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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Good News & Bad News; Part 2

To pick up where I lucidly left off, in part one of this tale, I spoke of how events conspired against me and how with a healthy self-awareness I was fully aware of my portrayal of image; I was about to step foot into my doctor’s appointment to see if I was sans liver.  Had prescription drugs led me to an early grave?

I had sweated on the harms prescribed medication for decades, the culmination of paranoia was to hit me all at once as I ambled down the lengthening corridor.  On the other side of this doctor’s appointment I was either going to receive a new lease of life or I was to face my demons down like an angry farmer with a shotgun and special brew cocktail.

Thoughts fly while rationality fleas.  The mind raced:

“Pull yourself together Jason, take it how it comes.”  I mumble internally on the broken mantra.  Then, untamed thoughts take over; I didn’t want to face surgery, I didn’t have the pyjamas for one thing.  What if I needed dialysis?  The mind takes over like a feral beast with the horn:

“Right Jason.”  My mind starts to rattle in my head and I subliminally talk to myself, “Roll call, who’s present for this appointment?; Rationality?  Hmm, it’s weak but present.  Fear?  Check.  Terror?  Very present.  Poise?  Poise?  Anyone seen poise?  As I thought, awol.  How about… a sense of calm?  No, that left some months ago didn't it.  OK, please tell me a serene sense of perspective has turned up?  No no, that eloped with poise, now I remember.  So, just fear and terror are present.  Good good.”

If you can’t follow the inner workings of my mind, just know I was as scared as a drummer when faced with a proper musical instrument, I knew what I had to do, but I was just not equipped to deal with the situation.

Knock Knock:  “Come in Jason”  The appointment was off to a good start, right until I broke out in a terminal sweat and went the best shade of red this side of a Dutch “special” district.  Fear was tangible and lodged in my throat.

“So Doctor, what’s the score, am I giving my best to Elvis anytime soon?”

“Jason, you’re ok, results are good, you've nothing to worry about.”

Try and fathom the weight that was  - not only lifted - but flew from my shoulders.  It was comparable to angels on my epaulettes, a true feeling that will not be forgotten.  Perspective can be obtained from moments like this, life has a funny way of grounding you and making you appreciate what really matters.

“So, Jason, would you like to try anti depressants?”

“But, I’m not depressed Doctor, I’ve just had a bit of a rough ride lately.”

I could not very well pour over the details to the doctor of how I am locked in a literal battle with my own government, this would not endear me to any sane person.  Especially, given the fact… I had to broach the subject - THE subject.

“Jason, they’re muscle relaxants, they could help you seeing as you’ve dwindled your painkillers down completely.”

“Well, actually doctor, seeing as you’ve mentioned it, have I got your complete confidence in this appointment?”

“Of course Jason.”

I trust this doctor, even though this is my second time of seeing him, he had displayed more understanding than most of my previous Doctors; I am almost sure I saw a Dr. Shipman once.

“Well Doctor, I have found something that is a literal miracle and helps me more than I can say.”

The doctor shifted in his seat, did he think I was some new super chemist that had discovered a cure for CFS?  No, he knew where I was going…

“Oh right.”

“Yes Doctor, please know I do know what I am talking about, I’ve studied this inside out and have been in contact with the leading professors in this field.”

I can feel myself stumbling, my wile mind decides to break down once more, knowing I am desperate to make a good impression, it decides to vacate and leave a cymbal clapping chimp in its stead:

“Honestly, I know what I’m talking about Doctor, I take cannabis.”

It was at this point I heard a crash of thunder and 1920’s radio play suspense music.  I had outed myself once and for all.

“Oh.  I see.”  the Doctor said while tapping computer keys at his desk.  A brief spell of silence began to deafen me.  Like any compulsive talker who is afraid of silence, the mouth engaged… the mind didn’t:

“Yes, doctor, have you heard of Dr. Lester Grinspoon; Professor Emeritus of Harvard Medical School? My first port of call when name dropping.  Argue with me?  Sure.  Argue with Dr. Grinspoon?  Best of luck.

