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Margaret Mainprize once used opiates and other serious drugs to deal with her Lupus symptoms. Now she's discovered cannabis therapy, she's much happier and she's assisting others to get the same relief.
“About five years ago, I was diagnosed with Lupus,” says Margaret. The autoimmune condition makes it difficult for her immune system to differentiate between good and bad cells, which means it can attack otherwise healthy tissues and organs. “Joint pain is probably the biggest symptom that people with Lupus have. I also have migraines.”
After trying various immune suppressers and chemotherapy, Margaret found herself relying on opiates, muscle relaxers and sleeping pills to cope with the disease. “I have three children,” she says. “I can’t afford to be in bed and in pain all the time.” While seeking out advice in online forums, she heard about the effectiveness of cannabis therapy.
“I was pretty skeptical at first, and I did a lot of research. Everything from just the strain differences, CBD versus THC, right down to looking into the endocannabinoid system in your body.”
Ditching Pills to Help Patients
Margaret is now using cannabis oil therapy and has not taken an opiate or muscle relaxer in over four months. She also recently stopped taking sleeping pills. Her positive experience motivated her to help more patients navigate the at times tricky process of successfully claiming cannabis therapy through a private insurance company.
Six months ago, she joined the new legal and medical consulting firm Medical Marijuana Group (MMG) as a Patient Care Coordinator, where she often acts as a first point of contact for patients looking for an alternative to the kinds of medicines Margaret herself now avoids. “There are people that don’t realize that having their medical marijuana therapy covered is even an option,” she says. “I’ve had some patients who are choosing between food or their medication on a month-to-month basis.”
Despite the increasing number of registered medical marijuana users – from just under 24,000 in April 2015 to almost 54,000 in March 2016, according to Health Canada – many people are still paying out of pocket for this kind of therapy. MMG assists patients with chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety and depression related to injuries, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims as well as many other conditions.
“We also deal with victims of violent crimes who have a claim with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board,” says Margaret, “and that includes assault victims or rape victims.”
The Claims Process
A typical MMG patient is someone who may have been in a motor vehicle accident and is experiencing symptoms that could be treated with medical cannabis.
“Generally, they’re referred to us through their rehab specialist, occupational therapist or their lawyer,” says Margaret. At that step, she assesses what the patient is hoping to treat with cannabis therapy and whether that condition is supported by Health Canada’s recommendations.
After the necessary paperwork is submitted, the patient is seen by a doctor affiliated with MMG. If the doctor is satisfied the patient is a good candidate for cannabis therapy, they are provided with a prescription and MMG helps set them up with a Health Canada-licensed medical marijuana producer.
From there, MMG staff follow up with patients at least once a month to ensure the therapy is proceeding as planned and their goals are being met.
According to Margaret, should the federal government follow through on modernizing its policy on marijuana, there will still be a growing need for medical therapies and businesses that support patient access.
“You’re still going to need a prescription,” she says. Even if the government restricts the strain types and THC/CBD levels, a lot of those regulations will need to be adapted for recreational versus medicinal use. “On the medicinal side of things, you can’t really limit the THC levels because there are conditions that really need them.”
Whether she’s interacting with insurance adjusters, doctors or patients, Margaret feels there will always be a need for more awareness on the therapeutic value of cannabis. “The education is missing,” she says. “Some doctors don’t realize how it can benefit their patients. That’s exactly why MMG exists.”
If you have been the victim of an accident or crime and wish to access safe, effective and 100% covered medical marijuana, please contact Medical Marijuana Group (MMG) by email at email@example.com or call 1-844-312-5143. Alternately, you can register on medmg.ca.
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