(Yes we have a SOCAN membership to use these songs all legal and proper like)
Ethan: Hey this is Ethan Zohn and you're listening to Reefer Medness.
Kirk: Wonderful Reefer Medness - The Podcast, I'm Kirk Nyquist I'm the nurse.
Trevor: I'm Trevor Shewfelt and I am the Pharmacist.
Kirk: And we've just interviewed Ethan Zohn from Survivor.
Trevor: So. No. Apologies to Ethan. I think it was Rene who first brought him to our attention. And I had no idea who he was. And don't worry, he's a pretty guy who did Survivor. Sure, why not. But no, he was really, really interesting.
Kirk: Actually. When I did my research on him, I recognized him. They invited themselves to our podcast.
Trevor: Yeah. No. And we'll let him do his intro. But, you know, just real quick, way back in 2001 he was the winner of Survivor Africa. Well, even before that, a professional soccer player. Played soccer in Africa, that was on and won like the second season of Survivor. Survivor Africa did a whole bunch of other interesting stuff in between, including getting cancer, which, you know, interesting but despite all that, then then sort of in the process of many, many other things which you'll get into, discover cannabis.
Kirk: Yes, I found his story fascinating. This was your interview. As if we ever get this stuff on YouTube, the audience will notice that I wasn't saying much, but I love his story. Living in New York City, being treated for cancer, having to go to the streets to get his cannabis.
Trevor: He said, you know, I am literally gloved and mass and no hair because I'm in cancer chemo treatment going down to try and find a dealer.
Kirk: Amazing, right? Amazing. So, this man, this man was again so gracious. We've interviewed a few celebrities in this podcast who would have thought Trevor, that we'd get celebrities to interview and big celebrities. I've been very focused. Of course, we got covid-19 happening. You know, you're working exorbitant amount of hours. Rene's working hours. I've been on quarantine. I started doing my research. This is a phenomenal man. I apologize that I didn't know him.
Trevor: Yeah. But, you know, even his charitable work like it is a big part of what he does now. But, you know, when he was playing soccer in Africa, he saw what the AIDS crisis did to his literal teammates. Like the starting goalie from his team got HIV and got ostracized by the team. And he thought, you know, I should do something about this. And eventually he did do something about it. So, it's you know what? How about we let Ethan tell about his story and then we'll talk about him a little bit afterwards.
Kirk: And yes, phenomenal story. Let's hear this man's story.
Trevor: We're back with Reefer Medness on the line and on zoom we have Ethan Zohn. One of my coworkers tells me, as we're taping this, is on Exile Island on Survivor. But we see him in the flesh here. Ethan, nice for you to be on the podcast. Tell us a little bit about how you start being a keeper in professional soccer and where you went from there.
Ethan: Well, thanks for having me. It's great to be in touch with you guys and be on your podcast. So, it's an honor. And my soccer career started early on in life. I have two older brothers. So, I was the youngest of three and they basically just put me in the backyard and just blasted shots at my face. So, I quickly learned how to protect myself so I didn't get injured. And that blossomed into a pretty fun and long career as a soccer goalkeeper. And I played in high school. I played in college, and then I continued to play after college for six years professionally.
Ethan: And some of that professional soccer actually was in in Zimbabwe. So is that how you ended up going from soccer goalie to one of the early Survivors?
Ethan: A little bit, I think, yeah. So, before that television show, Survivor, I was playing soccer in Zimbabwe. I played in the Zimbabwe Premier League and you know as pharmacists and nurses you would be interested to understand all the kind of interesting alternative therapies that were part of the process of playing for a team in Zimbabwe. And we had some pretty crazy traditional ceremonies like pre-game post-game, so we can get into that another time. But yeah, while I was playing in Zimbabwe, I witnessed firsthand at that time what was happening with HIV and AIDS and how it was just destroying this community that I was now a part of. And one of my closest friends, the starting goalkeeper actually, this guy named Amon ended up contracting HIV, ostracized from the team and just ended up living the rest of his life in a really lonely, horrible way. So, at that time of my life, I was like, what can I do about this horrible, massive problem in all of Africa? So, I didn't do anything to tell you the truth. I said it's not my problem. Someone else will deal with it. Let's just play soccer. Returned home to the United States soccer career on a fast spiral out of control. And I ended up having to change directions. And that's when I just on a whim, sent in a tape to be on the show Survivor. And that was in around 2001.
