Thursday, 10 March 2016

The Limestone City Gets Cannabis 101


When you're prescribed a new medication, a Pharmacist gives you the talk.  Almost every single prescription comes with a long list of data and directions telling you every thing you need to know about that pill or puffer or emulsion.  But what if you're prescribed Cannabis?  Where does one learn how to use this medication?  For many, this is a roadblock to health.  For many, they have no idea where to start and the thought of smoking turns them off.  Lack of education is clearly to blame.

Many of us learn about Cannabinoid therapy via the internet.  But googling is an art so we see a dire need for face-to-face counsel in all things Cannabis.  I am proud to say that Kingston is getting just that.  A group called Canadian Cannabis Clinics are opening their 12th Ontario location here in the home of Canada's first Prime Minister.



Some may say that this does not a big deal make, since Kingston has had Medi-Green, a medical marijuana and pain management clinic for almost eight years. But Medi-Green, like so many other "cannabis-educators" out there, charge you the patient to learn about this medicine.  Whether it's $149 or $300, no one living within a single-paying healthcare country should have to pay to learn about any medicine.  That's why CCC is different.  The appointments are free with a valid Health card.  I encourage you to peruse both of the websites provided as they both contain a wealth of information.

Here are what I believe to be the pros and cons of this Cannabis Clinic opening on Princess Street in April.

PRO's

1).  Education education education!  This is never a bad thing and since your family doctor learned nothing about Cannaboinoid therapy in med school, it's up to you to learn about Cannabis.  Dispelling the myths and ill perceptions of how a person can use this dried plant flower, is crucial.  Smoking is only one way to ingest it, and as you'll learn at CCC, vaporizing is the preferred method of inhalation holding almost zero detriment.  Think asthma inhaler, without the side effects of steroids.  Other ways to ingest are via concentrated oils, oil infusions, tinctures, and baked goods.

2).  This move legitimizes Cannabis as a real medicine.  There are studies to support this medicine, CCC can show you.  If Cannabis can replace something you've been written a prescription for, with fewer side effects, then why shouldn't you try? Why wouldn't you want to learn more?

3).  Kingston needs Cannabinoid therapy.  In fact, alcohol and opium have been hidden in the streets of Ktown since Sir John himself lived and breathed and drank way to much of it.  His first wife Isabella became ill and addicted to the Opium tincture Laudanum. For a city of approximately 170, 000 residents, Kingston has six methadone clinics where friends of mine go to get the drink that lets them live.  All of the people I know in the methadone program, became addicted by way of Oxycontin scripts from their medical doctor.  Cannabis can help.  In fact, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren agrees here where she asks the CDC to consider Cannabis an alternative pain killer.

CONS

1).  Appointments are made on a referral basis only, so you still have to search for a doctor in the know.  Many assume that anyone needing medical marijuana can get it through the government program.  But that's not the case at all.  I can't tell you how many people I know who's doctors refuse to discuss it.  Will they refer anyone to the Canadian Cannabis Clinic?  They'll easily write a prescription for an opioid but won't even discuss Cannabis.  Yet we can't blame the doctors, since many med school pain courses were heavily influenced by the makers of opioid medications as reported here.  Lucky for Canadians, you only have to get a written diagnosis from that doctor, and CCC will do the rest.  They consult with and contract Medical Doctors who have been trained in Cannabinoid Medicine.

2).  "Only patients suffering from certain chronic conditions who have not found relief from conventional treatment options should consider cannabis."  Why?  With a history of zero deaths, Cannabinoid therapy would be the first treatment I would try.  It is the safest medicine we have as stated over and over again by doctors and researchers.  Even something as seemingly benign as Aspirin accounts for thousands of deaths every year.  If I suddenly become a chronic pain sufferer, the powers-that-be in Canadian healthcare would like me to try the gamut of painkillers out there. A very recent survey states the dangers of taking Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Naproxen sodium.  I'd even go with Cannabinoid therapy if I were diagnosed with cancer.  Many people are holding off on chemo and radiation while their first resort is concentrated cannabis oil.  We should be allowed to decide what course of treatment we do first.

3).  Canadian Cannabis Clinics are only educators, they do NOT supply any product.  The second step down the green path is to sign up with one of the Licensed Producers who grow the medical cannabis in Canada.  The closest one to Ktown is the old Hershey plant under the name of Tweed. All 29 of these million dollar enterprises charge tax and delivery on your medicine.   Some people believe the LP's practice 'predator pricing'.  But I believe that prohibition is what makes this plant so expensive.  MMPR rules state you can only buy your cannabis through the mail but I feel patients should be able to walk into a store or a dispensary and speak to the person dispensing their medicine. This whole getting your meds shipped by Canada Post just seems wrong to me.  This is not access!

When you zoom out to the macro, you see the vast need for education of our medical industry as well.  Though ingested for over 5000 years, our doctors are not educated about medical Cannabis.  I personally feel that Health Canada should implement educational course that must be taken by every doctor in Canada. Every single day I read about people who are basically teaching their family doctors about the wonders of Cannabis.  My own doctor told me he thought he'd learn a lot from me. And it doesn't have to be one form of medicine or the other.  Cannabinoid medicine works WITH western medicine by lowering inflammation, easing side effects and pain, and for some protecting the body from the ravages of chemotherapy.

I think Canadian Cannabis Clinics will be a great addition to our Limestone city.  I also think that a Cannabis dispensary on Princess street should be next.  In fact, there are perfect spaces available in between our MP Mark Gerretsen's office and the LCBO.  It saddens me to think that so long ago Sir John A MacDonald and his first wife Isabella both eased their pains with dangerous substances.  I can't help but wonder how much better their lives would have been if Canadian Cannabis Clinics were around back then.