The Power of Weed
by Donna Craddock
WITH CBD VAPE AND OIL SHOPS POPPING UP. IS IT TIME THE UK RETHINKS ITS STANCE ON MARIJUANA?
Donna Craddock from ClickClickBang photography details her experience obtaining medical marijuana in the UK and the benefits it has had on her health.
I’ve never hidden my cannabis use but I’ve not shouted it from the rooftops. Who would when medicating yourself can get you arrested? I find cannabis to be a huge help for many different aspects of my chronic illnesses (fibromyalgia and chronic migraines, plus a dose of anxiety and depression for good measure) and it’s been a worry for me for many years. Even though cannabis is authorised for use medicinally in the UK, the costs were prohibitive. I remember reading an article about a woman who paid privately for it and her monthly prescription was in the thousands!
So, I carried on breaking the law and being terrified of getting caught with it. Because, without medicinal cannabis, I can’t work, that’s the flat truth of it. But if I get caught with it, especially whilst driving, it could potentially be disastrous, at the very least it would probably not be good for the anxiety going forward.
I recently found out about a scheme called Cancard which describes itself as “a medical ID card, recognised by the police.” It is a validated indication to any third party that you are consuming cannabis for medical reasons. Cancard is a card that is designed with the help of doctors, backed by senior representatives of the Police Federation and made for patients.
Despite cannabis medicines becoming legal in 2018, patients unable to afford a costly prescription are stuck in limbo.
Despite cannabis medicines becoming legal in 2018, patients unable to afford a costly prescription are stuck in limbo, Cancard aims to bridge the gap between patients, doctors and the police. The card allows for the police to exercise discretion by understanding that the patient caught in possession is medicating for their condition. You do have to fulfil certain criteria: A) have a diagnosis which is currently eligible for private prescription and B) have already discounted two different types of medication which have been tried or discussed, due to side effect profiles or dependency concerns.
What if I get a cop having a bad day? It’s still a worry…
The list of eligible conditions is immense, it’s absolutely crazy the number of people that could get some relief from pain/symptoms by using weed as medication.
Here’s a long but not exhaustive list of conditions:
Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome
Ehlers Danlos Syndromes (EDS)
Cancer-Related Appetite Loss
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Epilepsy – Adult/Child
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
How insane is that list?
I applied and received one in the post a few months later. I had to send them proof of identity, a selfie, and a letter from my doctors saying what active medical conditions I
had, paid a £30 fee, all submitted online, and that was it. Definitely a bit of weight off my shoulders but still not perfect. What if I get a cop having a bad day? It’s still a
worry, even if it definitely lessened. However, a few days later after a conversation about this process with a friend, they told me they knew someone who had recently been privately prescribed medicinal cannabis for a much cheaper cost than it was a few short years ago. My interest was piqued, I got my googling fingers on!
Many hours of research followed, reading many online reviews of different companies (there are quite a few out there!), pricing up the costs because it’s a private prescription so you have to pay for consultations with a doctor, and of course, you have to pay for your prescription too. I spent many hours on the Subreddit “r/ UKmedicalcannabis”, reading all the user reviews on there about different prescribers, and different dispensaries, reading a few horror stories (TMCC or The Medical Cannabis Clinic is the first one I found online and turned out to be the lowest-rated and they were slated all over the subreddit!) before finally deciding to go with Sapphire Medical Clinics.
The process was similar to how I applied for the Cancard, with the main exception being that, as well as a list of conditions, they also wanted a list of the medications I had tried.
After 12 years of living with fibro and migraine, I’ve definitely tried more than two meds!! I had to fill in a bunch of questionnaires, and then I made an online zoom appointment with a specialist Doctor. A week later I had my zoom consultation, the Doctor was absolutely lovely, she was very knowledgeable about the effects of cannabis on my medical conditions and understood that I was not a newbie smoker. She explained exactly what she would be prescribing, how much and how to take it.
THC can be used as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory, and for its ability to prevent nausea and vomiting, and increase appetite.
I was prescribed THC oil, CBD oil, Indica dried cannabis buds and a Sativa/Indica hybrid. I know that might read a bit like gobbledegook if you don’t know much about cannabis but thanks to The Cannigma here’s a brief explanation of the difference between THC and CBD: “The two most prominent cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which provides cannabis with much of its psychotropic and medicinal effects, and cannabidiol (CBD), which is touted for having medicinal benefits without the same intoxicating “high” of THC. THC can be used as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory, and for its ability to prevent nausea and vomiting, and increase appetite.
The high caused by THC can cause feelings of euphoria and calm, which can uplift depression and ease anxiety. CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t cause the same psychotropic high as THC and doesn’t impair patients’ ability to function normally. Proposed uses for CBD include as an anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antipsychotic, and its ability to ease pain, anxiety, and depression, among other uses.” And the difference between sativa and indica is that indicas are best suited for evening use to induce relaxation and sleep. On the other hand, sativas are a better daytime option as they provide uplifting, stimulating, and in some cases, energizing effects.
So, CBD oil is perfect for when I am working, especially when seeing clients, as I don’t like being even remotely high whilst shooting or meeting with clients, the sativa blend and the THC oil are great for editing days, and the indica is good for relaxing at night time and to help with the quality of my sleep (a big deal when you have fibromyalgia!). You aren’t allowed to smoke it, only vape (which is understandable) and luckily I have a tabletop vaporizer already. I would love a good handheld vape too, but I can’t afford that just yet. The oils are easy though, put the dose under your tongue and keep it there for as long as you can, up to 10 mins.
I laughed like an idiot when I opened the tubs and realised that I did indeed have very strong, very stinky, very legal weed in my hands.
Once I was officially approved by the Doctor and her Doctor buddies at their weekly discussion a few days later, I was told my prescription had been sent to my chosen pharmacy (I picked another recommendation from the subreddit, Curaleaf Pharmacy), once they received it I paid the cost for my cannabis and it was delivered into my hands 24 hours later, mind-blowing! I laughed like an idiot when I opened the tubs and realised that I did indeed have very strong, very stinky, very legal weed in my hands.
Finally, the most important thing, the cost. Sapphire Medical have an access scheme where, if you participate in the scheme, you give regular updates so they can use the evidence gained from the participants to make medical cannabis a more widespread option for those who might benefit from it.
Being a professional photographer at least, I had to take some pictures of my very first ever medicinal cannabis
This reduced the cost of the doctor’s consultations from £150 to £50. So, I paid a £50 fee for my doctor’s appointment. My prescription was the bulk of the cost, at £230. That sounds like a hell of a lot of money I agree but, gram for gram, it’s around 50% cheaper than street weed, what I received will last me a long time so in the long run, it is much better for me.
I have to have another £50 consultation in four weeks to see how things are going, and then one every three to six months after that. All in all, it’s still cheaper than street weed and I have the added benefits of A) it not being illegal and I won’t be arrested for it and B) I can get specific kinds and strains that are the most beneficial to my needs instead of ‘get what I’m given’ and C) I can help, via submitting my experiences, other people who might find medicinal cannabis helpful for them.
The information I’m giving you is purely from my experience, I’m not a professional in any way, shape or form, and I know a few people myself who can’t use cannabis as it makes their mental health worse. If you do decide to go down this route and you have no/little experience with cannabis, your doctor will take that into account and help you start slowly with weaker strains and oils. And, being a professional photographer at least, I had to take some pictures of my very first ever medicinal cannabis, it’s a momentous occasion and I hope it’s just another arrow in my bow towards smashing this ‘photography as a career with chronic illness’ lark!
NorthernLife July/August 2022