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Medical Cannabis & Opiates; a Reality Check – By Michael Blais, CD

By September 9, 2021August 4th, 2022No Comments
Reading Time: 5 minutes

My experience with one of medical cannabis’ principal benefits, for myself and many others who endure long term chronic pain conditions, pertains to an ability to reduce and/or negate the use of opiates, dependencies on anti-inflammatory medications, and/or an assortment of addictive pharmaceutical medications designed to blunt the harsh realities of debilitating trauma. This is particularly true when individuals are coping with extreme ranges of pain inherent with cancers or consequential to a serious injury where life changing physical and/or mental trauma has been incurred. Compassionate surgeons, physicians, and pain specialists surely understand the enduring nature of their patient’s permanent disabilities and more often than not, have little recourse but to manage their patient’s threshold surpassing pain levels with the opiate family of powerfully addictive, yet inarguably effective, medications.

Sound familiar?

Compounding patient’s concerns are ever emerging guidelines recommending physicians avoid the provision of opiates to individuals on a long term basis for fear they will fuel or become a casualty of the opioid crisis. For those deemed TPI, a quaint insurance company term acknowledging an individual’s total, permanent, impairment, opiate restrictions often result in prescribing complementary pharmaceutical medications that are as dangerously addictive as opiates and acknowledged to possess a variety of adverse side-effects with the potential to create collateral physical and mental health problems.

Sound familiar?

Pain Dictates

I can assure skeptics, it is not possible to turn off persistent, debilitating pain and for millions across the nation/globe, opiates have become a necessary factor of life for those deemed permanently impaired. Bereft, or cast adrift by physicians more attuned to the battle against opiate misuse, conformance to emerging regulations and community addiction issues rather than the horrific impact 24/7 pain imparts on the patient’s quality of life, many are pain-forced to seek illegal recourse, contributing to the opiate crisis, seeking only relief. Many succumb to the Cycle of Despair; social isolation, depression, anxiety, and a variety of other mental health maladies directly attributed to the incessant trauma they are coping with and the financial consequences on quality of life standards through illegitimate purchase of medications to quell said trauma.

I will not belabour the point other than to say forcing people who are disabled and enduring perpetual pain into a criminal environment has profound, oft times catastrophic consequences to the individual, their families, and society in general once the costs of social mitigation are included.

Surely, there is a better way.

Medicinal Cannabis & Pharmaceutical Reduction

Having experienced the adverse effects of several pharmaceutical based medications prescribed over the past three decades as opiate supportive medications for chronic, acute levels of neuropathic pain, I can testify without reservation the consequential side-effects of non narcotic drugs can be very serious and detrimental to well-being. Elavil rendered me zombie like and unlike cannabis, did very little to compliment opiates in respect to suppressing breakout pain. When discontinued, the withdrawal symptoms were persistent and due to lack of meaningful rest for weeks. While still serving with the Canadian Armed Forces, I experienced two Gastrointestinal Bleeds compliments of the prescribed use of anti-inflammatory NSAIDS. Cessation resulted in dramatically increased pain levels and a lifetime of opiate use. Long term use of Lyrica to counter neuropathy recently resulted in an adverse reaction. There were weeks of physical and mental withdrawal symptoms. Lyrica, as did NSAIDs, were complimentary to opiates, the former being effective to a certain extent in pre-empting and blunting the debilitating effects of breakthrough bursts of agony. 

Cannabis has now filled the void of all three discontinued medications in respect to the symptoms they were prescribed as part of my treatment plan. Pain levels with cannabis and without cannabis can be dramatically disparate. I recently discovered how disparate after experiencing breathing issues which made it impossible to adhere to the cannabis regimen which, over time, has proven best to manage my pain and equally important, maintain a state of mental well being. Followers of Blazer’s Budz understand I have recommended a routine of incremental, pain-dictates micro dosing via a medical vaporizer capable of being set at the low temp of 170/340, prudent (to avoid brain fog) use of THC dominant oils and incorporation of CBD oil internally and more effectively, as a component of a self made salve regularly applied topically on regions of the body where neuropathy or mechanical discomfort flares.

I have reduced opiate use by sixty percent since being prescribed medical cannabis. I no longer use Oxycontin and I can maintain a quality of life, pain-toleration zone through 3-4 Percocet per day. I actually sleep! Not great, but deeper, longer and more often with cannabis than when prescribed Elavil. More importantly, I wake up refreshed instead of still fatigued and cloaked in brain fog all day. My mental well being improved significantly! I recently discovered, through desperation as Lyrica certainly mitigated the searing agony of spinal neuropathy, that applying high percentage CBD oil directly to the affected spine and neuropathic flare zones every 2-4 hours provided levels of relief nearly equitable to that of Lyrica with NONE of the adverse side effects I was experiencing. I would suggest mixing 30mL of 27% CBD oil with 5mL Ultra Strength Tiger Balm, easy to make and for me, the Go To topical application in respect to both neuropathic, LBP, and musculature related pain.

Medical Cannabis Coverage

Fortunately, I am a veteran and Veterans Affairs Canada financially supports the financial burden of my medical cannabis prescription as I am TPI as a direct consequence to military service. Without this support, the consequences would have been profound, perhaps catastrophic! After three decades disabled, I only wish the trauma alleviating medicinal properties of cannabis had been offered prior to decades of addiction level use of opiates and the non-narcotic based meds adverse mental and physical side effects were just as addictive. Or a couple of gastro-intestinal bleeds.

I can only imagine how many Canadians, bereft of health insurance supportive of medical cannabis prescriptions and are forced to deal with the harsh reality of addictions not driven by desire, but ever enduring pain? I have always believed Canada as a nation should benefit from veterans’ national sacrifice in war wherein advancements have been clearly identified that definitively improve the health and well being of those traumatized by war.

Would not such an alternative offer hundreds of thousands of physically or mentally disabled Canadians hope through a less dangerous alternative to mitigate trauma benefit society in general?  

Tragically, the costs for medical cannabis are universally obstructive. Without health insurance coverage, the fiscal adversities to disabled Canadians who are vulnerable and struggling to survive on a fixed income are prohibitive. Growing your own (if health permits) or finding someone willing to grow cannabis for you is not a reliable alternative to cannabis grown to conform to medicinal profiles. Realistically, the odds of determining the right THC or CBD strains, ensuring it is grown in a safe manner which respects Canada Health guidelines for consumption, and successful harvesting when the percentages of CBD or THC are most effective are slim.

Medical Cannabis Guidance

Canadians choosing medical cannabis requires guidance by physicians and/or pain specialists who are knowledgeable with the emerging science and the nuances of prescribing appropriate strengths, strains and CBD, THC, or balanced products catered to the individual’s mental and or physical trauma. Equally important, Canadians deserve the right to be provided medicinal cannabis which is Health Canada approved, guaranteed free of the deadly toxins commonly used in unregulated grow ops to increase the profit driven yield. Canadians deserve medicinal cannabis guaranteed free from carcinogenic pesticides used to control spider mites and other predatory insects that feed upon the plant. Canadians deserve medicinal cannabis prescribed at the appropriate strain, strength, with specific guidelines for ingestion inclusive of the provision of a medical vapourizer to negate harmful smoking.


Blazer on the Beach 😉

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Bodystream has merged into Apollo as of May 1, 2023, and here at Apollo we are looking forward to welcoming all new and existing Bodystream patients for free appointments with a medical cannabis healthcare practitioner.

Bodystream has merged into Apollo as of May 1, 2023, and here at Apollo we are looking forward to welcoming all new and existing Bodystream patients for free appointments with a medical cannabis healthcare practitioner.