Rona (50s)

KidneysRenal cancer is terminal.  


Rona and her husband were wrapping up their 13 year old excavation business when she first got sick.  In 2014 doctors found a tumor in her kidney.  August 2014 one of her kidneys were removed.  She got sick again.  She tells me, she was advised that renal cancer is incurable and can resurface anywhere in the body, in the skin, the bones even the brain.  It’s unpredictable.  This time it showed up in her pancreas.  She qualified for the Whipple Procedure .  I read that only 15% of people diagnosed with cancer in the pancreas qualify for this procedure, it can only be done in the very beginning stages and is for patients whose tumors are located at the head of the pancreas.  It’s essentially a surgical bypass removing the tumor and re sectioning the remaining pancreas.  She had this surgery in 2016.  Then in November, 2016 they found 3 small clusters of tumors on her pancreas.  She has lost about 50% of her pancreas already so they can’t do anything more.  Chemotherapy is a last resort.  Radiation is not an option because it risks destroying what’s left of her pancreas, which would be fatal.


Now she’s in the monitoring stage.  The clusters of tumors were about 1.5cm in size, so she begun consuming cannabis oil as a supplement to her prescription medication for her pancreas.  She puts the oil into capsules and says she uses an indica- based oil that’s high in THC and contains about 2% CBD.  This past August, for the first time since Rona’s ordeal began in 2014, her MRI showed no growth in the size of the cluster.  She continued to take the oil.  She takes almost a quarter of a gram at night for maintenance.  Her last MRI showed the cluster had actually shrunk by 3mm.  This was the first time in a year they had changed size at all, and they shrunk.  She admits this doesn’t sound like much but reminds me that they were small to begin with.  She feels the oil is definitely working.  She also tells me this is the best she’s felt physically since 2014.  


In the meantime, this past summer she noticed a large lump on her chest just below her collarbone and because of the type of cancer she has, they examined and removed it right away in case it was malignant.  It was.  A few weeks later, it came back again, within a month, it was back to its original size.   She couldn’t see the surgeon for a couple of weeks so she treated it topically with cannabis oil.  She covered the affected area in oil and bandaged it up for 4 days.  She did this twice.  By the time she saw the surgeon, there was nothing there.  No evidence of a tumor.  Her doctor told her that this particular type of skin cancer can come and go, but Rona says “I asked 4 other doctors if this was the case and they said that they had never heard of that happening before.”  She had more tests done on the area and was given the all clear.  No cancer.  She attributes this to the cannabis oil.


On the impending Legalization, Rona says “It’s probably going to do more damage than good with all the regulations attached.”  She feels cannabis should simply be decriminalized rather than legalized so it’s not against the law to have it, but you don’t need all these criminal restrictions.  “It’s a medicine, we definitely need it and at least medical patients should still have access to the (existing) dispensaries.  At least medical patients.”  She states “It’s a healing medicine and should be treated as such.  It can help so many people”   She also adds that doctors should be researching it more and that going through all the hassle of trying to get your prescription, renewing it yearly, abiding by the government rules to go with an LP, just to get garbage (sometimes tainted or poor quality) is just sad and needs to change.  


Rona lives with her husband in Sissiboo Falls in Weymouth, Nova Scotia.


If you are using cannabis to treat illness or injury please contact me through Comments or the Contact tab.





Human Kidneys

Cannabis oil in jars

Tina, 48


Tina was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CPRS).  Pain resulting from 7 car accidents since 1999.  She has permanent nerve damage and limited use of her right arm.  A former employer from one of the National banks, Tina suffers from several sources of pain.  Fibromyalgia, Spinal Stenosis, bursitis in her shoulder,  sciatic nerve pain, herniated discs, and bone spurs.

Some of the medications she was prescribed resulted in permanent kidney damage.  She’s had a couple of surgeries for kidney stones.  After the last surgery in 2012, she sought out alternative medications when she had little to no appetite after being diagnosed with cataracts caused from steroid medication, and from high doses of Morphine in addition to drugs like Percocets, anti inflammatories, Lyrica, Gabapentin, muscle relaxers and even Oxycontin for a while.  She was up to 28 pills a day.

All I did was wake up to take medication then fall right back asleep.”  Tina tells me all she did was sleep.  It affected her relationships, especially with her children.  “My daughter called me a pill junkie when I was simply taking what the doctor prescribed, as it was prescribed.  I didn’t abuse my medications.”

