Many people turn to medical marijuana after finding little help from pharmaceuticals. One such patient is Sandra Knoll, a 59-year-old medical marijuana user from Manitoulin Island, Ontario who explained why marijuana is the only medicine that can provide relief from anxiety and pain.
Explain which medical conditions you have?
I’ve got a few going. I’ve had fibromyalgia for, oh, I guess it’s about 13 years now. I have spondylitis in my back. I have it in my neck and I get cortisone injections in my neck.
I have trigeminal myalgia in my face, but that is just on and off. I’ve lost total hearing in my left ear. I also have osteoarthritis in my neck and down my spine. I get migraines from these conditions too.
Which pharmaceuticals do you use for those conditions?
I’m taking prescription pain medications. (The names of the drugs are withheld by request.)
When you use these drugs, what side effects do you experience?
I get dry mouth, dizziness, and heartburn. I’m sure my stomach is really messed up from them. I’m so used to being on them now that they don’t have the same effect as when I was first using.
Why do you use medical marijuana?
It’s the only thing that really gives me some form of relief where I can finally just be relaxed and released from the anxiety and the pain. I started using medical marijuana two years ago.
Before that had you ever used it before?
When I was teenager. I’m 59, so when I was a teenager we played with it here and there, and throughout my adult life. Whenever I was partying or something I’d have a couple tokes, but other than that, no.
What brought you to using medicinal marijuana as an alternative?
It was suggested to me by different people, and then my doctor actually suggested it. He wrote me a prescription for Cesamet, which is marijuana in pill form. It was somewhat helpful, but the side effects were awful. The next day you just want to stay in bed and it makes you really tired.
Why do you prefer medicinal marijuana over pharmaceuticals?
It truly is the only thing where I get full relief where the pain isn’t constant in my brain. I can finally get some air out and just relax, and not feel that throb-throb. When you’re in constant pain like that you’re so weary, so anything that lightens your being is welcome. It seems to be the only thing that does the job, and it’s much safer for me.
Do you find that with marijuana there are no side effects?
Not for me. I’m careful. My conditions have me where I’m not always stable on my feet, so when I smoke marijuana I’m usually more careful of how I function, just to be more sure of my footing. That goes with the physical condition, and my age.
So elaborate on some marijuana’s benefits.
It helps me especially in the evening after a long day of feeling like crap. At least I know evening will come, and I can finally get some relief.
Is there anything else you might want to add, Sandra?
During the daytime I keep it hidden. I don’t let anybody know that’s what I do. Well, it won’t be hidden anymore, which is okay by me. I gave that some great thought.
My stance on making it legal is so strong, and I think more people need to come out. There are a lot more people that I know who smoke this for pain. I have a friend who’s a nurse and she uses it for pain.
Chris Riddell is a freelance writer born in Toronto, and living in Montreal. He has a journalism background and writes about business, technology, and urban life for print and the web. He encourages you to visit his website Riddell Creative to find out more about what he does, and to hire him for any writing jobs you might have.