Although he can often be found thundering away on a drum kit before raucous festival crowds as a founding member of the Bay Area electro-pop ensemble Beats Antique, Tommy Cappel — otherwise known as Sidecar Tommy — has a relationship with cannabis that defies expectations of the rock n’roll lifestyle. For Cappel, cannabis isn’t so much party fuel as it is crucial to his survival.
After suffering multiple concussions as the result of a brutal fight as a teenager in Virginia, Cappel began experiencing crippling blackouts and seizures. His doctor prescribed him a series of medications, including phenobarbital, Dilantin and Tegretol. Although the medications largely reduced his seizures, he no longer felt like himself, instead like he was walking around “under the weight of a 400 pound blanket.”
Yet once he moved to California in the 1990s, Cappel, a long-time cannabis consumer, began to experiment with non-psychoactive CBD tinctures to combat his seizures. He was eventually able to wean himself off of his prescription meds altogether; he had a driver’s license for the first time in over two decades and could focus on writing and performing music without the distractions of the drug-induced haze.
Although he still suffers the occasional seizure, he has nonetheless become a huge proponent of medical cannabis, encouraging friends and neighbors alike to find ways to incorporate it into their lifestyle – no matter whether it gets them high or not. “Really, when it comes down to it, I want people to have their medicine,” Cappel says. “Often times that only means CBD.”
Listen in to our conversation with Cappel, as he dives deep into his own personal story, highlighting both the challenges he has overcome, and the joys that cannabis has provided for him.