Even as Sandra Williams’ dependence on marijuana worsened, people would tell the pastry chef that cannabis addiction was not real.

They would tell her “it’s not a problem,” that the substance is natural so there was nothing to worry about.

“But it had found me in a very dark place,” Williams told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday. “My experience was that marijuana was able to take me to a bottom that I didn’t think was possible.”

At the worst periods of her dependence, Williams hid in the basement of her home, ignoring the world around her and “losing herself.” Her position as head pastry chef at an Oakville, Ont., bakery came to an end. She eventually left home and wound up in a homeless shelter. That’s where she came across a 12-step program that helped her come out of that dark period in her life.

Williams now says she hasn’t used marijuana for 13 years. She has since resurrected her career as a pastry chef and become an addiction awareness advocate. She believes that the impending legalization sends a signal that “this is OK and it’s safe.” But that has not been her experience or the experience of some others who use the drug.

The Government of Canada says pot can be addictive, citing 2014 research in the New England Journal of Medicine that found as many as 9 per cent of people who use cannabis in their lifetime will become addicted to the substance.

“I had lost everything that I was before,” she said. “Coming full circle through a 12-step program has allowed me to find my passion for life again.”