“No, who’s he, is he in this country?”

Damn it!  Denied, my GP was decidedly un-bowled over.

“How about Professor Nutt?”

“And he is?”  

“Come on Doctor, you don’t know Professor Nutt?  The sacked government adviser?”

“He was sacked?”

Well, thank you very much Professor Nutt, way it go to speak the truth, talk of science, and get thrown out of a democratic position of influence.  Thanks for that, lot of good you’ve done me today.

Last ditch effort:

“Ok Doctor, how about Dr. Ben Goldacre?”  Dr. Ben is always a good one to reach for when dispelling cannabis pseudo-science.

“Is he a specialist?  When did you see him Jason?”

“He writes for the newspapers and stuff.”  Even as I said this I could fully understand the image of madness I was portraying.  My “special friends” where an American professor, a sacked government adviser and a man who writes for the newspapers.  I may as well said I knew Captain Jack Sparrow, Jerome from off the telly and Jeremy Beadle.  Strike one.

“The point is Doctor, I’ve not stumbled into cannabis lightly, I’m well burst on the subject.”

“Well, we’ve only got 4 minutes left Jason so I can’t get too far into this.”

Ok, quick, find the most eyebrow raising facts and myth busting  material you can muster - this is what ran through my mind.  Unfortunately, what came out of my mouth was something to the effect of:

“Cannabis.  Um.”

THINK YOU MAD MAN THINK!  What was I doing?!  Come on Jason, you practically do this for a living now… wheel out something, anything, you can do it:

“… Don’t worry doctor; To prevent one case of psychosis, it would be necessary to stop at least 2,800 men aged 20 to 24 from smoking the drug heavily, or 4,700 men aged 35 to 39. For women, it would be necessary to dissuade at least 5,470 smokers in the younger age group, or at least 10,870 in the older one.

For light cannabis use, a single case of psychosis would be prevented only if more than 10,000 young men or nearly 30,000 young women were to stop smoking the drug.”

It would be nice to have a copy and paste feature in the cerebral cortex, but as I am without this facet, (and possibly will be until the robots invade) I unfortunately didn’t muster this great statistic.  Once more, I was let down as I murmured something about young men.  Then, some old rhubarb about smoking, what was I doing?!  I was arguing with myself!  I knew this.  WHY?!  I loath myself, I truly do.  I was but one step away from setting up my own prohibitionist website right there in the surgery.  Why was I doing this?  Strike two.  Over to my partner, I’ll let her field one as I am in breakdown.

“Doctor?”  My partner started.  Thank you, finally I can give myself a break and plan the self-flagellation that I truly deserved.  She continues, “I’ve seen Jason recover and achieve a standard of living unparalleled on cannabis, it really works and, although I would never tell you your job, cannabis is so much more than the news headlines that dictate perspective in this country.”  She was doing well bless her, knock one out the park for me Babe.  She continued, “For example, when he was on just painkillers, he had no standard of living, with cannabis, he can actually live!  And, it’s not going to kill him.  Plus, over the last few weeks, he’s been in his room until the late afternoon…” It was at this point the sirens went off in my head once more; I had just admitted to using cannabis, and my girlfriend had outed me as being in my room for long periods of time.  THANKS BABE!  Nice one.  Good work.  I jump in quick to retrieve the wild thread of conversation:

“That’s because my parent’s place is open house, I need to have rest and quietude for when I’m working on things and in study.  I’m not IN my room per se, I’m merely using it as an office.”

“Jeremy Kyle?”  The doctor asked with head on the tilt.

“NO!  I don't watch that.  And I’m not on FaceBook either!”  Great, can I get me a stereotype?  Yes, yes I can.

So, within ten minutes I had gone from grounded & studied individual who loved to learn and milk life for what little I can get out it, all the while I tackle my government head on, to a drop out layabout who loves to watch narcissistic talk show hosts with a penchant for lie detectors.  A text book appointment.  Strike three.

