Thursday 29 January 2015

Confusing Times for the Addict

Above artwork credit to an amazing artist I was just shown named Pawel Kuczynski.

There are people around you right now suffering from addiction.  People who took their Doctor's recommendations and filled the prescription for the pain killer or the anxiety aid.  Some of them started the script weeks ago, while others could possibly be on these meds for years.  I for one, was on pharmaceutical antidepressants on and off from 19 to 36.  When I finally decided I wanted off of them, I was addicted. The receptors in my brain very quickly became pissed at me when they weren't getting whatever was in those tiny granules of "medicine".

Zap zap ... zzzz zz zzzzzz zap!  That's what the DT's sounded and felt like ... in my brain.

Addictions don't only come from scripts though.  Alcohol is highly addictive yet treated as a rite of passage.  While perhaps it should be treated as a poison that for some of us hooks us forevermore.
Imagine our brains are big bodies of water full of fishies.  Most of the fishies in most of the bodies of water are normal, but there are a few bodies of water that hide sharks there too.  Who's brain is hungry-like-the-shark for addictive substances? Well you can't see from outside.  Would you initiate that first sip of wine or beer if you knew that action might be stirring the sleeping beast of addiction?

As a kid growing up in a small town I knew what an alcoholic was.  I knew several of them.  How many times did I ask my folks why those people can't stop after only having one?  I had heard the wagon analogy so often, but never understood it.  Were you drinking while you were ON the wagon? Or was it OFF the wagon? I remember thinking, but you gotta get to the bar somehow, so wouldn't that mean you had to be on the wagon?  Oh so much to understand for a child who had no clue what it meant to be addicted to anything but summertime and sunshine.

Is there any one of you out there who doesn't know or love an addict?  It's been said that Cancer is always in us at all times, it just hasn't gone rogue.  So by that same logic, could one say that addiction too is in every one of us?  We all have the ability to be addicted.  If you have a brain with firing receptors, then you have the ability to become addicted.

Still stigma exists.
Colouring all with one judgemental brush.

We've all heard the jokes:

"How do you know when an addict is lying?  Their lips are moving."

But does that include me?  Am I included in that if it was Doctor prescribed? Does it include the kid who was allowed to drink too young?  Does it apply to the kid who is predisposed in-vitro?  Does it apply to those of us with mental illness who are just trying desperately to numb the sadness inside?
And if not, then why are we thrown to the wolves once the hook is set?

I haven't researched this a lot, but there's a new pill called Seboxone for functional addicts of synthetic heroin.  It's kinda like methadone I think.  A buddy bought some from a buddy in hopes of knocking the monkey off of his back. He ended up not getting enough because buddy couldn't part with them. Apparently, in order to get it in my area, you have to be in withdrawal for four days.

Do we hold back a diabetic's insulin after they eat the wrong thing?
Do we hold back the nitroglycerin when the heart patient over does it?
Do we hold back the inhaler when the asthmatic has an attack?
Do we hold back the statins when the patient eats too much bacon?
Do we hold back the blood pressure meds when the patient eats too much salt?

No we don't.  Because to society at large, those are diseases.  While addiction is not.
Even to this day, to most of society, addiction is a fault.

Where does that come from?  What influences us to see this disease as a weakness and not a treatable though chronic condition?  Confusion perhaps!  In one week, the media has managed to confuse even myself on this topic.  And all in a week that is given to addiction awareness.

The first national summit on addiction recovery was held this week in Ottawa.  You can read about it in this link.  Here, signatures were gathered in order to raise the level of care for addiction treatment and awareness to that of other chronic illnesses.

That's a proud Canadian moment.  Why the confusion?

Enter Debra Selkirk and the Trillium Gift of Life Network.  Debra is a widower who's husband was a functioning alcoholic with a successful life.  He was a father and a grandfather and he was an addict. Trillium has a rule that an alcoholic must be sober for at least six months before they will be considered eligible for a liver donation.  Debra is angry to say the least.  Two weeks after hearing those rules, her husband was dead of liver failure.  Here is the CBC coverage of the story.  Debra is taking the case to a constitutional challenge.

I reserve judgement on the above policy taken by Trillium.  What I do take judgement on is more the belief or backwards thinking that would drive a Medical professional to say these words out loud:

"The last thing we want is someone to get a new liver and start damaging that liver by drinking alcohol again."

