Why Medical Marijuana- to weed or not to weed?
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is the genus of plant, so all hemp and marijuana varieties are a type of cannabis. It can be eaten or smoked, and it gives you a mild sense of euphoria. Marijuana is a drug derived from a family of plants that includes hemp. There are three broad categories of cannabis strains: Sativa, Indica and Hybrid. All of these contain both THC (which makes you high) and CBD (which is great against inflammation and anxiety). All three strains are relevant for treating various types of diseases and symptoms. The level of THC vs. CBD is very different in the various products of medical marijuana.
Cannabis is a complex plant containing more than 400 chemical compounds and around 60 of them are cannabinoids and some of them have opposing effects. Don’t worry I have no intention of going scientific on you.
My decision to start taking medical marijuana was out of a sheer desperation for a life free of pain, fatigue, and anxiety.
Some of the medications l had been taking for Lupus like Methotrexate, Hydroxychloroquine, and Prednisone – just to name a few – didn’t seem to work as well anymore.
My pain, fatigue, and anxiety along with side effects from the medications I had been taking over the years had gotten worse.
I was frustrated, scared and needed relief, so after years of having a negative mindset towards marijuana, I felt desperate. I wanted to be present in my life and not just surviving. It was time to try something new!
I did my homework and luckily I had recently moved to a state, where medical marijuana is legal. I took the opportunity to ask other lupus patients who had taken the leap to use medical marijuana and I had gotten lots of mixed reviews about their experiences.
Some Lupus patients are raving about how good it is for them and how much it is helping them with pain management, while others had tried Medical Marijuana without getting the results they were seeking.
So I did some more research. I thought: “What do I have to loose?”. I just knew that another 13 years of this roller-coaster nightmare of a life of pain and suffering was not an option for me. If there was something else out there that could help me it was worth giving it a chance.
Choosing a Doctor
I was ready to move forward, and the first step was to find a state certified Medical Marijuana doctor. I was lucky one was recommended to me by a friend which made it easy, so I made an appointment. At my first appointment I was still a bit overwhelmed and confused. There was so much to learn about strains and the many different ways it could be administered.
At the end of the consultation she said to me there was no need for me to be going around and be in all this pain and assured me, that I would get relief some form of relief from the things she had prescribed.
I got a prescription for lotion, oil, and vape at a low dose, lots of information materials along with recommended dispensaries, where I could purchase it.
I also got a journal to make notes about: What I took, When and How it made me feel.
The doctor helped me fill out an application for a state marijuana ID card, which I would receive about a month later. In the meantime I was issued a temporary one. These cards expire after a year and have to be renewed when the year is up. It cost about $25 – $200, the price varies from state to state.
The card grants you the right to buy and use medical marijuana only in the state you live. So be careful.
Make sure you do your home work. It can be difficult to know what you’re allowed to use and where, it is NOT legal in all States in the US.
My first visit to the dispensary was an experience. My husband came with me. He had to show an ID before he was allowed to accompany me to the back room where I could choose and purchase the different products .
Being in the dispensary for the first time felt a little bit like I was doing something illegal, because of the stigma associated with marijuana still today.
You can be locked up in certain state for having it in your possession.
Tips for choosing the right products
We have to be careful when selecting the products. CBD oil is not regulated and can be expensive. Cannabis should be grown in a organic facility or field. Read the labels and know the source, some of the reputable companies post their lab test online.
Please note that only cash or debit card is accepted in the dispensaries. Sometimes the strength of product is written differently from what’s written on the prescription – depending on brand. So it can be difficult to figure out exactly how strong a product to buy and what you are buying compared to what your prescription says. It is worth noting, that a Medical marijuana prescription is just a suggestion from the doctor. Once you are in a dispensary, you can buy what ever you want – only limited by some restrictions on how much you can buy in a given month.
You will often have a dialog with the sales person in the dispensary, where you have to be careful you are not talked into buying something completely different from what you doctor recommends. All that said – there’s a decent portion of trial-and-error to figuring out what the right product and dose for you is.
Understanding the potency – particularly the ratio of THC to CBD is key. Knowing the different strains can also help you predict the effects of the product.
At my first trip to a dispensary I left with the following:
- A lotion for my hands and back – Hybrid CBD and THC
- A vape pen for immediate pain relief during the day – Hybrid CBD and THC
- Drops to help me sleep a night – Hybrid CBD and THC
Has it worked for me?
It took a while for me to get the hang of it, due to my inconsistency and failure to carefully record and track my experiences with the different products at first.
It has now been about a year since I started with Medical Marijuana and I can now say that I have had and continue to have mostly positive results for my pain fatigue and anxiety. It is not a magic bullet, and sometimes the relief is not as effective as I would want it. However – and this is important – I have not experienced any side effects from any of the products I have tried. This is very different from the other Lupus medications I have been on.
I hope with an emerging public education along with more research and proof of the benefits of Cannabis, society will evolve and be more open-minded so it can become fully illegal for others in the entire country and beyond to have access to this healing plant.
Remember: Always consult your doctor before you start any new treatment. I am not endorsing Medical Marijuana, I am just sharing my experiences using it.