Medical Marijuana, how I got my card

*this is solely my experience, it may be different for others.  I live in Arizona, the requirements can be different for different states, and the type of product offered can be very different also.  You can read a good article about the whole process on Leafly, here.

medical card

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As soon as we moved to Tucson I started the process of getting my Medical Marijuana card.  I received it on my birthday (July 2nd).  Here’s the process I went through:

First I had to get an Arizona Driver’s License, thankfully I kept my license up to date even though I hadn’t driven in years.  To get my license I had to prove my identity and prove I live here, I took a copy of our lease and mail that had been forwarded from our previous address.  Within an hour after arriving at a DMV I had my temporary license in hand, after 2 weeks I received my official license in the mail.  Very shortly after that I went in to apply for my Medical Marijuana Card.

To obtain a Medical Card from the Arizona Department of Health I needed to take my medical records that proved I have been dealing with one of the approved conditions on the list for over a year, in my case severe migraines, to a doctor to see if I qualify.   To find a doctor who will do these referrals was pretty easy, I just looked in the local free paper, there are plenty of ads (I actually think this is kind of weird)   I saw an ad that looked a bit more professional than some of the others and emailed them (as most of you probably know, I don’t use the phone because of my hearing loss).  The doctor I saw is a Naturopathic Doctor, she reviewed my records briefly and checked my vitals.  She told me a little about Medical Marijuana, and told me I should receive my card in a couple of weeks.  Oh, I also had to pay a fee to the doctor and a fee to the state, the doctor fee can vary, the state fee is set.  You can get the recommendation from the doctor and then file your own paperwork online with the health department, but I decided to pay the extra little bit to have the doctor’s office do the filing for me, they even took my photo for my ID.  So to break down the cost, the office visit was $100, the processing fee (to have them file all my paperwork) was $20, and the state fee is $150 so the total cost to get my the card was $270.  The state fee is $75 for those with a SNAP card (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

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Ads found in the Tucson Weekly  (I’m not against recreational use, but if this is a medicinal only state, then treat it like medicine.  The ads like those above give medical patients a bad name.)

 

If you are interested in even more details, this link will send you to the center where I saw my prescriber.  Actually it isn’t “prescribed”, it is recommended, doctors honestly don’t have enough knowledge about the efficacy of marijuana (the different strains vary in what they do, some are sedating, some are energizing, some help pain, some cause paranoia…..there is no way to actually just prescribe marijuana like you do other medications, you have to know all the different aspects of the different strains and delivery methods, therefore they really have no idea how to dose it.  The center that I went to offered a 15-minute Complimentary Consultation to discuss the available types and delivery method for cannabis, and suggested strains to help with my condition.  They also suggested a dosing schedule.  I felt this visit too short, however, since I had already done a lot of research I didn’t need a lot of guidance (or so I thought), but I welcomed the advice on strains and dosing.  The center also offers a couple of workshops, one teaches how to make edibles because it’s much cheaper to make your own, (these are an additional cost).

After receiving my card I visited a Dispensary that is located close to my house. (since then I’ve done some research on the different dispensaries in the area and I will make sure to take advantage of the best deals, it kind of blows my mind that they offer sales, I thought all the dispensaries would have the same prices and the same products, but it can vary greatly.  I should note that the dispensaries are non-profit, however, some also sell paraphernalia, I don’t know if they are allowed to make a profit on that, it seems like they should.

When we arrived at the dispensary someone greeted us at the door and welcomed us in.  We walked into what appeared to be a somewhat large lounge, the actual shop was in another room that had to be opened for me to go in.  Stuart was not allowed in the shop with me even though I told them I needed him to hear, to compensate they had a pen and paper so we could communicate that way if needed.

A very sweet girl met me at the door and gave me a tour of the shop.  She pointed out a cart that contained CBD products only and told me that anyone could come in and buy those, they simply took the cart out to the lobby and had them shop from there.  I noticed that she kept pointing out the strains with the highest amount of THC, they are more expensive, so I was wary about taking her advice as to what I needed.  (I have since been back to this dispensary and another and found the people I spoke with very knowledgeable and were able to really help me figure out which products to try.)

