“That first puff of a joint was a relief” – Bart Hissink
People all around the world are discovering the medicinal properties of cannabis. The healing power of the plant transforms lives every day. In this series we present personal stories of people who find comfort and relief in nature’s oldest medicine.
Bart Hissink was a successful professional rally co-pilot and hosted a TV show about cars and rallying when in 2009 a terrible car accident turned his life upside down. Bart barely survived the crash, lay in a coma for weeks and suffered serious brain injury. The biggest change, he says, was the loss of his independence.
“Suddenly I was dependent on others. Not just for my health, but financially as well. Brain injury is a definitive break in your lifeline. I had to learn everything all over again.”
DB: How did you discover cannabis as a medicine?
BH: “I found out when I sought out what was actually broken in my brain. Because of the injury, the transmission of signals between receptors in the brain were disrupted. This transfer happens through cannabinoids. And cannabinoids turn out to be present in mother’s milk and in cannabis. Could it be that simple? Well, that first puff of a joint was a relief!”
DB: How does cannabis work for you?
BH: “For me cannabis has analgesic, relaxing and pain relieving effects. It’s like the fairground in my head is turned down a few notches. It diminishes external stimuli, so I can think of something else than just the consequences of the accident.”
DB: What’s your preferred method of use?
BH: “Before the accident I had been smoking tobacco, so I started with a joint with tobacco. After a few years I switched to vaporizing and found the taste is much more important if you vape. My outdoor weed tasted like hay in a vaporizer. Occasionally I will roll a pure joint, but I don’t really have enough cannabis to do it often. So that’s why I still mix cannabis with tobacco, really. About a year ago I started using THC oil at night. My goal is to eventually only vape and use oil.”
DB: In 2015 you decided to “come out of the closet” as a medicinal cannabis user: why?
BH: “I wanted to grow my own cannabis but I ran into the infamous Dutch tolerance policy. There was talk of an exception to the rules for medicinal use, but to me that’s nonsense. Why would you need to be sick before you’re entitled to self-determination? I was inspired by Rick Simpson’s “Run from the Cure” documentary; this should be resolved through politics, not through the courts. My personal story is a good alibi.”
DB: You are an ambassador for the campaign “Cannabis? Aangenaam?” (Cannabis Introduced) [http://cannabisaangenaam.nl]. Can you tell us about this campaign?
BH: “I would like to do my small part in the effort to legalize cannabis. Before the accident, my world consisted of rally cars, media and promotion. Through cannabis I discovered a whole new world and my own little world started growing bigger again. The media campaign started by the VOC (Union for the abolition of cannabis prohibition) came at the right time for me. By combining the two worlds, I hope to contribute something to the fight against the hypocritical prohibition of cannabis.”
DB: If you could give one piece of advice to the new Dutch government about cannabis, what would it be?
BH: “My message to the new government: there are plenty of reasons you can come up with to maintain the ban on cannabis, but it takes just one argument to abolish it. And that’s the right to self-determination. Wipe the ban off the table and let the market do its work. Keep it safe and simple.”