After Cannabis Health revealed that clinicians were experiencing abuse from some patients, Jack Pierce wanted to share the positive experience he had accessing a medical cannabis prescription.
My journey began several years ago when just like many others, I was struggling greatly with my mental health and found it creeping into all areas of my life.
I was constantly anxious and felt as though I was in an empty pit of despair. I would often experience episodes of stress, which would lead to long periods of upset, confusion and difficulty.
I struggled to hold down jobs, relationships and then friendships became also difficult. I had frequent issues managing socially and trying to live what would be considered a normal life even with my closest loved ones. I became further withdrawn from society and only found positives in my special interests and routines, if these were to be removed, I would have periods of high stress and emotional distress.
Due to all this negativity, I began to seek treatment from the NHS in the forms of therapy and was prescribed, like many others, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication to try to combat the symptoms I was facing.
During this time, I also began to self-medicate with medical cannabis as I had found this helped my symptoms when I was depressed, anxious and suffering from other issues such as stress meltdowns and attention problems. It also seemed to improve my physical health concerning my back and my diet.
However, like many others, I had to keep this treatment secret due to the fears of judgement and prosecution due to the plant’s criminal status.
Cannabis medicine gave me hope and a reason to carry on. It meant my life was liveable, just like any other person’s. I have not stopped using cannabis since to treat and manage my symptoms, as without the flower I would be lost.
The medication prescribed by the NHS had very little effect and often came with severe reactions such as night terrors and health problems. My insomnia only began to worsen during this time as stress from my daily life increased and my mental health began to take a hit.
I had then been prescribed medication to combat the sleeping issues I was facing, as I would be awake for almost two days at a time. Again, the medication came with addictive side effects as well as the feeling of withdrawal after consumption.
I sought out further help from my GP and local services and was officially diagnosed with what they thought had been anxiety and depression, but was actually autism.
Due to the recent diagnosis, I learned why the general medication prescribed to treat my illness would not work and I was left confused and worried about how I would treat the symptoms I faced daily, which caused life to almost be unbearable.
I began to look at how I could use cannabis legally in the UK as the current laws consider patients like myself as criminals, who only contribute to the lower levels of society. Which is not the case.
Here is my journey to accessing a legal medical cannabis prescription, so far:
Getting a medical cannabis card
The first step I took was to access a medical cannabis card from CanCard UK.
The UK-based organisation works towards giving patients access to a medical identification card that shows the patient is using the plant for medicinal purposes.
Once I had received my card my anxiety reduced greatly, I felt safer when having to purchase my medication the only way possible. The card meant that my self-medicating was deemed acceptable by those close to me, as it was for medicinal purposes not recreational like many people think.
However, despite having the card I still felt limited in the way I had to receive the medication, often having to put myself at risk and being taken advantage of financially was the only option.
Accessing a private prescription
I began to do some more research and came across a [clinic] which I booked my first appointment with.
The appointment was to take place over Zoom within two weeks of payment which I found to be a huge positive and reduced my anxiety almost straight away.
My final reasoning was that this form of treatment was not only more appropriate for me, but more importantly, I was growing tired of funding a criminal network that would only take advantage of me due to my disabilities.
What was the first appointment like?
My first appointment went smoothly. The doctor I saw was very understanding of my conditions and previous history, which eased my anxiety greatly.
We spent a large amount of time discussing why and how I used cannabis already.
I consume my flower as a medicine three times a day, as I find it best to manage and function this way. We discussed which treatment I would benefit most from and in the doctor’s opinion, this would be a High THC flower with a low amount of CBD to help manage my disability.
The positives here are not just centred around the fact I can receive my flower this way. There is great reward in finally being understood by a doctor who understands the use of medicinal cannabis and to be able to discuss an effective treatment plan, rather than purchasing off someone with very little knowledge of the product.
The doctor was able to refer my case to the board meeting which takes place weekly to decide patients eligibility. Of course, I had anxiety about this like any other patient, would I be accepted? Would my money be wasted? Would I still have to use the same old route?
But after a few days of waiting, I was accepted and was prescribed the Indica flower the doctor had spoken of. This would be sent to the private pharmacy.
Receiving my medication
Now all the hard work had been done, it was just a matter of paying for my medication and waiting to receive it. As the flower is a Schedule 2 Controlled Substance the flower must be prescribed in written form and sent to the private pharmacist via courier.
The pharmacy then logs this prescription and forwards a very simple invoice with a payment link attached. Once the payment is received the medication is then sent on a next day delivery service via DPD. This is so much better than the route of access I was used to.
What was the quality of the medication like?
I had been prescribed an Indica Flos as my first flower and was to vape 0.3mg three times per day, just as I had been doing previously.
I saw no difference in changing from black market cannabis to medicinal cannabis, apart from the flower felt cleaner and lighter to vape which is a huge positive for patients who already have pre-existing conditions which affect breathing.
The sweet lemon terpenes of the flower captivated my nose with the undertones of woody earth to compensate. The flower is a very uplifting high energy flower that is great for managing my autism in the daytime.
I have found my anxiety to be reduced and my productivity increasing. I can concentrate on my studies and spend longer improving my work and myself.
I also feel I am closer with my loved ones due to the fact that my mood is better managed, along with my communication issues, once I have consumed my medication.
The clinicians I have met have been nothing but caring professionals with a real passion to help and therefore deserve a special thank you from not only myself but other patients who have been benefited.
If it were not for the clinics, I would still be at a loss and constantly being taken advantage of by black market providers, just so I could live what would be classed as a normal life.
I would like to place a special thank you here to all the doctors, clinicians and pharmacists who are all involved in the process of supplying my medicine and that of other patients, as if it were not for you our lives would be an endless struggle.
Why should I consider getting a private prescription?
Overall, I would recommend any person suffering from a condition that could be helped by medicinal cannabis to look into seeking private treatment and not to be put off by the costs.
Yes, private medicine is considered expensive initially, but so is the high standard of flower you have to purchase on the black market which is not regulated.
To be able to converse with a qualified doctor is so much more reliable and healthier for those suffering anxiety and stress disorders like myself.
I have found the improvements to my quality of life and mental health have been staggering in just four weeks of receiving the flower and I hope for this to continue in the years to come.
For anyone thinking about beginning their journey with medical cannabis I would implore you to conduct your research into which clinics could help you and to take control of your medication once and for all.
I would also like to take this time to remind current and potential patients that we are very lucky to have access to such a service considering the legislation surrounding medical cannabis.
We all need to show the same respect to keep this help service alive and not risk patients returning to old routes which worsen their health and society as a whole.
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