So let’s say you just received your medical marijuana card and you’re ready to visit a collective for the first time. What is the best way to conduct yourself in a collective? How do you protect yourself? And most importantly: how can you ensure that you get the right medicine for your condition?
Here are a few tips to help you out as a new patient.
- This is medical marijuana, not recreational. The only kind of cannabis allowed in California is medical and despite what you may have heard from other people or the internet, you need to abide by the law of the land and take medical marijuana seriously. Do NOT do the following in a legal collective: Call the medicine things like “weed” or “dope” or describe it with non-medicinal buzzwords like “dank” or “fire”, or talk about using your cannabis for non-medical purposes (example: “My buddies and I are going to smoke this to celebrate the Kings win.”).
- Leave your dog or child home. This is medical marijuana, not PetCo. With the exception of service animals, most collectives ban pets due to safety and sanitary concerns. Misrepresenting your pet as a service animal is a criminal offense! Also, California law is strict about age requirements in regards to cannabis (18+ only unless accompanied by a guardian and possessing a marijuana recommendation) and many collectives will not allow you to enter the dispensary area with your child–meaning you will be placing the front security guard or employee/volunteer in the precarious position of supervising your child. Do your local collective a favor: leave your young child and Fido safe and sound at home.
- Bring your California ID and doctor’s rec to your first visit to any collective. All legal collectives require CA ID and your original doctor’s recommendation to register you as a member. You will also have to supply a new doctor’s rec if yours expires. Please do not hassle or harass the volunteers/employees/security guards of your collective if you neglect to provide the correct documentation on your first visit or renewal–it is your fault for failing to provide a rec or ID, not theirs.
- Thoroughly describe your condition to the collective’s employees or volunteers. A respectable legal collective will have staff that know what strains or products will best help your condition. If you explain your medical condition to a collective’s staff and they just give you blank stares are unable to answer any questions you have, you may want to try another dispensary. The more specific you are about what you are seeking to relieve and how serious the condition is, the better the collective can assist you.
- Do not hassle the staff for freebies or discounts. Gracefully accept any discounts offered to you. Don’t scoff or complain that the discounts (or lack thereof) are somehow insufficient because “another dispensary” gives out more medicine. If you visit a collective that happens to be outside your price range, simply excuse yourself and visit another instead–don’t demand that they lower their donation prices or give you free medicine (only the city of Berkeley has laws in place regarding giving out free medicine, called “compassion”, to homeless residents. Los Angeles has no such law in place. No collective here is obligated to give you free medicine.) All this will do is create bad blood between you and the staff.
- Transport your medicine in the trunk of your car. Not in your purse in the passenger seat. Not in your pocket as you are driving. Not in the backpack you throw behind you as you drive off. Keep it in your trunk until you reach your final destination.
- Do not give your medicine to anyone who does not have a recommendation. The medical marijuana you obtain from your collective of choice is to be consumed only by you and anyone else who has an up-to-date medical marijuana recommendation. Do not give it to anyone else.
Stay legal, stay safe!
Despite strong initial support for Florida’s Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in the Sunshine State, only 42% of those polled now say they would vote to pass it. The amendment requires at least 60% in favor to pass. Unfortunately, it now looks unlikely that sick Floridians will be able to access medical marijuana legally and safely.
What caused the drop of support? Probably the highly aggressive and highly funded campaign against it, fronted by big business, law enforcement, Drug Free America, and medical associations. No on 2 attacked possible loopholes in the proposal to bring undecided voters onto their side, like how the Amendment does not require caregivers to have any sort of qualifications to provide medicine to the ill. Anti-medical marijuana advocates also said that medical marijuana would get into the hands of teens and children and that edibles would be used as date rape drugs (the latter being an especially ridiculous notion).
Unfortunately, pro-medical marijuana advocates in Florida simply lack the funding and uniformed message that the No on 2 camp has. It doesn’t help that Florida is fairly conservative to begin with and has a largely uninformed (or outright misinformed) populous when it comes to cannabis.
A new study titled “Prevalence of Medical Marijuana Use in California, 2012” shows that 92% of participants report that medical marijuana “helped alleviate symptoms or treat a serious medical condition”. The report also found that 1.4 million Californians report using medical marijuana to treat an illness across a huge variety of ages, genders, and races. The new study looks to debunk the myth that CA’s medical marijuana laws are open to abuse by recreational users and money-hungry doctors.
Data for the study came from the California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2012, a state-wide survey that collected information from a sample of over seven thousand adults.
Stigma against medical marijuana has caused many cities and counties to ban safe access in the form of not allowing medical marijuana collectives. Hopefully studies like this will change people’s minds on medical marijuana in California.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel urged Illinois lawmakers to adopt a policy that gives law enforcement the option to ticket people instead of arresting them for possessing less than 15 grams of marijuana, and to reduce possession of less than one gram to a misdemeanor. A similar law was passed in his jurisdiction of Chicago and he is pushing for it to spread to the entire state of Illinois. He states the measure frees resources to go after more serious and violent crimes.
While full legalization is the end goal for marijuana advocates, reducing penalties for possession is always a good step in the right direction. However, focusing on possession and ignoring production and distribution does not help those who are growing the marijuana patients need. In many states where CBD possession and consumption have been legalized, the people working hard to provide patients with medicine with no psychoactive effects can still be put behind bars with stiff penalties. This makes it difficult for growers to produce and distribute safe and affordable marijuana… and what’s the point of allowing people to consume CBD if they can’t even get it?
Regardless, hats off to Mayor Emanuel for pushing this idea forward. Hopefully the rest of the state will follow Chicago’s lead.