She went cold turkey off of everything.  This is dangerous to do and I strongly urge you to see your doctor before making any drastic changes to your medications.  There can be deadly side effects, like seizures and even death.  Tina was supposed to be hospitalized and monitored closely as she withdrew from all the pharmaceuticals.  She chose to stay at home having someone with her monitor her withdrawl.

She has since begun growing her own medicine.  She uses the whole plant making everything from canna oil, to topical creams and bath bombs infused with cannabis.  She consumes her cannabis capsules throughout the day and then supplements with edibles, shatter and smoking some of her favorite strains.  She sticks to Sativa strains during the day and Indica for the evening.  Her favorites are strains like Holy Grail, Kalashnikova, Lemon OG, Ghost OG and Hawaiian Hash Plant.  “I strive to ingest about 1800 mg a day.”  Tina tells me that she begins her day with capsules, has an edible or 2 at lunchtime, a couple more capsules and has a joint before bed.  She takes her oil caps every 5-6 hours.  She ensures almost everything she eats contains cannabis, even in beverages, like hot chocolate.  If she needs to, she’ll supplement with some shatter but she admits, shatter lasts her a long time.  She has even experimented with micro-dosing psilocybin, the key component of “magic” mushrooms which has proven to have marvelous effects on pain and well-being.  She’s lost over 140 lbs since going off of all the prescription medications.

Made with cannabis 

Tina is severely physically disabled now.  She uses aids to walk and dress.  She received a wheelchair this past June with funding due to severe nerve issues in her right leg.  However, much of her medical costs are out of pocket for Tina as her employer cancelled her disability back in 2009.  She has had a lawyer for the last seven years to overturn the decision and is currently awaiting her next court date in July 2018.  She also suffered a major house fire destroying all her medicine and her home.  She has since encountered problems with renewing her medical license due to a lack of a permanent address.  She perseveres.

Tina insists cannabis has improved her life drastically.  She’s not as tired and it helps manage her pain levels and improve her mood.  Even her relationships with friends and family, in particular, her children, have improved.  “I can walk and do things and have a routine.  I can carry on conversations.  I have more of a normal life now.”

On the impending Legalization Tina has concerns.  “They haven’t even got the medical side of it right yet.”  She is also unsupportive of cannabis being sold only at retail locations under the strict Liquor store model.  “Cannabis should be seen as medicine and treated as such.”  Like many pain patients, Tina resents being clumped in with the recreational users and terms like pothead because so many of us are simply trying to manage physical pain.
Are you using cannabis to treat/manage illness/pain?  Contact me through Comments or the Contact tab.  I’d love to share your story.

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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Cannabis Oil Capsules (including guide)

Cannabis infused bath bombs

Cannabis infused lotions and salves

Cannabis edibles

Cannabis hot chocolate (including recipe)


Sue, 55

Thoracic Spine
Thoracic Spine

Sue was in the military for 21 years, retiring at only 38.  She worked in Military Transport and her specialty was Heavy Equipment.  One day, while on duty, she was involved in a motor vehicle accident that left her with whiplash.  She was treated for the whiplash for nearly two years, but later on learned that she also had 3 broken discs in her back, T5, T6 and T7 in addition to her neck injury.  After working in Heavy Equipment for over 20 years, that had also taken its toll on her back forcing her to retire early.  The military honorably discharged her for medical reasons.


She found herself in pain most of the time.  She was given courses of painkillers and muscle relaxants like Flexeril, Talwin, Demerol and Amitriptyline.  She couldn’t stand the feeling some of the painkillers were giving her.  They left her feeling groggy and cloudy.  She understood some of these drugs were actually habit forming and she didn’t want to end up being addicted to them in the long run.


Sue stumbled upon marijuana from her son.  Her son had brought some home and after being against it for so many years, she decided to give it a try much to her son’s surprise.


“Sitting there, I was all of a sudden- calm.  I was pain free and very tired.  My normal routine was to take pain pills for my back before bed but this night, I took NONE of them.  I got up the stairs with no pain, It didn’t take me hours to get comfortable and I ended up having the best night of sleep.  Ever.”


The next morning, Sue could actually think straight.  “On the pharmaceuticals, I was always disorientated and it took me a long time to wake up only to have to take more pills for the pain.”  She found that with cannabis, she was not only still pain free but it also kept her head clear thus beginning her three year journey to ween herself off of ALL the pharmaceuticals she was being prescribed..


Cannabis oil
Cannabis oil

From there she went on to research cannabis further, which led to growing her own plants as she is adamant about pesticides and ensuring her medicine is truly organic and chemical free.  She prefers to consume oils and coconut infused products as she found smoking it aggravated her back from coughing.