Trevor: Wow. So now for those who don't remember, you did eventually, eventually, through many twists and turns, actually ended up winning Survivor Africa. And then I know you did many things after that, but one of the things you did with your winnings was start a charity.
Ethan: Exactly. And actually, during my time in Survivor, we filmed our Survivor in Kenya. So, I went back to Africa, not Zimbabwe, but this time to Kenya to play the game of Survivor. And actually, while I was playing the show, I had an opportunity where I won a reward challenge where I won these two goats, which I wasn't so happy about. But I got to take these goats to this little village, Wamba. And I was hanging out in the parking lot of Wamba hospital, which was no bigger than like a small school building. And all these little Kenyan children came out and we just started playing soccer together. And we were laughing and smiling and communicating and sharing this moment through a sport that we both love in a language we could both understand. And later, I found out from one of the nurses there at this hospital that these were the kids that were HIV positive. And I was like, wow, like here we go. Here I am in the middle of this game, this cutthroat game of Survivor. And I had this real-life experience. And it was at that moment I decided that something should be done. And luckily I ended up winning. Like you said, you get a million bucks when you win Survivor. So, I use that money and met up with some of my soccer buddies and we created this organization called Grassroots Soccer.
Trevor: Wow. And so and that's still going on today, right?
Ethan: Of course. Yeah. Grassroots Soccer. We're an adolescent health organization. We use soccer to teach kids on making healthier choices in life. And we're in 60 countries. We graduated two point seven million kids from the program to date.
Trevor: That's amazing.
Ethan: Thank you.
Trevor: All right. So, there's many, many things on your resume. And if we don't run out of time, I really want to ask you about Celebrity Apprentice and Donald Trump, but we'll leave that until we have time. A whole other podcast. But you were.
Ethan: What, preempted my time on Celebrity Apprentice, and I was just a guest appearance, but I was actually a judge at the Miss Universe pageant in which Donald Trump was the owner of the pageant. So, I met him there. And there's some pretty shady stuff that was going on in and around the pageant, which I can tell you as well.
Trevor: So, some stuff for another podcast. But we're going to stick to the health and cannabis for the moment. You had, after Survivor and many other television appearances and you were a sportscaster and were a travelogue guy. Your health took a turn for the worse. What happened?
Ethan: It did. I was thirty-five years old and kind of training for the New York City Marathon when I had some really itchy skin, like really horribly itchy skin to the point where I couldn't even really wear clothes or take a shower. It was just it was debilitating. And after trying every pill and the cream and lotion, everything that doctors gave to me, nothing seemed to work. And then a swollen lymph node popped out of my neck and they found a six centimeter by 12-centimeter mass in my chest. And I was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer called CD20 positive Hodgkin's lymphoma. You guys may have heard of it. I hadn't heard of it at the time.
Trevor: Though. Honestly, I had to look it up too.
Ethan: I went through multiple rounds of chemotherapy. Twenty-two blasts of radiation. I went through an autologous stem cell transplant, which worked for a short time. Twenty months after my first transplant I relapsed again and I had to do it all over again. Chemo, radiation. I went on an experimental new therapy and that got my cancer into remission for the second time. And then I was able to go on to get my second stem cell transplant, this time using my brother Lee as the donor.
Trevor: Wow. That's quite the journey. A little under two years. So, some somewhere in the course of all of that, you stumble like most people, you kind of stumbled into the CBD thing. How did CBD go in your health journey?