Although the Compassionate Care Act passed in California in the mid-90s, more and more people every day are being introduced to medical marijuana as an alternative to their pharmaceuticals. Here are some tips to keep yourself safe as you explore your options for getting a medical card and visiting your first collective:
- Visit only reputable doctors for a medical marijuana recommendation. The intention of the law is to get your recommendation from your primary care physician, but many are unwilling to prescribe medical marijuana. Plus, getting your letter from an office that is not used to handling this sort of thing could slow down the process of registering at collectives, as they have to call your office to verify the recommendation. Practices that specialize in medical marijuana recommendations often have automated online and phone verification and have an expedited process for evaluating and writing out letters for patients. However, some of these places are known for unfair pricing (ie. advertising $40 for a letter at first but tacking on fees to bring the price for a yearly recommendation up to $100) or getting citations for various unsavory activities and having their medical licenses revoked. Only go to doctors that are reputable; most are on Yelp, peruse the reviews before paying them a visit. You can also check the status of the practicing doctor’s medical license on the CA BreEZe website.
- Visit only pre-ICO collectives. Los Angeles recently passed a law (Measure D) that allows only legal collectives opened before 2007 to remain in operation. All other dispensaries are seen as illegal in the eyes of the law–and you could get in big trouble if you’re in one during a shut-down raid! Even beyond personal protection, it is a good idea to support pre-ICO collectives, as they are usually the most law-abiding and respectable ones around. Although the pre-ICO list being passed around the internet is rather outdated, here is a list of all the collectives who existed before and obeyed an ordinance passed in 2007.
- Ask for test results of the marijuana. Any respectable medical marijuana collective has their medicine tested by a reputable third party. Test results show THC, CBD and CBN percentages as well as whether the product has any mold or pesticides in it. CAC’s medicine is tested by BudGenius Labs.
- Be wary of anyone who doesn’t charge tax or “includes” the tax into the donation price. All legal collectives must charge tax and do so separately from the regular donation price. Any collective that tells you they are “including” or “combining” the tax into the donation is probably lying. While nobody likes to pay taxes, it is a necessary part of operating a legal and secure collective.
- Ask about proper dosages with edibles. It is easy to eat too much (or too little!) of an edible and feel either miserably high or not at all. Ask the volunteer/employee of your collective of choice about the proper dosage, even if it’s illustrated on the packaging. Dosage varies from patient to patient based on potency desired. A well-educated staff member can tell you how much to take for your individual needs.
- Don’t toke on the road. You may be feeling eager to indulge in the car as soon as you finish your first visit to a medical marijuana collective. Don’t do it! Firstly, the legal limit for THC is laughably low and you will likely get a DUI if pulled over (law enforcement is very skilled at identifying the smell of cannabis smoke). Secondly, if smoking, the effects will hit you fast and your driving skills will be impaired. The joke that those driving high sit and wait for stop signs to turn green isn’t just a playful jab! Even eating an edible or pill is not advised before or during driving. While the effects will not be felt as fast as smoking, you may find yourself stuck in traffic and having to deal with the strong effects of a potent edible behind the wheel. Not a pleasant experience, to say the least.
- Do not share your medicine with anyone who does not have a recommendation. Doing so is illegal and could get both parties in trouble with the law. Open discussion of sharing medicine with a person who does not have a medical marijuana recommendation is a bannable offense here at CAC.
Always remember to medicate in a safe and comfortable environment and have your medical marijuana recommendation on hand.
The ice bucket challenge has raised a lot of awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease), but could we be looking for the best treatment in the wrong places? Marijuana could very well be the solution for ALS sufferers.
Although government regulations have made cannabis (especially THC) research difficult, there have been two human studies conducted in regards to cannabis and ALS patients. According to Americans for Safe Access:
“One of the studies, was a pilot study investigating the safety and tolerability of THC in ALS patients (Gelinas/ABood 2002). This clinical study confirmed symptomatic benefits for appetite, insomnia, and spasticity. The seconds research study was conducted as an anonymous survey in 80 countries, 131 surveys were completed, and the mean age 54. Participants reported that Cannabis helped provide relief from drooling, speech and swallowing difficulty, appetite loss, weakness, shortness of breath, spasticity, depression, and pain (Amtmann D 2004). In animals with ALS, THC administered either before or after the onset of the disease delayed motor impairment and prolonged survival. Furthermore, THC potently reduced oxidative and excite-toxic damage in spinal cord cultures in vitro (Raman et al. 2004). The protective effects of cannabinoids and their anti-spastic effects in MS are well known (Carter 2001). Furthermore, cannabinoid receptors are up-regulated in human tissue during disease progression, making them an abundant target for treatment.”
While benefits from cannabis have plenty of anecdotal evidence to back it up, preliminary research suggests THC could be a safe alternative to slowing down the progress of ALS. Here’s to hoping more research can be done on the subject so ALS patients have better means of access to medical marijuana.
New research from Washington State University shows that women’s higher estrogen levels make them more susceptible to the effects of THC. The study was published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence and was funded primarily from a grant by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
Female rats were shown to be at least 30% more susceptible to the effects of THC than males, according to research done by psychology professor Rebecca Craft. The effects of THC include pain relief and heightened mood. Unfortunately, this sensitivity could put women at higher risk for side effects like anxiety.
Strangely enough, male rats were shown to develop “munchies” easier than females. One of the main medicinal uses of THC is to increase appetite in cancer patients… so one would reasonably suspect that if women are more sensitive to THC, they would also get hungrier. Appetite stimulation is the only effect of THC that was shown to affect males more than females.
Of course, this is only one study done on lab rats, so it would be unwise to recommend lower THC for women just yet. It does offer interesting insight to how cannabis could affect different genders.