Monday 24 October 2016

What Pill Is the Pot Replacing?

"Back in my day if you wanted to be with the pretty girls, ya stayed away from the drugs", says my buddy Art.  He's explaining to me how crazy it is that today he uses Cannabis and Cannabis alone for his chronic pain.  After the accident and the subsequent leg amputation, Art took whatever pain pills the Doctors would give him.  The pain was unbearable.  When finally, after almost ten long years of killing the pain with opioids, Art found out there was something else he could try if he was willing. Some people may call him a druggie.  But at this point with the addiction to the nauseatingly zombifying pills, he didn't much care what anyone thought.

One night he was at a buddy's house when it came time to take his meds but he'd forgotten them at home.  With much hesitation Art agreed to eat half a Cannabis infused ginger-snap cookie.  He breathed deeply as the Cannabis smoke his friends exhaled lingered in the room, and sat amazed. For hours.  Pain-free.

Unfortunately, the health care industries worldwide, don't see what Art sees or what I see or what millions of Cannabis users worldwide know.  Health Care industries are heavily influenced by the makers of those zombifying pills.  They think Art should just keep on taking those pills day after day after day.  There's a very good reason why a huge portion of patients who are taking opioid pain medications will do anything to stop taking them.

I'm a call-taker at a cannabis clinic and I speak to patients every day who's main motivation for calling me, is to stop taking so many pills.  And not just one kind of pill.  With the average senior on at least six different prescriptions, it's a full time job trying to organize them all.  Each with their own long list of side effects.  Swallowing that many pills alone can be an ordeal!  And they go down into our stomachs wreaking pain and havoc, sterilizing gut microbiome hindering proper digestion and nutrient absorption.

The side effect from the one pill soon requires that you take another, and before long you don't even feel human!  It's no wonder the right to smoke our medicine has been of foremost importance to we patients.  A million bleeding stomach ulcers challenge the theory that pills are the best mode of ingestion every day.

Safe ingestion of cannabinoids is of huge debate in the medical system and has been for years.  After they deemed smoking unsafe, we came up with vaporization, an inhalation method much like an asthma inhaler.  Vaporization offers no risk or damage to the lungs and yet it too is deemed too risky to be allowed in-hospital.  Ironically, cannabinoid vapor would likely be the only medicinal compound under a hospital roof with a zero death toll.

A new friend of mine has fibromyalgia at the young age of 23.  She recently read about cannabis and how it's helping others with her condition.  The pain is so severe that her GP has prescribed her a 50 mcg and now a 75 mcg Fentanyl patch which she refuses to use.  But getting approved to use medicinal cannabis under the age of 25 is a heavily scrutinized process to say the least.  The theory being that the human brain isn't finished growing until 25 and they fear that cannabis may hinder proper development.  But ... a 75 mcg Fentanyl patch is okay for the growing mind?

What about Benzos for children?  Or Ketamine, a horse tranquilizer!  These are common meds for seizure disorders in children.  Why do we trust that Adderall (amphetamine) or Ritalin (methyphenidate) or Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine), all of which are prescribed to children aged 3 and older, are safe for the growing mind?

I myself was given Lithium at 20 from my pill-pushing doctor, along with the Proz@c he'd talked me into months before.  So, a SSRI whose action is only THEORIZED is safe for my young brain but this unprocessed plant is not?

Do YOU believe that?  We're far too often told what to believe, especially when it comes to pharmaceuticals.  Challenge that whenever you can!

Another new friend aged 74 with severe arthritis has also been easing her pains with cannabis oil. She remembers the first time she asked her long-time GP about medicinal cannabis.  She was tired of the morphine and how barfy and loopy it made her feel.  It hindered her ability to be active in her community as she didn't feel safe driving on it though there were no driving precautions on the bottle. She asked her doctor and he simply stared at her quietly, and then making a notation in her file, he dismissively said, "No, you're fine with the morphine."  End of discussion.  Too many discussions end this way.  Too many of us are ignored or intimidated into prescription compliance. The patient-doctor relationship should not be akin to bullying!

