Over the summer, Tanniel St. John, 13, was suffering from non-epileptic seizures.
Like 170 seizures a day suffering.
When she started taking medical marijuana oil three times a day in September, the number of seizures dropped to 20 small ones per day.
St. John and her mom, Elizabeth Baker, both from Vernon, were among the close to 50 people taking part in a peaceful awareness walk at noon Friday at Vernon City Hall, organized by a coalition of Vernon medical cannabis dispensaries and compassion shops.
The five Vernon outlets were given verbal warnings from RCMP in November that their businesses were in danger of being shut down.
“It’s like a raft for us,” said Baker of the oil that helps her daughter. “We had to watch her 24 hours a day, now we can go to the other side of the house without worrying about her.”
Jeff Gaudette is one of the owners of MMJ Total Health Care in downtown Vernon, and one of the organizers of Friday’s walk.
Since the RCMP visited the five Vernon outlets, a rotation for not selling medical cannabis has been in place among the stores, but patients continue to receive support and access to other products.
“As a storefront owner, I’m a patient too,” said Gaudette. “I’m representing everyone that’s here. You have to live through compassion. If you don’t live through compassion, you’re going to misunderstand the times.”
Friday’s peaceful movement, said Gaudette, was not geared at the RCMP who, he said, were simply doing their job of enforcing the law when they paid their visit in November.
“We’re hoping this falls on the right eyes through the political ladder, turns some heads and get attention for the patients,” he said.
“It’s really hard to understand until you’ve been on the other side of the counter helping these people. I can’t expect everyone to know how I feel or how much passion we have as storefront owners until you’ve been behind the counter and seen people and help change their lives. There’s no feeling like it.”
Barry Porter is one who has been helped.
Porter has diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage caused by diabetes) that affects his stomach. He says if he doesn’t smoke pot, he gets very nauseous and can’t eat which is dangerous when you are diabetic.
“If I don’t smoke I can’t look after myself or my mother,” said Porter. “I don’t get stoned or buzzed off it. It helps my stomach.”
Roy You has severe nerve damage in his legs and back after being run over in 2008. You said his body can’t handle the side effects of traditional pain medication because it’s too hard on his stomach and there are too many other side effects.
“I know it’s clean and safe,” said You of medical cannabis. “If I lose this medicine and have to get it from somewhere else, it could be laced with something.
“I can talk to you right now because I can stand the pain and it isn’t frustrating me.”
Derek Gauchée is a semi-retired Vernon resident who calls himself a regular marijuana user since the 1970s, and has been using medical marijuana for the past three or four years for help with a “private medical issue.”
He turned out Friday to show his support for Gaudette and fellow patients.
“I’ve had great results,” said Gauchée. “I started to learn about various medical strains that are available and how you can address certain issues with certain types without getting all wiped out and pot-headed. It can help you function without disrupting the rest of your life.
“I was happy as a clam about it until all this disruption.”
The stores not selling medicinal cannabis on a rotating basis has caused Gauchée to scramble for not only his prescription, but for that of a dear friend, recently diagnosed with a two-inch brain tumour.
“I know through a lot of research I’ve done that pot cannabinoids inhibit growth of tumours,” he said. “I’ve been pushing him to get on it, he was hesitant but he did, and he was enjoying the benefits of being less stressed out about his whole predicament, which isn’t good.
“This disruption has caused chaos in his and his wife’s life to get the product. I feel it’s unnecessary. He has a chance to have it possibly corrected and this crap is getting in the way.”
Gaudette said clients still get medicine under the current system. They will be directed to one of the open stores.
The coalition plans to meet Monday to discuss its next move in the matter. It has called for the RCMP to halt further action until new federal legislation legalizing marijuana has been introduced.