by Kelly Gibson
Taking a small green bud from the bag I begin to carefully break it up with my fingers. Using scissors to cut it up even more, rubbing the dried herb in between my thumb and index finger. Then, I fill the plain organic paper with the Cannabis. Pinching it slightly as I roll it, evenly and purposefully. Lightly licking the glue in one quick swipe of my tongue. Blowing on it for a moment, to dry quickly.
Placing the joint between my lips with one hand; I pick up the lighter in the other. While breathing out, I flick the lighter bringing the flame up to the joint. Breathing in I feel the heat hit my lungs and a tingle is felt in my head. Layers of smoke begin to fill the room as I continue to puff. This is how i roll.
On a trip to Vancouver several years ago with my husband, we stepped into one of their local dispensaries. Out of curiosity and desperation perhaps. It was there that I was told the most powerful ‘truth’ that has affected my life every moment since. The truth: it is my right to access marijuana as a medicine.
It wasn't until I paid a “420” referral service for a list of ‘more compassionate’ doctors, that my journey started to progress. I had already asked more than one of my own doctors, but was unsuccessful. The doctor who did help me and signed my documents was a blessing in my life for many reasons.
My doctor did ask that first I write the “Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons” asking for ‘permission’ to protect himself legally. I received a call from their offices and after much debate I convinced them to give me some response to my request in writing. The email I received from them wouldn't ‘deny or recommend’ any treatment deemed appropriate by my doctor. To us, this was considered a win under the circumstances.
Finally, with the documents in place and sent to the government, I waited for my waiver to be able to use and possess MMJ legally. At this time, there was only one producer in Canada, the “Prairie Plant.” I was sent a gold bag of milled, dusty weed that included the sticks. It was somewhat disappointing. After all that, at least I was legit.
The current system isn’t perfect, but it is considerably better. More doctors are prescribing, with several licensed producers to choose from, and a good variety of products, it’s a huge improvement.
There are still patients whose doctors won’t sign for them and are then forced to continue with conventional systems or turn to the street. The insurance companies and the individual “Colleges of Physicians” all need to standardize to reflect the views of its citizens. The problem is still that law-abiding and genuinely good people with illnesses, or injuries are forced to do extraordinary things to access the comfort that is their human right.
Marijuana provides certain relief from several of my Crohn’s symptoms, which are; constant nausea, painful spasms, decreased appetite and inability to sleep. There are even recent medical studies showing that using MMJ can result in full remission for patients like me. It may possibly prevent cancer, which is good for everyone.
Cannabis has been around and used long enough, that any serious side effects would or should be known. After going so many years without using pharmaceutical drugs or having any hospital visits, I can honestly say it is a real benefit; it gave me my life back. That’s a gift I would not have been given with conventional medicine.
In the future I plan to expand on what I'm already doing now; providing individual medical marijuana consultations. I discuss eligibility, answer questions about the current government system, on licensed producers and appropriate marijuana strains for specific ailments. My journey brought me to a place where I can help myself and others to succeed against impossible odds.
I will continue to participate in phone and letter writing campaigns advocating the end of marijuana prohibition, to full legalization. I’m a fierce advocate for patients’ rights, and for marijuana usage for all who need it.
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Still, the stigma persists. Many people see cannabis users as lazy, unsuccessful, and potentially troubled human beings. Where does this dated stoner stereotype come from? We could cast the blame upon television, movies, or newspapers, but we could also act mature and admit our own responsibility for the unfavorable image.