We're seeing a real shift in healthcare right now, especially where cannabis is concerned. This plant and the personal freedoms its use requires is shaking the very foundations of Western medicine. Humans everywhere are weaning themselves off of their pills and choosing cannabinoid therapy instead.  Who says safe medicine only comes in a pill?

I personally medicate myself in many ways.  I take oil I make myself out of my legal cannabis.  I smoke doobies and bongs too.  I use a discreet portable vaporizer when I'm on break at work.  And every day I'm learning more ways to get it in and get it workin'!

So before any of us judge the legitimacy of anyone else's cannabis use, we need to ask one question:

What pill is the pot replacing?

Thursday 20 October 2016

You're Legal, Now Let's Save You Some Money!

Becoming legal to use medicinal cannabis in the ACMPR is gaining in popularity and all kinds of clinics are opening to aid in the process.  Canadian Cannabis Clinics is one that will complete the entire process free of charge, payment via your valid provincial health card.  Now that's single payer healthcare!

Unfortunately though, the legality of Cannabis doesn't change the price.  Legal or not, you're paying a lot for something that insurers refuse to cover.  Patients trying medicinal cannabis are shocked to learn they'll pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket each month when they used to have full coverage for their meds.  I advise all patients to keep proof of all Cannabis purchases and all equipment purchases to be claimed on their taxes as a healthcare expense.  For many, getting legal is a step towards relief but in the meantime, how do you afford to pay for your mail order cannabis?

So many Canadians were prescribed pills and now they're taking pills for the side effects of the other pills and it's effecting their overall quality of life.  Our country's disability, pensions, and assistance programs will cover all other medications including addictive opioids but they balk when asked to cover this doctor-prescribed medicine, quoting the lack of a DIN (drug identification number) as a reason to refuse.  I'm grateful that Veteran's Affairs is covering the Veterans' cannabis but what about the rest of us?  Is VAC not governed by the same need for a DIN??

Yet I hear there are patients getting coverage.  The persistent, daily-calling patients who refuse to give up-- can you be one of those?  All it will take is one ... one insurance company to say yes to everyone thus treating Cannabis like the legitimate medicine that it is.  That one company will be the new world leader of insurance coverage.

For Ontarians on ODSP, there is a form called "Request for an Unlisted Drug Product" that some
people have used to get their Cannabis covered.  If you know anyone on ODSP, please share this form with them.  In addition to this, many patients on ODSP have gotten coverage for a vaporizer by asking their doctor to write them a recommendation to use one.  And lastly, if you have health coverage through work, ask if you have an "Health Spending Account".  These are offered through most major insurance companies and are one more opportunity for coverage.

In September, the government announced the new ACMPR and with it, the ability for patients to grow their own Cannabis.  I have friends who grow legally now and they boast a price per gram of .35 to .50 cents when grown outdoors. Perhaps a bit higher for indoor, but in reality, the best way to save money in this program is to grow your own cannabis.  Or in other words, practice some Horticultural Therapy!

This process to get legal to grow your own is as simple as 1-2-3:

1). Get an original Medical Document aka Prescription from a Doctor.
2). Complete and print the online application.
3). Mail these two to Health Canada.

It's important to note here that many Cannabis clinics are refusing to write grow-your-own prescriptions citing quality concerns even though the Supreme Court of Canada deems it safe.
Rest assured, other clinics are here for you.  For example, Canadian Cannabis Clinics respects your right to grow your own medicine.

In the meantime, many of the producers of our medical cannabis have stepped up with compassionate pricing discounts for we patients.  Depending on your provider, you could get from 10 to 30% off when you provide a NOA showing between $24k and $30k, but others are judging discounts on an individual basis.  Many offer discounts for anyone on government pension or assistance.  It's in your best interest to discuss these discounts with your producer's customer service people.  Discounts mean a happy and satisfied customer, the producers want this in you.

