Without Derivative Products, We Are Doing Consumers a Disservice


 Co-Founder and President Cam O'Neil shares a personal story to illustrate how cannabis has impacted his life.  Co-Founder and President Cam O’Neil shares a personal story to illustrate how cannabis has impacted his life.

Recently, my dad and I had the chance to spend some one-on-one time and found ourselves lost in conversation for hours. Unless we are geeking out about science, we hardly ever talk for such a long time. We had both drank a medical cannabis tincture mixture – something he doesn’t do often. The tincture allowed us to be present in the moment and get caught up in rich and deep conversation. It’s moments like that one that make me proud our country is legalizing recreational cannabis. But despite the recent wins in proposed legislation, I’m concerned with the proposed ban on derivatives, or edibles and drinkables. My personal experiences with cannabis started long before the tincture with my dad, but the positive effects of derivatives have always been a part of the story.

Ten years ago, my older brother Adam died of a pulmonary embolism. That’s a clot in his lung. It was determined by the medical examiner to be a side effect of the chemotherapy he was being treated with. At that point, he’d been struggling with a very rare and aggressive form of cancer for over three years. He used cannabis most of that time to deal with the side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea and severe pain. It worked very well for him. Unfortunately for my brother, he did not have access to any of the cannabis derivatives that are available now, so he had to rely on smoking his medicine to get relief. It is not beyond reason to assume that the inhaled smoke from the cannabis contributed to the clot in his lungs that killed him. I wish that all of the products that are available today in legal jurisdictions were available to him at the time. It could have made a real, meaningful difference to his life.

Now, a decade after my brother’s death, I am medicating with cannabis for anxiety and depression. I was never a recreational user before I began using cannabis for medical purposes. Of course, I experimented with marijuana when I was younger, but I always felt very uncomfortable and overwhelmed with paranoia when I tried it in the past. Fortunately, I now have access to a range of high-quality products through ACMPR. I could purchase from licensed producers, but I choose to buy from dispensaries instead so that I don’t need to smoke. I buy CO2 extracted cannabis tinctures and mix them with beverages such as cold-pressed juices at home. I’m a chemical engineer and have a lot of laboratory experience, so I’ve always been comfortable and confident mixing my own drinkables from concentrate. I have, however, made mistakes when I was in a rush, dosing myself too much or too little. I can imagine this is a common problem for people mixing concentrated products at home.

Overall, my experience with cannabis has been overwhelmingly positive. Today I am well-balanced and productive, and free of the anti-depressant side effects that were worse than any occasional bouts of depression. For years I took prescription pills that caused undesirable side effects. Cannabis works much better and I have no side effects other than being more creative, thoughtful and caring.

My mother is an amazingly strong woman living on the East Coast. A couple of years ago, she was diagnosed with a bone cancer called multiple myeloma. She underwent heavy-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplants. I would have loved for her to have the access that my brother and I had to the therapeutic power of cannabis. She has never used cannabis before and is very cautious about trying it. She would never smoke anything, because she is worried about her health. Like most people, she is also worried about getting too high. I wanted to be able to offer her the infused beverage formulations I had tested on myself, to give her the same relief through controlled doses. If infused beverages worked for her, and made her struggle even a little bit easier, shouldn’t she have had access to those benefits?

I’m happy to report that my mom is now in remission. However, there are still so many Canadians that can benefit from dose-controlled derivative products. I’ve talked mostly about medical patients, but controlled doses will be extremely important for recreational use as well. That’s why we need to move towards precise delivery methods. I founded Token so I could create repeatable, dependable experiences for cannabis users. We want the chance to create more good experiences for new adopters and for seasoned users, for medical and recreational. We can solve the dosing issue from a regulatory perspective by allowing for edibles and drinkables that are mixed in a laboratory, not in a kitchen.

[Some of the personal stories shared here were originally shared at a Vancouver City Council Public Hearing session on proposed cannabis regulation held on June 22, 2015.]