Name: Julie Vickaryous
Hometown: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Current City: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Number of years working in medical cannabis and what do you do?
I have been working in the medical cannabis industry for one year, but have been formulating edible cannabis recipes for several. I am a cannabis specialist for National Access Cannabis, and also am a cannabis chef. I spend my time outside of the office teaching classes in edible making and topical making for people with a wide range of symptoms and illness’s.
How did you get involved in the medical cannabis space?
I had originally met with a woman who as at the time, was the regional manager for NAC. I had seen they were opening an office in my hometown and wanted to be involved in that. I sent her a letter with my story in it and my credentials as a pastry chef, and next thing I knew I was helping open the Saskatoon offices.
What was your first impression of cannabis as medicine?
I first started using cannabis after one treatment of chemotherapy. It became clear I would have difficulty getting through the treatments without something to help me so my mother called our doctor about getting my prescription for medical cannabis. At the time there was very little information out there in regards to dosing and the most effective way to take cannabis as a medicine. It was several months before I actually got a handle on it as a medication, but eventually I did get it. That being said I would definitely say my first impression wasn’t a fabulous one, as I had no help in learning the process of using it. I was one of the people that believed just smoking it would relieve my symptoms so it was a bit of an awakening to learn that there’s so much more there.
What’s one of the biggest challenges of working in the medical cannabis industry?
I would say the biggest challenge to working in the medical cannabis industry is absolutely the stigma surrounding the plant. Doctors will readily hand out endless prescriptions for dilaudid or gabapentin, but the thought of prescribing medical cannabis is shocking to them. I get doctors sending me outdated studies on THC and anxiety all the time, when they have absolutely no idea that CBD exists, let alone what it can do for a patients mental health. When people hear about what I do there’s a very polarizing reaction. Either the person is thrilled to know the industry is finally emerging in Saskatoon OR I’m looked at like some big time drug dealer, trying to get all the unsuspecting elderly people to smoke a joint. Which I would never do, vaporizing is so much better for them.
What is the biggest misconception or myth about medical cannabis?
Absolutely the biggest misconception is that when you use medical cannabis you’ll be high all day. Many people who start using THC based strains or products fear they will be ‘out of their mind’ all day, when in fact, if used correctly THC is rarely distractingly felt. It blocks pain from being felt and relieves inflammation, not to mention it’s used with PTSD patients and the like.
What resources do you use to keep up to date on medical cannabis?
Part of my job is being up to date on a constantly changing medicine and the industry itself. Whenever I have a free moment in the day I check several cannabis based news sites, and at least once a day I keep up with licensed producers products and growings so I know what is legally available in the Canadian market.
Who do you see as having the greatest impact to the field of medical cannabis right now?
I feel like I’m biased, cancer wise, in saying that Mara Gordon is so impactful on the industry right now. Not necessarily in Canada, but absolutely in North America. We need women to stand up and create companies showing the benefit of this, and the talks I’ve seen Mara Gordon do are phenomenal with what she has learned treating cancer patients.
Our free Medical Cannabis forum is happening on June 21st, 2017
Come out and hear from panelists, like Julie, about what’s up-and-coming in the field of medical cannabis and what that means for you.