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By Sharon Letts   The trials, tribulations and triumphs of being a dedicated cannabis patient For most people, looking into how cannabis can work for them as medicine is complicated, especially if they are dealing with multiple serious health issues. Dosing and finding consistent medications and products can be a challenge. Searching online or listening […]

 In Daily Dose, Home Featured, Uncategorized

By Sharon Letts


The trials, tribulations and triumphs of being a dedicated cannabis patient

For most people, looking into how cannabis can work for them as medicine is complicated, especially if they are dealing with multiple serious health issues. Dosing and finding consistent medications and products can be a challenge.

Searching online or listening to well-meaning friends can lead down rabbit holes with misinformation running amok on this plant and what it can do.

Since the medical professionals aren’t educated on the endocannabinoid system (ECS), the biologically based system that accepts healing compounds from plants throughout our bodies, they must educate themselves on plant-based remedies. Many do so by watching and learning from their own patient’s successes, and understanding that medicating with cannabis or other plants is a singularly proactive process.

For Southern California cannabis patient Maggie McKinney, plagued with multiple serious ailments, with vague diagnoses, prescribed a plethora of pharmaceuticals, having gone through multiple surgeries, she was at her wits end in finding relief.

“I did the acceptable route and took everything they prescribed me, like a good girl,” she said. “The side effects from the pills were often worse than the symptoms – especially stomach issues, vomiting, dry heaving, couldn’t eat, losing weight rapidly and sleeping a lot – missing out on life. And fuzzy thinking – forgetting important stuff, suffering blackouts, and hallucinating.”

The amount of pharma a patient with multiple symptoms is given can be startling when compared to the amount of symptom relief found in one plant. A superfood is named as such due to its many compounds able to address all of our biological systems, strengthening the immune system, while quelling multiple symptoms. It’s not rocket science, it’s how plants work with our biological systems (see Daily Dose, Superfoods, Superplants).

“Through all of it I’d been to the emergency room more times than I can count or want to remember – and I was taking multiple pills a day, some four times a day, some five times a day,” she said.  “I had alarms set around the clock for the pharma. It was never ending – and I was still sick.”

To follow the medical rule of thumb, she requested a prescription for marinol – a synthetic cannabis alternative, but said the efficacy wasn’t the same as the real thing.

“I’d always smoked and made pot brownies, but I didn’t understand why it made me feel better,” she shared. “At one point I bought a Magical Butter machine and was making oils, medibles,  vaginal and rectal suppositories and tinctures, but my go-to has been smoking flower. Getting correct information on what works has made everything harder.”

While smoking quells many symptoms, including digestive issues, the patient is only getting a fraction of the beneficial compounds from the plant. The difference between smoking for symptom relief and ingesting to put serious ailments into remission and treat serious pain, can make all the difference to a successful outcome using cannabis.

But finding your correct dose is just one issue cannabis patients face. Convincing friends and family the plant is really medicine has been the biggest fight in the face of the U.S. Federal Government still keeping it listed on Department of Health’s Schedule 1, with no medicinal value, alongside Heroin.

“My family is a mixed bag when it comes to being knowledgeable on cannabis,” she explained. “When I finally went full blown cannabis and let them know, some wanted to do an intervention, others wouldn’t let me see grandkids I’d helped raise. It’s okay if I sit there doped up on painkillers, but I’ve been harshly judged about my cannabis use. It really makes no sense to me. All I know is that cannabis has worked better than anything the doctors could give me – and I’m still doing away with the last few pills prescribed.”

Under the Knife

In the early 90s McKinney was 35 years old, cut from hip to hip, with her gallbladder removed, a hysterectomy performed to remove fibroids, along with nine pounds of excess skin from a prior gastric bypass.

“I had been 300 pounds before the bypass,” she said. They had me on the operating table for 14 hours, with stitches on the inside from the breast bone down to my abdomen – they lifted my stomach like a hood. Then in 1998, I had a tubal pregnancy that ruptured.”

Her diagnoses over the years have been extensive, chronic pain of Fibromyalgia (FMS); chronic digestive issues with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS); Thyroid cancer with removal taking two surgeries; menstrual issues with no diagnosis; and severe malabsorption issues – where the body doesn uptake vitamins and minerals needed to keep in homeostasis, aka: a healthy human.

“I was ten years post surgeries with physical and emotional traumas that included deaths in the family, custody issues with grandkids due to drug use in the family, and more” she added. “Many of the surgeries were to remove excess scar tissue from prior surgeries.”

McKinney was told that 95 percent of her stomach was ulcerated and bleeding from scar tissue. The pain and discomfort of scar tissue remaining from surgeries isn’t something often discussed, and comes with its own set of painful symptoms – with sharp electrical-type nerve pain often remaining for years, as it interacts with other healthy tissue and nerve endings.

Add narcolepsy and cataplexy to her list of ailments, and McKinney was a very sick human.

The list of pharma prescribed over the years has been extensive, all replaced with cannabis, both by smoking and ingesting concentrated infusions, such as olive oil and honey. She’s learned how to make the stronger cannabis oil, using an alcohol reduction method (see Daily Dose, Replacing Opioids).

Consistency in formulation of concentrates and in dosing is everything when using cannabis or plant-based remedies. I like to say, think of it as a prescription you must use every day of your life, to treat what ails you and for prevention, with the amounts varying greatly depending on your own alchemy and what your body has been through.

 “I believe that our physical and emotional are tied together, and just smoking cannabis alone helped me get through all of it, but ingesting it in different ways has made all the difference on a daily basis – including replacing addictive painkillers.”

The pain from family not understanding the use of plant-based therapies, including the highly stigmatized cannabis plant, is often greater and lingers far longer than the ailment itself.

“All I can do at this point is continue to heal, and continue to hope that the naysayers can see how much better I’m doing on cannabis than the pharmaceuticals,” she concluded. “One of my younger grandkids understands this is grandma’s medicine, and I’m grateful for that. I think the kids get it if you treat it normally. Grandma’s not an ax murder, she’s using a plant to feel better. That’s my truth. That’s the truth I’d like to pass down to my grandkids.”


Daily Dose: Replacing Opioids with Cannabis Oil, with recipe:

How to talk to your Doctor about Cannabis (originally published in High Times) 

Daily Dose: Superfoods, Super Plants: 



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