Activism Canada Medical Politics

Dishing the dope on medical cannabis access – A patient speaks out

By Chris Budweed

I live with the remnants of a hard life, poverty, PTSD, complex PTSD, motherhood and recently, Cancer. I am in my 6th decade. I won’t trot out my misery to draw pity here, nor am I comfortable with opening up my intimate private vulnerabilities that my illness has imposed upon me to strangers for their entertainment, but I feel its important to convey some relevant education to those who are receptive to learning more and being open minded about how cannabis helps.

Tonight, I was able to get away with not having to endure a ramped up doozy of a panic attack because I was prepared. I had meds I needed that consist of cannabis oils, salves, edibles.

If my thigh and foot muscles start to bunch and spasm at this time, I can fall, so I usually call out for help if there is any, just to have someone near in case. Most of the time I am alone when this happens, though, so I have to take care to not position myself in precarious places like the edge of a bed or the top of a flight of stairs.

I have a few tricks to call upon when these hit. I reach for a manganese/ cbd/ arnic salve that I slather on and rub til the muscles unsolidify. I will eat a 50 mg cbd edible or gummy to hasten the effect inside as well. I am in the habit of keeping small measured amounts of RSO oil in rice paper packets that I have handy so that ingesting one of these becomes my keystone go-to as a daily regimen anyways but if I feel I need to when I feel one of the attacks ramping, I will add an extra dose by washing another little snip down with water. That will digest within moments and I know I will soon resume to what passes as normal for me.

When I can, once I am free of the bathroom and nausea abates and my sweat is washed away, I have a few puffs of cannabis flower smoke that hastens my getting back to rights. At the lean times when I don’t have primo smoke, I fall back on a few different but adequate grades of high cbd ‘trim’ that I can smoke to the same effect, even though its nowhere near as tasty. Good canna is delish, good meds are good meds. I count myself lucky that I am an effective sourcer of my meds and am usually blessed with tasty.

I just outlined my therapy that addresses the anxiety aspect of my maladies. My cancer diagnosis is different. I recently added heroic doses of RSO oil to the mix and 2 or 3 times a day, I consume a third of a gram as it is designed to blast rebuilding cancer cells to smithereens when they’re the most susceptible. 60 grams in 90 days at $50 for 5 grams does grow on trees even if the money to pay for it doesn’t, and its lifesaving for me. I have compassionate providers in spite of what they face by these ominous systems being lowered over them.

One of my sources is the trusted dispensary in Victoria known at the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club. They have knowledgeable growers, staffs, chefs, tenders and are compassionate and trauma aware. I go to them for good reason as well as they provide a safe place to consume among like minds when I am in Victoria.

Tonight I was exhausted after wrapping up an unusually celebratory day after a few milestones and challenges simultaneously resolved. As a result, my body responded with a spectrum of reactions with heightened hypervigilance becoming problematic.

Adding to this excitement, the VCBC, which is the facility that is my source of the meds that literally saves my life, are under a confusing and intimidating black cloud as the provincial cannabis police force begin to impose their legalization threats. 

The VCBC, which has been issued a business license by the city of Victoria, that pays taxes, and has employees on a health plan, has problems with the province. The province thinks that cannabis is only for recreation and refuses to respect it as our medicine to the point of imposing threats, acting disrespectful, threatening with property loss, jail time and absconding with our beautiful medicine.

VCBC people are my friends, my trusted advisers, and part of my support net. They are at the mercy of these bully based tactics and as such, their rights are in peril, too, I’m very worried about their well being, not just mine, its not just about my meds!

So you could say, I am hyper stressed. When I get over a certain degree of tolerance I get sicker as my immune compromises. I might be able to marginally function, but my biology will tank, my amygdala will suck out what’s left of my muscle strength, and I am at constant risk of repeat attacks with an immune system that starts to falter. My capacity narrows from hours a day to minutes in an hour. Since I am in recovery from recent cancer treatments including surgery and radiation, I’m told to avoid stress. How do you think that’s possible in this situation when I must worry that I might not be able to continue accessing the only meds that keep me alive?

I’ve been told to return to my nonexistant physician. The only help I have is a dispensary under the hammer.

When one has fibromyalgia, complex PTSD, and its compounded by the cancer therapies, and one learns that SSRI’s makes one suicidal, dull and one dimensional, one opts for a more healthy solution. For me, that is my cannabis routine of combined endeavours which allows me some quality of life.

