a electric signal to a neuron and those nerve endings turn the electric signal to a chemicals signal in order to jump the gap between nerve endings. Chemicals in your body and in cannabis become part of that chemical message. So for example, if you are suffering from anxiety and really need a little more dopamine then your GABA neurotransmitters are allowing you to have , cannabis has THC which tells GABA to let more dopamine in. CBD actually tells THC (the active ingredient of cannabis) to leave GABA alone, which is why people who experience getting “too high” can come down faster if they take CBD only during the high. There is also evidence of cannabis actually helping heal the physical brain matter, but I haven’t done enough reading on that to quote any stats. there is no one reason cannabis was made illegal but there were enough of them that its hard to reverse the bad info but we are trying. It really is a shame how this plant and by extension those who could benefit from it are still treated.“
We all know that where there are good things, there can also be bad. But, is this the case with cannabis?
“Since I am a long time user I can only really say from my perspective on me as I feel any research I’ve done on this might be skewed. I do know that if I am having a bad day or trouble sleeping I am not a happy camper if I don’t have a bowl or joint handy. That sounds like an addiction and the thing is I am perfectly fine saying I’m addicted to weed. I am also addicted to smiling and sleeping all night, but some still say all addictions are bad so if I was honest I would say that.”
I wanted him to elaborate more on the addiction part. I was told that you can’t get addicted to marijuana, so I was a little confused.
“For me I tend to not see the word addicted like others. People are addicted to water and air. Cannabis is a plant. A plant with unique chemical properties that were specifically made to interact with specific nerve endings in your body. Just like water and air. So I guess yes you can be addicted to weed. If you’re lucky.”
Being upfront, whether for religious, personal, or another reason, I know that marijuana isn’t for everyone. However, there are very curious people in the world. I wanted to know, if someone was genuinely curious about how cannabis might affect them, what he thought a good safe starting point would be.
“You are absolutely right, it’s not for everyone. Well let me say it is for everyone but not everyone is a fit for cannabis. Cannabis works on every animal with a skeleton. However, it does sometimes not affect specific people at all and some to extreme. So for them it is just not a fit but since it works directly with a central nervous system than anyone or thing with a skeleton is made for it. To start for someone new, I highly recommend micro dosing, after deciding what method or methods you want to use of course. Micro dosing is easiest with edibles but, edibles are sometimes hard for the first time users as you typically have to wait an hour or two before you feel the affects. Concentrate dabbing and smoking flower are immediate. If you start low and slow and journal your doses, you should fine some happy target doses for different methods and toward different targets (why your consuming in the first place).”
I have interviewed Charles previously but, because of personal issues and a backlog of other posts, didn’t get a chance to get the post out there. During our first interview, he had mentioned a nonprofit organization called Calming Winds that would help PTSD patients get their medical marijuana card. Unfortunately, due to lack of donations and free time, it dissolved. But, he is still an incredibly busy man and works on many different things to help out the cannabis community.
“Yes, I really loved that foundation, we raised money to get cards for people with PTSD challenges but due to lack of free time I had to dissolve it. I didn’t have the time to put in that would generate the funds that I quickly saw it needed. A lot of people were hurting and still are but cant afford a card. I don’t think you should have to die because you couldn’t afford a card for a plant. That didn’t make any sense. I still only do this on weekends unfortunately. So now I focus everything on my online cannabis camp. I founded it 3 years ago and use it to provide online cannabis education and to schedule one on one and group workshops. I also created a part of the camp called The Nomad Project where I am looking to help homeless get a cannabis card. Just because you have no money or address doesn’t you should be blocked from a natural medicine. I have just seen a lot, lived in many states, went to many many schools and I’ve just seen lots of things that weren’t so warm and pleasant, so I try to start with nice. Unless I’m driving then all bets are off. I am still writing for Cannabis Oklahoma Magazine and The Session Hemp magazine. I also do my UncleChuck420 Livestream on Facebook every Saturday at 4:20p.m. I also have a VR talk show which is on Recroom (for oculus or apple products).”
Having had experienced the Satanic Panic and demonization of marijuana and other social campaigns against usage, I was curious to know what Charles considered the driving factor behind the rise in popularity of marijuana over the years.
“I think it’s always been popular, just not allowed to talk about it or open use without jail or social backlash. Taxes are making it the jewel of most states, unfortunately. But, I think a large, very large percent of legal card holders have always enjoyed cannabis even before 788 passed.”
And as always, my favorite part. I wanted to allow him the opportunity to say what he would like to say to you all.
“Next time someone talks about cannabis, listen with a open mind and know that its a plant that has been used for 10,000 years and can ease pain and suffering for a lot of people. People who deserve a tomorrow. People who are not Cheech and Chong or in Foreman’s basement. People who just want to feel normal again, and cannabis can help them do that.”
I don’t know about you all but, I learned a lot! I actually used to be, like, half anti-weed. But over the years, talking to people and trying it myself for my anxiety and some bipolar symptoms, I opened my mind to it and understood that people need cannabis. It transforms some people. We are lucky to have it and I am thankful we are able to use it in most states.
If there were any questions you had that I did not ask and you really want to know, please contact Uncle Chuck. He loves people, he loves cannabis and he loves teaching people about cannabis!
You all have a safe evening, and as always, let me know what you think about this post!
Uncle Chuck’s e-mail:
Uncle Chuck’s Cannabis Camp:
Uncle Chuck’s Facebook:
Uncle Chuck’s website:
VR talk show:
****Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional. If you have mental health related questions, I highly recommend you seek a healthcare professional.*****