Investigating Medical Marijuana

No matter where you live in the United States, you have probably heard about the medical marijuana laws that have passed in California. Our intrepid alumni reporter takes a look “behind the Orange Curtain” for what the medical marijuana process is for the layman.

No matter where you live in the United States, you have probably heard about the medical marijuana laws that have passed in California.

Known as Proposition 215, the law allows “patients with a valid doctor’s recommendation, to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use.”

Since it’s passing in 1996, this has become a hot topic not only in California but across the nation as 13 other states have also passed similar laws.

Marijuana in the OC

Living in the heart of Orange County, the topic of Medical marijuana is as hard to avoid as talking about the Lakers. For example, the local free “OC Weekly Magazine” that can be found in every coffee shop and newspaper stand in the county is literally filled with advertisements for medical marijuana. The advertisements run the spectrum from dispensaries, doctor’s offices (for prescriptions), delivery services, or even legal services.

Clearly, the medical marijuana industry is already big business. Plus, people are talking legal pot everywhere I go. My ninety year old grandmother even asked me about it! And like most issues, it seems to be becoming more and more polarized. Some people see legalizing marijuana as a slippery slope of drug legalization that could lead to every child turning into a drug addict. Others see marijuana as the answer to all our economic problems (tax it!). Many “pro marijuana” activists believe that it can treat a wide variety of health problems like stress, pain, headaches, and insomnia (is there anything marijuana can’t “treat?”)

This polarity can also be seen by the fact that new dispensaries open daily, supposedly legally, while at the same time the police are constantly raiding them and arresting the distributors. The confusion rests mainly on the fact that due to the state law, the drug can legally be sold as treatment for medical conditions. However, federal law dictates that marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 narcotic which makes it illegal to sell.

First Hand Experience in The Legalized Marijuana Circuit

Since I am involved in the addiction recovery world, I pay attention when  I hear any discussion of marijuana legalization. I wonder what its effects will be on the friends I have in recovery and whether it will lead to an increase in marijuana addiction in the future.   We have written extensively on this site about the various marijuana products that are becoming available due to the phenonomenon of pot dispensaries: like hash and tincture.  We are also of the opinion that the legalization of marijuana may be benign for many but will ultimately lead to marijuana addiction for some.

But, I’m also torn because, if it really can help people with medical problems why should it be illegal? Marijuana seems less addictive and  destructive than many other legal substances (ie. alcohol or opiate medications like OxyContin).

So, flash forward a couple years to the present and I am surrounded by the new phenomenon of  “legal” weed being sold apparently everywhere around me.

Getting the Marijuana Prescription

Talking it over with a group of friends one night about a month ago, one of them (we’ll call him Jack), said he was thinking about getting his marijuana prescription.

Curious, I asked Jack many questions: when, where, how, why? He told me: the next day, in Santa Ana, from a doctor that specializes in prescribing marijuana and that he was sick of having to rely on friends of friends to buy his pot.

I laughed, saying “your sickness is that you’re sick of buying pot from friends?” He said, no, he was going to say he had migraines, depression and insomnia. I know him pretty well, and didn’t know he suffered from any of these conditions.

He said, “That’s because I self medicate already!” He said it with a smile that I wasn’t sure how to take. We talked a little more and eventually he asked me if I wanted to go along with him so I could document the process. So I did.