Meet Kelly. Kelly has Crohn’s. Kelly enjoys cannabis.
If you are familiar with the Calgary cannabis scene, Kelly Gibson is a familiar face. She has worked with Weed Girls whose mandate was sharing information with the public about safe and responsible Cannabis use, and she was a regular writer for High Canada magazine. Her efforts are now focused working with Spiritleaf, a major retailer that will open it’s stores with recreational cannabis legalization.
At age 21 Kelly became sick and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease that has no cure and limited treatment options. It can cause inflammation in any part of the gastrointestinal tract leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, weight-loss and malnutrition. She had little success with traditional therapies and was looking for an alternative. On a trip to Vancouver several years ago with her husband, they stepped into a local dispensary. It was there that she was told the most powerful ‘truth’ that has affected her life every moment since. The truth: it is her right to access marijuana as a medicine.
Unfortunately, at the time it was not easy to find a doctor that would recommend and do the paperwork for patients to access legal medical marijuana. Kelly found a 420 referral service that put her in touch with a doctor who helped her start the process.
The doctor asked that she write the “Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons” asking for ‘permission’ to protect himself legally. She received a call from their offices and after much debate she convinced them to give her some response to her request in writing. The email she received wouldn't ‘deny or recommend’ any treatment deemed appropriate by her doctor. Under the circumstances, this was a small win.
With documents in place and sent to the government, she was able to use and possess medical marijuana legally. At this time, there was only one producer in Canada, the “Prairie Plant.” What arrived in the mail was a gold bag of milled, dusty weed that included the stems. It was somewhat disappointing. After all that, Kelly says “at least I was legit”.
Kelly has almost 20 years experience using cannabis to successfully treat her Crohn’s Disease. We picked her brain and asked her how she uses cannabis for wellness:
How do you use cannabis for wellness?
There are several methods available for using Cannabis at this time. Personally, I do smoke and vape dried Cannabis for immediate relief from symptoms. In addition, I use ingestible oils for long-lasting effects. I also use Cannabis infused topical’s on my entire body, for skin conditioning and mild pain relief. And I sometimes treat myself to medicated bath bombs or salts, for extra relaxation.
I use both THC and CBD dominant strains, I always try to have a product with a minimum 1:1 ratio and another with high THC every day. Hybrid, Indica or Sativa; I get different effects from each.
*Individual results will vary.
How do you use cannabis to treat and soothe symptoms from your Crohn’s disease?
I use Cannabis to successfully treat and manage the symptoms from Crohn’s Diseases, which I have had since 2001. I use Cannabis to stimulate appetite, control pain, to relieve occasional nausea, it helps me sleep and lessens the depression that comes with chronic illness. I haven’t used pharmaceutical medications in several years.
I was disappointed by what the medical profession could offer. I now manage my condition successfully with natural options, and by avoiding stimulants. With equal parts rest, and exercise. And daily affirmations, to maintain a positive mind. I eat well, expecting to be healthy. But the lack of nutrients in most foods (because of over industrialization) has left my body deficient. I have recently started an aggressive nutrition program, whole food based; which helps bridge the gap.
*Consult your doctor for individual advice.
How do you fight against the stigma around cannabis?
I have done many things to advocate the benefits of Cannabis use and for patient rights. First, I excised my rights by obtaining a medical marijuana prescription and added my name to the growing list of Canadians who are doing the same. I participated in some phone campaigns for Sensible BC and attended some local demonstrations over the years.
I write for several online blogs sharing my experience and educating others. I give educational presentations to groups wanting to learn about accessing medical Cannabis through the ACMPR program and I also consult individuals on growing Cannabis for personal use.
How has your mind has changed about cannabis over time and why?
I have always approved of Cannabis and my opinion of it has only become stronger. My understanding of my rights as a citizen and as a patient has changed from passive to aggressive as a result of this experience. Being an advocate has shaped my life, both personally and professionally.
Recent advancements in cultivation and research has changed the way I treat my illness and how I purchase Cannabis. Modern products have advanced applications and are terpene focused, making it easier to customize an effective treatment plan.
Any last thoughts about cannabis as a medicine?
After going so many years without using pharmaceutical drugs or having any hospital visits, I can honestly say it is a real benefit; it gave me my life back. That’s a gift I would not have been given with conventional medicine.