Russell Thomas – Advocate Highlight

Russell Thomas

Occupation: Duby, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer

When and how did you become an advocate for cannabis?

Several years ago, we discovered our one-year-old son has an incurable genetic condition called Fragile X Syndrome; a corruption of the X chromosome that leads to mental retardation, autism and a host of other disabling conditions. He could not walk, talk or even eat solid foods. We were the first parents to attempt treatment of his conditions using cannabidiol (CBD), and within days we started to see a dramatic difference. He now walks, talks and eats everything in sight.

Since then, our experiment has become a cornerstone in a new privately funded study on cannabinoid treatment of Fragile X and autism, and many other parents have now seen similar results with their children because of the information we now share every day.

How has cannabis benefited your life?

Shortly after my son’s success with cannabis I decided to leave my career of over 20 years in computer security to pursue a startup business within the burgeoning cannabis industry. Many very hard years later, we have the best app in the cannabis industry and the best medicine for my son. I have never been so overworked and destitute, yet I am truly happy and fulfilled now.

What’s your greatest achievement for the cannabis cause?

With knowledge comes change. For nearly a century we have been misinformed, maligned and brainwashed to believe cannabis is harmful. With Duby, we have created a medium that allows people to communicate and connect anonymously with other cannabis users and advocates around the world. It’s the freedom to speak and share knowledge and experiences that will change the perception of cannabis, and I am sincerely proud to assume a leading role in the proliferation of legalization.

How did that manifest?

We watched good people and companies have their social media accounts removed without notice simply because of cannabis. Other people would be tracked down by their local law enforcement through social media and even arrested or publicly shamed. I realized that with my knowledge and years of experience as a white hat hacker I could build an alternative social network that was safe for everyone.

Who do you look up to or admire?

Bill and Melinda Gates. Not just because I’m a born geek, but because of their philanthropic efforts that are saving countless lives. In recent years, they have been leading influencers and investors in CRISPR technology, which now allows us to edit genes using methods that are as simple as cut-and-paste.

This year we will see the first human trial to correct a genetic condition called Leber’s congenital amaurosis, a genetic form of blindness. Soon, a little girl will be able to see for the first time, and forever thereafter. It is my greatest hope that one day we can fix my son too.

If you could change one thing about the way cannabis is viewed and/or treated right now, what would it be?

The laws regarding medical cannabis use in Colorado need to change to reflect the more stringent requirements for recreational products. Unlike recreational, medical cannabis does not have to be tested for cannabinoid concentrations or contaminates and labeled accordingly. It’s a travesty that persons who truly use the product for medical reasons have little assurance of the quality or concentration. I want to buy my “weed” at the dispensary, but I want to buy my “medicine” from a regulated pharmacy, or at least have it treated correspondingly.

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