And yes ... I do see this from that perspective too.  I mean, that waiting list sits at a few hundred right now.  But it wreaks of ignorance from the angle that addiction takes away one's personal responsibility and therefore one's ability to stop.  Marilu Henner spoke about the very realness of food addiction with this statement:

"It may be your choice to take that first bite.  But once you do, that food has an agenda of it's own."

So let's look at that.  Let's look at why a person would take that first bite, drink, puff, pill, deal, bet.
If you know you have this predisposition, why do it?

Well I'd like to turn this around a bit and ask law makers, advertising regulators, and health agencies:

Why are you advertising in big bright lights, all the things that we can become addicted to?
Why are you allowing them to make poison look, smell, and taste so good?
Why do you still allow food manufacturing that seeks the "bliss point"?

Holy shit ... is this yet another post about capitalism then?

So is it all out of our control?  If our brains or 'bodies of water' have those sharks in them, are we sentenced--through no fault of our own-- to a life of constant struggle and a feeling of perpetual deprivation?  Is there nothing that loved ones and family can do?  No void that we can fill with love and acceptance?

Yes ... I and others believe there is, and there are studies to back us up :)

Check out this article here to see what I mean.  Author Johann Hari writes very compellingly showing that perhaps addiction is 'the symptom of a social ill' rather than a biological certainty.
Using rats and water bottles of either cocaine water or heroin water, studies showed that reversing solitude and a disconnection from 'the pack' trumped the biological need felt for the drugged water.

The above is an illustration of "Rat Park", the enclosure with all of the amenities a rat could want in life ... along with his pack.

He goes on to liken the Vietnam War to that experiment, stating the fact that 95% of the heroin addicted Vietnam vets came home to kick the habit.  Was the void filled once they were back in the family fold?  Is our disconnection to one another driving addiction rates?

Some of us still look at addicts as though looking at another sub-species.  We are separate from them. But are we?  If you took an Oxycontin every day for 10 days your biology, your cells will be addicted too.  That would make you just like those you see so far from you.  They are by your side begging for you to see through the stigma.

Build connections ... they help.

"So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety.  It is human connection." -Johann Hari

Monday 26 January 2015

Dear Licensed Producers of the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR)

Way back when Tweed's takeover of the Smith's Falls Hershey Plant was just a twinkle in Chuck Rifici's eye, I tweeted to him:

"Does it still smell like chocolate in there?"

Chuck and his team were in the initial stages of getting approval and setting up their Cannabis gardens in the very spot where chocolate was once processed and boxed.  The Hershey Factory was a place I knew well.  Growing up a mere half hour away from Smith's Falls awarded me many a visit to stock up on treats.

If my memory serves me correctly, Chuck responded on twitter with:

"Yes it does.  #ChocolateKush anyone?"

That exchange began my interest in following Tweed's activities.  I saw Chuck interviewed at Vapor Central in Toronto with Matt Mernagh where he stated that he himself would be Tweed's first Cannabis patient.  I saw right then that this was not merely a potentially profitable business move for Mr. Rifici, but it held personal interest to him and his health and well-being.

I write today, because the battle is far from over.  Right now, as the Licensed Producers avidly grow our green medicine, and as LP hopefuls jump through loop-hole after firey loop-hole for approval from Health Canada, the medicine they grow and hope to grow is being actively banned from use in many Canadian hospitals.  One would think that after fifteen LP's put in the time and uber investment, attained approval, and were doing business selling their product, that said product would hold some form of respect. But it really doesn't ... at least not with law-makers and our current conservative government.

Dear LP's ... I've been dying to know some things.  I try to put myself in all shoes at least once in this lifetime, so I wanna know what you think of the current state of medicine in Canada.

So tell me, how does it make your gardening genius's feel as they look at their Horticultural degrees from Queens or schools of the like, to know that their incredible, university-caliber knowledge is not being recognized for what it is?  I mean, they're growing medicine to save and extend lives.  That's nothing to ban!

But it's being done.  Alberta Health Services suddenly ceased allowing a certain legal Cannabis patient to use the vaporized Cannabinoid therapy that two doctors and a pain specialist recommend for her chronic painful condition.  Up until late 2013, this individual could take her hospital-approved vaporizer and use it right in her hospital bed.  You can read my own blog post about Lisa HERE and another piece with more detail HERE.  Her battle rages on ... as does her ill health.