Here are links to the sites for the producers who offer compassionate pricing at this time:

ABcann - Aurora - Bedrocan - Broken Coast - Canna Farms - CanniMed - CannTrust - Delta 9 Bio Tech - Emerald - Maricann - MedReleaf - Mettrum - Organigram - Tweed

Let's switch now to how you can make your medicine last, thus saving money.  Whether they're paying $5 or $15 a gram, a lot of patients try to ration their medication by adding tobacco to it. Please don't do this.  What's the sense of saving money if you're harming your lungs?  This study from 1973 in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that cannabinoids dilate the bronchial by almost 40%.  If you're mixing tobacco with your cannabis, all of that nicotine and tar goes deep into the alveoli allowing for further damage and impairment.  What you can do though, is purchase trim from your producer.  Not all sell their trim, but some producers sell theirs for as little as $2.50 a gram!  No more mixing tobacco;  use trim instead.

For those of you non-smoking and non-vaping patients, the oil provided by the producers is a great choice but can be costly.  A one gram per day prescription allows you 3 bottles of this oil per month. Ranging from $95 to $185, that can add up fast.  It's much much more economical to make your own oil infusions.  All this means is that instead of buying the oil, you'll buy the desired strains of dried cannabis with the cannabinoid profile best suited to your health condition and with as much skill as it takes to bake cookies and make stew in a crock pot, you can have your very own cannabis infused oil. For those of us with mild pain levels, the trim mentioned above is a very affordable way to make butter or oil infusions to be used in cooking.  I've been making oil infusions for many years starting with stocks and stems.  It's all medicinal!  Here is a blogpost I wrote showing one of many simple ways to infuse the oil of your choice with Cannabis.

Another invention very worthy of mention here is the Magical Butter machine:  the bread-maker of cannabis infusions.  You literally toss it all in together and choose the appropriate setting and in 2 to 8 hours your medicine is infused.  Strain and medicate.

I have a friend with a lot of chronic pain that she legally treats with medicinal cannabis.  She went home one day in between errands with a friend so she could medicate.  As she stood in the kitchen munching on a muffin, her friend asked if she was going to medicate so they could get going.  She said, "yep ... I'm almost done."  She eats her medicine.  Every single day.  That's right, it's Canada circa 2016, we have a balanced parliament and we like to eat our cannabis!

I'm a legal medicinal cannabis patient and I struggle with the cost of my medicine every single month like so many of you.  I truly believe that the prices will soon begin to lower.  This industry of 35 players is growing fast and the bar for reasonable affordability is currently being decided as more and more of these producers routinely run out of $5 grams.  I say the patient has spoken, we need more $5 grams!

In the meantime, call your producer!  Ask them about their compassionate pricing discounts.  Ask questions of those in the know, read blogs and forums too.  To make sure you're buying the right strains for your condition, check out the Canvasrx site to see what the producers have to offer.  And finally, keep receipts of all things Cannabis so you can claim them on your taxes.

This transition will be costly, but taking back your own health is priceless.

Monday 17 October 2016

Change Your Default Thinking

I had another CBT session today and wow ... incredible sometimes.

When we think of ourselves, or when our self-esteem is considered, we all have sort
of a "default" way of seeing ourselves.

It's in the thoughts we have when we don't know we're thinking.

Most of us are now hyper critical of ourselves, so these thoughts
aren't often kind or encouraging.

My default is and has always been that....

I am wrong
I am stupid
I am less than
I am not enough

I don't show that here and that's why I love writing, but when
I'm told I've made an error, my default is that I'm a stupid
idiot who doesn't deserve the job.

And it happens in a fraction of a second, but no matter, the
corresponding emotion is now there and making me

less than
not enough

How do we fix the default?

That was the topic today.

Even if it takes writing love notes on the mirror with our old
lipstick, we have to tell ourselves that we are worthy and
love-able and knowledgeable and good.

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We live in a world that shuns self love as bragging or narcissism
or pride.

We've made it a negative to be prideful.

Who ever thought that would be a good message?

And most of us will defend others long before we'll defend
ourselves, but I say stop that and be a cat.