There are so many different types of delivery methods, smoking, vaping, tinctures, transdermal patches, various edibles (from cookies to hard candies), drinks, and concentrates….so much it is mind blowing.  The doctor I saw recommended I use a tincture and vape.  A CBD tincture 10 mg, 3 times a day, as a migraine preventative; and a CBD:THC 1:1 tincture to help me sleep.  It was also suggested I vape for acute pain, since I have a dry herb vaporizer I was given the name of a few strains that would help, I was also given the strength I’d need if I wanted to use an oil vaporizer.  This was a good starting point, but I have a lot more to learn.  This article can give you more of an understanding of what CBD and THC are and what they do: “CBD vs THC: What’d the Difference?”  (I have found the best information on Leafly.com)

 

In my next post I will tell all about what I’ve tried so far, and things I wish I knew before I started this journey.

****NOTE****  I admit I’m very nervous about writing this article.  Please be kind to me, do not treat me as a drug seeker.  I am not looking to get “high”, I simply want the pain to lessen.

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mini update…it’s all about me

20180902_140241It’s Labor Day, for most it’s a time to a honor the workers of America, and send the summer off with a bang.  For me, Labor Day this year marks my 14th wedding anniversary.  I can honestly say, I’d marry this may again in a minute!  It sure doesn’t feel like our wedding was 14 years ago, yet, it feels like we’ve known each other forever.

We had planned to go on a day trip to just get away, but things haven’t quite turned out as we’d planned; maybe we’ll make it there soon.  Instead we went to the botanical gardens here in town, it was like walking into a secret garden, I really needed to get out and commune with nature.  I’m so glad we Stuart talked me into going.

(I’m actually starting to get sleepy, but I really wanted to post this now, so I haven’t read over this, please excuse any and all errors, if something doesn’t make sense, let me know.)

sleep: After reading the comments left of my post about my lack of sleep and extreme fatigue, I have tried a few things and I think I may have discovered a couple of things that may have been contributing to it.

  • One – allergies.  It was suggested that this might be the case so I checked looked up what might be causing that, and found out that ragweed is causing MODERATE pollen counts.  I’m very allergic to ragweed, so I increased my antihistamines and have been doing a saline spray.  I wish I could use a Neti Pot but it causes vertigo.
  • Two – mood swings.  Someone mentioned that when she is feeling the way I have been that she knows she is a bit manic.  Well that sent up bells and whistles.  I realized just how quick to anger I have been lately.  I’ve been cutting myself off from people.  I am trying to make an effort, but it has just been so hard.  I’m simply having a hard time putting forth the effort.  I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting my people.  I’m also having uncontrollable crying spells.  Today (I’m wring this on Sunday night) I just couldn’t stop my eyes from leaking.  It annoyed the hell out of me.  So, have I been a bit hypomanic, that would cause the anger and the lack of sleep, but it doesn’t explain the tears.  Could I been depressed?  Is it possible to be experiencing both at the same time?  After being diagnosed with bipolar I over 22 years ago, you’d think I could figure this out, but I must admit my moods have not been as stable this past year as they have been for many, many years.  I’m not having full blown mania or severe depression, but I’m having a very hard time coping.  I’m also having a very hard time holding my tongue, and unfortunately I have been hiding how I’ve been feeling from almost everyone (I do share these things with Stuart, we are in this together) including someone who is causing me some severe anxiety.  I’d really like to cut this person out of my life, but it’s just not possible, at least not right now.  I’m trying hard to just let it go, and be gentle with myself.  I understand that I’m really getting upset because this person is not behaving as I expect people to, it is these expectations that I have to let go of.  But the drama is affecting other people in my life and that is causing me more anxiety.  I’m sure most of that makes no sense, but it felt good to get it out, even if it is a little cryptic.
  • Gabapentin – I’ve been taking 100 mg of gabapentin 3 times a day for a while now, and it hasn’t really bothered me.  I take 200 mg at bed time and 100 mg upon waking.  If I don’t take this my arm goes to sleep and aches, my back hurts more and my aches and pains are more intense.  Since moving here I’ve needed to refill my prescription a couple of time and I noticed that the manufacturer is differnt than the one who supplied my pharmacy in NC.  I can’t help but wonder if that changed things.  so for the past couple of days I haven’t been taking my morning dose and honestly I haven’t been nearly as sleepy during the day. That’s unfortunate because my pain has increased quite a bit.
  • Stress and anxiety.  We’ve talked about this before, but I have spent a number of hours awake lately when I simply could not shut my brain off.