Tell me how it makes you feel as you start a new tray of clones of a plant whose Cannabinoid makeup is geared to specific ailments, when you are reminded that Health Canada states HERE that not only do they not believe it's medicine you're growing, but that the only reason they're allowing you to grow it, is because of a court order.  Holy shamoly ... talk about improving your bed side manner Doc!

How does it make you feel that thousands of people in Canada could be helped with the flowers of your plants yet cannot find a Doctor willing to prescribe it?  It's even more maddening to know that Health Canada hasn't even begun to think about educating our medical doctors about Cannabis either. They'd have to study it first, and who would pay for that?

I mean, I feel angry FOR you.  I used to be in the car biz, tell me how this isn't some sick form of bait & switch?  You as Licensed Producers have invested millions in dollars, time, real estate, staffing, security fencing and cameras, and yet you're still being treated like children.  You're still being hounded by new regulations to keep us safe (ya right) that is in turn driving the price of our medicine right through the roof.  One gram on the street costs $10 while some of you reportedly charge up to $32 for one gram.

Capitalism or the cost of doing business in an illogically regulated industry?

Tell me, do any of the six pharmaceutical companies lining up to produce generic hillbilly heroin have to invest in fencing to surround their factory?  Do they have to have cameras up everywhere? Are they allowed to advertise stating active ingredients and potential benefits?

Double standards.

How does it make you feel to know that Sunovion Pharma, the makers of Lun*esta can use that adorable butterfly to connect positive correlations to their pill, but you cannot use the same type of imagery as stated HERE in this recently released bulletin from Health Canada regarding advertising. How does it make you feel to know that every single pill made for sale in Canada is allowed to print clearly what their active ingredients are, but you are not. Is there no desire for us to "medicate responsibly" if we choose to use a flower?  Or is that concerned warning only for those choosing man-made products?

Double-standards suck don't they?

How does it make you feel to know that most Doctors, Researchers, or Pharmacists still don't have a friggin clue what all this plant can do?  That most of them still think the only way to use it is to smoke it?  Hell ... I had a pharmacist follow me around Lobl@ws this summer because I was wearing my "I Kill Cancer" t-shirt from the Kill Your Own Cancer site.  That was funny, he timed it just right and I even moved my purse strap outta the way so he could be sure to see the web site and buy his own t-shirt ... so can you btw :)

How does it make you feel to have to get your Administrative staff to call every single Doctor who recommends this plant that has never killed anyone?  Doesn't it piss you off that, as stated HERE you have to make these redundant phone calls to verify information that would never have to be verified if the prescription were for reverse-engineered Heroin or Proz@c?  Where is the logic in that?  It's just more time and hindrance, yet another way for you to lose support from Medical office staff everywhere who are far too busy to answer any of your questions.

I can only imagine how it must feel for your Horticulturalists to know that their pungent and healing flowers have to be irradiated before the patient gets them.  Irradiated ... as in ... microwaved.  I can't imagine that would sit well with many of them.  And because of these asinine regulations requiring such super-sterility, many interested Canadians hate you.  I just read an activist write that the LP's are no more your friends than is Walm@rt.  Ouch.

Yet if you were to look at things from a legal patient's point of view, the whole LP project is a kick in the teeth.  Do you know what teeth signify in dreams my friends?  The ability to protect yourself, defend yourself, sustain yourself.  Many legal patients could do themselves what you do for them, and do it much more affordably.  Seeing, hearing, and learning that pounds upon pounds of useful plant material is thrown out or burned due to 'sterility' concerns, just leaves us angst.  All that medicine gone.  All of those lives ... still in struggle when those leaves could help.

Seriously, I ask once again in rhetoric ... "where are the studies proving cigarettes are safe and sterile?".

It's just around the corner they say, that being the complete and total reverse-engineering of all naturally sourced vitamins and minerals.  I mean, we see that the LP's aren't allowed to tell you what any of their medicine does, though we've known for over 5000 years that a compound in most kush strains called Cannabinol will help you to sleep.  Read more about CBN here.  Cannabis is not the only industry to see this.  Soon, eating an orange to get vitamin C will be shunned.  As it is, we're engineering grapefruits so they don't contraindicate with some antidepressants.  Makes me chuckle considering some people I know would get more beneficial effects from peeling an uplifting smelling grapefruit than they would get from any of those pills.  Myself being one of them.