To tell you the truth I was scared of all this at first, but all the (prescription) drugs I was on left me feeling cloudy, unable to function, unable to think, unable to participate in work related duties or even family functions.”  Sue attributes cannabis to gaining her life back.

Vaping Cannabis
Vaping Cannabis

“I make my own cannabis infused oil and I use a vaporizer during the day if I need.”  Sue tells me that when she was on prescription drugs, she had to take them throughout the day in addition to the evening.  “With cannabis, I just basically need it in the evenings now.”  Sue states.


Sue, who has a run a feral cat sanctuary for years, feared that she would have to give it up.  The pharmaceuticals left her feeling worn out and not able to function.  She is happy to report her sanctuary is still going strong, helping feral cats in rural Nova Scotia thanks to cannabis.


She still has bad days and worse days, but the good days outweigh the bad now.


“I love cannabis medicine.  I’ve found a life now and it’s worth living.  I am living again!”


Are you treating illness or pain with cannabis?  Has it changed your life for the better?  Please drop me a line in Comments or hit the Contact tab.  You can also reach us at @902HigherLiving or @LezGeek on Twitter.







Spinal Diagram

Cannabis oil


Types of Vapes

Alex, 32

Progression Of PPMS

In 2010, Alex was diagnosed with the rarest form of MS.  Primary Progressive MS  (PPMS) which is characterized by its progressive neurological degeneration and the lack of remissions (a break from symptoms) affecting only 15 percent of MS sufferers.  Some of the symptoms of PPMS include; muscle spasms, constantly contracting muscles cause pain and stiffness.  Cognitive impairment, fatigue, vision impairment and bladder and bowel problems.  Most people with PPMS require assistance with everyday tasks.

Alex went through 6 years of pain.  At one point he was on 10 different pharmaceuticals ranging from opioids, muscle relaxants, anti fatigue medication, sleeping pills, anxiety medication and stomach medication from the effects of the other drugs.  In 2015, Alex had an Intrathecal Baclofen Pump (ITB) surgically installed when the pill form of Baclofen stopped working.  (Baclofen helps restore regular muscle function.)  This is a common treatment for MS patients suffering from stiff muscles and spasms (spasticity) and includes a pump being connected to your spine delivering medication directly through the spinal fluid.  The pump holds and releases the medication via catheter.  He was on the maximum dosage; the pump, being on an automatic release schedule began causing Alex to overdose.  “At one point I spent 6 months in a perpetual overdose.”  Alex tells me.

Canna Caps

Alex, no stranger to cannabis, knew that MS patients often use cannabis to control symptoms.  He began researching the most efficient and cost effective methods of medicating with marijuana.  He started growing his own plants and making capsules.  He uses coconut oil to extract the cannabinoids .  By making his own, he eliminates any unnecessary chemicals and poisonous pesticides and he is able to control his dose.  He then added some Distillate which is 99% pure THC sap.  Although he admits he can rarely afford Distillate.


He began megadosing with canna capsules increasing his dosage daily.  He found relief.  It helped his spasms, stiffness, his mood and anxiety and even improved his muscle tone enough that he was able to even get up out of his wheelchair occasionally.  He likes to supplement his capsules with edibles in the evening and concentrates that he vapes throughout the day.  Using nothing but cannabis, Alex underwent surgeries and stays at the hospital using nothing but his handheld vaporizer and cannabis concentrates.  He uses a Smoke Buddy when he’s in public.  The device eliminates the little bit of smoke from vaping by exhaling into it.  He says no one’s ever given him a problem and he’s been open and upfront about his cannabis use with doctors.

Smoke Buddy

In June 2016, Alex was able to get off of ALL his prescription pharmaceuticals using only cannabis as medicine.  In February 2017, his Intrathecal Baclofen pump was removed.  He is proud to be off his medications while maintaining a quality of life.  “I am so thankful for cannabis and the amazing people I’ve met along the way” speaking of the Cannabis Community in Nova Scotia where he lives.

Since the debacle surrounding the pump and experiencing overdoses followed by withdrawals, Alex essentially fired his doctor leaving him without a family physician since 2015.  He’s on waiting lists.  In the meantime, his medical marijuana prescription has expired.  He still continues to grow and make his capsules.

“I have a right to produce my own medicine, especially since social programs like Social Assistance refuse to recognize cannabis as medication, limiting patients access to it.  I’ve seen people die with lack of medication and by consuming tainted products.  The Allard Injunction of 2014 protects my right to grow my own medicine.”