You ever see a cat defend themselves?

It's quick
It's sure
It's immediate

Defend yourself and love yourself.
Congratulate yourself for being!

On paper I am this;  but in my mind I am that.

Get it on paper every single day then.

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Saturday 8 October 2016

Double-Standards Harm Society

I learned something sad this week.  I was speaking to an educated person on my city's addiction problems.

Did you know that every single over-dose death is reported as a suicide?
So does that mean Health Canada is unaware of how many over-dose deaths we see?

Even patients on methadone who try to catch a buzz or some relief with street cannabis are being murdered because the douchebags are lacing the cannabis with powdered fentanyl.

If cannabis were legal and sold in regulated shops, these people could continue on their addiction treatment AND enjoy some relaxingly therapeutic cannabinoid therapy.

Smoking anything may not be completely healthy, but life is full of unhealthy habits:

I can smoke cigarettes with 500+ man-made chemicals.

I can smoke cigars made with 3 different leaves selected for their high nicotine content.

I can smoke pipe tobacco that has chemically-made flavours, humectants to keep it moist, and antifungals to keep the moistness from molding!

And ... I can buy each of these and others in storefronts in every Canadian city.

But I can't buy the one smoke-able plant that by toxicity is still free from any historical death-toll.

Je ne comprend
I don't understand

I'm confused in both official languages.


Monday 3 October 2016

Are Indoor Growing Practices Creating Cannabis' Version of MRSA?

**This piece was published by Cannabis Life Network here.

The super sterilization of the medical industry has given us MRSA, methicilin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.  This is a stealthy bacterium that causes infections that are resistant to all of our antibiotics.  It's a strong little beast and is growing stronger every day as we continue to over-prescribe antibiotics, and consume meat from animals that have been fed antibiotics daily as preemptive care for illness.  It's said that a lot of the water in our Great Lake O is contaminated with many forms of antibiotics too.  They're everywhere, sterilizing stomachs and causing imbalances in our own flora every single day.

Nature has a balance.  Super-sterilization disrupts the balance lending power at times to the wrong micro-organism.  Our western system believes that it can win this fight, yet MRSA proves them wrong.  I believe that the super sterilization of how our medical cannabis is being produced is what has given us the need for gamma radiation and other pasteurization techniques used by our licensed producers.

Here's a thought, what if the plant knows we're trying to fool her.  What if her genetics are weakening because electric lumens aren't the same as the sun's rays.  Plant leaves filter the air.  What if we're starving her with our uber-filtered air that is void of anything nutritious?  Plants thrive on interacting with millions of microbes in the air.  As stated in one study, "Just like humans, plants have recently been recognized as meta-organisms, possessing a distinct microbiome and revealing close symbiotic relationships with their associated microorganisms".  It's thought that each specific species fulfills important functions for the host plant.  Can we really replicate that indoors for the host or its microbiome?

Most of our medicinal cannabis is grown in factories these days, warehouses with lots of dark corners for molds to grow.  The difference between growing here, and growing in a greenhouse is night and day;  natural and unnatural.  The Sun not only feeds the plant all that she needs at each hour of the day, but it also kills many harmful microorganisms that dare grow on her bud or leaves or in the air. The heat of Sun kills dangers in the soil as well.  The Sun is to the plant, what breast milk is to the babe.  It's what she's meant to have to thrive to her potential.  And here we are wasting time, effort, and hydro when the Sun shines for free.  It's high time that Cannabis growers all over Canada take back the great outdoors!

Fear and lack of education are to blame here, as they so often are.  The medicinal Cannabis regulations and its illegality are what push the human to do what's so unnatural;  hide the garden inside. These are regulations made from lack of research, lack of knowledge, and lack of foresight. We cannot fulfill Canada's need for medicinal cannabis by growing it indoors.  Not only is it not sustainable, but it's giving the patient inferior product that needs gamma radiation to make it safe to consume.

Come on Canada, we have great minds and green thumbs ... why aren't we using them?