Can We Legalise Marijuana So I Don't Become Another Opioid Statistic, Please?

Every time I read an article about the opioid epidemic, I can't help but wonder 'is that my future?'

Obviously, it's not something I want, and currently, I don't see it in my future, but I can't help but worry that in a worst-case scenario, that will be the natural trajectory for my life from here.

I'll start at the beginning. I've had chronic pain since October 2010, and it's affected me every single day since then. This year's been better than last, but it's still a daily struggle trying to balance having a life with managing my pain.

Currently, there's no cure for my pain, although Cymbalta has been helping a lot with my nerve pain, and anti-inflammatories have been helping me regain movement in my arm that I lost last last year -- for awhile, I couldn't reach my left arm above shoulder height, and attempting to resulted in searing pain.

Image: Getty.

The other thing is, I take some form of pain medication most days -- to relax enough to sleep, to stop muscle spasms, to knock me out, to help guarantee enough rest to keep a pain flare at bay. I can't remember the last time I went a week without taking panadeine forte, Valium and sleeping pills -- generally a mix of two of the three.

READ MORE: What I Wish I'd Known About Chronic Pain Before I Got Sick

READ MORE: One Week In My Life With Chronic Pain

If it sounds problematic, it's because it... kind of is. Although I'm not taking more than the dose prescribed by my doctor, I have been pulled up by him about an increased use of Valium when I was travelling for two weeks last year -- the 12-hour bus trip, the six-hour car ride, and the stress of travelling with family all meant that I was leaning on my meds more than usual. The scary part? I didn't even notice.

That's the thing about all the pills I'm on -- they're all really addictive. As much as I try to keep my use in check, that experience showed me just how easy it would be for my usage to spiral, and that's what I think about.

Things are okay for the time being, but what if my pain gets worse? If I were to get in a car accident (unlikely, since I don't drive), or fall and injure myself (far more likely, I'm a klutz), and kick my already-heightened central nervous system into an even higher gear where my pain exceeded the current level of medication I was on, where would I go from there?

I had an absolutely terrible experience with an opioid patch last year, but it's very easy to see a future where my current pill-popping amps up to a level I can't come back from.

What I'd love is for medical marijuana to be legalised in Australia, so I had other options to take the edge off my pain.

Before trying the Norspan patch, I tried smoking weed -- something I'd never done before -- because quite frankly, I'm a real square. I tried it because it seemed less scary than the highly addictive options I was being presented with.

Unfortunately, it was a terrible experience for me. I also tried CBD Oil, which -- although legal -- is INCREDIBLY expensive and nearly impossible to find any reliable information about. It also didn't help my pain.

Despite my not great experiences to date with marijuana, I'd love for it to be legalised so that I could look into different pain management options. I'd love to be able to sit down with my doctor and have him give me educated advice on different strains that could possibly be helpful for my conditions, and I'd love to be able to try the CBD products outside of the oil for injesting, to see if they helped ease my pain or promote a good night's sleep without the use of codeine or benzos. I'd be willing to give CBD oil another go if I could get some decent information on the recommended dosage for my pain from a doctor.

Over the eight years I've been dealing with chronic pain, I've had four doctors casually suggest I try smoking weed to help me deal with it. Unfortunately, these unofficial suggestions with no further assistance to offer are as far as  they can go, currently.

If it were legalised, at least I'd have another option.