Alex has contacted many people in power to address his unique situation so he can avoid any further prosecutions or fines.  He has reached out to his MP, done surveys for the Provincial Task Force and Health Canada.  He has contacted his MLA, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Justice, his mayor and the RCMP.  No one has returned his calls.

Another problem Alex has encountered is staffing.  Being confined to a wheelchair means he relies on caregivers to assist him with harvesting his plants and making his capsules.  He’s run into problems where caregivers refuse to touch his medicine in fear of being reprimanded by their employer or being intimidated by police.  Alex reports that one caregiver had been contacted by RCMP regarding Alex’s cannabis use.  “She was a single mother and was afraid for her kids, worried that CPS might threaten her.”

When asked about the impending Legalization Alex told me he felt like they weren’t focusing on the real issues and frequently construct rules that violates people’s rights.

“You have the same people busting people for marijuana that are supposed to protect you.” it seems like a conflict of interest.

He feels that people on fixed incomes should have the right to grow their own medicine.  He thinks the government should take advantage of all the prime farmland available in rural Nova Scotia and establish Provincial grow fields tended by actual farmers.

“They need to talk to the people involved in the industry and the patients; the real experts and really listen to them.”  He insists.  “After all, look at the mess they’ve created with the medical side of marijuana regulation, what’s going to happen when recreational use becomes legal?”

Alex currently resides in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.  He has three beautiful children that are the lights of his life.  He continues to make his capsules and wait on a list for a Doctor.  He is still looking for reliable caregivers.

If cannabis has helped you manage pain/illness please drop me a line via Comments, Contact or Twitter @LezGeek


Additional Reading

Learn more on making your own Canna capsules here

More About the Allard (MMPR/ACMPR)

Government Releases Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes


Smoke Buddy

Canna Caps


Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) graph

Samantha, 43

Higher Living Wellness Centre Inc.  Patient StoriesMost people call me Sam, in fact I prefer that.  Only teachers and parents ever called me Samantha.  I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself.  I’m a 43 year old woman with Arthritis all through my spine, hands, feet and hips.  I have Fibromyalgia.  I have Degenerative Disc Disease in 3 spots in my neck and spine, making it painful to sit or stand for any length of time.  I have Endometriosis which has caused me a few emergency trips to the hospital, surgery and the joys of being barren.  I’ve had depression for the entirety of my adult life, being medicated since the age of 18 for that as well as Anxiety Disorder.  I have insomnia.  I am constantly in pain it’s just a matter of behind able to hide it some days.  Some days I can’t hide it.  Most recently, in 2015 I was diagnosed with PTSD.  I haven’t been able to work in 6 years.  I have had a prescription for medical marijuana for 3 years now.


Chronic pain and immune system issues became ultra pronounced in 2011.  I was put off work indefinitely.  I can’t handle fragrances, and my last office job left me on all fours in front of a toilet more often than being at my desk actually working.  I have seen a number of specialists over the years, including The Environmental Clinic in Fall River, NS.  Struggling with Chronic illness and pain since I was young, I have tried just about everything for relief.  High doses of antidepressants, increasing doses of anxiety meds; I took Amitriptyline, Elavil, Clonazepam.  I had to take prescription sleeping meds like Trazodone then later Zopiclone.  I took prescription anti-inflammatories for the better part of 20 years until my stomach couldn’t handle it anymore and they stopped working.  I’ve been on Prozac, Effexor, Paxil (which led to a hospitalized suicide attempt in 2001), Celexa, and now Cymbalta.  I’ve taken opiates but they make me really sick.  I don’t enjoy that sinking nauseous feeling I get from opiates.  I’ve tried drugs that were opiate –like and still experienced the same side effects.  Years of prescription drugs have very much affected my liver, to the point where I’m extremely sensitive to medication, even Tylenol.


In my late 20’s, during a particularly bad period, the pain was so bad, it left me curled in a ball crying, a friend introduced me to cannabis as pain control.  I smoked a small joint and noticed relief almost immediately.  This was a game changer for me.  From there on out, I made sure to keep a little in the house for when that time of the month came.


Anyone with Fibromyalgia knows there are a plethora of symptoms ranging from pain and fatigue, to nausea and digestive problems.  Sure, I could take a pill for pain, a pill for inflammation, a couple of pills for nausea and a benzo for anxiety and then another pill to help me sleep OR, I can have one joint of straight indica and get relief from all those symptoms in one shot.  


