Hello and welcome to Our Medicine, the film, the website, the blog, the social network, the place where you can sign up, the hub if you will. I have been working in earnest on this film since November of 2014 when I made a call to a good friend and talented filmmaker, Jessica Congdon, and began to tell her of the world of medical cannabis.
Living in California, land of unregulated (until this week!) medical pot, Jess was quick to point out the abuses that happen through the lax attitude of dispensaries. Yes, California can bring to mind the "drive-through" dispensary which acts as a front for recreational drug use. That being said, most dispensaries do good work. But more on that later.
I said, in the words of our fearless E.R. doctor character Tom Minahan, "I get that. I know some people fool me. Some people just want to get high." But the story that's less heard of, and quite surprising really, even in a state like California where the medical cannabis laws are the most open, families and patients stuggle every day to not only get access - which is obviously an impossibility in some parts of the U.S., but even when they have access, the medicine isn't reliable, isn't always tested, and without educated physician guidance, a real gamble.
I described to Jess the sorts of stories you've heard of through mainstream media (CNN's "Weed" series for instance), of kids with intractable epilepsy sometimes finding relief from their crippling disease through cannabis oil. She was surprised. Can marijuana really be a medicine?
Personally, I had known of cannabis' potential back in '03. Oh sure, I'd smoked it years earlier and had even lived in a grow house in Vancouver. But it was in '03 when I met Hilary Black, founder of the British Columbia Compassion Club Society, supplying cannabis to AIDS, Cancer and fibromialgia patients (among many other painful and devastating ailments) since 1997. This holistic healthcare center operated in a legal "grey zone" until 2001 when Health Canada adopted a medical cannabis program. Actually, it still operated in a legal grey zone - there has never clearly been legislation to protect storefronts. BCCCS has faced closure several times. In fact, they are facing closure again as I type.
So, it was she, Ms Black, who inspired me to follow this story all these years. Along the way there have been the sexy distractions of legalization. But nothing ever felt as important to me as allowing those of us who suffer a myriad of health problems the right to access a plant that we have been evolving with for thousands of years.
This film is a story about patients finding access to reliable medicine. Pretty simple. Not so much. It's a journey, a tumultuous, sometimes frustrating, sometimes joyous one. Please join us as we continue to make this film happen.