It seems kind of backwards, I know, but the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada is what led me to seek and obtain medical cannabis under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). Cannabis wasn’t really on my radar as much as it had been earlier in my life, until legalization happened. It didn’t take long for me to realize that much of my cannabis consumption is, or was, closer to self-medication than trying to get high for fun. 

Medical cannabis for anxiety

I live with anxiety and slight depression. In the past I’ve controlled it with prescription SSRI medication, and therapy.

I’m a mom of two young kids, I work from home while keeping my two-year-old at home with me, and I freelance that work — life can get very overwhelming. I’m an introvert, and the level of chaos that can peak is enough to send me into panic attacks.

A small dose of cannabis, I realized, let me ride that wave of chaos and stay on top of it instead of drowning in it. It helps me not obsess over the little details. It makes the loud, zany antics funny more than distracting or stressful. It smooths the edges and boosts my mood. 

I have sought out CBD-based strains post-legalization, having never tried anything CBD-heavy before, and I appreciate that I can use these products and still be a responsible daytime parent and capable writer. At the end of the night once the kids are safely in bed and my work is put away, I can ‘turn off’ even more with THC.

So, instead of trying to work the recreational system and hope the products I wanted would be in stock and shipping, I thought, why not seek a medical permit for cannabis to treat my anxiety?

Medical cannabis for pain

I love Canadian healthcare, and I also recognize that occasional long wait times are part of that universal access. I’ve been struggling with chronic, daily pain for quite awhile, and it took me a year to get into a rheumatologist, who travels from the GTA to my remote, small town infrequently.

At this point I’m not any closer to understanding why my fingers, knuckles, toes, and legs ache, and the pain, while not excruciating by any means, has affected my ability to do my work, my ability to play with my kids or be active, and my ability to sleep, all in conjunction with that pesky anxiety problem, too.

Cannabis, in my experience, hasn’t taken my pain away completely, but it does serve as something that dulls the ache and, more than that, helps me forget about it and focus on the rest of my life. That being said, as I mentioned, CBD is a pretty new thing to me so I’m excited to explore more of how this powerful product can combat inflammation!

Between the pain and the anxiety, and my interest in having some more expert guidance in using cannabis to treat or manage these issues instead of self-medicating, I decided to book an appointment with a cannabis clinic.

Accessing medical cannabis through an online clinic

Once I had the idea in my head that medical cannabis could help me, I looked for an online clinic. I had a few reasons for doing that rather than asking a local doctor.

  • There’s one clinic for my entire area, and it is remarkably busy; my family doctor left the practice and I have yet to sign up for a new one because it’s such a challenge to get in and get stuff done (between the lack of availability and my own chaos including having to bring the littlest one everywhere I go). 
  • If I waited a month+ to get into a local doctor and she declined, I’d be even further behind, whereas a cannabis clinic would, I guessed, be more inclined to hear me out.
  • I wanted the advice and recommendations of people within the medical cannabis industry — if a local doctor authorized me under ACMPR it would give me the access, but I wouldn’t know where to start!
  • There are no brick and mortar cannabis clinics within five hours of where I live, and that kind of travel is unrealistic for my current life (and expensive).

It cost me $20 to book an appointment through a platform that was essentially Skype or FaceTime. I was very anxious about the appointment, ironically — I have a hard time navigating medical situations in general — but it went very smoothly.

I spoke with a counsellor with took down details of my identification and current prescriptions, then with a nurse practitioner who discussed my conditions, how they impact me, how I thought cannabis might help, my current and historical cannabis use, a medical history, and then what the recommendations were for my own medical cannabis use. The counsellor then set me up with an LP, went over dosing, and sent me a bunch of resources. 

The LP had me in their system within a day, and a few days after that I had a bottle of CBD oil and a bottle of 1:1 THC/CBD oil in my hands. I’m still figuring out where that dosage sweet spot is for me, but overall, the process and system have been shockingly easy to navigate. 

I know that there are medical patients who have struggled with the impact of recreational legalization — the added cost of excise tax, sold out products, LP seeming to focus more on the lucrative recreational side versus keeping up with medical products that people need for their health. I also know that medical patients have fought long and hard to even have access to cannabis, and have largely paved the way for overall legalization. In many ways I feel like I’m clinging to hard-fought coattails, and I am very, very grateful.

I’m curious about how medical cannabis will evolve with recreational legalization in place. I have heard rumblings of more advanced products, as some LPs focus solely on medical production and leave recreational production to other companies. It’s an area I’ll be closely watching!