Over the last 2 years, I have discovered the power of oils.  Personally, I find that ingesting a dose of oil goes way further than smoking a joint does.  The oil works and stays in your system longer making it not only convenient, because you don’t always want to light a joint, it’s discreet, smell free, and long lasting.  They come in a variety of strengths and seem to range anywhere from $35 upwards to $80/g (for honey oil).  




I like concentrates.  They are ultra strong and give you immediate relief, where oils typically take about 40-60 mins to start working.  The only problem I have with things like shatter, is that it hurts my lungs.  I find it harsh and it often makes me cough, sputter and tear up.  That being said, I tried it with a “Nectar Collector”  and it was a completely different experience.  The Nectar Collector made for a much smoother smoke.  I highly recommend it because you can use that device with any concentrate.  My favorite of the concentrates would probably be Rosin.


The 3 Rs: Resin, Live Resin, Rosin



These are all highly potent and it’s easy to get them confused.  Resin is basically the sap from the plant.  The gooey trichomes where all the medicine lives.  The black crud that we scrape from our pipes and bongs.  High in THC.


Rosin (what I like) is where the dried and cured flower is pressed under a combination of pressure and heat to release the THC rich resin.  Out of the concentrates, I prefer Rosin personally, because it doesn’t contain any extra extraction chemical like say butane, that’s frequently used in shatter.  It tastes pure, works well and is long lasting.  You can even make this at home with a simple hair straightener if you’re so inclined. 

Live Resin
Live Resin

Live Resin is a fairly new process that involves cryogenically freezing freshly harvested plants at temperatures below -292 degrees using the entire plant; flowers, leaves stems and stalk.  The reason why people are gearing towards this newer process is that it preserves the terpenes (flavour maker, good stuff) and the medical efficacy of the plant.  Other processes like shatter, causes terpene loss because of the heat involved.  Because of the cryogenic freezing portion of this process, Live Resin tends to cost more but it really is fantastic.




I love edibles.  Chocolate bars, caramels and gummies are at the top of my list.  They range in price from about $12/15 per item.  I find I can often get 2 or 3 doses out of a chocolate bar and because you’re ingesting cannabis rather than smoking it, the effects are long lasting.  It’s also odourless and discreet.


My ‘Go To’ Strains


I stick mainly with pure indica or indica dominant products.  It provides good pain relief and a deeper sleep.  Not to say sativa doesn’t have its place, as a CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) sufferer, nothing perks me up more than my favorite sativa strain- Green Crack. Sativa tends to give you more of a head high than body, but it certainly gives you energy and I also find it great for creativity.  If I’m exhausted and dragging my butt, Green Crack gives me energy and shortly after smoking it I can be found thoroughly cleaning my apartment or walking my dog.  Some of my favorite indica strains include: Black Tuna, Romulan, Rockstar, White Rhino, Purple Kush, ACDC and Harlequin.  (For more good strains for pain- click here

LP VS. Dispensary


Initially, I loved my first LP.  I was with Broken Coast in BC.  The product was great and it shipped fast.  The only problem was that it technically cost more because of taxes and shipping.  I also couldn’t purchase less than 10 grams which meant I had to set aside at least $130 any time I wanted to order.  Most disabled people I know, don’t have those kinds of resources and I rarely did/do either.  I’ve tried 2 other LPs and it was/is the same.  No compassion pricing, limited strains, no edibles or concentrates and they are frequently out of strains you rely on.  Oh, and I couldn’t talk to anyone.  Ever.  You have to email them and wait for them to respond.  Needless to say, I’m fond of 2 dispensaries in the Maritimes.  Only 2.  One of which is of course Higher Living Wellness as they are geared towards patients and medical use. The other is where I live in Saint John, NB just because it’s close and they have good product but their service is no where near where Higher Living Wellness Centre is.


Cannabis has saved my life- literally.  Before, facing a life full of nothing but pain and sickness doesn’t give you much to want to live for.  At times, depression has debilitated me.  Now, as long as I have cannabis, I can somewhat function like a normal person.  I can do my household chores, go for walks, enjoy the company of friends, complete with laughter, and get a decent night of sleep after.  I prefer medicating naturally and am happy to report I am now only on one prescription medication.  


If Cannabis has saved your life, reach out to me through Contact, Comments or Twitter @LezGeek.





The Three Rs, Resin, Rosin and Live Resin

Higher Living Wellness Centre Inc.  Presents graphic- my own, Canva

Melissa, 48

Higher Living Wellness Centre BlogMelissa’s career came to a grinding halt in 2009 when she was attacked by a violent inmate while working as a corrections officer in a Federal facility,  in Truro NS.   The inmate was known to be violent among officials after attacking a parole officer in a previous incident.  After that, the inmate was sent to Melissa’s unit in Mental Health in the Structured Living Environment without any warning of her prior violent outburst.

