Crystal Clear

Clearing the air on cannabis

Illustration by Bram Keast

It’s almost April, which means 4-20 is on its way, and most fellow marijuana enthusiasts know exactly what that means. We go out to the legislature, and we advocate for the right to use cannabis, whether it’s medicinally or recreationally.

I say “we,” because I am one of the advocates of Manitoba who has spoken at 4-20 for the last five years. use cannabis medicinally to manage the symptoms that come with my illness.

Yet many people are still unaware of what cannabis can be used for, how it works and how it can be consumed.

“Both THC and CBD are in a group of substances called cannabinoids. They bind to receptors in the brain and are effective against pain,” according to

“All mammals and most vertebrate species worldwide have endocannabinoid systems (ECS). Receptors for the ECS are much like the lock, while cannabinoids are the key. Our bodies naturally produce cannabinoids to bind with receptors triggering response to pain levels,” Mike Mailman, a fellow activist, explains.

“When our body is fighting pain, added dietary cannabinoid medicine, naturally occurring in plants, may be used in place of endogenous cannabinoids.”

The uses are very diverse, but one of the major symptoms that cannabis can alleviate is pain. Pain comes with several illnesses and disabilities, such as fibromyalgia, some cases of spinal muscular atrophy, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and various types of cancer.

Pain is a terrible thing to try to live with, especially if it’s daily and constant. A person in pain will often have mental health complications, such as depression, anxiety and anger.

Imagine being in so much pain that leaving the house becomes impossible, and relationships start to suffer because of it - that’s emotionally draining. Pain also takes a toll on a person’s immune system, and it can promote tumour growth.

For several years, harsh prescription drugs like Vicodin, fentanyl and oxycodone have been the option for pain management. These drugs are highly addictive, can cause stomach ulcers, constipation and overdoses, and they have been linked to several deaths.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there were 2,861 deaths linked to opiods in 2016 and 1,460 in the first half of 2017. Also, 29 per cent of Canadians over 18 years old used opioids in the last five years.

Yet cannabis has a less-lethal association and fewer bad side effects … except maybe an empty fridge from the munchies.

Another symptom that cannabis can alleviate is nausea. Nausea can be caused by several diseases, medications or illnesses and is a well-known side effect of chemotherapy. Patients who are treating cancer with chemotherapy really need nutrition to keep themselves strong enough to fight the disease. However, treatment medications are very hard on the stomach and can make it near impossible to eat. Cannabis stimulates a person’s appetite and can solve the nausea problem.

The next symptom that cannabis can alleviate is seizures. These can be caused by conditions such as epilepsy or cerebral palsy. WebMD clarifies that “(a) seizure happens because of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. It may go nearly unnoticed. Or, in some severe cases, it may cause unconsciousness and convulsions.”

Cannabis works to control seizures in a similar way that it works for pain. According to, “CBD binds to more than just pain receptors. It appears to work on other signaling systems within the brain and has protective and anti-inflammatory properties.”

Cannabis is not a cure-all, and if a person needs prescription medication, they should have access to it. This plant is great for those who choose to use it, and it needs more credit for its medicinal benefits.

Crystal Rondeau is a rock music and tattoo-loving young woman who lives with a physical disability and chronic illness. Her main goal in life is to break barriers and destroy the stigmas that come with being disabled and ill. She does this by speaking in schools, volunteering and being very open and uncensored about her life.

Published in Volume 72, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 29, 2018)

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