Ethan: Well, growing up as a competitive athlete, I was never really into cannabis smoking cannabis recreationally. Obviously, it was around me as at school. I did try it second semester of my senior year of college just to say that I did something crazy in college. But as an athlete, I just never really got into it. And then once my playing career was over and cancer came around, I was plagued by just all the side effects that happens when you go through cancer, and I was popping a lot of synthetics every night, it would be Zofran for nausea. Ativan for anxiety. Percocet for pain. Zoloft for mood. Ambien for sleep. And then I'd hop up in the morning and I have to pop an Adderall just to get enough energy to go to the doctors. And it just was a cycle that I wasn't comfortable with and so I started looking into alternative therapies and ways to mitigate the side effects of cancer treatments. And I knew of cannabis. Read about it. Friends used it all the time. And so, I got into it. And it was scary situation for me because I had to go to the streets of New York City to get a product because my doctors want to prescribe it. So, mask, gloves, bald from chemo, meeting up with a drug dealer who's selling everything, not just cannabis. And for me, it just was just a really stressful situation on top of an already horrible situation. But it really helped me like it. I could sleep, I could eat. I was a lot nicer to be around, that's for sure. And, you know, it really opened my eyes to this kind of form of healing. Once I was through the cancer, I kind of got away from it a little bit. And but that's when for me, the anxiety kicked in. Living a life of anxiety and fear of relapse and uncertainty and invisible scars that need healing was just plagued me. And I just started getting into these really, I don't know, destructive loops of obsessive wondering what I call them. The what if scenarios like what if the chemo didn't work and if the cancer comes back, what if I die? What if I don't get married and have kids like all this stuff which is plaguing my mind. And I was just on this constant loop and I just wasn't living. I was just stuck. And that's when someone introduced me to CBD and I at first used regular CBD. Now I'm shifting a little bit to CBDA in a I use about twenty-five to forty milligrams a day like a multivitamin. And for me that just for some reason clicked like it. Let me take almost like a deep breath, know all the clutter in my mind just eased a little bit. So, I was able to just focus on other stuff and kind of get past these ruminative thoughts. And it was just really helpful for me.
Trevor: Well, that's great. Now, as a pharmacist, I have to obsess about how medications get into people. So how are you taking your CBD capsule and oil vaporize or how do you take it?
Ethan: I consume with a tincture, so it's a liquid form underneath the tongue. It's a rozin pressed CBD. So, I was really interested in just getting the purest pot product possible. So rozin, for those that don't know, it's just a basically it's a little bit of heat and a lot of pressure. It's like fresh squeezed CBD, if that's what you want to call it. Imagine putting an orange into a pressure, squeeze out the juice, same exact with a piece of hemp flower, partially dry, squeeze it the juice that drips out. We mix it with fractionated coconut oil. And then that's what I put in my body underneath the tongue.
Trevor: And it's also interesting, you think you notice more of an effect with the CBDA, than he did with the CBD.
Ethan: Yes, and I'm not a scientist, so you guys can probably dig into that a little bit better than I am. But yeah, these are the CBDA I just felt I was sleeping. I sleep better and I do a lot. I still work out a lot. So, inflammation reasons and the pain in my joints helped a little bit. If I do get into a situation where I need something a little bit stronger, I'm not adverse to adding to THC to this formula. So, I would gravitate towards like a one to one CBD to THC ratio. And if I'm really having a panic attack, I have like a vape right there. That's full THC that I'll take and I'll do the tincture. So, it's almost like stacking it like alive the pain alive the stress with a hit of THC and then I'll stack with a CBD under the tongue that will kick in and about twenty minutes after that and it really calms me down.
Kirk: That's really good. Kirk, because I can't see you. You're in a different house. Did you have any clinical questions for Ethan before we ask him a few others.
Kirk: Yes. You say your home address is in New York City.
Ethan: My home address now is in New Hampshire, actually.
Kirk: OK, that because New Hampshire legalized.
Ethan: That is because my wife and I just made a choice to kind of get out of the hustle and bustle and synthetic lifestyle of New York City. And we literally moved to the middle of the woods, New Hampshire. You know, we have our own water source. I heat my house with wood. We grow a garden. You can fish there’s wild blueberries all around. And so that was just after cancer. I just felt I needed to do a little bit more of that in my lifestyle and New York City I just wasn't getting the connection to nature and health and that feeling I was looking for.
Kirk: That goes to your philosophy of Live before you Die, I guess.
Ethan: Yes. Yes. The New Hampshire state motto is Live Free or Die.
Kirk: And as New Hampshire legalized state medical.
