Pubdate: Sat, 27 Aug 2016
Source: Standard, The (St. Catharines, CN ON)
Page: C3
Column: Access Niagara
Copyright: 2016 St. Catharines Standard
Author: Linda Crabtree


I've just met a woman who could be the answer to the question of how 
to handle the chaos that the use of medical cannabis presents for 
people with chronic pain and other conditions that it could help.

Her name is Catharine and she has made it her mission in life to help 
those of us who have been everywhere, seen everyone and tried 
everything with no luck.

We're still in pain and we're still searching. Medical cannabis could 
be the answer we've been looking for but where to begin?

Unfortunately, answering that question starts you on a journey of 
frustration and just more questions.

According to Catharine, "It's all about quality of life, everybody 
deserves a decent quality of life and what you have to do to get that 
quality, if you're not hurting anyone else should be no one else's 
business and, right now, with the current rules, regulations and 
fees, it's not fair and it's not accessible or doable to most 
people." I agree. In a perfect world, you would go to your doctor and 
tell him you would like to try cannabis for your condition, he would 
write a prescription, and you would take it to your local medical 
dispensary where the people who know the most about it would ask you 
questions about your condition, your tolerance for medications and 
your lifestyle. Then your prescription is filled, you pay the going 
rate for how many grams you decided to try, take it home and see how 
it works. Yes, you would have to decide if you wanted to smoke, 
vaporize or ingest it, but the dispensary can help with that.

As it stands now, if you approach your doctor and ask for medical 
cannabis you'll either get help or be turned away.

According to Catharine, some of those medical professionals who are 
writing prescriptions are charging exorbitant fees. And, some are 
putting a cap on the amount of THC - the psychoactive component in 
cannabis] - you can have and that means that people sometimes cannot 
access the strain of marijuana that really helps them.

"They (the patients) are trying to do the right thing, but they can't 
medicate. It can send them back to the street."

Medical marijuana dispensaries are being shut down by police.

Yes, you can get a prescription for opioids, no problem, with 
side-effects that just compound what already ails you.

"Cannabis is safe, no one has ever died because they used it and you 
can't say that about opioids," Catharine said. "If you find the right 
strain for you, your pain can be diminished and there are no 
long-standing side-effects. We are born with an entire cannabis 
receptors system in our body."

But what happens if you can't afford what your doctor is charging or 
if your doctor says no? I was lucky. After being turned down several 
times, one of my specialists said yes.

I downloaded a form from Tweed, the largest cannabis marijuana 
operation in Canada, filled it out to the best of my ability and then 
took it to my doctor who filled in the rest, signed it and faxed it 
to Tweed. Once I was a customer, I could look at what they have to 
offer and buy what I thought would help me. I've tried six or eight 
different strains and only one has helped me sleep, but that isn't 
exactly what I want from medical cannabis. I have chronic pain, and 
I'd like to find something that helps with that. I'm thinking, it's 
going to take someone like Catharine working with me to find the 
right strain and the right provider.

And, I learned, those who take prescription medications should tell 
their doctor they use cannabis and/or educate themselves on the 
possible interactions. While you're at it, look up cannabis and 
Alzheimer's. Good things are happening there.

If you are in a fog about cannabis and need help, Catharine can be 
reached at 905-6502420 or at 
For now, she doesn't charge and she'll come to you.

"I thought I'd get a couple of people wanting help, but I can barely 
keep up," she said. So don't abuse the lady ... she's one of a kind.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom