Taking on the Opioid Crisis

May 09, 2019  | Taking on the Opioid Crisis

By, Lauraine Kanders, ANP, ACNP-BC

Let me give you some background story before I tell you some MMJ success stories. My family ultimately moved to Great Neck in 1960 before I was born.  Persecution of Iraqi Jews in the 1950s forced a population of 500,000 to migrate globally from country to country. Dad developed his medical practice and we lived the American dream.

My choice for a career was oddly influenced as my father lay dying in a hospital bed in 1984. Following graduate school and board certification, I worked for years in premier NYC hospitals in both invasive and non-invasive cardiology. I found gratification in providing medical care for patients and their families in critical settings. I was always amazed at how, at the most vulnerable time in their lives, patients gave you 100{4987cbd0f1f2865cb2bafb126986dce6dd2988a0c43aa47e1f31c6089a1ab5da} trust in a matter of minutes of being admitted into your care. Saving lives was the focus, and identities were cleverly “concealed” by donning the same blue and white gowns.

Last year I made a bold move and stepped outside my comfort zone. I joined a House Calls practice to deliver Primary Care to homebound patients. I developed a deeper understanding of patients and their needs by entering into their environments. Things that I took for granted, like beautiful living conditions, good medical insurance, a variety of foods, and a clean environment were not always present. Access to the best medicine and care was also not the norm. Month after month, my relationship with my patients and their families grew stronger and translated into a more intimate care for their chronic conditions. Of all of the conditions that I managed and treated, chronic pain was a recurring theme.

Within a few months on the job, I had a front seat to the crippling effects suffered by patients. Opioid addiction, isolation, depression, insomnia, anxiety, illicit drugs, and being homebound were commonly linked to their pain. Patient pressure for opioids was constant. I wanted to find effective alternatives to opioids that were both potent and safe, and then one day I read about The Compassionate Care Act.

Having never smoked a joint in my life, I was determined to learn more about Medical Marijuana. I became a registered practitioner and joined only a handful of medical providers in NY who wanted to be part of this revolutionary change in care. I developed an online business so that I could reach every New Yorker who suffers from severe pain and other chronic, debilitating conditions like MS, Parkinson’s, ALS, HIV/AIDS, PTSD and Cancer. Using telemedicine, or video chat, I review patients’ conditions, come up with a recommendation based on my clinical judgment, and guide patients in their usage in follow up.

Nearly 400 patients and one year later, I am happy to report that I have helped guide many toward achieving relief with medical marijuana. I would like to share a few success stories with you which I have chronicled by some common conditions.. All personal identifiers have been changed to protect privacy and anonymity.


69 year-old female, with metastatic melanoma that micro-metastasized to her axillary lymph nodes and brain, who complained of extreme shoulder pain from immunotherapy treatments unresponsive to Nucynta (Opioid). She had nausea and a 50 lb. weight loss in 10 weeks despite an appetite stimulant and an antiemetic. She reported limited energy, appetite, and restlessness.  At her 3 months follow up, she reported good relief on High THC: Low CBD tincture daily with weight gain of 20 lbs. and cessation of opioid.

Inflammatory Bowel Disorder (Crohn’s Disease)

24 year-old female, with severe Gastroparesis and Crohn’s whose flares bring severe extreme exhaustion, abdominal pain, bloating, nausea and vomiting unrelieved a host of medications. Her BMI was consistent with malnutrition. At 3 months follow up, she reported that her anxiety was better controlled with therapy, medical marijuana and alprazolam. Patient also reported 15 lb. weight gain and better symptom management on CBD capsules in AM and at bedtime.

Chronic Pain (and Neuropathy)

43 year-old female with history of thalamic stroke with chronic intractable severe neuropathic despite Lyrica, Morphine 30 mg and Ketamine. Reported severe nocturnal pain on her cheeks and feet and persistent, severe pain in her arms with inability to feel hot and cold. She was formerly on 1000 mg Morphine Sulfate daily for 12 years prescribed by an abusive provider. At her 3 month follow up, she reported that her pain was managed well on high THC: low CBD vape at night and that she no longer takes Morphine (Opioid).

Severe Muscle Spasms

36 year-old male with degenerative changes and herniated discs causing sciatica and severe muscle spasms secondary to chronic heavy lifting on job. Patient was unable to sleep without interruption or be active during day without severe persistent muscle spasms. He had limited relief with Oxycodone (Opioid), Cyclobenzaprine and physical therapy. At 3 month follow up patient denies muscle spasms on low THC: high CBD vape during the day or at night with high THC: low CBD vape. Weaned off Oxycodone (Opioid) and muscle relaxant.


32 year-old female with PTSD due to “controlling” husband who wanted “trophy” wife and manipulated her to have gastric plication surgery to lose weight in foreign country. Ingestion of large meals caused pain and vomiting due to botched operation. Reported insomnia, anxiety, nightmares, palpitations and social isolation. Re-lived trauma in dreams nightly. At 3 months follow up, reported better sleep, better food intake and coping on high THC: low CBD tincture in AM and PM and 1:1 (equal THC: CBD) vape for break thru symptoms. Weaned off Cymbalta and Propranolol.

Opioid Dependence

22 year-old male who became addicted to opioids at age 14 following a sports injury. On Methadone which does not work well to control his insomnia, cravings and obsessions for opioids, and social isolation. At his 3 month follow up, he no longer has a desire for opioids on high THC: low CBD vape followed by capsule in the mornings. He now sleeps well on vape high THC: low CBD. Counselor to start to weaning Methadone./span>


If you have a condition or two that you would like to discuss with me, please feel free to reach out. I will review your documents at no cost and let you know if you qualify before we proceed with certification.

At Medical Marijuana Recs NY, we provide our visitors with online video chats to become certified for Medical Marijuana in New York State. Our group of NPs and doctors strive towards helping get certified. Click here to see if you qualify!