I’d always known that cannabis could be used for its medicinal purposes, but it wasn’t until the end of 2020 that I started deep diving into this world. I became interested in whether it would actually work, and what the heck it even was. I was open about the fact that I knew absolutely nothing - perhaps embarrassingly so - and my research led me to The Cannabis Clinic in Auckland, and my friend Sophia who had been using cannabis to relieve the symptoms of her Crohn’s disease.
Disclosure: This article contains information of a gifted service from The Cannabis Clinic Auckland. All opinions are my own. Also, please note, this article is not intended to be medical advice, and if medicinal cannabis is something you are considering please talk to your medical professional before making any decisions for yourself or for others.
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It’s October 2020. New Zealand has been shifting in and out of regional lockdowns, the general election is looming, and summer is soon to be on its way. There is a hot topic around the water cooler (full disclosure I work from home and I don’t actually have a water cooler, but I’m imagining that was a thing) and everyone is talking about cannabis. On the 17th of October, New Zealand held a non-binding referendum asking New Zealanders whether we should legalise the sale, use, possession, and production of recreational cannabis… and the results were extraordinarily close. There were a total of 2,908,071 votes with 48.4% voting yes and 50.7% voting no.
New Zealand chooses not to legalise cannabis.
It wasn’t all bad though. The attention of this referendum did shine a light on medicinal cannabis and started some important conversations.
From the 1st April 2020 medicinal cannabis was made legal in New Zealand, however, due to the regulations put in place by the Government it was made inaccessible for the majority. A lot of New Zealanders living with chronic illnesses, disabilities, and mental ill-health were forced to obtain cannabis on the black market, just like my friend Sophia.
I learnt a lot throughout the month from Sophia and Dr Anna Harvey and I collated the information in a Spotlight On: podcast episode. You can listen on apple podcasts, spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
It wasn’t until a few months later when I started seriously considering whether CBD products could help me and my symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). I reached back out to The Cannabis Clinic knowing that they did appointments via zoom, and the lovely team offered to gift me the first initial doctor’s consultation. (Thanks Cannabis Clinic!)
Here’s how the process worked:
Filled out this form on The Cannabis Clinic website to enquire about starting this process
Organised a time for an appointment with Dr Anna Harvey over zoom (I didn’t pay for this, however, the price would have been $99) Here’s the link for that.
Confirmed the appointment via email
I joined the zoom call with Dr Anna Harvey. We chatted about what my symptoms are (pain, fatigue, overwhelm) and what products would be available. I listened to Dr Havey’s advice on what products she recommended and I asked questions double-checking the effects of ingesting the CBD oil and how the CBD balm/cream works. Dr Harvey did say that she didn’t think the CBD oil would help me sleep nor help with my pain. She suggested that THC would be the way to go for this. However, at the time of my consultation THC was incredibly difficult to obtain thanks to regulations from the NZ Government. This has now changed though. We then agreed on what products would be suitable to try, and she gave me a breakdown of the usage she recommends. She then gave me the prescription and I was able to access the dispensary.
Logged on to The Cannabis Clinic’s online dispensary and had a minor meltdown at the price of the products. Eventually, after a phone call with my Mum, I decided on two products: Theraleaf 25 CBD Oil Broad Spectrum (750mg) for $129 & CBD Body Cream (500mg) for $69. Shipping was $9, so in total, I spent $207. Felt like so much money (even with the gifted consultation) but I figured if it works this would be the BEST $207 I had EVER spent.
Literally THE NEXT DAY the products arrived on my doorstep, in an unmarked package. Now that’s what I call service!
Throughout the following weeks, I received regular update emails detailing when to increase the usage and asking if I had any questions or concerns.
Around this time I was approached by the team at the Bearable App to test out their new symptom tracker app and create a piece of content for them. I decided to use their app to see whether the CBD oil was working, and I was surprised by the results. As I was taking the CBD oil two times throughout the day with food, I wasn’t always consistent with taking it, but when I did I noticed that the anxious thoughts I was having decreased, and my pain was fluctuating. I didn’t notice any effects, however, the app was showing me that my pain levels were ever so slightly decreasing.
And now here we are. It’s been nearly 6 months since I’ve had these CBD products and I’ve come to a few conclusions.
The CBD oil:
It definitely helped my mental health. With my MS (and perhaps just my personality?) I tend to go from 0 to 100 and find regulating my emotions quite difficult. The CBD oil helped me handle stressful situations from a calmer place of being, and without a doubt decreased my anxious thoughts. However, I don’t think I’ll be using it consistently moving forward as anxiety and mood aren’t a big enough symptom for me that needs medicating. I’m not too sad about this as I think I had realistic expectations going into this trial and I’m not mad about not having to add $129 to my medical expenses! Contrary to what I see on Instagram, the CBD oil DID NOT help me sleep. In fact, it made me more alert and focused.
And just an update re the CBD oil that I was trialling: On 10 August 2021, I received this email from the Cannabis Clinic.
“Late last week, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced changes to the availability of medicinal cannabis products in New Zealand. Medleaf and Theraleaf products will no longer be available for doctors to prescribe after the 30th of September 2021. This is a MOH decision and it will affect all clinics and pharmacies nationwide.”
There are still other branded CBD and THC products available, should you wish to enquire further.
The CBD cream:
The CBD cream on the other hand is A GAME CHANGER and I will definitely be getting more when my container is finished. It works instantly and probably lasts for about twenty to thirty minutes, which is enough to help ease the immediate pain and helps me get to sleep. I apply it just like I would antiflamme by rubbing it directly to the sore area (generally my whole back, shoulders, or legs.) I don’t use it every day and I would only use it at the end of the day or at the end of an activity as it does make my muscles extremely relaxed. For example, I used it at the end of a two-show day (I have a comedy juggling show called Jess The Mess if you didn’t know!) but would not have felt comfortable using it before the show. Another interesting and surprising effect was that the CBD cream seems to be helping my skin. I've noticed a difference in how soft it is after applying, so that’s a bonus!
Basically, in short, I’m obsessed! The CBD cream has changed my pain game, and at only (lol, “only”) $69 for a 500mg container, it is definitely a more affordable option.
Have you tried CBD products to help manage your symptoms? I’d love to hear from you! Send me a message on Instagram, I’m at @thatssochronic.
That's So Chronic is a podcast produced and hosted by performer, writer and MS-er Jess Brien. Join her each week as she interviews guests from all around the world that are thriving - and sometimes only just surviving - with chronic illnesses, life changing injuries, and potentially disastrous diagnoses, as well as sharing conversational style episodes and everything and anything in our That's So Chronic world. Available on apple podcasts, spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.