Here's the meat and potatoes of this post.  When you shake it all out, you see that the Cannabis flowers you grow are great medicine.  But you gotta be rich to afford them.  Take a look at this:

56 grams (2 ounces) per month grown at home ................... 56 x $2/gram = $112 per month
56 grams (2 ounces) per month from average priced LP ..... 56 x $8/gram = $448 per month
56 grams (2 ounces) per month from highest priced LP .... 56 x $32/gram = $1792 per month

One legal grower and Cannabis patient states that she can grow her own organic medicine for 5 cents per gram.  Shall we do that math too?

56 grams (2 ounces) per month grown at home ................... 56 x .05/gram = $2.80 per month

Health Canada could look at this like most humans do, seeing that this price scale is unethical and needs to be analyzed more thoroughly.  Yet the state of pricing being what it is, clearly reiterates what Health Canada wants you to know when it comes to Marijuana as stated HERE on their website:

"Dried Marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada.  The Government of Canada does not endorse the use of Marijuana, but the courts have required reasonable access to a legal source of Marijuana when authorized by a physician."

Do the courts say anything about human rights and the need to be able to AFFORD your medicine?

If any of you busy gardening genius's can spare a moment, I'd love to get some feedback and hear your honest side of this on-going story.

Thursday 15 January 2015

A Snapshot of Society & Our Freedoms

I tend bar and kitchen at a small bowling alley a few nights a week.  I've personally never bowled, but it seems that bowling is a sport for all.  When you break it all down, the method is quite antiquated eh?  I mean, all you need are some balls and some pins and a long lane, right?

Something happened last night that gave me pause to say, "hmmm".

Forgive me for the labels as I attempt to hit some comedy. I believe my alley has about 20 lanes and last night a little over half were in use:

*We had a sober family of non-drinkers at the far end who sadly, never even glanced my way.
*We had a Chaplin-like man in his late prime, dressed with a pink button-down, purple suspenders,      and a matching hat who was giving us all some lessons.
*We had some romance going on about mid way with a beautiful white girl adoringly sitting on  her hot black bf's lap and giggling at their scores.
*We had a four-some of Asian youths who also didn't drink, but hit the vending machines up front.
*We had one young couple doin' doubles o' rum between strikes.
*We had the clerk from the front, struttin' her stuff as she checked on my change.
*We had the pin-chasing repair guy, an old hippy with hair still down to his waste, relentlessly fixing.
*We had the cleaning guy aka the Hip Hop artist puttering around cleaning.

All-in-all .... it was a diversified group, possibly even an average snapshot of humanity.

So the thing that made me go hmmmm was this next guy who was standing reading my sadly minimal food menu who asked me this:

"Are your hot dogs made with pork or beef?".

Under my breath, I said "they're made of lips 'n assholes my friend" as I walked to the fridge to check.  Beef it was, so I made this fellow citizen his meal.

Soon after I had the chance, as I often do, to sit back and just survey the room, using my smart serve knowledge to ensure all was well, when something occurred to me.  Right now, much of the world is debating free speech.  Many of us say we have a right to say whatever we want, regardless of the offense it may cause.  Words like "freedom" and "constitutional rights" are thrown around the internet daily now.  But I ask you this:

Did any one of us, in that snapshot of humanity from last night, feel the need or the right to diss this guy for choosing beef not pork?  For choosing Islam not Christianity?

None of us did, as we were all enjoying life!  And if anyone had felt the need .... the need that we argue is a RIGHT ... would it have been appropriate?

Hell no!

Then why is it okay if you're strangers?  If you live in different countries?
Why is it ok if the people you are targeting belong to a nameless, faceless group?

I have a Muslim friend named Mariam, who is one of the most kind-hearted people I know.  I have thought of her often throughout these recent days.  This right to offend undoubtedly hurts her core beliefs and in turn I feel sad for her and her life-loving family.

I just find it choking that you have the right to religious freedom~and I have the right to mock, disrespect, minimize, marginalize, and otherwise make fun of that choice and right.

Tell me again how this isn't simply BULLYING?

