I am here to share my journey with medical marijuana in Canada. I have just been issued a prescription for this treatment and would like to share the experience with all of you. This way you can be informed on the option, and the journey to see if perhaps this is a route that would work for you. Please feel free to ask any questions. I will update as the journey progresses.
My back story: I have had PsA since I was a small child. I had developed a tolerance for Tylenol 3's by age 16 and just stopped taking pain pills and learned to "deal with it". An example of my pain tolerance would be when I broke my ankle at age 19. I shattered every bone in my ankle, tore every tendon and ligament (foot just hung there) and severed every nerve - and I did not cry or ask for pain pills because I could "handle it". I went into remission for 15 years or so, suffering only minor aches pains in my 20's and early 30's - again no need for pain pills or medications of any sort. BUT, in my mid 30's I developed the most intense pain in my SI joints, hips and shoulders. This spread to wrists and fingers quickly and left me often unable to sleep or sit or walk. I was given prescriptions for Oxycodone and Percocet - which made me numb but let me sleep. I used these sparingly. I had 2 children and did not like the lack of concern/care I felt on these drugs. I decided to only use them in cases of extreme pain. I would go through 30 a year, maybe. Still they started to be less and less effective. I needed 2 instead of 1, needed them every 4 hrs instead of 6. In February of this year I ahd the most awful pain of my life. (worse than natural childbirth, I kid you not). I couldn't move my head, sit or lie down, open my eyes even and went to the hospital. I had PsA in my spine and neck so bad that there was immense pressure on my spinal cord. I was given Torodol mixed with Demerol and morphine and hospitalized for 5 days stoned out of my skull. I developed rashes and was given injections of Benedryl. I was given synthetic opioids and still developed the swelling in my face and the rashes. I WAS INTOLERANT OF OPIOIDS NOW.
What do you do for pain? I was given Tramadol - useless stuff. I asked to see a Doctor at the Chronic Pain Clinic at the Toronto General Hospital for help. It took a few months to get in, referred by my family Doctor. We sat down and talked about my situation. My pain medication story. I do not have pain everyday like I once did. I do not need pain medication daily. Like I said, I used maybe 30 a year. I was afraid of the addictive properties of many pain medications, so my rule was that I had to have 3 or more joints in bad flare to take pain meds. So maybe a few days a month I would need relief. My intolerance was an issue. There are pain medications that a person can take that accumulate and work by taking them daily - but I didn't need that. Otherwise, they are opioid or synthetic opioid or not strong enough for my level of pain. I was referred to a chronic pain management course to earn how to cope with chronic pain, meditation etc. Great - can help, useful but not a solution. The Doctor was stumped.
I asked about Medical Marijuana. I had read about it online as a useful drug for inflammation and pain. He thought about it. It was interesting. I was actually a perfect candidate. It is non-addictive (no matter what you were taught). It does not cause damage to an adult brain. less dangerous to your body than all other pain medications and better long term for that reason. As a matter of fact, I learned that our brains are made to accept marijuana built for it. We as humans have receptor sites in our brains that only are used for receiving cannaboids. That means that cannabis has been used for so long in humans that we have developed a way of using it most effectively. For opioids, we use the Dopamine receptors - they have not yet developed their own receptor in our brains (evolution). However, he had never issued a prescription and would have to look into the policy and procedures. Come back in a month and we will go over it. He thought it was a good idea to explore. When I came back, he said we were going to go try it. He had to get in touch with the hospital administration on how to prescribe it, find a distributor for me and get all of the information. He also didn't say it - but he had to do some back ground work on me. He contacted all of my Doctors and told them what was in the works - were there any reasons that they knew of why he should not give me this prescription? Was I a druggie or pot head looking for a legal way? Come back in 2 months.
In fact, I had never smoked a joint, or tried any illegal drugs in my life. I knew plenty of people who tried it in school, but I never did. Always curious, always afraid of my mother. With the information that I was going to be given a prescription for marijuana, I turned to a friend who is connoisseur of marijuana ( a lawyer at that) for advice. Do I have to tell my boss if I have this prescription and may be stoned at work? NO! not unless you m,ay be a danger to yourself or colleagues (ie a forklift operator, school bus driver etc) Aws an office worker - no one needs to know. how best do I take it? Vaporize it. Handy tools, no damage to lungs or throat, no smell, subtle. And he came over with a bin - larger than a laundry hamper of all of tools. He had bongs, silver bullets, vaporizers etc. He had samples of different "pots" both medical and recreational. Wow - this was intense. He taught me the difference between the two. I want a high CBD content for inflammation. This is not the stuff that makes you "high". He lite up a bong and I tried the medical grade pot for the first time in my life. Not much felt different. It was strange to be huffing on a bong in my backyard with the kids in the house (aware that this was prescribed and not to be taken lightly). After 3 or 4 puffs I felt a little haze - similar to 2 glasses of wine with dinner. But I also felt some relief in my Si joints. Serious relief. I could sit without squirming to keep my joints from stiffening. We had dinner, no munchies to mention. Then he asked me to try the recreational stuff - so that I would know the difference in feeling and experience. This time we tried the silver bullet thing - this was lite - and inhaled smoke in a fancy stainless steel thing with complicated filters. I coughed a bit with this one. And I got high with this one. I felt light headed and floaty - similar I might add to taking 2 OxyCodone. But it gave me energy. I was running around tidying and doing things I have not been able to do in years without groaning. It lasted about 4 hours. I hurt a little more when it wore off. I had overdone it - learning process. I still had no prescription in my hand - but I had knowledge and understanding. I knew it could work. A good thing to have before you spend good money on a vaporizer or prescription.
So I go back to the Doctor, I confess that I have tried it. He was not judgemental, he thought it might even have been a good idea. He has the information on the grower/supplier he wants me to use. it is important to get trusted marijuana and know what you are getting. He writes the prescription. It must include the grams, the method of use (vaporized) and the dosage details. I have to send it in the grower and they will contact me (a nurse) to discuss the options, what varieties may work best and how to do this. I am at this stage.
Laws in Canada changed this Spring. You can no longer grow your own marijuana. You must get it from an approved/registered grower. This has limited the available supply. There is a backorder of 10-12 weeks before mine will come in the mail. I will get a card in the mail soon stating that I am a customer of the registered grower. This is not a license to carry. The prescription bottle with my name etc. is the closest thing to a license that we have in Canada right now. So if you are carrying it out with you, be sure to have this. However, the card is often accepted. Law enforcement has not always caught up with the new regulations, and I shall have to wait and see how it goes.
I do not have my medication yet - it will be 10-12 weeks. I will get a vaporizer that looks like an asthma inhaler to carry ($134) and that is how I will take my medication. I will update you on the process and progress as it develops if anyone is interested.