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Byron Shire
March 29, 2023

Medicinal cannabis; a better way forward

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Mirembe Campbell has found a ‘better way’ to live her life with the assistance of medicinal cannabis. Photo Jeff Dawson.

For the first time ever, I am living my truths and no one is trying to hurt me because of it. This is a much better way. 

It hasn’t always been like this. 

I’ve been having continual hospitalisations, mostly owing to suicide attempts, since the age of 14. And a few years ago, I stopped speaking for a while as a result of being re-traumatised by various medical ‘professionals’. 

Thankfully, I have finally found something that not only helps me, but has also given me a new lease of life. 

At 45 I am the happiest and most well I have ever been. And prescribed medicinal cannabis is a major contributing factor for my recovery. 

For example, I’ve been diagnosed with an array of mental health disorders, ranging from bi-polar disorder, depression, anxiety and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD). 

These mental health problems are exacerbated by my physical illness, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). This is a connective tissue disorder causing chronic pain. The pain can be immobilising and completely debilitating. And this pain in turn aggravates my numerous mental health disorders. It is quite a cycle.  

Prescribed medicinal cannabis

But now, all of these problems are efficaciously treated predominately with prescribed medicinal cannabis. 

However, my journey has not been an easy one. I am a woman of colour, which puts me at an immediate disadvantage. Unsurprisingly, my experiences of the hospital system and the medical model have mostly been far from positive. 

Repeatedly I was not believed. And while some medical professionals have helped me, sometimes to great effect, most have not. 

For example, under the medical model, I’ve encountered a lack of genuine compassion and care, overt disrespect, unprofessionalism, unhelpful moral biases and a stark absence of kindness. 

These experiences, at times, made me want to end my life. And I did try. However, I survived. 

My condition deteriorated because no one believed my truths. But I persisted. 

A deep and dark crisis

For decades I used pharmaceutical medications, adhering exclusively to the medical model. But it wasn’t working, and by 2019 I was engulfed in an overwhelmingly deep and dark crisis. 

This dark time was not helped by the fact I was repeatedly labelled a ‘drug-seeker’ by many doctors, some of whom refused to provide me with any pain relief at all. 

Being in chronic pain means zero sleep, which impacts general wellbeing. So, I was regressing badly. And I was in so much pain. For example, on the pain scale I was always a ten. 

During this time, I was admitted to several psychiatric facilities. A few times I was even sectioned. 

Finally feeling heard

For months I suffered from unrelenting pain, until finally a doctor believed me. He conducted numerous examinations, including MRI and a CT scans. He observed that I ‘lit up like a Christmas tree’ in terms of where the painful areas were. I finally felt heard. 

In order to help with my recovery, I was prescribed what one of my doctors later dubbed ‘the party pack’. This included: Endone, Oxycontin, Ketamine and Valium. At different times I’ve also been prescribed Lyrica, Tramadol, Codeine and Morphine. 

Additionally, I had several ‘nerve blocker’ injections, some of which went into my neck and spine. A deeply painful process.  

Yet, in spite of all these medications and nerve blocker injections, I remained in excruciating pain. Often, I couldn’t walk, couldn’t sleep, and sometimes I couldn’t talk. It was a living hell. 

Today my pain is successfully managed, predominantly through the use of medicinal cannabis. I do not use any of the prescription medications described earlier, nor do I require nerve blockers. 

Why did it take so long?

So why did it take me so long?

My unwavering loyalty to the medical model was a barrier. I’d read that having an underlying genetic predisposition towards mental disorders meant I was not a suitable candidate for medicinal cannabis, because I would likely trigger my underlying mental health problems, and could induce a psychosis. So, I persisted with the medical model. But it was not working. 

In desperation I went to see my pain specialist. He suggested I try medicinal cannabis to treat not only my physical pain, but to also help with my mental health. 

I was extremely wary, so I spoke with one of my GPs – who agreed with my pain specialist! 

And now, I’ve been successfully using medicinal cannabis for over two years. This decision saved my life and has been life-changing. 

Alongside other medications, medicinal cannabis helps to stabilise me, while also alleviating the majority of my physical ailments. This means I am no longer in immobilising physical pain. Instead, I am progressively getting better and better. 

I am evidence there is hope for a better way. And I am yet more evidence that it’s time to change the fucking laws. 

Legalise cannabis. It’s a much better way. 

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  1. What a brave and illuminating story -hanks for sharing, Mirembe.
    The big problem for many over medically prescribed cannabis oil is the (presently) exorbitant cost.
    There is also another with current roadside drug saliva-testing laws.

  2. Medicinal Cannabis is wonderful, I’m looking forward to the day, like in Canberra, we are all allowed 3 plants in our gardens. One thing you bough up was being a woman of colour, being of colour makes no difference to how you are perceived in the medical establishment. Almost everyone I know, myself included have felt unheard, poorly treated and left with no help and no answers, so skin colour makes no difference. You may have thought that shitty treatment was only happening to you, nope lots of us..


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