I'll Try Anything Once: Medical Marijuana

So far the only things I’ve done while high are clean my microwave, laugh a little harder, and get extremely sleepy.

I am not the kind of person one would expect to try to work the system to get high-quality, low-cost pot.

I was raised in a very strict, very religious home. I didn’t drink until I was 19, and didn’t even see weed until I was almost 22. At 32, I have long since accepted that I don’t enjoy being drunk or out of control.

I’ve dated plenty of guys who smoked pot, and always felt myself silently judging them, just a tiny bit, for relying on this stuff to get through life. Smoking pot just screamed SLACKER!! Trying to smoke along with them just hurt my throat and made me want to barf.

Then I dated a guy who had a “green card.” Legal weed. Something about it being legal appealed to me. I found myself thinking, I do have trouble getting to sleep… and I never stay asleep more than a few hours… and my back hurts… and I’ve got some pretty wicked social anxiety sometimes…

After refinancing my car (a very un-slacker-ish thing to do), I decided to use the money I was saving and go to a “green” clinic.

I looked them up online, decided they sounded non-skeezy, and made my appointment. I’d done my research on “mmj” and knew that in Washington state, anxiety and depression didn’t count as legitimate reasons to get the card, but recurring pain that interrupted daily activities did. Armed with my records from my chiropractor detailing my ongoing back and neck issues, I drove confidently to my appointment.

The building I found myself parking at was less than posh. The entrance to the clinic was at the back of a run-down building, and the only signage was a piece of posterboard with the clinic’s name handwritten in marker, taped up on the inside of the glass door. Inside, though, everything was neat and classy.

The young man at the reception desk was wearing a tie. Sadly, he told me chiropractic records didn’t count, so I would have to pay extra for their doctor’s assessment. After waiting almost a full hour past my appointment time, I met the doctor. Definitely not older than his 30s, he was a trim man with tidy facial hair. Looking around, I spotted a certificate for his B.S. from some university, and another for a school of massage. Nothing about medical school.

On his desk was an open anatomy book, which he ended up using to talk to me about my muscle pain. He poked and prodded me, diagnosed me with “hypermobility” in less than a minute, and asked me loads of questions about my pain.

Then he spent the better part of 45 minutes discussing treatment with me. Treatment included castor oil (to be rubbed on sore joints and muscles), soaks in Epsom salts, fish oil, evening primrose oil and diet changes.

Eager to appear as far from one of the slackers working the system as I could, I nodded, asked questions, took notes and bought the oils and salts. Medical cannabis wasn’t even mentioned until almost the end of our session.

He explained to me the difference between indica (makes you relaxed, good for insomnia and pain) and sativa (makes you more alert, good for depression, but too much makes you paranoid).

That night, using the printout they’d given me, I tried to find a dispensary, or co-op, to make my first purchase. I had my tamper-proof piece of paper from the clinic saying I was legal, and I was ready to try some cookies!

The first couple of places I tried to check out were closed -- the day before, there had been some raids in my area due to dispensaries not following the rules, so some places had closed for a couple of days as a precautionary measure to keep the cops’ hands off their members’ names. I started to get a little jumpy about my decision, but my wallet was $200 lighter and I was going to make use of what I’d bought, dammit.

I finally found one that was open, and conveniently located down the street from my apartment. I walked in and found myself in a lovely lobby area, with couches and magazines and a couple of framed prints on the walls. A man wearing a black “SECURITY” jacket took my paperwork and ID from behind a window similar to those at movie theaters.

After a few minutes, a woman invited me back into a large, well-lit room, where I was surrounded by weed. There was a counter with glass jars full of bud to my left, a small case with cookies, rice krispie treats and pre-rolled joints at the end of the counter, and shelves of T-shirts and tote bags to my right (everybody’s got swag these days, I guess).

She was very friendly and walked me through all the different strains they had available, discussing the indica and sativa contents of each, and the pricing.

Shyly, I asked “so… how do I use it?”

Assuring me she’d asked the same question just 2 years prior, she explained how to use a grinder and load a pipe for smoking, and warned me not to eat a whole cookie at once. I purchased 2 grams -- one a sativa strain, the other an indica -- and both a cookie and a rice krispie treat.

The next day, I joined another co-op, where I got hash suckers and cannabis root beer. Then another, where I picked up hash fruit leather, a cannabis chocolate bar and a couple more grams of straight weed.

Every place I joined gave me some little treat for being a new member: a free edible or a discount. Every place also had incentives for getting your friends to join, and one offered discounts to members who donated canned goods to their food drive.

The cookie was fairly tasty, though definitely not delicious, and did the job -- 2 bites put me right to sleep. The hash suckers are pretty gross and strangely, hurt my throat a little until I was pretty far into them. The fruit leather was delicious, but I’m not sure it had much effect. The rest I have yet to try, although I am getting better at smoking (with a pipe) and not feeling awful.

Does it help with my back pain? Sure, while it lasts. Helps me get to sleep and helps with my anxiety, too. Both the man at the clinic and the woman at the first co-op assured me that a single little puff of a sativa blend was perfectly acceptable before going to work or anywhere else, to help with focus and fend off depression, but I’m not yet brave enough to try that.

I still feel like I have to lower my voice when I talk about this with friends, because oh my god it’s marijuana!

Gateway drug? Hardly. I have no interest in branching out and trying anything else. Even before, when my use was sporadic and I could easily go years without even thinking of smoking, I felt strongly that pot should have the same legal limitations as alcohol.

So far the only things I’ve done while high are clean my microwave, laugh a little harder, and get extremely sleepy. I’ve also found it’s very helpful in my current path to ease off chemical anti-depressants, a process that causes some dizziness and emotional roller coasters. I’m looking forward to trying more products, and finding the ones that work best to manage my back pain and anxiety.

I never thought I’d be a state-approved medical marijuana patient, but the more I use it, the more uses I find.