The Medical Marijuana Experience

After a discussion with a friend of mine who recently acquired his “green” card a couple weeks ago, I found myself curious about the process one has to take to be recommended for the use of medical marijuana and so I set out last week to find out for myself the answers to the many questions I had.

I took a look through the San Jose Metro at the many places advertising as dispensaries, but I needed to find a doctor to recommend me first. Some places seemed to advertise that they had a doctor on hand to recommend people, but when I called they were quick to tell me that the doctor was in an office located near them, not with them. I later found that part of the law legalizing the use of medical marijuana in CA has prohibited dispensaries and doctors working together or even notifying their patients of each other’s locations, regardless if they do happen to be two doors down from each other.

Eventually, thanks to Google, I found myself in a doctor’s office off Winchester Boulevard near Valley Fair mall. I had called earlier that morning to see if they accepted walk-ins, which they do, though I was able to make an appointment at 12:40pm the same day.

When I arrived I was given about ten pages worth of questions to fill out. The first few consisted of medical history, the next were about criminal history (had I ever been convicted of a drug related crime?, etc.), and the lastly there were some questions about any drug related recreational habits I may have had.

For purposes of full disclosure, I had severe migraines in 2006, which I was prescribed 800 milligrams of ibuprofen to take three times a day, a month later I had developed an ulcer and was put on Aciphex and a reduced diet for 30 days, in early 2007 I was diagnosed with testicular cancer, had my left testicle removed, did three weeks of radiation and now I go in twice a year for blood and urine tests in addition to my yearly physical. Currently, as reported on my forms, I have a high stress job with long and sporadic hours which is hindering my ability to sleep at night and causing a higher than normal amount of anxiety.

After filling out these forms, and providing them with a copy of my driver’s license, I had to wait for over two hours until the doctor was ready to see me, apparently my appointment scheduling meant nothing. When he did finally consult with me, we spent about twenty minutes going over the questions I had filled out on the forms, and then he asked me to give him a typical day in the life of me, which I did. The result was that based on my medical history, my lack of criminal activity (I found out later that ex-felons, people convicted of drug-related misdemeanors and those on probation for any criminal activity are not allowed medical marijuana) and my over all disinterest in the recreational use of drugs made me a candidate for the use of medical marijuana.

I was then asked to pay a $150 consultation fee, cash or debit, no credit, which I wonder if I can write off. Once done, this resulted in me being issued a three month temporary certificate. For the record, the certificate is what is required by the police if you are stopped, it is also this certificate which gives you access to dispensaries and allows the purchase of medical marijuana. While they did give me a wallet sized card and a glove box post card sized sheet with my information on it, I was told that neither of these would help me in the event I didn’t have my certificate on me and are simply a novelty. Also, my certificate is only good in Santa Clara County. I am not able to purchase, carry or use outside of this county without having to apply for another certificate.

While the three month certificate was issued to me, it will be extended up to twelve months once they receive copies of my medical records from my primary care physician. I was told this was because they need to make sure that I have consulted with my primary care physician about my stress and made sure that there are not any other medical problems with me. Since I recently had both my yearly physical and other tests I have the files being sent over later this week.

I then hop in the car and proceed to the dispensary near Bascom and Fruitdale in San Jose. I am greeted at the door, a metal mesh with a deadbolt in front of another door with multiple dead bolts, by a man in a security shirt. He asks me what I want and when I tell him I just got my certificate he says that I can go inside. Once inside I’m greeted by another very large security guard who asks me what I’m doing, but once he saw my paperwork relaxed and became very genial. They take a photo copy of both my certificate and my driver’s license and then I am asked if I’d like a tour since this is my first visit. I accept.

The security guard takes me around to the shop area and shows me two very large LCD screens with an excel spreadsheet open showcasing about thirty different strains of medical marijuana. The prices are broken down into grams, eighths, quarters, half ounces and ounces. The prices ranged from as low as $25 for an eighth to almost $100 for an eighth, as this was the quantity I was looking for I didn’t much pay attention to other sized prices.

I ask him about the strains and he proceeds to provide me with a dizzying amount of knowledge on how each is grown, the type of effect each has and many other hydroponic information I’ve forgotten. As far as what became relevant to me was that there were two primary strains, Sativa and Indica. Sativa is used as a day-time strain as it gives a mild effect without making the user sleepy. Indica, is the opposite of Sativa and provides a heavy effect and helps the user fall asleep. I ended up purchasing an eighth of each strain, they had specific names such as Mango and Cranberry, and these were based on other factors in their cultivation, but my choice was based purely on the security guards recommendations of one that would help me fall asleep and one that would relax me without making me fall asleep.

My purchase came to $90 total, cash only, and I was issued a receipt, which I plan to investigate if I can write off come tax time. Since it’s my first visit I also received a complimentary pre-rolled joint of mystery weed. I’m assuming it’s the left over shake from the containers at the end of the day maybe? In any case I head home with my medical marijuana in the trunk.

It’s worth mentioning here, what should really be common sense, but while the certificate allows for me to purchase, carry and use medical marijuana, I am NOT allowed to carry it in the front seat of my car, smoke while operating a vehicle or heavy machinery, smoke in a public area such as a bar patio or street. Bottom line is that it’s a medication I need to take in the privacy of my own home. This should be obvious, but I felt it worth mentioning.

Once home I try out the mystery joint. It smokes like a cigarette and provides a mild effect that gradually increases over the course of the next hour. I watch a movie with my wife, the Losers, and then I decide to try out the Indica strain I purchased as I get ready to turn in for the night. I smoke this out of a tobacco pipe I had in storage. The taste is very mild, but I feel the effect kick in quickly and within thirty minutes I’m feeling drowsy. I fall asleep and honestly have one of the best nights of sleep I’ve had in a month.

In the morning I go for my jog, work out for twenty minutes and shower. I then try out some of the Sativa strain via my tobacco pipe and I feel a very mild effect. I go about my day and for the most part things are normal, except that I end up continually snacking on and finishing a bag of pistachios throughout the day and evening. Saturday evening I try my Indica strain again before I settle in.

Sunday comes and I go through the day without trying either of my new medications, though I meet up with some friends visiting from SoCal and we spend most of the day drinking mimosas. Eventually I get home later that evening and take some of the Indica and Monday morning I wake up with energy and relaxed. So far, so good.

While the medical marijuana has definitely helped with removing the stress I usually carry with me over the weekends, the real test will be this week and seeing how it eliminates the stress of each day and into the next.

Stay tuned.

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