Do I look like an addict?

“But why must I give you a urine sample?” I asked the receptionist at the marijuana clinic. She replied, “Because we won’t see you without one, and each time you come back you must give us one. It’s to make sure you’re not taking illegal drugs.”

So at 94 years of age, a doctor with lots of gray hair, tired after fighting Toronto traffic, and walking with a cane, I asked her, “Do I really look like an addict?” I reluctantly gave her a urine sample! But why was I there?

Years ago, while in Japan, I had a Japanese massage at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. During the procedure, a petite girl suddenly struck a heavy blow on the side of my head for no apparent reason. I swear to High Heaven I did not pinch her, nor commit any ungentlemanly act. But the blow injured the ulnar nerve in my hand and resulted in chronic neck pain later in life. I’ve never forgotten her.

I’ve done what many readers with chronic pain do. I’ve exercised to strengthen neck muscles, undergone massage, physiotherapy, acupuncture and chiropractic treatment. For years I’ve refused prescription painkillers. Readers well know I believe they’re overused. But at one point a university clinic prescribed morphine. That only put me to sleep.

I should add, I’ve been seen by several neurosurgeons in Boston, Toronto and one in Israel whom I had interviewed about spinal injuries. They all concluded I was not a candidate for surgery as MRIs failed to show a specific lesion. So much for the accuracy of MRIs!

Now, like many patients and physicians, I’ve discovered that chronic pain is not easy to diagnose and treat. Consequently, I work at the computer with an inflatable neck cuff around my neck, which helps.

Now, with some reluctance, I’ve decided to try medical cannabis (marijuana).  But what a waste of taxpayers’ money to demand a urine test on every visit I make, because some people cheat. But this is a minor expense compared to the cheating that occurs at addiction clinics.

The best example I know is that in Ontario, just one Canadian province,  42,000 addicts are being treated with methadone. I repeat 42,000! This means that 42,000 addicts need 42,000 urine samples performed week after week at assembly-line addiction clinics to make sure they’re not cheating and taking illegal drugs. It’s costing taxpayers millions and millions of dollars. It’s also making doctors who run these assembly-line factories very rich.

What all this means is that good old-fashioned horse sense is as extinct as the dodo bird. As a journalist, I spend many days in the U.S. every year so I have a Nexus Pass. This means I’ve been interviewed by Canadian and U.S. immigration officials to ensure I have no criminal record. I’ve also been photographed and fingerprinted. But the clinic doesn’t give a tinker’s damn I have a Nexus Pass. I must still provide a needless urine specimen.

Today, with a health care system that desperately needs money, we need to get tough on cheaters. Why couldn’t addiction clinics just do random urine checks on addicts? If caught cheating, send them to northern Canada to chop wood. It would quickly cure their addiction. I mentioned this idea months ago. Tons of angry readers agreed with me.

So why don’t we do random urine checks in marijuana clinics? If I were caught cheating, I too need to be given a ticket to a well-wooded area in northern Canada.

I told the clinic doctor I was not interested in getting high on weed, nor did I want to smoke it. So I’ve been prescribed oral cannabis drops. They contain the CBD component of cannabis that only provides pain relief. I’ll keep you informed of my progress. But I believe it will require a few weeks to evaluate the result.

I fear another idiocy will occur after cannabis is legal in Canada. I will still have to attend a clinic to obtain medical cannabis. But I will be able to buy recreational cannabis at any legal outlet, get high on it, drive a car, and kill someone. So, will it also be possible for me to obtain medical cannabis at these legal outlets?

— W. Gifford-Jones MD (is a Toronto physician and widely syndicated columnist living in Harbourfront)

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BTW: Curcumin and Vitamin D are helpful against Alzheimer’s symptoms.