Happy 4/21! I didn’t write about medical cannabis yesterday, even though I wanted to. Why? Texas, mostly.
Listen, I’m happy that my sister in Seattle can walk down the street and buy anything she wants. (Really! I am truly thrilled at the spread of legalization, not being sarcastic.). But even though I’ve been in constant joint and nerve pain since I was 15, I can’t. I’m so glad my colleague’s state has such a thriving medical cannabis program that she’s fighting over things like insurance coverage. But there is no medical cannabis program in my state whatsoever. (“Medical marijuana” with no THC doesn’t fucking count. CBD alone does zilch for some people.) This means that anyone with chronic pain who wants to use marijuana for pain relief has to chance telling their doctor about it, and possibly losing that doctor, or not telling their doctor, technically breaking their ‘pain contract,’ also potentially losing that doctor.
But that’s not all! There are many ways to mess up your relationship with your medical team. Check out what to say to the pharmacist to get a refill on a restricted med without making anybody mad at you and this piece about how to use a 1-10 pain scale to describe your pain (even though it sucks). Then download this free medical log and start keeping track of your communication with your medical team. (You’ll thank me later.)
I didn’t write about medical cannabis yesterday because it doesn’t matter if it helps your joint pain or muscle tightness more than anything else. Opiates or marijuana? I certainly hope they don’t help you in different but still significant ways, because from everything I’ve heard from people in states like mine, it usually comes down to choosing one or the other.
Even if cannabis helps you take fewer opiates, it doesn’t matter. We’re not in the land of logic anymore. Even when doctors refuse to treat people who use medical cannabis, they no longer attempt a medical argument for the decision. Because there is no valid argument for keeping marijuana Schedule 1. That means “it has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.” Under current federal law, marijuana is more dangerous than cocaine, meth, or oxycodone.
I didn’t write about medical cannabis yesterday because depending on what version of it you prefer, it’s a felony with a lot of jail time in my state. Prefer vaping or edibles to ruining your lungs by smoking flower? According to Austin law firm Guest & Gray:
“Any edible or THC vape, no matter how small, is a felony in Texas. One THC cookie = felony. One THC vape cartridge = felony. It’s not like regular plant marijuana, where they have to show a usable quantity either. Any amount is enough; one crumb from your pot brownie = felony. Less than one gram is a state jail felony, which is the same penalty Texas has for meth, cocaine, and heroin. That’s right, the geniuses who wrote our state’s weed laws made pot brownies the same penalty as crack. Great job, guys! For an edible over 1 gram but less than 4 grams, the offense is considered a 3rd-degree felony. That means you are looking at 2-10 years in prison for EDIBLES.”
Prefer concentrates/dabbing? Also a straight felony! All forms of THC concentrates are illegal in Texas. And of course anything involving the mail is, you guessed it, a big honkin’ felony. That’s not even starting on county-by-county legislation.
Republicans are mostly to blame for this– Texas’s ridiculous laws are almost entirely based on Greg Abbott’s political maneuvering and bootlicking. But Dems have plenty of blame here too. Biden promised to– and could at any time!– change this landscape completely. It would be a massive win for Dems and polling shows widespread support on both sides of the aisle. Sooooooooo…
I didn’t write about medical cannabis yesterday because in places like this, it can bite you in the ass. Someone I know was recently sent to a cardiologist. They mentioned cannabis use because they had read that it could affect heart rate, and the doctor noted it in their chart. When a different doctor saw it, that person ended up losing the pain management doctor they had been going to for half a dozen years. Despite saying it in confidence. “Always be fully truthful with your doctors” is usually the correct approach, but I don’t have the luxury of thinking it’s always true.
I didn’t write about medical cannabis yesterday because I don’t know what my future holds. I have to keep my options open.
Happy 4/21. I’m truly happy that the landscape has changed so much and that most people can now access this vital medicine. But there are a whole lot of people still out here suffering.