Mission: to get medicinal marijuana


Last night, in the hour I allow myself for shameful, brainless entertainment after writing, I watched the NatGeo documentary “Marijuana Nation” for the second time. Nothing else was on (surprise, surprise), and Lisa Ling is a cutie.

It’s a good show. Though it doesn’t say anything new — Discovery and A&E have beaten the drug and marijuana issue senseless; it’s a safe haven for programmers — it focuses on the human aspect, the real life implications, a hallmark of the channel’s namesake. It’s provocative and intelligent reporting, the type of journalism I admire and am again building an aspiration for. And, as it did the first time, it got me thinking: I live in a state that allows me to obtain marijuana for medicinal purposes, so I should try to get some.

Yes, the Quiet Man smokes weed. Though I haven’t indulged in a while — I have no connections, a hallmark of my namesake — I do it when the opportunity presents itself. I like getting stoned. Time stretches; I smile, laugh, and my mind’s eye pierces through the bullshit of life to glimpse hidden meaning and truth. In college I probably liked it too much. My only respite after a night in the newsroom was coming home to my apartment and smoking a couple bowls with friends. We played GTA, watched introspective or funny movies, told stories, engaged in philosophical debate, and let Kilborn amaze us with his dry, classy, and intelligent humor. It didn’t hurt anything, but I make it a point to stay on task and not spoil myself with intoxicants, not promote dependence; hence, one of the reasons I only drink beer on Friday and Saturday nights. People need to give themselves limits, especially with drugs.

I’m craving a little buzz. I want to take a few puffs (my tolerance is novice low now), burn a little Nag, and kick back. I could listen to music, watch a movie, write, or read just as easily sober, but it’s so much more introspective and interesting — i.e. fun — when I’m stoned.

I could try finding a street dealer, but I’ve done the illegal thing; bought baggies of skunky green nuggets grown God knows where by God knows who. (A friend of mine once smoked with people whose stash was tainted with motor oil; it had been smuggled into the country in a car engine.) It’s time to try my hand at getting legal weed, stuff carefully grown in a lab by botanists.

The thing is, though, I obviously can’t get state sanctioned pot because I want to get high. The whole purpose of medicinal marijuana is to make it available for those who suffer from chronic and often painful illnesses. As with other medications, doctors prescribe marijuana when its affects will benefit the patient. But I don’t need to have terminal cancer to get a recommendation. The reasons people seek access to medicinal weed are as vast and diverse as California itself. Some of the maladies treated with marijuana, according to the Medical Cannabis of Southern California website, are migraine headaches, gastrointestinal complications, nausea, arthritis, insomnia, movement disorders, and the vague, possibly all inclusive, “aging.” Other reasons are comparatively minor and trivial. One Los Angeles Times reporter, after trying to get it for himself, said he could have gotten a recommendation for hangnails. One man in “Marijuana Nation” had a recommendation because of a finger he broke “a long, long time ago.”

So what’s my sickness, my chronic disease? How do I qualify? How can I benefit from medicinal marijuana? Another common ailment treated by medical cannabis is anxiety. I’m not worried sick, frightened anxious — unable to leave my apartment for fear of being killed by a meteor or falling airplane part anxious — but I do have social anxiety and a self-conscious tendency that has affected me for as long as I can remember. It’s why the Quiet Man is a quiet man. I don’t want to cure myself, don’t want to change my nature, but I am looking to ease my cautious reserve. I don’t want to be stoned all the time — I’m smarter than that — but I’m hoping the lingering affects of marijuana, those lasting long after the high is gone, will prove beneficial to my everyday life and help me be less cagey.

If it doesn’t work? No big deal. I still get to smoke weed.

So I have a reason, a purpose, to get medicinal marijuana — to get stoned legally. The next step is getting a doctor’s recommendation. Apparently it’s not as easy as it sounds. I can’t go to my assigned physician and say, “I think marijuana will help my problem, so if you write a little prescription I’ll pick up a couple nugs.” Most doctors won’t do it, so I need to visit a special clinic specializing in cannabis referrals. The “check-up” costs about $200, which is not covered by insurance. I’ll fill out some forms, answer a few questions, and the doctor will make a decision. Though a hangnail may be sufficient reason to grant a recommendation in LA, I’m unsure what my chances are behind the orange curtain. Medicinal marijuana websites recommend taking medical records as proof of chronic problems, and telling the doctor weed has proven beneficial in the past. If I pass I get a card or ID allowing me to enter and purchase marijuana at dispensaries.

From what I’ve seen and read, cannabis dispensaries are somewhat similar to Amsterdam pot cafés, though there’s no lounge to sit and smoke in (I could be wrong, though). Dispensaries feature a vast menu of cannabis strains, noting the type of high each bud offers. Check out the bill of fare at American Collective on Costa Mesa Boulevard. Holy shit! I’d definitely get the Skunk Kush strain (Effect: Chill, Relaxed, Creative), and for $75 an eighth it would definitely be the most expensive weed I’ve ever bought.

And the cool thing is dispensaries deliver. I wonder if they stop at ZPizza along the way.

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