Medical Cannabis for Pain Relief

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A radical prostate removal followed by 33 radiation treatments left Kelly Oliphant with nerve damage and chronic pain. Medical cannabis brought his life back.

He has severe pain from radiation.

Before prostate cancer, Kelly worked as a parks and recreation labourer, doing everything from driving the Zamboni to cutting grass and pruning trees—a job he really misses. Due to aggressive radiation, he now has chronic radiation cystitis, radiation colitis and radiation proctitis. Basically, his nerves were burned. “I ended up, well, I call it being fried across the front. I have a 24-hour sunburn from hip to hip. You can’t see it. It’s inside.”

Other medications don’t work.

Kelly was on a number of drugs to try and relieve the pain—including dexamethasone, pregabalin, gabapentin and hydromorphone. “None of them worked. All I ever did was get the side effects,” he says. So he was sent to the palliative care unit of the cancer clinic in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The doctor asked if he would be willing to try medical cannabis. Eager to try anything that would work, Kelly got a prescription.

Now his pain is bearable.

While medical cannabis hasn’t totally taken his pain away, Kelly says it makes it bearable. “It goes from an 8 or 9 down to a 2 or 3. It works.” Now the only medication he uses to treat his pain is medical cannabis. He vaporizes a few times a day, depending on his activity level.

It’s nothing like the street drug.

Kelly says he doesn’t get stoned from medical cannabis and that you’d never know he was taking it. “I can still function perfectly well with it. I’ve seen guys that couldn’t move after smoking the street drug. But with this stuff, I can go about my business and do whatever. It’s brought my life back.”

The stigma has to go.

“We have to get rid of the stigma somehow so that people who need it can actually get it,” Kelly says. His local doctor won’t prescribe cannabis, so he has to drive 130 kilometres to the cancer centre. And because he relies on cannabis daily for pain, his mobility outside of Canada is limited. “I can’t take a winter holiday because you can’t cross the border with it. There are some places that you can go, but you have to be referred or see one of their doctors to get it there.”

His family is supportive.

Kelly’s kids think he should have used medical cannabis a long time ago. His wife was hesitant at first. “Let’s just say that on the way back from Saskatoon, it was a very quiet ride in my car. It was like my wife was the head of the DEA and I was the head of the cartel.” And now? “She’s seen what it can do and how it relieves my pain, and she’s 100% for it.”

CanniMed Ltd. is one of Canada’s licensed producers of medical cannabis, and a CARP Recommended partner. To learn more about medical cannabis visit