Doctor recommended medical marijuana today.
May 14, 2015 1:06 PM   Subscribe

I have a chronic pain condition and have failed all standard treatments. Today, my doctor closed the door and straight out recommended that I seek out marijuana. I live in a state where it's not legal and have no clue how to find marijuana. Help?

I'm a Midwestern mom with rheumatoid arthritis and a different chronic pain condition that most people have never heard of. I've been pursuing treatment for the past several years, including surgery, but nothing has worked. Today, my doctor recommended that I seek out marijuana and gave me instructions on how to use it therapeutically.

The trouble is that marijuana is illegal in my state. I have reached out to a friend who also has chronic pain, but her former connection moved to California so that his business would be legal. I know there's a ton of marijuana in the community, but I don't know whom to trust. I'm not interested in getting high, just in treating the pain, and want to avoid marijuana that has other stuff added in. I'm also not interested in jail time, as it would bother my children.

Any advice is sincerely appreciated. I'm considering a trip to Colorado, so I'm open to travel, too.
posted by 5_buck_sock_pup to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you're close enough to Colorado, do it. The shops are very professional and you know exactly what you are getting. Be sure the do the speed limit and don't smoke on the way back. See if your doctor can write you a prescription. It's much cheaper to go to a medical dispensary than the recreational.
posted by trbrts at 1:30 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you're coming to Colorado, let's have a meetup! I don't partake myself but have a friend who's very active in the cannabis community; I'm sure she'd have a good recommendation.
posted by cyndigo at 1:32 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's the Wikipedia page on medical cannabis in the US, with a table on which states support medical marijuana and for which ailment. Anecdotally, I've heard that getting a medical marijuana card or whatnot is relatively easy, or at least that's what I heard in California. There might be an option closer than Colorado for you.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:34 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, no dealer is going to "add stuff in" without telling you & charging you for it because that would cost them money and is thus a ridiculous business model.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:35 PM on May 14, 2015 [9 favorites]

Depending on your state, it can be nearly impossible to ensure that you receive street cannabis that is most appropriate for your condition without the guidance of an experienced grower or doctor. In states where it's still illegal, marijuana can vary wildly in quality and strain; it might be given names that have nothing to do with its origin and promised as indica/sativa/hybrid when it's really not. However, it's rarely laced with other drugs; people who've had a bad time with street marijuana have often simply consumed too much of it and too quickly. You will probably get stoned with any street marijuana you purchase, as low CBD strains for pain relief rather than a high aren't sought after by the majority of cannabis users. However, they are available among the right folks!

I would recommend getting in touch with or attending a local marijuana legalization group meetup, as they very frequently include men and women with medical conditions for whom pain relief rather than recreation is the primary goal. Meet some of the attendees, share stories, and you may be looped into a supply chain with someone who has both knowledge of and access to strains that would be most helpful for your condition and usage preference. As long as you are discreet, polite, look like a "Midwestern mom", and deal in low quantities, you'll fly well under the radar of law enforcement.

Or go to Colorado. You can visit a dispensary within 30 minutes of landing and have someone teach you everything you need to know, from strain selection to pain relief to making cannabutter to create edibles in your home. Plenty of dispensaries are geared more toward patients than recreational users and there are plenty of sites out there with reviews that will help you select a business to visit.

Good luck!
posted by theraflu at 1:47 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone. It sounds like a trip to Colorado is in order. An additional question - do I need to see a doctor in Colorado? It's doubtful that my doctor will write a prescription, for legal reasons.

I could use more information than what my doctor was able to share. I'm still in the market for advice, so please post if you have input.
posted by 5_buck_sock_pup at 1:51 PM on May 14, 2015

Do I need to see a doctor in Colorado?

Haven't tried it yet, but from reading the NYT's close coverage of legalization in Colorado, no, you just walk right into the pot store and get your pot, like buying beer.
posted by dis_integration at 1:58 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

You know somebody who smokes regularly. Just put it out there that you're thinking about trying pot for your chronic pain. Leave out the doctor part and don't push too hard on any particular person. Someone will come through. I'd be a lot more paranoid about traveling with a month's supply than I would be about asking my friends.
posted by rdr at 2:15 PM on May 14, 2015 [9 favorites]

In Colorado, most shops have both a recreational and a medical side. You have to have a medical card to get into the medical side. Most of the shops started out as medical and then added recreational when it became legal. Thus, most of the recreational sides of "rec/med" shops know something about the medicinal aspects, and can help you out. The "med" sides apparently have stuff like patches, tinctures and sublingual that are not as easy to find on the "rec" side.

But go talk to the professionals in a "rec/med" shop. Make sure you ask for "high CBD" stuff, as that tends to be more therapeutic and less high.
posted by u2604ab at 2:15 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: See, I hadn't thought about the whole only getting a month's supply thing. Hmm. Colorado's a major trip from here. Not meaning to thread-sit, honest. If I were to ask my friends for high CBD stuff, would they know what I was talking about?