Perhaps someday soon, we'll have freedom of speech be a right you have .... but only for 18 and over.

If you're younger than that, it's just bullying.

Civil coexistence continues to suffer and crumble.  Do we really have the RIGHT to sit back and let that happen?

Monday 12 January 2015

James MacDonald ... Jailed for Healing Himself.

There are so many diseases and ailments nowadays.  There are the ones that are an annoyance, others that are a pain, and even still there are some that are just so shitty, all rules in treatment must be burned.  I have personally had gut issues my whole life.  I missed so much high school because of stomach aches.  I had over active stomach acid, what they thought was an ulcer, and medications and 'worry dolls' to try to treat them all.  During an unhappy relationship, I began to lose the ability for normal bowel movements ... going once every two weeks sometimes.  Had it checked out too ... was the first person in that hospital to have ever asked for a colonoscopy!

Our gut is the first part of our bodies to be formed in utero.  There's a reason for this.  They don't just hold digestion in all it's many stages and processes, but they also hold many emotional receptors that produce hormones and chemicals that we need to feel right.  The gut is the emotional center of the body and is why some people get cramps and diarrhea when they're nervous.  It is also said that more Serotonin is produced in the gut than in the brain.

Our gut controls our emotions; or do our emotions control our gut?
Or are they a team?
Yikes ... we're in trouble then aren't we?

The really awful diseases of the gut of which I speak are the ones involving elimination and fall under the label Irritable Bowel Disease. One such disease is Crohn's. Is there a more humbling condition?  Chronic constipation or chronic diarrhea ... and experimental sulfa meds or steroids to treat it.

There's a man in Nova Scotia named James MacDonald with severe Crohn's disease.  It used to be controlled like so many with diet and medications.  But the Crohn's soon progressed into almost constant abdominal pain that keeps James from living a normal life.

James is a legal Medical Marijuana patient that grew his own medicine too.  But like so many other patients in Canada, when James began the process of renewal, it all went awry.  Many of my legal Cannabis using and growing friends experienced this, where almost every single one of them had their forms returned by snail mail because of allegedly missing paperwork or information.  As though they can just turn off their pain while the bureaucratic bullshit takes it's sweet time.  And the whole time the clock was ticking.  Knocking the countdown til the conservative government changed things.

James didn't get his license renewed in time.  But guess what?  He still has the Crohn's.  He still has the constant pain.  He still has all of the other painful and humiliating complications from this intestinal disease that sees the meters of one's intestinal tract inflame with sores and ulcers.

I wonder how much faster that bureaucratic bullshit would move, if it were THEIR intestines inflamed suffering from one of the many ailments of Irritable Bowel Disease?

James is in jail for 60 days because he continued to grow the plant that eases his pain even though his renewal didn't make it in time.   He is there without Cannabis to treat his painful Crohn's.  You see, Cannabinoids heal intestinal wounds.  I'll post some links at the bottom for you to check out.  The steroids and the sulfa drugs don't.... and for many sufferers they bring on daily bouts of painful diarrhea and weight gain!  C'mon ... can't we do better than this?  Isn't the medical motto to "do no harm"?  My buddy was on those sulfa meds and when he finally got tired of being perpetually sore and raw, he stopped taking them completely.

Everyday I hear of Judges doing great things like ignoring mandatory minimum laws that would see every single crime in black and white.  But we don't live in black and white do we?  There's a lot of grey extenuating circumstances that need to be considered in every single case.

Now, wouldn't you think, that considering James had a license to use and grow Cannabis for his disease, and he still has that disease, then his need still exists?  Even insurance companies give you an overlap time during which you can change vehicles yet still be covered.  A Canadian citizen's health doesn't get the same respect?  Not enough profit involved?  Are we really going to let "proper paperwork" decide how we're treated, what rights we have, and what we can do with our own bodies?

I for one, am not.

How about you?

Whatever country you're in right now . . . .

Your body ~  your rights!

Read HERE where the local media in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia covered the story about James.

Read HERE to read an article written by Arielle Girard, a future doctor and one of my internet friends who lives and breathes the "do no harm" motto.  Arielle studies Medicine in New York and is a wonderful balance for my writing, as I can be all about 'feelings' and Arielle is all about facts and science.  You can read her bio HERE.