And then came the killer blow, the doctor spoke hurriedly as my time was up:

“Relax Jason, I will have to put this on your records, I won’t put that you watch Jeremy Kyle though…”

“I bloody don’t!  I watch BBC Parliament.  Honest.”

“Sure you do, anyway Jason, I will have to put on your notes that you use cannabis.  Is that OK?”

“That’s fine doctor.”  It was at this point I saw a giant word on the pc monitor, my notes were in full view, like a moth to a beacon, I read the word:


Perfect, you couldn’t write this stuff.  I’m in the doctors office, having a breakdown due to thinking I was going to die or lose my liver.  I have just had a mini breakdown in the form of a verbal fit, my girlfriend just outed me as a recluse who lives in a cupboard until early evening, and I have the word Anxiety emblazoned on my medical notes.  I could see the cannabis headlines already.  Then came the hammer blow:

“I know plenty of other patients that use cannabis, Jason, it helps them also.  The only real concern with it is the mental health issue.”  Seeing as I fielded that one already, I was sitting confident and was beginning to relax.  The Doctor finished,  “Jason, the other patients I know that use cannabis do not concern me with the mental health aspect… but you, it does concern me.”  

Crushed.  Like a juggernaut into my chest, this hurt.  I have never, EVER had my faculties questioned.  My loved ones hold a confidence and respect for my mind, it’s the only part of me that seems to not be broken, but in ten minutes of this doctor’s appointment I was all set to star in the remake of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, only with more pants and less cohesion.  I didn’t even bother to try and come back from this, once the onus of insanity is placed, there is not a single thing that you can do to come back from that, every action and reaction will take on connotations of madness simply through being.  This is, perhaps, not a coincidence of cannabis as a contested issue.  The one weapon that is wielded on cannabis is the psychosis issue, the madness, the insanity.  So, how does one ever clear a name from this folly of absurdity?  You don’t, you can’t.  You can speculate madness far easier than you can prove sanity, place a label, and outlooks will conform - stigma will forever linger - no matter how much proof is presented to the contrary.

So,  I left the appointment with relief in one hand and self-loathing in the other.  My doctor was good though, and I do really like him.  He also promised to look up Dr. Lester Grinspoon, this was all I could ask for all things considered.  I did briefly ponder that although law may change, will stigma and stereotype follow suit, or is that to be another battle entirely?  Will hyperbole ever rescind enough for a fair trial of cannabis in the UK?

I did walk out with a new lease of life though, this is perhaps the most important thing.  I had had to address an early demise, so, perspective has been reached and clarity of thought is certainly apparent.  With this said, and with my life addressed as fragile - as indeed all life is - I am fully prepared to fight for what I believe in, life’s too short to hold back.  All or nothing.


  1. Fabulous Jason. Beautifully written. You had me laughing out loud and for a grumpy old git like me that doesn't happen often.

    Face it boyo, you're nuts. I think you should start work on that prohibitionist website straightaway!

    Either that or I think you need a bit of major supplementation on the ECSN front. I'd try that first If I was you. It usually works for me.

    Listen, you write vividly so why not write to your doctor? My only advice would be to keep it to just three or four hundred words and when you've got it as tight as you can, cut it by another third. Proper accreditation and references always impress a doctor. So add those on the end and do them properly.

  2. That was wonderfully written I agree with the above poster. I was just browsing your link that you left on the thctalk forums. I'm glad you've got a doctor who you feel you can talk to so openly to. I wouldn't worry so much about the anxiety "diagnosis" though. It's not insanity it's just overanalysis of everything until you forget what you say. You could of had it previously if you overanalyse everything. I've had anxiety and to be perfectly honest since i've started smoking cannibis it's gotten so much better. I think on the mental illness side effects of smoking it truely is dependant on the person. Good luck sorry about the ramble! Ones again great blog, keep up with it!