Ethan: Medically, it's legal. There are very few, I think there's four dispensaries in New Hampshire, however, surrounding states like Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts is all adult use, recreationally legal. So that's we're surrounded by good situations.
Kirk: So, when you are going through your cancer treatment, you mentioned that you had to go to the streets to get your cannabis. Were you involved in your doctors at that time that you were using cannabis?
Ethan: Yes, of course. That was a huge I mean, I definitely let them know I was using it. And I was treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and at the time, there really was not anyone on staff that was knowledgeable about cannabis and cancer and maybe the interactions, positive negatives. They definitely didn't push me in that direction. It was one hundred percent my own choice. But I definitely let them know if anyone is going through it do not be afraid to tell your doctor what's really happening. And I would never smoke it just because that was worrisome of me to put anything into my lungs like that.
Kirk: OK, so now you're in New Hampshire. Are you do you have a medical doctor who's now helping you with your prescription of cannabis?
Ethan: I do not. I met with a medical cannabis nurse a while back in Massachusetts and we had a consultation and just went nuts to bolts like I was a little bit new to all of this in terms of the science behind it. So, I just really wanted to get an understanding of what it is, how it works, what it will do on my body dosages, strains, CBD, CBDA, all that stuff. And so that was important for me to do it properly with the advice of someone who knows what they're talking about.
Kirk: Wonderful. Wonderful. Now, one other question here, that you are an international traveler, you travel across borders. How does cannabis play in your travel?
Ethan: Well, it doesn't really. I'm quite fearful of traveling with it. Sometimes I will maybe eat an edible before I hop on a plane, like, locally, and then I'll just nothing. I usually don't do anything when I'm in another country. However, I haven't really traveled much in that sense. So I think I think I could probably take CBD with me and I don't think it would be a problem. However, when I went on to this most recent season of Survivor Season 40, Winners at War, which is currently airing now at eight p.m. on CBS on Wednesday nights, I asked the doctors if I could take cannabis or CBD out with me because it's prescribed as part of my medicine. Like if you had other ailments, you could take thyroid medicine, cholesterol medicine. So, I asked them and they ran it up the ladder, which I respect. However, they said no because it's not legal in Fiji, which is where we are filming.
Trevor: Right. So, Ethan, just before we run out of time, can you tell us a little bit about Montkush, this CBD company that you're involved with?
Ethan: Sure. Part of all of this for me was, you know, learning about the plant and education is one of the most important parts right now is there a lot of new users and it's a new industry. So for me, a buddy of mine was got involved with this farm Montkush. His name's Anthony Sullivan. You may recognize him from late night infomercials. He's the Oxyclean guy. So, yeah. And he had a daughter. He has a daughter with genetic disorders. And so, he got her on CBD and it really transformed their lives, her life. And he was like, OK, if I going to put something in my daughter's body, I want to know how it's happening. So, we bought this farm in Vermont called Montkush, which means Happy Mountain. And I'm like, all right, well, if you're going to grow that to put in your daughter's body, like, I want in on this because I want to see what that's like if I'm going to put something in my body. So I moved up there this past summer, planted, harvested, processed, watched everything from seed all the way to we pressed it in our giant Sasquatch Rozin Press and we put it in the bottle. So a lot more comfortable with learning about the process. And it's you know, it's certified organic, high altitude, handpicked, you know, solvent free processing. It's just I think it's a really great product. And we make both CBDA and then we make a regular traditional CBD product.
Trevor: Wow. That's you really got involved. And just curious, you could have invested anything in all over the US and you picked, you know, something that has a growing season closer to Canada. You know, if you're down in California, you'd probably have two or three crops a year.