Read HERE about a small study of eleven patients with Crohn's and smoked cannabis where 45% of them went into full remission. Not only that, but ten of the eleven patients had a positive clinical response, three of whom were able to completely wean themselves off of steroids.  All participants reported an improvement in appetite and sleep with no significant side effects.
If it gets in your bloodstream, it gets in your organs right?

Read HERE where a woman describes her life with Crohn's and how Cannabis helps her.

I personally have several friends and know of people in my city who smoke Cannabis daily to relieve their Irritable Bowel Disease.  Now why can't those people grow a few small plants in their garage? They could grow Tobacco if they lived in Ontario ... up to 15 kgs per year!  One of those friends is now weaning herself off of methadone, after becoming addicted to the Oxycontin that her doctor prescribed for her ongoing and debilitating gut pain.  That's lots of fun.

And finally click HERE to read more about James' ordeal and/or donate to the fundraising efforts being raised for him.  As you will read, James also lost some of his personal property all of which hold value to him.  They've taken his grow equipment which could cost thousands to replace.

I don't personally know James, but when I read about his experience, I felt the outrage rise in my gut~the emotional center of my body.

I knew right then that I had to do something to show James that he's not alone, and that we're all in this together.

Lastly, James if you're reading this, I'm sorry this happened to you.
Know that you are supported by thousands of nameless, faceless humans who care and who fight daily to legalize this plant.

Peace, Pot, and Prosperity to you my friend.

Thursday 8 January 2015

Freedom of Speech or Poking the Bear?

You may have noticed I try to see both sides and many perspectives on a subject.  Well this post will be no different.  I won't be giving the extremists very much of my time, but I want to sort of shoot some ideas out there.

I'm for freedom of speech.  Without it, my 'writing as therapy' wouldn't be as much fun or effective. Yet I have a problem with limitless freedom of speech.  We can't be going around offending people just because we want to, can we?

Since the extremists attacked that newspaper office, the world is alight with banter on holding up this right to offend others.  We act like we're so for it, like we're invincible to it's harm.  As though if slander were thrown at us, or slander upon one of our beliefs, we'd 'shake it off' as quickly as dear Taylor can shake her pink tutu!  I highly doubt it.

If you ask me, the ladies on the View totally contradicted themselves on this subject today.  They were applauding free speech, then went on to diss online interactions as being offensive and like a 'cesspool'.  So if it's anonymous, is it not free speech?  That's a dangerous slippery slope eh?  Maybe we can stop the ban on tobogganing and ban slippery slopes!

Imagine that some clever cartoonist on a whole other continent decided to draw Jesus hanging off the cross bloodied and torn apart with something awful happening to him.  There would be a shit-storm of Christians pissed right off.  Christians would be crawling out of the woodwork.  It's like when the right to say "Merry Christmas" was taken away in some areas of North America, there were suddenly so many more Christians out there.  Made me laugh then, makes me laugh every year I see the memes.

Our skin is as thin as theirs ... our beliefs as close to our hearts.

Now the big diff here is that most of those Christians would not likely raid a building and kill anyone in their way.  But at some point, we have to ask ourselves:

Are we just being offensive ... to prove that we can?

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Heaven Won This Time ... RIP Chef Guy

Five days ago, after my work shift was over I went in and tipped out my chef.  I didn't really have to, but I had made killer tips and I just felt like doing it.  I gave him $4 measly dollars. Well ... it might as well have been a pink fifty for the look on his face.  He stood up, and started to protest.  But I didn't give him the chance.  It's funny y'know ... I had never hugged Guy before that day, and never felt that he wanted to be hugged.  But for whatever reason, I didn't let that stop me.

I hugged him and I told him that I appreciated everything that he does.

"Everything that he does .... "

Those who really knew Guy know that he did so much more than cook.  Managing and leading the kitchen at Canada's #1 Voted Venue of the Year was a point of pride for him I think.  But he was so much more than that.

Guy was a gardening genius ... just like my folks are.  He was and they are special deliveries from Mother Nature to the world.  For Guy, every single season held it's own wonderment as each seed germinated, each sprout broke through, and as each flower bud opened itself to the world.  This is what I want to take from this loss.

But alas, energy cannot be extinguished ... a smart man said that a long time ago.  It can only be transformed., converted, changed.  Is our loss, Heaven's gain?

