Story 46 Nabilone

A reader in British Columbia writes….
I have complex PTSD and chronic pain from Fibromyalgia. I also have insomnia and tinnitus, among other symptoms. For many years I self-medicated with whole plant Cannabis that I grew myself. I have also tried a few antidepressants and other medications, but those failed to help me. Because I could no longer grow my own Cannabis, and can’t afford to pay for it on either the black, gray or legal markets, I have been using Nabilone daily since 2014. I am on disability benefits so the BC government pays for the Nabilone.
If I had a choice, I prefer whole plant cannabis that I turn into edibles, because Nabilone is pure THC, so it has unwanted cognitive side-effects. But Nabilone is the next best option, certainly better than opioids, which my doctor probably wouldn’t prescribe for chronic pain anyway.
In the last few years, there have been regular shortages of Nabilone, which appears to be getting worse. Most months when I got a refill, they could only give me part of my prescription because they were short. Until now, I could go back a week later and get the rest of the month’s supply. But last time, at the beginning of June, they told me they had no stock and the drug company told them they could not resupply them until maybe July. In other words, I could not get Nabilone for this month, and it is uncertain when I can get more.
Fortunately, because of this recurring shortage I have slowly built up a bit of a surplus supply.  As an experiment to see how I would feel without taking it, I stopped taking Nabilone for a couple months, but still filled the prescription and kept the pills. But my pain got too bad so I restarted the Nabilone, but at half the dose I was prescribed, also keeping those extra pills. So now I have a surplus of about a three month supply, which will get me through short, temporary shortages.
The pharmacist told me to tell my doctor about the shortage and ask for an alternative. But I have spent over 10 years, with different doctors and specialists trying different medications, and there is no alternative as effective or safe as Nabilone or Cannabis.  I recently started to use acetaminophen on a daily basis. It’s below the maximum daily dose and my doctor knows, but it does concern me taking it daily on a long term basis. I just don’t have many options.
It’s a dilemma for me, because on one hand, the government is willing to pay for artificial THC, but if I can no longer get Nabilone, the government will not similarly pay for the real thing. In that case, I would return to growing my own plants, but because I need large amounts, I would have to grow more than the four plants that will be allowed under the new law. In other words, I will become a criminal again, risking arrest and conviction, to treat myself if Nabilone is no longer available.
I’m puzzled by this particular shortage. Perhaps it is because there is growing acceptance of Cannabis as medicine so more people are using Nabilone, or maybe some of the reasons you give on your website for shortages explains this one. Thanks for raising public awareness about this problem.