  3. Peter, thank you as always! I may well do that, write to him with some conclusive information. Goodness knows I have enough of it stored on this laptop. It worries me just how little is known about cannabis in the UK, we really have had a media blackout and it's only just beginning to hit me just how far behind we actually are.

    Kat, thank you so much for stopping by and reading my lengthy ramble. I agree with you completely, I know exactly why I had anxiety, it was a mixture of coming off codeine that I had unwillingly been on for two decades, (a famous side effect of these tablets) mixed with pent up worry about my organs, and add a large dollop of the aggravation of law and the real personal circumstance that come with this; a fine brew to become slightly edgy over. It lasted a month and I'm pleased to say I'm back to my happy self now, but as you say, as soon as you bring cannabis up, everything will become projected onto it. And also as you said, because I know cannabis so well, the plant only helps with anxiety anyway. I'm very pleased you've had good results from cannabis treating anxiety, it's all about knowing the strains and traits of the plant isn't it? If you don't know what you're taking with regards to cannabis, then you don't know cannabis full stop; it's as simple as that. Thank you so much for the nice words again, pleasure to speak to you on here!

  4. oh... my .. god!

    Firstly i have to say thank you HomeGrownOutlaw, you've just answered for me what years of doctors apps/psychologists couldn't!.
    When i first mentioned to my doctor that i used cannabis to help with my anxieties and general mood control he literally laughed at me, as you can imagine this didn't help me one bit. He saw it as a problem that i should get over using pharmaceuticals as i so blatantly had a problem with cannabis use and i was "dependent" as he described. Even though my intake was around 3-7 grammes a week.

    Seen as i care for my wife who has had long standing problems with agoraphobia and panic attacks (different, long story altogether), ive seen first hand the damage that can be done with anti-depressants and pharma' mood controlling drugs etc so as you can imagine going down this road was a none starter for me.

    I had (up until reading your blog post) battled with the whole thing of the doctor telling me i had a problem with cannabis for ages and i had began to question myself and my train of thought for a long time, often wondering if i was actually going mad and the doctor had a point.
    Life in general didn't help as i constantly came across people who apparently knew more than me and a constant barrage of abuse like "bloody stoner", "silly hippy", "lazy druggie" etc etc it is easy enough to ignore now and then in individual cases but when the news/media/governments enforce this attitude its sometimes very hard to go against it and i find myself questioning my whole credibility on this issue.

    The fact of just knowing that someone else has reason to use cannabis for treating anxiety is amazing and will in future stop me from becoming depressed when all around me seems to be utter madness. Lets face it when everything around you goes against your train of thought you start to think otherwise..., this is what was depressing me BADLY.

    I honestly do believe that cannabis helps with my mood swings and anxiety but when doctors say that im "dependent" on cannabis i agree to a certain extent but its nothing like addiction why don't they listen? Are they afraid? i just cant figure it out. In the mean time damage is been done for those who self medicate with cannabis.

    Sativa helps me "hyper focus" on my artistic distractions and helps me ignore the utter negativity and droll rubbish that ignorant people speak about. However i do find myself becoming quite angry and grieved at people for trying to label me as some cheech and chong type stoner who sits on his ass all day doing nothing, nothing could be futhur from the truth. I try as much as possible to stay away from people like this and just stay in my little safe bubble. This again is something doctors think i have a problem with ... with drawing from society, problems mixing socially apparently are all symptoms of psychosis. personally ( when i have the strength ) i do that because there's so much shite out there in the world i choose to stay inside rather than deal with the constant barrage of abuse and misguided ventures most people seem to pride themselves on continuing. This may sound a little arrogant but in my eyes its just self preservation.

    To end this ramble on id like to say its been great to know that someone else uses cannabis to help with "mental health issues" rather than a doctors point of view of "your dependent and semi psychotic".
    Maybe im in denial, who knows but this is my reality, my life and i want to live it the way i want to and to be free to think the way i want to..., if it doesn't hurt anyone else.., whats the harm?
    Thanks again HGO, you have no idea ( or maybe you do) how much you have helped with your blog post.