Legalization is anything but. The government bullies the people who provide my medicine and it toys with patients. They crucify serious dispensaries and reward former cronies in politics with high end recreational marijuana outlets that is not vaguely cannabis.

These recreational marijuana stores are problematic for the following reasons:

-The product is unviewable

-You’re going to tell me what I need

-The packaging is onerous and unsustainable and /or only by mail order that comes with no guarantees

-The price/taxes is ridiculous

-The weight/quality/curing is off

-The product is plant matter because you dont do edibles/salves/oils/lotions/butters/bath bombs/suppositories etc etc and it is untrustworthy. We don’t have any way of knowing if it is heavily fertilized, pesticided, gassed, flooded, moldy, uncured or the strain we’re told it is.

-There is no ‘mercy’ program in place to provide for patients on fixed incomes. If Big Pharma is covered, why is cannabis unable to be covered?

-Growers are new at it and they enter thinking that its easy to crop acres of it. Just like growing barley.


Author and VCBC Staff Member Julia Veintrop

The dispensary at the VCBC is none of the above.

I’ve known VCBC people for a long time. They aren’t slick kids in new shirts parroting a company line on a minimum wage with no benefits like the glossy new licensed producer outlet that just popped up across the street. They fought in Supreme Court, ran Hempology 101 at UVIC diligently for years and help people like me. They show up, they are in good stead with the mayor and they enhance the quality of lives.

The place that the government legitimized and plunked across the street from the VCBC will sell me weak gummies so I can go from $20 a week to $700 a week if I could pay their prices to attain the same dose.

There is no other option for patients like me. No cannabis means the cancer returns, my anxiety cranks, my body freaks and another one bites the dust. I tend to get the feeling that’s what my country wants.  Expensive burdens on a taxed system by the thousands? Let’s disconnect them from accessing anything that might keep them hanging around being a drain on our budgets.

The force that is acting like this ominous hammer, threatening to close the VCBC down, is called the Community Safety Unit and consists of 50 odd retired RCMP rehired to pull this duty that is designed to see to it that all existing non-conforming cannabis providers are shut out of the developing racket.

Their mothers must be proud as they strap on their too tight uniforms so they will look the part of the gangster busters they must imagine themselves to be. Looking down their noses at the humble space that has been a loyal sanctity for many as they move in (glorified public servants with a weapon), they are paid bullies. 

In the shadow of a wall mural of a tree where every leaf is a story of how cannabis has improved someone’s life, they threaten to take our medicine. In angry language that is not trauma aware, they speak to staff who are also patients with ptsd. The CSU is paid to deter dedicated and informed healing employees who are literally saving lives. Every single VCBC staff member is dedicated to  returning dignity to people who have less hope every day, at a time when we are failed by our doctors and medical system. 

Also, we lose a think tank of centuries of knowledge from experienced growers who understand strains and what they are good for, who are being let fall to the wayside and not valued as these people are sent falling through cracks or pushed out of the field.

Many of us are seniors who have no doctors, many are marginalized, many are homeless, most are poor. Somehow this disconnection is a solution to the Canadian powers-that-be   and they believe that to refuse our dignified, reasonable access to cannabis is the only option available. There is no process or procedure for negotiation or meeting of minds that would allow for medicinal as well as a recreational model. No mom and pop stores, no craft industry must survive their agenda.

Maybe the provincial government (and the federal too in its complicitness) thinks this bullying disconnect is legal, but its morally reprehensible and to me, its murder.

The government is killing patients by impeding reasonable access. Its playing games with lives in order to line up the fat hogs at a trough that cares not a whit about a patient. Its driving patients who have escaped opioids back to their addictions with Big Pharma.

That is the crime here

Not what the VCBC is doing.

And more and more people know it every day.

This is replaying in Ontario, in Nova Scotia and elsewhere. The eugenics experts know that there are not adequate medical care in Canada’s future for the flood of baby boomers that is aging into and beyond retirement. Opioid addiction has reached critical levels and cannabis in its many forms is the one accessible hope that we may have, to rebuild health, when we are failed by systems crumbling out from under us just as we need them the most.

Why are these forces so determined to disconnect us from it? 

Please don’t close the VCBC.