Monday, October 17, 2011

Super Salve for Pain

In the Great State of California, the voters approved SB 420, allowing for medicinal use of marijuana.  As a result, many collectives (or buying clubs) popped up to meet the demand.
Whether you agree or disagree with California's law-many view it as too lenient with users getting medical recommendations for vague things such as generalized back pain and insomnia (who can't sleep now and then?) few can argue the medicinal potential of cannabis.  Well, you can argue until you're blue in the face, but it will fall on deaf ears.While you may have an opinion, you are always entitled to mine.  No one can argue that marijuana is any worse than alcohol, or pain pills, for that matter. In fact, there are less counter-indications for marijuana use....I guess that is for another post.
Before you jump to conclusions that I'm some pot-smoking patchouli-wearing hippy, let me clarify.  I am not.  I am not a fan of illegal drugs, and with a child in the middle of sorting out deep feelings about moral rights and wrongs, I clearly have to set the example that will help me sleep best at night.  Doing one thing and saying another is not part of that.  You see, I have always taught my children that, even though we may not agree with a rule or a law, we still must have respect for it, or do something to change it.  This means that, I do not want to be 'caught' compromising my beliefs, even to obtain pain relief. 
But.  There are things that marijuana can be used for besides smoking it for a high effect.  It can be used to create a salve.  When used topically, people have experienced pain relief. And, it does not enter the bloodstream, and does not affect users in a "high" sort of way.  Best of both worlds, I say. I have tried Tiger Balm.  I have tried an MSM cream from my doctor $40 a pot, and smells like death).  I have tried numerous topical options, with varying success. However, a $10 pot of THC salve has been my best buy.
Another but.  You cannot obtain it legally, or have it in your possession legally, without proper certification (think: junkie sitting in corner, cramming gobs of rosemary-scented  salve into his mouth).  So, after months and months of thought, I did it.  I went and got my 215 card (that's hip MJ-speak for the ID card that allows one to possess personal amounts of cannabis, or cannabis-containing items such as food and salves). 
Now, I went to college and FULLY EXPERIENCED ALL IT HAD TO OFFER (wink, wink)-I'm not morally opposed to marijuana-I'm more opposed to the illegal use, only due to the legality.  If something is legal, I really don't have much of a problem with it.  I may not like it (gambling in every grocery store and prostitution come to mind) I may not choose to use or do whatever it is, but I will not argue the rights of others to use the substance at their discretion.  This, to me, is one of the bases of our society: the ability to decide what behaviors and substances we agree is OK.  Currently, medical marijuana use-in my state-is legal.  Recreational use is not, especially for someone that does not have medical authorization.  So, like anything else, you are not to share your meds.  Not your birth control, not your vicodin.  And, you are not supposed to take a bunch to get wasted, unless taking a bunch to get wasted is what you need to do to get the relief you need.  Simple enough, leaving things kind of to the discretion of the user, much like alcohol and tobacco, pain pills that recommend "take one as needed for pain, up to 6 pills in a 24 hour period".

One of the things CA gets grief for is the process to obtain the 215 card.  I went, I sat in the waiting room, I met the doctor.  The waiting room was filled with all kinds.  Now, like anything else, everyone is quick to judge based on something we know nothing about.  I was in the waiting room with 3 other people-one older person, and two young men.  Both young men  were dressed in baggy clothing, both had caps on, one with a hoodie with the hood up as well.  EASY to judge.  But, what if one was in a car accident and is waiting for a surgery to give him some pain relief? What if the other was struggling with sciatica? What if the older lady was a stoner, and selling it to the neighbors?  We don't know.  That's the point-no one knows.  

Getting my card was quite the experience. So, I find a doctor that is willing to meet with me to determine if I meet the criteria for a recommendation.  Few traditional doctors will make recommendations.  So, you go to a special doctor that only handles this type of diagnosis.  It's located in a business park/strip mall-type place.  I see a couple guys walk in ahead of me.
I go in, turn over my CA ID, and wait. I fill out some paperwork, and allow them to make a copy of my ID, as well as a copy of my medical record, which I was told to bring in.
My name is called, and I go back to the exam room. I have a slight limp, due to an injury I had gotten over the weekend.
I meet the doctor, who sits behind a desk. He takes my blood pressure, asks me height and weight questions, he listens to my chest and looks in my eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Notes that I have a pulse. Does NOT notice that I have 6 stitches on my left eye, just next to the brow line, into the lid, also related to the injury from earlier in the week.  My confidence in his medical ability is waning.
He looks at my medical record, says "fibromyalgia, huh?  Okay."  Signs some papers, hustles me into the next room, where I talk to a girl that will take my picture and issue my card and certificate. I don't know what i expected, but this wasn't it.  Maybe I expected more thorough questions? Maybe I thought it would be some hippy doctor, fighting for the rights of patients all over the state, advocating for medicinal use laws.  What I got was a guy in scuffed loafers, with little time and little patience.

I leave, then Google the nearest collective.  Feeling like that person that took two rolls in the buffet line instead of one, I creep into the waiting room.  The person behind the thick glass asks if I am a patient, and is it my first time. I say "Yes", then fill out paperwork, giving them my 215 recommendation.  She copies this, takes my CA ID.  I then get buzzed back to the counter, past the security guard (who is not your typical mall cop-this dude's packin'.) I mosey up to the counter, and he asks what I need it for, then proceeds to school me on the varieties and what they are used for. I get quite an education before leaving with what I need.

While many people may not live in states where they may experience this situation, I feel that the tides are turning. The Feds are not on my side.  Many Facebook groups has popped up, spouting their opinions on the subject matter (I bet none of them have had a close friend struggle with the nausea of chemo treatments or the debilitating pain from a serious accident).What abouts are easy to come by, in every political argument.  What about the woman who wants an abortion for the baby she conceived during a rape? What about the person hit by an uninsured driver, without medical insurance, that must rely on public aid for health care, food and housing? Not everyone has a family safety net-just look at any street corner, or stop by your local homeless shelter during a cold wet day.  It's really easy to pass judgement, when you work, have benefits, have no pain, and wish that the poverty-stricken would just go away, or take their problems elsewhere. In these economic times, it's especially easy to judge, to look for a place to point those fingers-the banks, the "illegals", the welfare recipients.  Yes, there is fraud, everywhere. But there was a need when the system was created.  Maybe we should focus our energy into changing the system, the laws, what we will accept, rather than chastise those that have a need we don't.

Let's go back to the guys I met at the doctor's office.  What were their stories? Well, the waiting room was not conducive to chattiness.  But they were there with concerns.  Maybe they were real, maybe not.  However you feel, we, as residents of this state, voted for the right for these guys to come here.  We voted for the right of me to come here, for the older lady to come here.  Like it or not, the legalization of marijuana is coming soon.  Whether the collectives keep getting shut down, whether the feds threaten the property owners that rent to them, whether more and more ordinances try to stop them, the use is there.  The NEED is there.  The potential tax revenue and JOBS are there.

Maybe it's time to jump on the wagon. If not for yourself, then maybe for someone you love.

1 comment:

  1. Worried about news that the feds are about to push the inconsistent laws issue again. NPR did a recent story on Colorado dispensaries. Agree with you that many critics don't know personally someone who benefits from medicinal use, irony is they probably do know (even if they aren't aware) someone who is self-medicating with alcohol or abusing prescription painkillers.