“Is it legal here?”
“Where can I buy it?”
That question, in all of it’s innocent sincerity, can hide secret desires and hidden wishes. But it also can be an honest search to help relieve chronic pain.
Several friends have developed age related aches and pains, some severe enough to seek medical advice and treatment. Two have received prescriptions for medical marijuana for the treatment of chronic severe pain. So I am aware of the questions regarding the legality of this drug.
On my trip to California this winter I decided to get information about this strange plant with mysterious healing properties. Marijuana sales are legal in California, and sold in state approved dispensaries. I was interested in trying a balm containing cannabis to relieve pain in my hands. Can the healing claims be true?
After many telephone calls and questions, the advice I was given on the telephone, (with no medical background information requested), was that the best product for me would be an externally applied skin balm containing a three to one ratio of CBDs and THCs. CBD oil from the cannabis plant has no mind altering properties. THC is the part of the plant that does contain that property.
Armed with that advice, my husband, son, and son’s significant other embarked on our mission to La Mesa to the store that sold a variety of products. To our surprise it was located in an ordinary industrial park along with the most ordinary of businesses and products. No sign here of anything unusual or dangerous. Until we approached the dispensary.
A frighteningly high level of security met us as we continued. We parked the car, walked to the entrance and immediately saw two heavily armed guards blocking our way. I felt as if we were approaching the border of a third world country. The first burly guard, armed with a high caliber firearm, told me to open my handbag for inspection. After passing this first step of security we were each asked for our drivers’ licenses. He took all four of them and handed them to a woman making copies of the documents. Next he placed a tray before us, airport access style, and requested that all bags be put into it. “You will get your papers back as well as the bags,” he barked in his gentlest growl.
All of us were surprised at the TSA-like security of this operation. While the items were being scanned I wondered whether similar precautionary steps were taken by NASA before sending the first man into space.
Finally, as a last precaution, we each had to pass through a metal detector.
My husband asked the guard, “Do all dispensaries have this level of security?”
“Only the legal ones!” he answered.
Finally, inside the dispensary we were met by a woman who offered a written menu of all the products that were for sale. They were arranged in categories: Edibles, vapes, lotions. She was assigned to fill our order and would get us everything we needed. We were not permitted to shop by ourselves.
The feeling inside the dispensary was one of uncomfortably watchful distrust. The woman showed us products in various strengths and combinations of CBD and THC. When I selected one of the balms and reached for my credit card to pay, I was reprimanded with, “Cash only.”
So I wondered, “If I buy this balm will I be finger printed? Will they demand that I pose for a mug shot?”
As I left the dispensary my mind swirled with images of armed guards, X-Ray machines and metal detectors. I thought again of having copies made of my drivers’ license and being assigned a watchful guard playing the role of helpful salesperson.
Is this how a bank robber feels after a successful heist?
Is this how a Brinks armored car thief feels after breaking in?
Is this how it feels to prepare for a lengthy prison sentence?
The real question is, did the Cannabis work? Did it relieve the pain?
I had only a few days to rub the balm into my painful hands before it was time to return to the illegal place I call home. After the strange interlude I do not have any conclusions about the efficacy of Cannabis for joint pain. It was not worth risking arrest for smuggling an illegal substance into New Jersey, so for the time being I will have to hope that Tylenol will suffice to mitigate sore, achy joints.