  5. @jimb0b
    Cannabis is now being used by doctors to treat ADHD, PTSD, Aspergers and psychosis. You are far from alone.

    The endocannabinoid system is fundamentally involved in all aspects of mood and stress management.

  6. Jimbob, brilliant, I am so over the moon you've got something out of this blog. That alone is enough for me and a reward for writing it, thank you.

    Don't ever question your sanity when it is others that are projecting misgivings onto you. It is too easy, and quite frankly lazy, to place onus on cannabis. If you were to have your appointments and such in North America or most European countries, you would not have had such a rocky ride. It is the pure ignorance and malaise of cannabis in the UK which is the problem. As a country, we should be embarrassed at our ignorance.

    You are very much not alone as Peter says. Cannabis has so many uses and properties. It is now being used for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in North America with great success - hardly a psychotic substance when this degree of therapy is on offer from the plant. Sure, if you do not know what you are doing with cannabis you could have some adverse effects, but once more, it is reliant on the user to know what they are doing. This is why we desperately need education in the UK; to all walks of life!

    Just because an accusation is made, it doesn't make it true, but hammer away at the ignorant point long enough, and soon enough it will have an effect. Tell a child it is stupid enough times and it will be believed. This is why cannabis in the UK is so damaging, the perspective has become so twisted and way off that it is no longer making any rational sense. You'll be surprised how much sense is actually out there though JimBob, I think the UK is now waking up and holding their hands up to have gotten it wrong. It's coming.

    If you ever want some info or citations to combat the stigma of this Jimbob, my mail is at the bottom of the blog. I have quite a bit backed up that I will be using over time. Also, have you ever seen the Union; The Business Behind Getting High? The first port of call for any cannabis user I feel.

    Thank you again for your kind words, it is really appreciated. Here's wishing you and your wife the very best!

  7. Thanks for your replies :D

    Peter, Although i kind of frown on self diagnosis since i can be my own worst enemy, Aspergers rings so many bells for me, it has had me wondering for quite some time.
    Ive read about this before which kind of prompted me to put together a list of links to medical reviews/papers on various treatments using cannabis. The list was gained freely from Granny StormCrow over at i just translated it into a easily navigable web format here:
    maybe (with thanks to you/others could use it as reference? Although i haven't updated it recently, i should, AFK life takes over in a vicious way sometimes.

    Thanks for the reply, at first it kind of took me back a little you been so straight, but for that i thank you.I've enjoyed reading your blog before. Ive seen positive comments about your writing in quite a few places.

    HomeGrownOutlaw, well im glad i could affirm your accounts, i feel its so important to have a "real world" outlook rather than just constantly reading complicated medical journals. They may be very interesting but they loose me sometimes in the use of language and im kind of distracted from it sinking in.

    Thanks for reminding me im "not alone" I feel that sometimes im so isolated and the world around me has somehow gone cannabis insane, Harry Anslinger would've been a very proud man today.

    The one docufilm that opened my eyes about cannabis and its medicinal use was The Rick Simpson Story", it both filled me with joy to know cannabis and its extracts were doing so much good in small pockets of the world. At the same time the film depressed the sh*t outa me because of the attitude of official bodies towards Ricks discovery. A double edged amateur film but a good watch for those who have doubts about cannabis as a medicine.

    I think i've pretty much seen all the cannabis related media out there, i can be somewhat obsessive when im researching for something, as a result can be quite thorough on a mission ;). The union is a good film, i just wish we had something like it relating to the UK, a grass roots kinda docu rather than some mass media flowery(excuse pun)version. The BBC attempts are ok and the channel 4 one recently was good too. However i cant help feeling we need more from independent film makers that are good enough to air on major channels.

    Anyhow i feel like i have to say thanks again HGO, keep on writing your blog, your fighting the good fight. I was lead here by some random string of the internet, im sure you will help others in the same way.

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