Vanessa I. Soza – Profile in Courage

Full name: Vanessa I. Soza

Age: 29

Condition or illness: OCD, PTSD, depression, body/gender dysmorphia

When did you start using medical cannabis?

I began using medical cannabis at the tail end of an exclusively medical cannabis state, when I first moved to Portland in 2014. I couldn’t believe the quality of the cannabis in Oregon, the level of awareness education and that cannabis could be used in so many different forms! Imagine my surprise when I made that connection.

Did you try other methods or treatments before cannabis?

Because my anxiety was severe, and I was living in Texas then, medication was the only option laid out for me by most physicians. Seroquel, an antipsychotic typically used to treat schizophrenia, was one of my first and worst experiences I had on a pharmaceutical. I lost control of my body, slept 14 hours at a time and endured what felt like (very scary) sleep paralysis.

What’s the most important issue or problem facing medical cannabis patients?

The single biggest threat to medical cannabis patients is the removal of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP). The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) would be doing these people, who might I add are already at a disadvantage, a great disservice. It’s easy for most to forget about special needs when suddenly everybody is allowed in dispensaries.

What do you say to folks who are skeptical about cannabis as medicine?

I don’t tolerate opinions without facts, and there are a lot of people out there with just an opinion and little-to-no facts to authenticate their position. But if I’m approached by friendly skepticism, my message is a simple one. I call it the three R’s—research, re-evaluate and re-educate. If I feel someone may be misinformed, I urge them to seek out more information (and recommend a few books or sites with reliable sources). After the research phase, it’s time to re-evaluate the opinion. Once re-evaluated, the idea is to reformulate a stance, no matter the position and use it for the greater good. Keep an open mind, always, and pass on what you learned.

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