Patient Profile

Jamie-Lee Fernandes: Loving The Miracle

Jamie-Lee Fernandes and boyfriend Jesse Gramling
Kathryn Blume 23 Feb 2020

“I’ve had depression and anxiety since I can remember,” says medical cannabis patient Jamie-Lee Fernandes. “I’ve been on antidepressants since I was 17.”

At 22, the Hartland, Vermont native was also diagnosed with celiac disease, as well as a bad case of fibromyalgia. “I had ⅓ of the blood I needed in my body, says Fernandes, “as well as bad muscle and joint pain.”

Only weighing 79 pounds, her doctor wanted her to try medical cannabis but Fernandes feared it wouldn’t work and would be “a waste of money.”

Also, while Fernandes had grown up in a household where her parents were open about their past experiences with cannabis, she’d never been interested in it at all. “My dad had only tried pot a few times,” she says, “but my mom was a stoner, and when I was 18, I caught her smoking pot, and I got all upset because my mom was doing drugs.”

“I don’t make a lot of money, and ⅛ of garden variety weed is $50. I can’t afford it from the dispensaries. Even though I have the card, I have to go through a friend.”

Then at 24, Fernandes started experiencing sciatica and went to a pain clinic, where they gave her 40 5mg doses of oxycontin. “I took one,” she says, “stayed up all night itching, and flushed the rest of the scrip.” That’s when she finally decided to try medical cannabis.

“I remember I was with my brother the first time,” says Fernandes. “I wanted to make sure I was with someone safe.” When asked if her first time out was a success, she says, “I smoked the rest of his bag. It was a miracle to me. Why had I been holding out?”

In spite of her ongoing issues with fibromyalgia and chronic back pain, Fernandes is now able to hold down a job at Sugarbush Farm in Woodstock making cheese and maple syrup – a position which brings her employment history around full circle, since “Sugarbush Farm was my first job when I was 13.”

While Fernandes does hold a Vermont medical cannabis card, has access to Southern Vermont Wellness in Brattleboro, and appreciates their friendliness and willingness to deliver, she doesn’t like being restricted to one or two dispensaries, and for her, “the prices are out of control.”

“I don’t make a lot of money, and ⅛ of garden variety weed is $50. I can’t afford it from the dispensaries. Even though I have the card, I have to go through a friend.”

Recently, Fernandes had an eye-opening experience visiting the Tricann Alternatives dispensary in Berwick, Maine.

Fernandes felt welcome, appreciated being able to see the products up close, and left better educated than when she’d walked in. “The budtender told me so many things I didn’t know,” she says. “I didn’t know if they extracted oils with butane and it’s in edibles, then I’m eating it. They showed me a [vape] cart and said that liquid shouldn’t be moving in the cart. If it moves, it’s been cut with something. He rocked my world with knowledge.”

Fernandes says her wallet also appreciated visiting the dispensary. “I could afford the prices at Tricann. It was $30/eighth, $50/quarter. That’s how the Vermont medical dispensaries should be around here,” she says. “I don’t want to go back to Southern Vermont.”

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