I just asked another friend, and he's looking...
posted by 5_buck_sock_pup at 2:18 PM on May 14, 2015

(Ack, I meant HIGH CBD for pain relief, and didn't see that until u2604ab's post. You need high CBD.)
posted by theraflu at 2:21 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Would your doctor be open to prescribing Dronabinol? That might be an option, if you can get it in pill form legally prescribed.
posted by juniperesque at 2:28 PM on May 14, 2015

In a serious pinch you could order online off of Silk Road-esque darknet markets, which from what I have read isn't usually a big risk to you personally if you're a. very careful and b. dealing with personal use type quantities. I don't recommend it at all, but I would probably do that before I made a long road trip back from Colorado with a month's supply of medical marijuana in my car, though my assessment of risk could be way out of whack.

Honestly, though, both of those options seem way too risky to me, especially for something as common and available as marijuana, and especially when you need a regular supply because you're using it to treat a condition. I think your best bet is to put out feelers locally. Ask a few friends if they know someone. The suggestion upthread to check out some marijuana legalization groups is a good idea if that doesn't work out. You're not going to get jailed or anything for asking around.

Good luck! I hope you can find the relief you need.
posted by Gymnopedist at 2:56 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

A couple of things to consider before coming here.

For one thing, there are stories about cops in adjoining states profiling vehicles leaving Colorado (and anyone with Colorado plates), pulling them over on some pretense, and searching their cars. I do not know how common this practice is, or if anything is being done about it, but it's something to look into, at any rate.

If you do come out here, though, your best bet might be to try a few different strains while you're here, with the guidance of a budtender, and see about bringing home some seeds for your preferred strain or strains so you can grow it yourself. That way, you'd have a very small amount of substance, which would be much less risky if you did get caught; and you'd have a steady supply once it's come in.

Obviously, this would depend on your being able to find a place to grow it away from the prying eyes of outsiders and your own kids.

There are a few differences between recreational and medical marijuana here. Medical is more tightly controlled and thoroughly labeled, IIRC, and you can have two ounces at a time, whereas recreational you're only allowed one. You're probably OK with recreational, although to get a medical card, the dispensaries will have someone on staff there to provide the recommendation if you want to go that route. (Or at least that was the deal the last time I looked those things up.)
posted by ernielundquist at 3:24 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

It strikes me that you might inquire further about talking to your friend's former connection, to see if you can get some trusted references to somebody local that the former connection knows.
posted by polecat at 4:50 PM on May 14, 2015

I bought recreational pot on a road trip from Minnesota to AZ, and drove most of it back home with me again. Even if law enforcement is looking out for people who might be holding, they weren't looking out for this Midwestern mom in a minivan, so. You really do just walk into a store and there's an overwhelming variety to choose from, it's pretty neat, and the employees seem really good at helping you find what you are looking for.

But you would be really surprised at who you know who has a marijuana connection--I certainly have been in the years since I moved here from California. However, you're less likely to be able to pick and choose that way.

Minnesota is about to start offering medical marijuana (smokeless) very soon but I just peeped the website and it looks like they're going to make it pretty hard to get into the program, and out-of-staters will probably not be able to get relief that way.
posted by padraigin at 5:47 PM on May 14, 2015

I want to second ernielundquist's suggestion to look into growing your own, if possible. Depending on how much you need, you could probably grow enough for yourself with a 2-4 plant setup. You are unlikely to be caught if you aren't selling any of it or telling anyone about it. You can get seeds off of a seed bank online, and that means you could choose a strain appropriate to your needs vs. being at the mercy of whatever is being passed around locally while also side stepping the issue of driving medical stuff from Colorado. Reddit's /r/microgrowery is a great resource for information and advice. It would take time to get off the ground, of course, so you'd want to explore your options in the meantime.
posted by Gymnopedist at 6:03 PM on May 14, 2015

You know someone who knows someone. Ask the people in your circle who you think might be sympathetic. Especially people who live in cities and young people.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 6:27 PM on May 14, 2015

First off, I wanted to chime in and say it sounds like you are fortunate to have such a good doctor! It must have been quite a risk for him to say what he did, and he probably put himself on the line in order to put your best interests first.

Secondly, I have chronic pain that I use edibles to treat and I live in a state where it is not legal. It works very well, better than any prescription I have tried and with no side effects. I would put the word out with some friends. When it comes to trying out dosages, start with just a very little and adjust accordingly. Good luck!
posted by Jandoe at 9:19 PM on May 14, 2015

Nthing finding it through local connections, and adding that you'll get better dosage control if you use a vaporizer.
posted by metasarah at 1:35 PM on May 15, 2015

Driving it back from a state where it's legal doesn't seem sustainable. Even without the risk of entanglement with law enforcement, it's too time-consuming and expensive. I admit ignorance of typical medical usage, but you'd be very lucky to stretch one ounce more than a year if using it on a regular basis, and I believe this is the retail limit for rec use in CO. Trucking more than that across state lines seems risky.
posted by werkzeuger at 12:10 PM on May 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Medical marijuana is legal at least some of the time in almost all Midwest states (MN, IA, WI, MI, IL, OH) as well as the border states of Missouri and Kentucky. Colorado is good to have in your pocket as a sure thing, but you might try investigating whether any of these states would be an option for you--it would almost definitely shorten up your trip.

Time-saver: Iowa is not a good choice for MM right now; while using MM is legal, growing and/or selling it is not. We're trying to push the laws to keep pace with human needs, but it's a process.
posted by epj at 6:20 PM on May 16, 2015

If your doctor is urging you to find medical marijuana it's very possible that s/he knows someone who can help you get it.
posted by bendy at 6:57 PM on May 17, 2015

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