I vow to appreciate the greener things around me just a little bit more.
I vow to recycle even more radically than I do now.
I vow to smell the flowers and hug the trees more often too.

I saved a plant a few months ago, from a certain death and sent a pic to Guy.  He replied with such enthusiasm that I just couldn't help but smile.  Then he said this:

"Bless you for caring about the plants too."

The plants were not the only living beings blessed to have known this incredible soul.

RIP Chef Guy ... and enjoy the flowers up there :)

This flower is from the Hoya Carnosa Variegata Crimson Queen.  One of Chef Guy's favorites I think.  I will forever think of you Guy when I see this beauty.

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Should I Have Done More?

Coincidences happen on the daily for me.  It's taken several years though for me to notice them.
I used to believe they were random, used to believe they were meaningless.  Not anymore though, coincidences are one way that the universe shows us that we're connected.

My hunni and I have been together for almost eight years, and we still enjoy one another's opinions, stories, perspectives.  We were talking two days ago about the oil being made right now using Cannabis and how it's saving lives.  I mentioned how impossible it is to keep information like this hidden, and I went on to tell him an experience I had months ago.

I find that one way to get people talking about the wonders of the Cannabis plant is to simply post about it on twitter and facebook.  I welcome questions from anyone, and am eager to send you links and informative proof.  Now, as I've written before I'm from a very small town and growing up, a person always knew who partook and who did not.  There were a few peeps who could help you out, but other than that, pot wasn't big on the topic list anywhere in the area.

One day, out of the blue I got a fb message from a girl who grew up a mere 3 kms from where I grew up.  We rode the bus to school from elementary to high school.  We weren't really close friends, but this girl fit into the category of peeps in my area who did not partake in the herb.

Her message was short:

"Where can one get a hold of some Cannabis oil and how to use it?"

I responded as I do with all inquiries for this product:

"One must make it themselves and it's not that difficult.  Here's a site to check out"

That message came to me late October 2014, and I didn't hear anything else from that girl.  I didn't pry as to whom the oil was for, and I didn't get back to her with a better video showing her how to make the Oil if she so chose.  To be honest, I didn't really see any posts on fb from this girl either ... until just after my hunni and I finished that convo a mere two days ago.  I opened fb and there it was:

"Arrived home safe and sound. There has been many unexpected kindnesses up to and since the passing of my mom, I'm so appreciative even if I can't find the words to say it."

I felt like someone was standing on my stomach, as I read that post, exclaimed "oh no" and sat staring out the window putting the pieces together in my head:

The Cannabis oil she was asking me about three months ago was for her mom.

All I could feel for that split second was panic mixed with regret, shadowed by the knowledge that it's too late now ....

Why didn't I do more?
Should I have done more?
I never went back and found her a better video!  Would she have made the Oil and saved or even just extended her mom's life if I had?
Oh so many questions.
Doing more can land a person in jail.  It's happened many times already on this planet.

I used to think that when enough successes came courtesy of the Cannabis plant, the medical industry would change.  But if death is a mere statistic, then death by Chemo and Radiation is a commonplace one.  Too common.  Thousands of lives have been saved using this oil and this plant in it's natural form, but still Governments worldwide deny it's medical value.

Day after day I run into people who are dealing with health conditions that could be helped with the Cannabis plant.  There's the lady on the third floor telling me about her endless nausea, there's that friend of a friend on Oxy, wishing every day he could get off of them.  Just a month ago I was talking to my cousin about her 57 year old boss and friend who has pancreatic cancer and mere months to live.  But I don't and I didn't say anything to any of these people because this plant is illegal.  I fear judgment.  I fear repercussions.  I don't wanna fear anymore!!

So ... I'm putting it out there to all of you who are reading this right now ... got questions about Cannabis?

Let's hear 'em ... and begin your journey of learning about the most valuable plant God or Goddess gave us.

Thursday 1 January 2015

Trickle Down Employment Standards

Well Peeps ... here I go ... sinking again.  Something has spurned on my mental illness and I can't stop stewing about it.  My poor hunni ... he listens to it as much as he can.  Then I see the eyes glaze over and I see that I'm on a loop of linguistic ranting on repeat repeat repeat.  I think I actually saw relief in his eyes when I finally said, "That's it ... I gotta write about it!".

