Dave Schenk and Bob Ferguson aren’t just the two driving forces behind Waterloo’s newest medical cannabis clinic opening March 1, they have also been beneficiaries of the medical properties of the drug slated to be legal for recreational use this summer.
But it’s the medicinal properties of cannabis that have Schenk, a former investment banker, and Ferguson, who worked in the insurance sector in software and studied chemistry at the University of Waterloo, most excited about the potential of the product.
Schenk, who suffers from severe knee pain at times and refused to do pain management with opioids due to its addictive nature, was self-medicating with ibuprofen and starting to do irreparable harm to his liver when he stumbled on the medicinal properties of cannabis, and more specifically about cannabidiol or CBD.
“The opioids like Percocet weren’t working and I was living on ibuprofen, which was damaging my liver and I could hardly sit when someone put me on to medicinal cannabis,” said Schenk. “I went to the only medical clinic here and I went to explore it, but the level of service I got there wasn’t great.”
That had Schenk, who has recently organized a series of cannabis education events at the University of Waterloo school of pharmacy, wondering if a better model of service could be put in place in the local community. That’s when he and Ferguson partnered with The Clinic Network, which currently operates 10 medicinal cannabis centres across Canada, to bring a better model of care, research, education and advocacy in Waterloo. Called the Waterloo Medical Cannabis Clinic, it opens March 1 at 99 Northfield Dr. E., unit 204, in Waterloo.
“I started to doing research and found there were lots of better models in Toronto and Hamilton,” said Schenk. “I was complaining and someone said start a different one, and I looked into it and researched larger, established clinics that would better service the community.
“We found one that we liked and gave them a business plan and they agreed that K-W needs a high end offering for medical cannabis with a focus on customer service.”
Likewise, Ferguson, who suffers from arthritis so debilitating that it can leave his wrists practically useless, found that the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD led to a better quality of life for him. He wondered why it wasn’t more widely studied and supported by medical research.
He came from a research background himself at UW, and said, with the legality of cannabis in question for so long, that not enough research was done on the medicinal properties of its components, and whether people can enjoy those benefits without getting high, he wanted to do more.