Melissa, previously injuring her ankle on the job, was unable to get a good grip with her swollen right foot to defend herself.   She was pulled in to the bathroom.  During the scuffle, Melissa tells me she noticed a razor blade lying next to a bathtub and she could only assume the patient meant to get her over there.   She fought back as hard as she could but permanently injured her shoulder in the process.

Melissa, who previously worked as a psych nurse in Halifax, had been attacked with a chair by another patient.  “I heard pop pop pop and felt it from my head down to my shoulders when it hit my head”   At the time, Melissa tells me nurses were being attacked 2-3 times a week, so with her psychiatry background, she applied for the Corrections position in the Mental Health unit at a provincial jail.  “At the time, it seemed like a safer option because there were supposed to be more safeguards against attacks.”  

After the attack, she attempted to return to work but says she was never able to do so at full capacity between her torn shoulder and the searing pain in her head.  She says she “received no support from her employer as they assumed no responsibility”.  She was assigned a caseworker for her Workers Compensation case who Melissa tells me, wasn’t very helpful and had no medical knowledge yet she was was determining that Melissa’s treatments weren’t necessary.  She also breached privacy with inaccurate information in 2015, informing the employer that Melissa was using cannabis.  Shortly after this, Melissa was put on Permanent Medical Impairment (MPI) terminating her employment.

Trigeminal NeuralgiaTrying an injectable medication called Depo-Medrol which is a low dose corticosteroid combined with a freezing agent and Botox for treatment of her jaw and shoulder, she found some relief.   This was denied by the Worker’s Compensation Board.   She had to fight for close to a year to get it covered.  The pharmaceuticals she was prescribed, such as high doses of Lyrica, Nabilone (a synthetic cannabinoid THC pill) and high doses of prescription muscle relaxers were not alleviating her pain. “It feels like a searing hot pain like an electrical shock that goes down your head, face and neck. It just kind of leaves you unable to speak as you try to keep yourself from falling to your knees.”  Trigeminal Neuralgia is sadly, nicknamed the suicide disease.  A bad side effect she encountered from what she believes to be the Nabilone, is a condition called Neurogenic Bladder which causes more pain, urinary issues and frequent urination.  In addition she has been diagnosed with Occipital Neuralgia.  Which causes intense stabbing jolts of pain through the back of the head from the base of the skull.

Occipital Neuralgia Pain

Melissa, desperate for pain relief, went through the process of getting medical marijuana legally.  Not only did her pain become far more manageable with a combination of CBD tinctures, Sour Diesel abd edible oils, it but it has even almost corrected her bladder to where it hardly bothers her when she’s medicated.  She’s done everything legally, even refusing to purchase her meds from a dispensary even when her LP runs out of her medication which happens to be a CBD blend tincture, for fear it will impact her WCB case.  Now, with costs exceeding $60 000 for her medical cannabis over the last 2 years, she is still fighting to get it covered.  The WCB released a statement on their position on medical cannabis in 2011 .

She’s won 7 tribunals already.   7.  She’s been fighting for over 2 years (8 in to total) and keeps getting told, “by next week,” waiting for her date to appear.  Her background in health care and the research she’s done has given her a solid case.  She was told by her lawyer, one of the strongest cases they’ve ever seen.  In the end, it could cost the WCB up to 3.2 million dollars.

Melissa explains to me that the doctor who first introduced her to the injections (that were initially rejected by the WCB) has “taken more than a year” to provide Melissa with a report to include with her case.  That doctor, Dr. John Gillis, also happens to be the President of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party.  Melissa says she fears she will be “caught in a political web of red tape.”

I asked Melissa what she thought of the impending Legalization.  She says she’s scared.  As the model that’s being presented to us seems to be geared more toward recreational users, many patients feel they will be left out in the cold.  Legislation built on the backs of the very patients who fought so hard to have to the right to reasonable access to medication.

If the country moves towards a Liquor Commission format, Melissa, a former NSLC employee, says “not only is the training going to be minimal, but prices will be marked up whether you’re a patient or a recreational user.” “We’re already seeing a price differential for Vets who have to pay higher prices and are limited to a smaller selection of strains.”  Patients, who are often on fixed incomes may struggle to afford cannabis under the new structure.

Melissa now resides in Musquodobit Harbor and says she has her mind back with cannabis and it’s given her the strength she needs to keep fighting.  She lives with her dogs and assists others with Worker’s Compensation applications and appeals.   “The onus is not on you to prove you’re injured, the onus is on them to prove you’re not. Keep appealing.”  She awaits her 8th Tribunal hearing.
If cannabis has saved your life, drop me a line in Contact or Comments.


Trigeminal Neuralgia Graphic
Occipital Neuralgia Graphic
Higher Living Wellness Graphic my own ~ Canva

David, 35

spinal fusionWhat began as a High School sports injury has left David almost completely incapacitated.  He was participating in gymnastics and while making a run for the spring board, his spotters walked away leaving David alone.

He missed.

He landed head-down with all of his bodyweight on his neck; the injury caused two tears – one in his spinal cord and one in his brainstem.

Now 35 years old, David moved from his hometown in the Barrington Passage area to Kentville, Nova Scotia : “to be closer to medical services”.

David has had more than 20 surgeries and fusions, although he admits that he has really lost count.

There was the leg amputation in 2010- a combination of spinal fluid build up and spine compression from being relegated to a wheelchair caused the circulation to be cut off in his leg.  It also caused the infection that cost him his left leg – an infection that even today, his doctors can’t identify.

After the amputation, he was re-hospitalized from an infection in his stump and learned that he also had testicular cancer.

More surgery.

David has since found a new surgeon as he claims the first surgeon, “didn’t know what he was doing and has screwed me for life,” David says.  “Now my spine is fused to the base of my skull with massive rods reaching down to the c4/c5.” His neck is unstable.

David’s original path was to pursue firefighting – although he wasn’t able to progress past level 1 due to the buildup of scar tissue pain and spinal fusion surgeries.

Perserverence and determination led him to continue in the Medical First Response field, but after 3 failed surgeries, he was left permanently in a wheelchair as of 2007.

He suffers from spinal cord seizures.

It’s so severe that he can’t take long rides in a vehicle because the vibrations can cause seizures.

“I lose everything from my injury level (cervical spine) down, I can see you but can’t hear you and I can’t breathe. I’ve bent my metal headrest so bad that 2 large male medics couldn’t bend it back.”

He has had 4 c1/c2 spinal fusions.

He is a testicular cancer survivor.

Most recently, he suffered a stroke impacting the little bit of use he had in his one “good” arm.

A bright spot for David is his 8 year old cat Keleigh – his “little gift from God”.

He claims Keleigh has saved his life on many occasions.
“She saved me from a blood clot,” he notes.  Keleigh has alerted him when he was in the beginning stages of a stroke, has alerted the VON nurse that David was in trouble, and has led paramedics to David during emergencies.  “She can sense my sudden increase in blood pressure and won’t give up until I’m back in my chair, then she leads me to the bathroom to check my BP,” he beams.

With pain comes pain management.

David is prescribed Dilaudid and Fentanyl – but opiates aren’t a good option for long-term pain. A person’s tolerance increases, which requires the Doctor and patient to increase doses – a constant cycle.

He was told by Doctors that now his bladder needs to be removed and they don’t think he can survive the anesthetic.

The ONLY alternative for David is medical marijuana.
In fact, his Doctor has recommended high doses of it.

The barrier for David is that his sole income is from disability payments, and has been for quite some time.

“I have $350/month to live off of after rent and bills are paid and I can barely afford food on good months,” David informs me.

Like many disabled people, he is on a very small, fixed income which doesn’t really allow him access to medical marijuana, something that would reduce his pain and increase his quality of life.

“The government would rather see us suffer and die because that’s one less disabled person using provincial services,” David says.
“I think the province should reach out to us to initiate a collective grow so all they have is the cost to grow it and people like us have reasonable access to medication,” he continues. “I’m (and other people like me are) stuck here suffering because of lack of funding and availability.”  He says the government is going to profit enough, so why not use some of those profits to help fund public grow-ops for people who are suffering but can’t afford or can’t grow their own.

People like David.
“We are patients that the conventional healthcare system and pharmaceutical industries have failed time and time again so that we have no choice but to medicate,” he says of the growing opiate epidemic.  There are many people out there in genuine pain – and through no fault of their own – have become reliant on opiates to control and manage pain.  “It’s the pharmaceutical companies that caused the crisis to begin with,” David asserts.

About the impending Legalization, David feels that the government should leave the dispensaries alone.  “They have far more knowledge than the Doctors writing the prescriptions, ” he notes.

A believer, David notes that people should have the right to grow their own medicine.
“Cannabis has been healing people since before Jesus walked the earth,” he explains.

