I had managed to navigate three New York City subway changes and an early morning deluge to arrive early at the media area at the Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo. From that vantage point, it was easy to spot Liz Carmouche crossing the room.
Though not tall, she stands out in the sea of business people, the fabric of her T-shirt straining against biceps and lats that can only be built over thousands of furious hours in gyms, boot camps, and helicopter hangars. Carmouche has the kind of muscle that even turns athletes’ heads. There were several NFL guys in the room, and even those 20” necks swiveled when she passed, eyebrows cocked with knowing looks that said, “she could burn me down in the gym.”
Just focusing on the handshake now… which could probably crush a can.
“Fighting damages the body,” she said, in response to my first question about why she was at the CWCBE. “We train several hours a day, six days a week, and it’s rough. Mixed martial arts is a tough sport. Injury, pain and inflammation are an everyday part of the job. CBD helps me manage those things.”
Here I am, a journalist whose biggest worry is that those punks at Civilized are going to get a scoop… She’s got to prepare for an opponent who will smash her, face-first, into the floor if given the chance. Six-a-week workouts are the insurance that won’t happen.
“I was adamantly against pills or surgery, and the pain is virtually constant. Someone suggested I try CBD and at first I said “No way!”. I was so naïve, I thought CBD would get me high.”
I tell her I’ve read she was a Marine. “That’s correct, I served in the Marine Corps.” Was she overseas, in-country? “I did 3 tours in Iraq between 2004 and 2009.” Was she an on-the-ground soldier? “No, I was an aviation electrician. We provided ground support for helicopters.”
Blank look from me, so she graciously explained, “OK, helicopters come in during missions, Needs fuel, reloading, and repairs. We would have a matter of minutes to fix any electrical problem. We had to know our business and move quickly and efficiently. Lives were on the line if we didn’t do our job well.” Three tours in Iraq, shouldering life or death responsibility every day. I wasn't sure how to say ‘Thank you for your service’ without sounding robotic, so I just bowed my head, and hoped she understood my respect.
In 2010 following her service, Carmouche left the stressful environment of fixing electrical systems of combat helicopters for another one: MMA fighter.
Speaking of naïve, I asked whether she was in the MMA or the UFC. Patient, again, she explained that UFC is MMA, in other words, the sport is Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and the organization she fights within is the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). For the record, Bellator is an MMA organization, and and Invicta Fighting Championship is, too.
(Also for the record, Carmouche is a Flyweight (125 – 135 lbs.), with a record of 10 wins and 6 losses, including winning five of her last nine fights. In addition to having fought Ronda Rousey, Jessica Andrade, Meisha Tate, and Katlyn Chookagian In this video, she talks about the Rousey fight, and the opportunity to be the first fighter in UFC history to win in Madison Square Garden.
By now I have ascertained that Liz Carmouche is physically strong, principled, patient, and smart. I get a pang of guilt for her next opponent, who will be having a very long night in Boise in July.
But none of these qualities square with her appearance at a cannabis conference in New York. Given the choice, most people would avoid the threat of being kicked out of a career, arrested by federal officers, and ostracized by morally righteous people who think good people don’t use marijuana. [One easy reason: one of of her sponsors is HempMeds, makers of Real Scientific Hemp Oil.]
I tell her “You don’t need this shit – you’re a Marine, you’re a professional fighter, you have earned the right not to be anywhere near a risky business like this that gives people lots of grief. Why do it?”
“In terms of being risky to me personally, for example, I am not active duty right now, so there’s not an issue with the Marines. As for using CBD in the UFC, the organization is a signatory with USADA (the US Anti-Doping Association – the global-non-profit athletic drug-monitoring organization that banned Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones) and USADA began allowing legalized CBD as of last year. Nick Diaz vaped right after a fight, that set a really tight perimeter around using it.”
I asked her if she weren’t using CBD to manage pain and inflammation, what would be her likely alternative? “Many athletes take painkillers that are opiate-based. That’s one road. An alternative is multiple 800 mg ibuprofen, multiple times a day. That’s another bad alternative for the long run; it affects your bones, affects your teeth…”
“I always wanted to go a more natural route. Your body is your temple. You have to maintain your body to have a career and a life afterward. I had been using turmeric root and apple cider vinegar to moderate my levels of pain and inflammation.”
“With CBD, there’s no downside except the stigma – like I used to have. But I did the research, and I have learned the truth. CBD is not THC. CBD does not get you high. It’s helped me so much as an athlete, I think it’s important to spread the word.”
And now I think I’ve discovered “The Why” for Liz Carmouche. She’s a warrior and athlete who has make life or death decisions under pressure, and now makes a living beating the stuffing out of people with only small padded gloves. If CBD can help this kind of warrior, and not addict them, and not break down their bodies, she’s going to share her knowledge with others.
But the Why for Carmouche might be much simpler. “I turned my mom onto CBD. She’d had two knee surgeries and was in constant 10-level pain, all the time. She needed something to kill that pain, but was really adamant about not wanting to be an addict. So I suggested CBD, and her pain went from 10 to 2. Now she can sleep through the night.”
Liz Carmouche's next fight:
On July 14th, No.8-ranked women’s flyweight contender Liz Carmouche (10-6, fighting out of San Diego, Calif.) looks to spoil the debut of Invicta FC championJennifer Maia (15-4-1, fighting out of Curitiba, Brazil)