Vermont Cannabis Nurses Association (VTCNA) to Offer Free Clones to Opioid Patients

Stephanie Boucher 27 Jun 2018

Starting July 1st, the Vermont Cannabis Nurses Association (VTCNA) will be launching a new program offering free cannabis clones to anyone currently being prescribed opioid medications.

A statewide group inspired by the nationally-based American Cannabis Nurses Association, VTCNA will be working with support from Homegrown Consulting and other several local cultivators, all of whom will be producing the herb using organic methods. Homegrown Consulting has also recently announced a similar program. When someone purchases a consulting package which includes gifted seeds, a veteran will also be gifted free seeds.

Anyone who is currently being prescribed an opioid medication would qualify for the program, and could choose a couple of clones from a wide variety of available strains. “We have high-quality genetics in everything from pure Sativa, to great hybrids, 1:1, and Indica dominant to help with sleep, and so on,” said Jessilyn. And while some folks may already know which strains work well for them, VTCNA will also help people who are new to the cannabis world pick the appropriate plants based on what health issues they are facing.

“I recently lost another friend to opioids,” said Jessilyn Dolan, spokesperson for VTCNA, “and I feel like we need to start doing more. We need to educate and support people to consider the healing power of cannabis in place of or in addition to opioids.”

Susan from Central Vermont is one of the folks already signed on to receive clones once the program starts in a few days. Susan is a two-time cancer survivor who has been taking a low dose opioid for almost 15 years for pain relief. She has just begun experimenting with cannabis in the form of CBD oil, and is excited to see how adding strains higher in THC might make the therapy more effective. “I heard about VTCNA from a friend – when I asked a friend if she knew about a medically knowledgeable practitioner who could help me solve my post chemo, radiation and colostomy issues with cannabis instead of opioids,” said Susan. “I am so grateful to find medically informed and caring help.” She is hopeful that by having access to homegrown cannabis, she will be able to finally do without her opioid medication.

And this hope is not unfounded. David “Doc” Vines, President of the Vermont chapter of the New England Veterans Alliance (NEVA), emphatically sings the praises of cannabis as a tool to reduce opioids. “For myself and those I’ve known to use cannabis to curb their opioid consumption, it has been a literal life saving choice.” But, he goes on, accessibility is a major hurdle to overcome. While opioids can be found at any pharmacy, the stigma towards cannabis and the difficulty in obtaining it legally can and does prevent many from even having this choice in the first place.

Vines hopes that the VTCNA’s free clone program, and similar programs that will hopefully follow, will help both shrink that stigma and increase cannabis’ availability to those who need it. And for him, the cultivation aspect is key. “I’ve always said that growing your own is 50% of the medication,” asserted Vines, “It’s an entire experience all on it’s own. For myself, it was spiritual. Being able to escape to my grow, where I could zone out and process my thoughts while knowing the final result would be my medicine . . . it changes everything.”

“For myself and those I’ve known to use cannabis to curb their opioid consumption, it has been a literal life saving choice.”

While this program will primarily be focused on making experiences like these available to more Vermonters, VTCNA is also aware of the research potential of the project. By keeping in contact with recipients and checking in on a monthly basis to track opioid use, more can be learned about how access to cannabis affects the way people are using their prescriptions. And while lots of studies have looked at the correlation between cannabis consumption and a decrease in opioid use, none have specifically explored how growing one’s own might affect that relationship.

Of course, not anyone is interested in or able to cultivate, whether due to limitations of time, physical ability or living situation. To help as many people as possible, VTCNA hopes to eventually establish a scholarship and gifting program for individuals who for any reason are unable to cultivate, connecting them with donations of finished flower from other growers. For now, though, they will see how much interest there is in a clone program and expand from there. For those attending the July 1st Legalization Celebration at Willow Crossing Farm, and wanting a head start of the growing season, the group will also be raffling off an over four foot tall 1:1 CBD:THC plant ready to go outside.

For more information about the Vermont Cannabis Nurses, and to sign up to receive free clones, contact Jessilyn directly at [email protected]. Free Narcan and CPR classes (both group and individual) are also available upon request.

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