Updated June 28 at 11:30 a.m.

“My one-year patient anniversary reminder came at 4:20 while I was high watching TikTok,” said Ohio Medical Marijuana Patient, Heaven Yoxtheimer.

One-year update from Heaven: Now that I have regular access to MMJ, I find that my relationship with it has changed. I have a higher tolerance and I am more confident in my consumption and the reactions I will have.

Medical cannabis is a lot of trial and error- most things will work but some work better for others and some work best for certain symptoms. That said, my tolerance has not increased to a level that exceeds the purchase limit in Ohio, but I wonder if other patients are in that situation. I use cannabis daily and throughout the day.

I find a vape or flower is best during the day and an edible at night for the prolonged body high needed for sustainable rest. The best strains for my symptoms seem to be strains named after cake… but as a consumer, it is hard to tell if that means anything.

I would love more clarity on naming conventions as a consumer. I will continue to enjoy and seek to improve the medical marijuana industry as a voice of a consumer, patient, critic, and supporter of this movement.

Heaven Yoxtheimer’s was diagnosed with CPTSD at age 25 but presented symptoms as early as age 8 due to developmental trauma. Medical Cannabis is part of her robust treatment plan…and it’s working! The 27-year-old writer and business consultant from Indiana has lived in Sidney, Huber Heights, and now resides in Dayton. 

How long have you had this condition, and how did you treat it before?

I was diagnosed with CPTSD at age 25 in 2018 but I presented symptoms as early as age 8 due to developmental trauma. At 14, I had an unsuccessful run with SSRIs due to a misdiagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. At 19, I started using cannabis to treat my anxiety and depression symptoms. At 25, I was misdiagnosed again with Acute Anxiety Disorder and recommended Klonopin. I tried Wellbutrin instead and had no success. Finally I was diagnosed with CPTSD,started therapy, meditation, Zoloft, a beta blocker, and got my referral for cannabis. This treatment plan is robust but is working for me. 

How has MMJ been helpful in addressing your symptoms?

MMJ mostly helps me sleep. CPTSD gives me terrible nightmares and night terrors. MMJ keeps me asleep and relaxes me before bed so I have less nightmares. It also breaks negative thought patterns when I am depressed and helps calm my mind when I am anxious so that I can better make decisions and take action without feeling overwhelmed. I like to say it makes me feel normal instead of on edge all the time. 

What was the process to find the right strain and dosing for your symptoms?

I’m still figuring that out. I need different strains for different symptoms but I always need a pretty low dose.  I don’t like feeling out of control because it can trigger a panic attack. I take very small hits from a vape about 30 min before bed or if I have to do something else that’s going to make me anxious. I also take a small hit from my vape if I am locked on the couch due to depression. A small mind shift is enough to get me going. I do not like the feeling of being “high.” I need relaxation with little to no impairment so I aim for that. 

How did this differ from finding appropriate treatment in the past?

In the past, I struggled to even find the right diagnosis. I actively sought treatment for 11 years until I found a provider who even asked about trauma. I kept being misdiagnosed. I felt alone and neglected. I was self-medicated because I thought I was alone, that something was uniquely wrong with me, not that I share this disorder with at least 7% of the US population.

Do you still use other medication to treat your symptoms?

I currently use beta blockers and Zoloft effectively. I actually added these to my treatment plan after MMJ.

Heaven Yoxtheimer
Are there any downsides to using MMJ as a treatment for chronic pain?

I am not sure because I don’t use it for chronic physical pain. From what I have learned, it’s better than a lot of current treatment options which can be harmful and addictive.

What do you like about MMJ?

I like that I can use a natural, ancient treatment for multiple symptoms instead of using a lot of inorganic and potentially harmful medications for each symptom. I do find that I still need an SSRI and a beta-blocker but I don’t need a recovery medication or a sleep medication which can be habit-forming. MMJ works for multiple symptoms and I can use it in many forms and in many strengths depending on what I need in any given moment. I can change my dosage as needed because it isn’t harmful to vary my intake.

Do you have any comments on the process of obtaining MMJ in Ohio as a patient?

There has been a lot of unnecessary bureaucracy. Prices are high and the process has been drawn out too long for no real good reason. There are states that successfully run medical and recreational programs affordably and efficiently. I’m not sure why Ohio doesn’t want the incredible revenue that can come from embracing simplicity and affordability by just mirroring another state’s program. I think the best thing would be to federally decriminalize it so it can be traded from state to state under trusted companies and growers. There is plenty of affordable cannabis in the country, Ohio just doesn’t have any of it. We, patients, feel the decision-makers are dragging their feet and living behind the times. When it catches up, it’ll be great and Ohio will be an even better place to live, with a stronger economy and a rich culture.

Heaven’s story is just one of thousands that highlights how Ohioans are using legal medical cannabis through the state’s program to better their health. To help us tell more stories like this one, please consider donating to MedicateOH: