Julie Barber wouldn’t describe herself as cannabis connoisseur. Neither would her husband.

“My husband used to see me as quite the prude,” said Barber.

Puritan leanings aside, Barber was thrilled to learn she and her husband will soon tour Tweed’s cannabis facility after she found the coveted Golden Ticket inside her Starter Kit, which she bought following her first Natural Health Services appointment three days before Christmas.

The 43-year-old had experimented with cannabis twice, once as a teen and later in her 20s, the latter experience turned her off the plant for years.

“I kind of freaked out and never tried it again,” she said.

Five years ago, her doctor diagnosed her with hypertension, a medical condition that causes high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and joint pain — triggering bouts of stress, anxiety and depression.

“Honestly, I was one of the people like, ‘Oh my god, you can’t do that.'”

Born with one kidney, allergic to many pharmaceutical drugs (she once spent four days in a coma after a trying a smoking cessation drug), and borderline diabetic, Barber grew increasingly frustrated as the list of medications to treat her conditions ballooned.

“I was on blood pressure pills, water retention pills, heart pills,” she recalled. “I just said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. Every time you give me a prescription you’re giving me a prescription to fix the other prescription.'”

Further, her doctor was reluctant to prescribe her painkillers to treat the pain caused by hypertension and strongly encouraged her to use them sparingly.

“Most the time I just deal with pain by myself, which has been very difficult,” she said. “It’s very hard to go to sleep with pain, so I have sleeping disorders because I don’t sleep through the night.”

At the urging of her husband, who was already using medicinal cannabis, Barber began researching the plant she had briefly flirted with years ago.

“Honestly, I was one of the people like, ‘Oh my god, you can’t do that.’ But from reading and education and learning… I decided OK maybe I’m going to go in and get an opinion on it.”

Soon after, Barber made an appointment with Natural Health Services. After receiving a medical recommendation from her physician and selecting a licensed producer with the help of an NHS Bud Genius, she bought a Starter Kit.

“Basically… I just want to be like everybody else.”

She opened the box, quickly examined the items, and closed the lid.

“I was just sitting there and thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to see if maybe there were more pamphlets, maybe I missed something,” she said.

“So I opened it up, and when I lifted the tissue paper, the Golden Ticket fell out.”

The Golden Ticket grants Barber and her husband an all-expenses-paid, two-day trip to Smith Falls, Ontario where the pair will tour Tweed’s cannabis facility, formerly a Hershey’s chocolate plant.

An avid backyard gardener, Barber hopes to pick up a few growing tips during the tour and may try growing at home under Canada’s ACMPR program.

For now, Barber remains hopeful medical cannabis will improve her quality of life.

“I see it as a new outlook on pain, pain management and being able to function during the day,” she said.

“Basically… I just want to be like everybody else.”

— Trevor Howell, Marketing Coordinator

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