“Ironically, and according to Statistics Canada, the fastest-growing user base of cannabis users in the last few years has been older adults and seniors. What’s causing the generations of those longest exposed to prohibition to begin opening up to the plant? “

You’ve probably heard about CBD in the last decade, perhaps on the news or from a friend. Despite its ever-growing popularity, stigma tied to the idea of using or even talking about medical cannabis (CBD) still exists. Below we share some insights on what steps you can take to start the conversation with your friends, family, and/or doctor. While you may feel like it’s a sensitive subject to bring up, you’re not alone in wanting to discuss it, and you may be surprised at who else has looked at using it for medical purposes.

Cannabis before the 1900s

As a society, we look to knowledgeable individuals like doctors, lawyers, and lawmakers to provide guidance around certain subject matters they specialize in. Since cannabis was made illegal in the 1920s, multiple generations have been led to believe that “weed” was dangerous both by their governments and their families. Propaganda pushed by the government and media only reinforced these sentiments.

It may feel like cannabis prohibition has always been in place, but in the actual span of humanity, cannabis has been used and enjoyed both medically and recreationally for thousands of years. In the 1600s, the British government encouraged farmers in North America to grow and export hemp. In the 1800s, Queen Victoria’s private doctor would prescribe her cannabis tinctures for her menstrual cramps. So what is the cause behind our embedded fear? Should we still hold concerns over the safety of the use of the plant? Who in my network can I even talk to about medical cannabis?

Where did the cannabis stigma of the plant come from?

Several reasons have been brought to light over the years as to why the cannabis plant has been demonized. These reasons range from money and bureaucracy to racially motivated actions. Behind all of these reasons are missed opportunities to have bettered our planet and society, such as less deforestation, diminished harm to marginalized communities, and fewer harmful and addictive pharmaceuticals recommended.

With cannabis prohibition came a reputation and a stigma against those that used it.  As you could be arrested for using and even growing the plant, cannabis users were deemed criminals. On top of that, those that used recreational cannabis (specifically high amounts of THC) were deemed to be “stoners”: lazy, unintelligent, and a detriment to society. Regardless if you felt afraid of being labeled by society or getting in trouble with the law, being a cannabis user did not seem like something the average person would want to be associated with. That is until stories began to arise from individuals on their last hope after the medical industry failed them, who turned to alternative treatment options such as medical cannabis. One by one, stories started coming out about those with cancer and epilepsy getting their lives back. While we don’t admit to cannabis curing any diseases or conditions, it has been proven not only anecdotally, but through hundreds of published research papers, that cannabinoids from the cannabis plant can help successfully manage symptoms from some of the worst conditions, with very few side effects.

“I am very happy when patients over 55 become comfortable with medical cannabis as it can often replace more problematic medications such as NSAIDs and opioids that are not always safe in older patients.” – Apollo Clinic’s Dr. Williams

Who’s using CBD these days?

Ironically, and according to Statistics Canada, the fastest-growing user base of cannabis users in the last few years has been older adults and seniors. What’s causing the generations of those longest exposed to prohibition to begin opening up to the plant? In some cases, it may be their own research or speaking with their GP. The majority of positive and myth-busting discussions are happening between groups of friends and family. A common thing you may hear is “My neighbour started using CBD oil (or softgel capsules), and she’s able to dance again. If it works for her, why not me?”.

With older adults often on multiple medications, one would think that adding another could cause more negative side effects and interactions. A study was published that found accidental falls decreased in seniors who were taking more than 5 types of medications and started using cannabis under the guidance of a medical professional. The reason behind this decrease in deadly falls: the patients were able to reduce and/or discontinue one or more of their other existing pharmaceuticals due to the positive results felt from their medical cannabis.

The opioid crisis has been a harsh reality for many Canadians, with addiction and overdoses devastating communities. In the past, cannabis has been labeled as a “gateway” drug, said to lead users to experiment with more intense and illegal drugs. In contrast, medical cannabis has been used to help individuals reduce not only addictive pharmaceuticals but even help treat those struggling with alcoholism. Like any medication, each person’s body can interact differently with cannabinoids, which is why it is so important to speak with a healthcare practitioner who specializes in and has a thorough knowledge of this medicine.

Unfortunately, because cannabis was illegal for so many years, it was not taught in any medical schools for decades up until recently. This led to many physicians not fully knowing or understanding how or why to prescribe the medication. This is why clinics like Apollo are so important, they have a wide array of specialists, years of cannabinoid therapy and treatment experience, as well as their own published research division.

Where can I learn about CBD? Who can I talk to?

Since this medication has come into the limelight, people want to know more about it. Its recommended that you take everything you hear with a grain of salt and ensure YOU feel comfortable with any decision you make. Talk to as many people as possible, and learn as much as you can about medical cannabis and CBD for yourself. Make sure to do your own research from reputable websites, but also talk to people! Family and friends that you feel comfortable discussing the topic with can be a great soundboard to bounce ideas off. Discuss the pros and the cons. Do they know anyone that has tried it? How did it go? An easy way to bring up the topic with a friend or family member could be as simple as sharing an article on CBD and your condition and asking what they think about it. For example, you can Google search for “CBD and arthritis”, find an article you like, and share it with someone to see what they think about it.

Another great place to chat with people who have experience with medical cannabis is social media. There are a number of online communities on Facebook and Reddit where people share stories, ask for advice, and post questions. It’s easy to go online and search for these communities that are happy to accept new and curious individuals.

Lastly, your GP may be more open to discussing CBD than you think. If you are curious whether CBD could improve your quality of life, have some questions ready to bring to your doctor.

  • Could medical cannabis be helpful in treating the symptoms and conditions I have?
  • Are there any side effects or current medication interactions I should be aware of?
  • Is there anything you can recommend in terms of cannabinoids (CBD & THC) and dosing strategy (timing and amounts)?
  • Have you prescribed cannabis to patients in the past? If so, were there positive results?

Be transparent with them about why you think medical cannabis could help you. If they have concerns that CBD may not be the right option for you, make sure to listen and take note of them. If they are unsure about some of the answers to your questions but aren’t against you trying the medication, you can always ask to see if they would refer you to a medical cannabis clinic like Apollo Cannabis Clinics.

What can I do if my GP isn’t onboard and won’t have a discussion with me?

As more doctors begin to see the positive published results of medical cannabis research, there are still some that will always be against it. While potentially frustrating for patients, you are not bound to their decision. As a Canadian, you’re entitled and encouraged to obtain a second opinion if you feel it is worthwhile. Medical Cannabis Clinics such as Apollo exist for this reason, and you do not need a referral to book an appointment. They have a team of physicians and nurse practitioners that will discuss cannabis as a treatment option with you while reviewing your medical history to ensure you are a valid candidate and that you use the medication safely and effectively.

Know that you are not alone in wanting to learn more about a medication that could offer fewer side effects than pharmaceuticals. The conversation can seem daunting to bring up at first, but do your research, talk to people you trust, and if you ever have any questions, you can reach out and ask the professionals by email 7 days a week at Info@apolloresearch.ca.