Seven members of Renee Harper’s immediate family now have their medical cannabis licenses, and each are finding ways that the plant is helping them.
Green Hope Wellness Clinic in Moore was created with the idea of serving a broad community of people. Renee Harper, who started the clinic, is now not only seeing results within her community, but in her family as well.
After researching and witnessing the benefits of cannabis treatment, both with and without THC — the compound that produces a “high” after-effect — she began encouraging her family to get medical cards.
Now, seven members of her immediate family have their cards, including her mother, sibling, son and two grandsons. Though she was familiar with the benefits of the plant, she did not expect her family to take to it as readily as they did.
“The bigger surprise to me was that they were all as open to it as they were when [State Question] 788 came around. My mom was on CBD and had real good results with it. I kept on educating her and her friends, and then she got to where she was talking about it, [went] back to my mother, and now she’s going to come get her medical marijuana card. It kind of blew me away,” Renee Harper said.
“I was pretty mind-blown, to be honest with you,” son Byron Harper said. “We were just always taught by everyone in the world that if you smoked weed, you were just a pothead or a stoner. It just seemed really weird, not just her having a business, but that it could ever be a business, especially here in Oklahoma.”
Much of the work Renee Harper does in the clinic is centered on getting patients off opioids and other addictive medications. One of the appeals of medical cannabis, according to her, is that it can treat so many different ailments.
The use of medical cannabis in her family treats issues ranging from insomnia and anxiety to chronic pain management. Some, like Renee Harper’s mother, use only CBD while others require “whole plant therapy” which includes THC.
Byron Harper has found relief for multiple issues with the help of medical cannabis.
“I used to work on the equipment model line, so my body’s pretty beat up and sore. It takes the edge off; it relaxes my body, feels a lot better. … I’m good on part of an edible for the day. That’s all I need just to brush that edge off and make my body not hurt so bad,” he said.
Byron Harper joined Green Hope Wellness Clinic and has been working with his mother for the last five months to help his community.
“I was at Crest the other day in the parking lot, and a lady came up to me. We did the processing for her daughter, and I said, ‘How’d that go?’ and she said, ‘I got a hug for the first time in five years. She was physically able to hug me.’ That’s the highlight of it all; that’s what makes it worth getting up and coming in.”
Byron Harper is also working through the death of his young son, Blake, who was fatally shot in May.
“I’ve been through some pretty traumatic things in the past three or four months. It makes it a lot easier to deal with. The people [at Green Hope] actually make it easier as far as the mental status of it. It’s really helpful with anxiety and depression,” said Byron Harper.
Brayden, Byron Harper’s eldest son, has used cannabis to treat his insomnia and regulate his sleeping patterns.
“I’ve always been drawn to it, even before. I started using when I was a little bit younger just to help me sleep. I play sports, and my body wasn’t taking well to my workout. I was having all kinds of issues, and that was all pretty much due to not being able to sleep right. My body always felt like it was going, going, going, and it never had time to relax and recharge,” said Brayden Harper.
Brayden Harper’s younger brother Blake had his card for only a few days before he died. Even so, those around him say the change was already noticeable.
“My youngest grandson had horrible social anxiety and was bullied and all that. He had some things happen that were kind of traumatic. He needed some THC to help him sleep at night. I gave him CBD and CBD flower. That helped him, and then we got his card. He had it maybe a week,” said Renee Harper.
Blake was able to return to school and discontinue his treatment with Zoloft, used to regulate serotonin in cases of depression, bipolar disorder and frequent panic attacks.
“His mother is a nurse, and the fact that she was as open to it as she was for him was kind of surprising to me. It took awhile, but now she’ll get her card probably after all this has happened,” said Renee Harper.
The Harper family hopes to start a charity in Blake’s name dedicated to helping other families with children get access to medical cannabis.
Brayden, who will be the face of the charity, said it is critical to remove barriers such as income for those who are looking to treat conditions with cannabis. Oklahoma state law requires two doctors’ signatures in order to treat patients under the age of 18.
“What we really want to do with this charity is to help with child requisition forms. There are kids and parents that can’t afford it because it is expensive with two doctor’s visits and double the further processing fees. I know some parents that are unable to get in because of the money situation, and I really want to be able to help a kid like that out because when we got my brother’s card, we noticed a big difference in him with his depression and with his outlook on life. It was awesome to see how much he had grown just from using cannabis,” Brayden said.
“It’s probably brought us a lot closer together; in fact, I know it has,” said Renee Harper. “We can all just be out in the open.”