Shelly is the social media manager for the group Utah Patients for Cannabis and Natural Choices. The group was founded on Facebook in 2016, she affirms that their purpose is to lift the stigma on cannabis and improve people’s knowledge about the many incredible benefits of the drug. In fact, they were the first group to represent Medical Cannabis in a Utah Parade, which occured in Magna, Utah.
She is also a Medical Cannabis patient and was the first patient to buy a cannabis product in Ogden when she bought some Sundae Driver flower.
She dabbled a bit with recreational cannabis in her youth, but then, in the late ‘90s developed searing pain in her sinuses and a double earache that didn’t respond to antibiotics. It turned out to be trigeminal neuralgia.
She was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, and facet disease, and had a 5-level fusion done in her neck from C3 to T1. Being treated with conventional medicines was complicated by the fact that she had bad reactions to them.
The biggest turning point for her came when an aunt gave her some cannabis oil that not only alleviated her severe pain, and, in fact, set her on the road to learning everything she could find out about cannabis.
And that's what she also envisages with the Utah Patients for Cannabis and Natural Choices group. It is to help others understand and learn about cannabis. She confirms that trigeminal neuralgia, also referred to as ‘the suicide disease’, causes extreme and debilitating levels of pain.
She applies cannabis bombs at the base of her skull, on her neck and at her temples and it helps tremendously because it works through a numbing sensation.
She has actually gotten into learning how to produce her own Medical Cannabis products because it is prohibitively expensive to buy the preprocessed medications.
She has learnt how to infuse oil which is extremely multipurpose. It can be used as a sublingual and capsules. You can cook with it, put it on your skin, and mixed with a little bit of coconut oil, it makes a nice cream.
She has a Levo II that she uses for processing her own product which makes it much more affordable. It also comes with a potency calculator so you can calculate the strength of your product. She starts with a sublingual in the morning to get her out of bed in the morning because she wakes up so sore. She will then supplement through the day as needed, either with her dry herb vaporizer or capsules. She’s even used the base oil she produces as bath oil to good effect.
Shelly confirms that by microdosing like this and with the acquired tolerance cannabis patients build up, they live a normal life. Their pain levels are controlled without them getting ‘high’. So they get the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, without having the side-effects.
She did hide it when she was raising kids, but now she has just come right out of the proverbial closet. Her family supports her, her friends support her, and they think it's wonderful that she has the purpose of helping people through the Utah Patients for Cannabis and Natural Choices group. She enjoys talking to people and helping them out.
Shelly thinks the computer system needs a lot of help because patients have a hard time navigating it. She would also like to see patient caps removed as there's no reason for them.
She also really thinks that education of law enforcement officers is urgently needed. She applauds the officers who have actually come into the pharmacy and asked for a copy of the law so that they could inform themselves.
Shelley points out that some legal cannabis patients are still being cited illegally and having their medicine removed by poorly informed officers. She advises people to always keep a physical copy of their card on them to prove that they are a Medical Cannabis patient, even though they may have a virtual one on their phone.
They should also put a lock on the bag or case that they carry their cannabis product in to comply with the law that states that cannabis should be in a tamper-proof, opaque container. They should also not carry large quantities. Having some proof of the original packaging with the pharmacist’s receipt would also be a good idea.
Shelly emphasizes that patients should make sure that they know what the law says, what their rights are, and ensure that they are within the strictures of the law.
Shelly points out that unfortunately not all officers are up to date regarding the law, and though illegal citations will usually be dropped, it can result in not just inconvenience, but also costs for the people involved. Ridiculous things, like somebody’s $100 bottle of cream being confiscated, unfortunately still happen.
Shelly points out that the group regards no question as stupid; they are all still learning constantly. It is all about supporting each other. Before COVID, they would have get-togethers. They also work with lawmakers to promote changes to the law.
They are mainly an education group - their main focus is to promote knowledge about cannabis and combat the stigma attached to it.
She first got fibromyalgia. Then one day she woke up and her left arm was numb. An MRI revealed that she had several bulging discs and many bone spurs probably caused by age and several accidents she had had in her life. They went in and cleaned up all the bone spurs.
However, that proved inadequate - so they had to do a second surgery with a fusion from C3 to T1. Fortunately, she now has better movement than she had before. The last surgery was done just a year before.
Her surgeon at the time was not comfortable with her using cannabis for pain control. But she was not getting the relief she needed from traditional medication, so she actually left the hospital after only one day because she knew she could take care of the pain better at home. She was only on pain pills for about two days.
She believes that cannabis and pain medication can work together, but she doesn't like pain pills. They make her feel sick and tired, and all she wants to do is sleep. Cannabis, on the other hand, gives her energy.
She confirms that it's been a long ride, but she’s glad it went the way it did, because if she hadn't have found cannabis, she could have gone down some pretty bad roads.
She’s grateful to her aunt for giving her more knowledge about it. She’s thankful for the Utah Patients for Cannabis and Natural Choices group for giving her a purpose and she’s just happy to be able to move and not be in so much pain.
Shelly never expected Utah to legalize Medical Cannabis. She really thought she would need to move to a legal state once her husband had retired. She points out that it was pretty scary to live without legal sanction.
Shelly points out that there are only two months left to turn a Medical Cannabis letter into a card. On January 1st, it's no longer going to be legal to possess cannabis with only your letter. But up until January 1st, it's a blanket protection that anybody can use.
How the protection works is that they wrote in the law that you could possess cannabis as long as it was in the formats and the amounts allotted up until January 1, 2021. After January 1st, you have to have a Medical Cannabis Card, or it will be illegal.
Shelly takes message requests all the time online, and she and the group are on Facebook and Twitter. The social media group focuses on dispelling the stigmas around Medical Cannabis, educating to promote responsible and safe cannabis legislation. Education on the subject is important and she would be delighted for you to come join them.
Tim can be reached here at utahmarijuana.org where they just launched a new chat feature, and they have people standing by during the day to answers questions.
Chris can be found on his I am Salt Lake podcast website where you can hear about local foodie people and the impact of COVID on local eateries.