Ethan: Correct. Yeah. So, this is a I can't say that I've been that involved with, like, the formation of the farm. It's this guy, Sully and Dave. They did all of it. But I kind of show up. I look pretty and I do some of that stuff and it's fun. But yeah, the growing season stuff, we're about to go into the May 1st we're planting again, which is exciting. And one of the big things I listen to a couple of your Podcast prior to this, and you're speaking live with someone, I think it was a reefer madness and she's just talking about kind of struggling with substance issues. And one of the things that I'm most excited about in my journey is that my whole life has evolved around philanthropy. I do a lot of giving back to the world and that doesn't stop here in cannabis. So I took everything that I learned from grassroots soccer and our adolescent health and behavior changed. And we're going to be applying that to the cannabis industry because I started a new foundation called Safe Routes Foundation. And what we do is we raise money from the cannabis industry. And then we helped fund we helped fund the best evidence based teenage drug prevention programs around the country. We feel cannabis is good for public health, but we also feel if more kids start using cannabis, it's bad for the kids, it's bad for the industry. So I think there's a role that the cannabis industry has to play in the long term sustainability of its own industry, just like tobacco, anti-smoking, iPhone-anti-screen-time, alcohol, drunk driving, we feel the same thing is needed. And so that's what we're doing now with a lot of the proceeds that we're going to be raising within the sales of the cannabis.
Trevor: You. You are an interesting guy. I think we've got about five minutes left, so I'll see if Kirk has anything else. Then we'll see if you've got any sort of last minute things you want our listeners to hear. So, Kirk, anything else?
Kirk: You're a high-profile person who has come out and said that you're using cannabis use, that during cancer treatment, you're now using it anxiety and every day to day life. Has anybody entered you in a cannabis study? Do you know any studies, anything like that happening?
Ethan: No, I would love to be involved in any studies anyone's running. So, but no, that's a wonderful question. And I invite anyone that listening to reach out. If you're looking for people to put into a study, I'm happy to do that, especially the connection between cancer and cannabis and CBD. Obviously, there's you guys know there's so much we don't know and any way I can help, that would be a blessing. I'm a firm believer in nature. Nature is the world's pharmacy, one of my drugs named Christine was derived from a real African flower called the Rosy Periwinkle. So, it's crazy what can be found in nature and how it's helping people now. So, I think I'm down for that. All the research is is something I believe in.
Kirk: And your farm is are you growing sativa cannabis, sativa marijuana plants? Are you growing hemp?
Ethan: We're only growing hemp, high CBD content hemp, which we're finding now. As a result, we didn't realize how high CBDA was in it until we started pressing and testing it. And that's when we decided to kind of go the route of creating a full CBDA product because it's a lesser known I don't know, I don't attribute to the plant that most people aren't into right now. So, we're finding some good results with that.
Trevor: So, Ethan, we're getting ready to wrap up anything else you think our listeners need to know about cannabis CBD Survivor again, my colleague said ask him who wins. I don't imagine they'll tell us that. But anything else you can do for tell our listeners to wrap it up?
Ethan: Well, you know, I know. I just feel that it's a really interesting time in the world right now. And I suggest everyone takes time to accept the situation we're in and then take time to map out how they're going to live the next six, eight months of our life. And be careful on how you use substances in these times of crisis. And just low and slow is the dose. That's what you want to do. And anyone who's listening, if you want any products on Montkush, there's this code that I am allowed to give out. Survivor50. You get 50% off. Anything on the site we encourage you to look at it. Check it out and love to hear your thoughts on the product and how it makes you feel.
Trevor: Kirk, we said at the beginning, we'll say it again, I love this, now I checked because, you know, we did our little bit of backgrounder on him. You know, he's only a year younger than me. And I was telling some of my workmates that, you know, I think he's aged better than me. And then I had a no back in 2001 he looked better than me then, too. So, you know, maybe nothing much has changed.
Kirk: This is a phenomenal man. I admire him. He was gracious to us. I've done my research on him. Anybody who's going to hear this story really go into the Internet, study this fella. You know, you have to live your life before you die. And this is a man that's living his life. I found it interesting. You know, we talked about CBDA a now let's talk about CBDA.
Trevor: Right. So I like that part, too. So if you remember and I think we first saw a stumble across this way back when we were talking to Emily Kirkham, the chemist, and when we were trying to do some cooking on our own. Everything that comes of the plant, all the cannabinoids that come out of the plant are the acid forms. So THCA, CBDA, so that's you know, you go chew on a cannabis leaf, that's what you're going to get. So that's why when you're trying to get we'll call it the psychoactive effects. Are you trying to get high, you want to heat it to decarboxylate it. To change it from acid to the non-acid form. So, you're taking off a carboxylic group. But he's finding the CBDA the still the acid form, the I didn't heat up my CBD form, that is what he thinks is helping him at least as much as the CBD.