“The way legislation is going, it’s all going to benefit the MPs and government.”

There’s a real fear among pain patients that government will allow the pharmaceutical companies to take over and the result will be “tainted, genetically modified GMO garbage”.

He goes on to state that “there are a lot of goons and crooks out there waiting to take advantage of the sick and dying.”

In the meantime, people like David everywhere are suffering.

These people need compassion.

They need reasonable access to medication.

They need it now.

The former Medical First Responder/Firefighter who used to love music and singing, baking and fundraising for the local Fire Department…awaits his next surgery.


If you are using cannabis to treat illness or pain and would like to share your story, please contact me.  I can be reached through the Contact section, Comments, through Facebook or Twitter.

~Sam ✌



Spinal fusion
Medical Cannabis

Dave, 37

medical marijuanaOpiates nearly killed Dave, 37 from Dartmouth Nova Scotia.  What began as a shoulder injury left him struggling for his life back in 2009.  Dave, a Criminology Student was experiencing pain from a shoulder injury.  He sought relief through the traditional pain resources like physiotherapy and when that no longer worked, he was referred to a pain clinic.  He was originally hoping for some cortisone shots.  Upon learning he was allergic to a freezing agent in the compound, the doctor prescribed opiates for the pain.  Morphine to be exact.  Over time, the doctor had increased his dose to 120 mg of morphine twice daily and on one fateful day, Dave overdosed.  Keep in mind this was prescribed and he maintained a regular dose schedule.  It was too much for his body and at barely 30, he suffered a stroke.  Dave was a larger man so when he fell from his stroke he ended up with a brain injury, a crushed sciatic nerve, crushed spots in his spine responsible for vertical stability and a crushed leg.  “I had a dead leg, it was black and looked necrotic.” He tells me.  

While he was in the process of kidney failure upon arrival to the ER, the doctors turned to his mother coldly and asked if they could harvest her son’s organs.  They insisted he would never get better or even progress beyond that of a five year old mentally.  Dave’s mother, a healthcare professional for many years demanded he be put on dialysis immediately.  Eventually, they listened.  Dave was (no longer) an organ donor and he enlightened me on the fact that being an organ donor can often mean that life saving measures won’t immediately be taken, if taken at all.  If it weren’t for his mother fighting for him when he couldn’t, he would have also lost his leg as the doctors insisted on amputation for his blackened leg.

Dave was hospitalized in and January and stayed until the end of July 2009.  He reverted back to his native tongue, Danish, after completely forgetting how to speak English.  His mother, not just his medical advocate became his translator.  It was a long hard recovery.  He had gotten the opiates out of his system but there was a whole new realm of physical pain to deal with.  He had to learn how to walk and talk again.  His dream of becoming a police officer shattered along with his body.  He was also sent to rehab because technically, he almost died from “an overdose”.  

“The worst past of the whole experience was being treated like a junkie instead of a stroke victim; it was dehumanizing.”  The doctors and nurses treated him like an addict because “30 year olds don’t have strokes.”  Dave states that he would often be left confined to his bed, outfitted in a wet adult diaper for hours begging for someone to change him.

It was at rehab when Dave was already on the highest doses of Gabapentin (a Neurontin class drug that’s used to treat epilepsy and neuropathic pain) when a buddy offered him cannabis.  He says “For the first time in years, I felt relief.”  He has since gone off of all the prescription pain meds and uses only cannabis for pain.  He had some reservations initially because of his interest in police work, but those reservations quickly dissipated as it helped control his pain so effectively.

With the help of his classmates and instructors, Dave was able to complete his Criminology program on time.  “The students would come in 2 at a time and offer any help they could.”  It was one thing he was truly grateful during his ordeal.

Now, the most important things in Dave’s life are his girlfriend and newborn baby boy, now 2 months old.  “I really thought I’d never be a Dad.” He glows through the phone.

I asked Dave if he could say anything to the government about the impending Legalization what would he say?

“Do it.  Do it as fast as you can.”  He says, and I tend to agree, that opiates are over prescribed because of the kickbacks that doctors receive by prescribing them.  A five year old niece of his is going in for wisdom teeth removal soon, “The fucking doctor wants to put her on morphine for the pain, she’s 5!” I was alarmed.  Back in my day, we were given 2 Tylenol 3s and sent on our way.

Dave’s is just one of the many lives that have been changed/saved by turning to cannabis, he has a frightening story and he’s not alone.


If you would like to share your story and have it published, contact me through the Contact tab.


~Sam Clattenburg



Medical Marijuana