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I have two part time jobs.  The first one follows Employment Standards to the letter.  I've had to sign multiple forms in the past, had to hear multiple inquiries as to whether I've had my breaks, and otherwise have always felt that following code is important to them. That makes me proud to work there.  The second part time job is not like this and has broken code four times in the first month that I worked there, the most serious of which is taking money off of my pay check because of supposed cash shortages.

"Supposed cash shortages" ... what a joke.  In my lifetime, I've assisted a certain bank in financing a million dollars worth of Hyundai automobiles.  I know how to count money, been doin' it for a long time.  I used to iron my bills before a big shopping trip when I was a teen.  I'm not an idiot and neither are my co-workers.  I've likely had 50 friggin jobs in my 25 years of being employed and all but one or two involved counting money.

Personally, this employer has taken about $23 from my paycheck, and about $15 more in cash.  Yes I paid it.  Yes I agreed when she said there would be a deduction.  Why?  Because I was fooled once again in my fog of self-doubt.  The paperwork and inventory system in this particular bar is archaic at best.  The 80's have been calling since I started there, for their cash register back.  It's purpose is not even to keep the money safe, but as a great big calculator.  The cash tray doesn't even fit inside the register, but sits on the counter beside it instead.  Incredible to be honest, after working with the touch-screen computer/registers I've worked on in various jobs for the past 15 years.

But as per usual, what has my blood boiling this afternoon is something that is happening to someone else.  Someone I've never met in person, though we've texted back and forth often.  She's my co-worker and we started at this bar at the same time.

Upon texting today to switch some shifts, she told me that they are taking $90 out of her next pay check because they say her cash was short.  My hands begin to tingle just writing that.  They'll tremble next as she goes on to tell me that the bar was opened early that day by our manager and another clerk due to the holidays.  When she came in for her regular shift, she simply took over that cash.  Apparently the manager even acknowledged that the count may be off because of the 'mayhem'.

So that brings me around to the manager.  I like this woman, and I've said to co-workers that I hope she's being paid for every hour she puts in there.  She's on salary though, so you know she's not.  I can't help but see things from her perspective.  She recently took over management of this place and has been cleaning house of the allegedly bad staff.  Thus why I and my co-worker were hired at approximately the same time.  This manager cares about the well-being and success of her place of business and so she's doing every thing she can to show head office that she is capable.  To what end though?

Just like that I'm back on the side of my co-worker and I.  I can jump from your shoes, to my shoes, to her shoes in an instant!  Keep up if ya can :)

Two weeks ago I wrote a letter to my manager telling her that payroll deductions for cash shortages were not allowed and I no longer authorize her to do that.  I've heard not a peep since then.  Wow ... could my counting skills have suddenly improved like that?  Huh!

But my co-worker is not so lucky.  This $90 thing happened days ago!  Which means that my manager is doing it knowing full well that it's against Employment Standards.  Damn that burns me!

And back I am in her shoes:   would she get deductions from her pay from head office if she didn't do this to us?  Is this a case of shitty trickle down employment standards where there ain't much left at the bottom?  Why is the OWNER of the business, the person who is PROFITING from the business the only one who's interests are looked after in circumstances like this?

Tax-paying, inquiring, Canadian minds wanna know:

Who's managing the managers?

Who's bossing the bosses?

"Who cops all the cops is all I asked of you."~The Tragically Hip, "Trickle Down"

And who is overseeing the activities of Businesses in Canada?  I've asked before, is there a 'Miscellaneous' column in Qu!kbooks that allows for funds you've screwed out of unknowing employees?  Do accountants see this and say nothing?  Do repeat offenders of E.S. get tougher fines? And are the fines even substantial enough to deter this behaviour??  Clearly not as I've heard through that well-known grapevine that the owner has been in shit for this in the past.

There needs to be someone overseeing this.

New Rule:   If you pay taxes to the Government of Canada, a portion of those taxes pays a diplomatic entity to oversee all of your business functions pertaining to employees and their remuneration.

This video is about some of the recent protests.  The protests were about many things, not the least of which was EQUALITY between rich & poor, male & female, black & white, employee & employer.

The music is by one of my absolute core favourite bands ever, The Tragically Hip.  They were born in the city I live in, and most still live here.  Some of these band members likely frequented this place of business in younger days.  How fitting is that?