Kirk: Well, this is interesting because I've seen he uses his cannabis by pressing it. He talked about pressing it. You know, in our episode with the homegrown episode when I was in the basement, the homegrown, the craft grower, he showed me how those presses work. Those presses work by literally squeezing like orange juice, but there's heat involved. So, my question is, is the acid not being converted to CBD during the during the pressing during the heating process?
Trevor: Well, I think we really one of our next episodes needs to be someone to explain the whole rozin making thing. It's funny, I was actually talking with a coworker about a friend of a friend who is making rozin, and I went back to the Green Beaver episode, too. But my rudimentary understanding of the rozin press is you have control over how much heat and how much pressure. So my pharmacist brain says if you squish it and didn't heat it, you could get CBDA out of it. But I don't know that for sure. And I think we need to learn from someone who has more.
Kirk: My mechanical brain is telling me that as you press and compress, heat is generated.
Trevor: True. But you're not going to get you know, you're not going to get a ton of heat. Out of just the pressing where, again, someone will tell me that I'm wrong. But my understanding with the rozin presses you can actually make the plates hot while you are squishing so OK, so you could squish and heat. But I am sure someone will tell me I'm an idiot, so that's OK. We want to be told we're idiots when we are. So we're going to have to interview someone who knows a whole lot about rozin presses.
Kirk: Yeah, exactly. It's fascinating to me. The other thing that I found interesting is that CBDA is essentially the raw cannabis, right?
Kirk: So when we look at the Manitoba law now, we're in Manitoba, Canada and in Manitoba, our knowledgeable government has said we can grow in Canada, in Manitoba, because they're afraid of the children gaining access to marijuana plants.
Trevor: That has come up. Yes.
Kirk: Whereas more than likely there's more danger in the liquor cabinet than a raw marijuana plant that has CBDA and THCA, Because THCA is not intoxicating either.
Trevor: No, not psychoactive, as far as we know, or at least not nearly as intoxicating or psychoactive as THC after you've heated it.
Kirk: Exactly. The other thing I liked about talking to Ethan was that he's now a hemp farmer. And at the end of the interview and I'm hoping we keep that part in where where he's actually listened to our episodes, man. So, it was interesting that he that he actually took notes that that we're going to teach him about hemp farming through our through our podcast.
Trevor: And sorry, Ethan, we did get on a bit of tangent, but we really, really enjoyed that episode and everything that you're doing from the Grassroots Soccer Association, looking at, you know, just adolescent health in general and AIDS in particular to, you know, all your other philanthropic work to Montkush. You know, I think we're going to have to have a little bit look a little bit more into what they're doing at the MontKush, because it sounds like sounds like an interesting operation.
Kirk: It really does. I think I think I'm going to I'm going to spend some time spending some time with Ethan.
Trevor: Oh, it's I was trying to tell someone at lunch hour that, you know, but I don't watch any reality TV. And then I spent fifteen minutes discussing with him different episodes. So maybe I watch more than I let on. So, it's good. So how are we going to wrap this one up? Do you have any music picked out for us this time?
Kirk: Let's leave this one to Rene.
Trevor: So, Renee, pick us. Pick us something good. Kirk, be safe up north and everybody else remember to come back to Reefer Medness - The Podcast.
Kirk: Cheers mate.
Rene: All right. Thanks, guys, and thanks, Ethan. I'm back here at the studio and I've decided to play something from Zimbabwe because that's where Ethan played some soccer. There's a really great musician called Oliver Mtukudzi also called Tulku. And I figured we should play something from him because as much as it's not localized to Dauphin, some of his band members were from Canada. So that's localizing it somewhat. Anyway, here's Zouari, Oliver Mtukudzi Tulku on Reefer Medness - The Podcast.
Easteregg: You're using my bandwidth, and will you please pause, we are watching Trevor parent his son, and recording this conversation, Trevor's parenting badly here. Please pause whoever you're shooting. Come on. No, this is connected to yours anyway. Not winning that one.