Few people, especially a 25-year-old man, could appreciate the gift of life more than Tim Buck (he requested that his real name not be used) who suffered from a near-death experience at the tender age of nine.

The way Buck tells it, he hadn’t been feeling well for a week. He told his mom he was tired, weak and thirsty so she took him to the family doctor where he was promptly diagnosed with allergies. Buck was sent on his way with orders to drink plenty of fruit juice.

That evening, Buck was too weak to hold his head up. His panicked mother rushed him to the emergency room where he slipped into a coma, the result of diabetic ketoacidosis. Overwhelmed by the sugars of the juice he’d been drinking, Buck’s pancreas, the organ responsible for making the insulin that breaks down blood glucose, had failed.

Buck was dying.

Despite expectations otherwise, Buck recovered. But the ensuing years have been a progression of specialists, tests, and medications. Now living as an insulin-dependent diabetic, he is blind in one eye and suffers chronic diabetic nerve pain or neuropathy. Ensuring his blood sugar levels stay stable is particularly difficult since his pancreas is so damaged.

Buck’s involvement in patient support groups made him aware of medical marijuana, but it was the cancer diagnosis of his friend that bore witness to its positive impact. When Santi Parvin started cannabis in the wake of inoperable brain cancer, her husband, Lance, shared the positive progress with Buck. “That’s when I started using cannabis oil,” he says.

Buck takes the sticky, earthy oil orally every day. “The relief is subtle, each day the pain lessens and is so gradual you don’t realize the improvement until someone or something brings it to your attention of how well you are doing. Then you notice the wonderful relief from pain,” Buck explains.

Within three months the pain became manageable; the muscle tremors preventing simple tasks, like holding a fork to eat, are all but gone.

Buck’s endocrinologist knows about his cannabis oil use and approves. Buck explains, “My doctor knew all about it, but could not prescribe it or dispense it for fear of losing his license as a doctor and possibly serving jail time.” Instead, Buck’s physician reviews his lab results and sees progress through things like A1C values and, remarkably, the need for less insulin.

“I’m using only half as much [insulin] and feel a lot better, and I am losing weight, too!”