What I discovered was not an issue.  My use of medical marijuana.  For the most part I’ve been using mostly CBD during the day. You can read recent studies on sleep and CBD on NCBI  To make sure the CBD was not causing my insomnia and/or my daytime fatigue I decided to stop taking it for a while.  After 2 weeks I saw no difference with my sleep, but did notice an increase in my headaches and anxiety.  I haven’t been using any cannabis with THC duing the daytime.  I have still been taking it right before I go to bed, it does help me sleep for about 4 hours at least.  (note I’ve been using marijuana to help me sleep for a couple of years now)

Increase in physical symptoms: I’ve been much better for a while now…my vertigo has been almost non-existent at least 9 months now.  This past week, it has been worse again.  I haven’t been having full rotational spins for the most part, but I have been seeing things move and I feel like I’m moving.  I’ve had a few spells this week that caused Stuart to come home early to help me.  I haven’t thrown up from vertigo in quite some time.  Even before I stopped having vertigo on a regular basis, I had stopped vomiting.  I normally use a little cannabis to stop the nausea and vomiting, but I was trying hard this week to not do that, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t causing me to lose sleep.  Well, it wasn’t and I will be using it to help with the vomiting the next time I have vertigo.  My migraines have also increased, and I don’t feel like the gammaCore is doing much.  That makes me sad.  To be completely honest, I’m having a very hard time staying in the present and not freaking out over the thought that I might get back like I was.  I’m already afraid to drive again.  Shoot.

House search: We still haven’t come close to finding a house that is suitable, there just aren’t very many houses that have the features we want/need.  Now we’ve found a little snafu on our credit report that we need to clear up.  It’s sad when someone has a credit score of over 800 and the ability to put down a down payment of over 20%, and we are having trouble getting pre-approved.  There’s something wrong with that picture.  We are hoping we can get it straight soon.  If not we’ll just rent for a while. I’m trying hard not to stress over it.

Eating:  I still feel like food is controlling my life.  I recently had a week where I wasn’t starving all the time and I was able to stay in my calorie range.  I’m terrified of gaining all that weight back, yet I can’t seem to stop eating, and that is simply tearing me up inside.  I did find a cool app called Mealime and it has been a great help in planning meals that are pretty easy and healthy too.  Now if I could just control the snaking, especially in the middle of the night.  How did I go from having to force myself to eat, to overeating?

Doctors: It has been a challenge finding doctors here.  Most of the doctors I found on the BCBS site who said they were accepting new patients actually weren’t.  I do like the PCP that I found, except for a couple of things, I’m hoping those things will resolve themselves after we get to know each other better.  (like she isn’t comfortable prescribing my Valium for the vertigo.  I don’t take if often, but if I’m having vertigo that is the only thing that helps calm it down.  I do not take it as an anxiety medication, nor do I over use it.  My last prescription of 90 pills lasted me almost a year!  She doesn’t seem to understand that it is the best vestibular suppressant out there.  I will have to find an ENT.  I want to see a neurotolgist here in town, but he only sees patients that have been refereed by an ENT.  So I have to find one of them first.  Argh, what a pain!  I am hoping he can treat both my Meniere’s an my migraines though, so I really hope I can get in there to at least talk to him and see if he can offer any help at all.  I do like my neurologist now, well what I learned in my first visit to see him anyway, but I do not like how hard he is to get in touch with, nor do I feel like his staff is very helpful.  Recently I had a seizure, my first in a very long time, the next day he called my neuro and left a message about it.  No one ever called back.  I had a seizure and NO ONE CALLED BACK?!?   The doctor who operated on my wrist was not as thorough as I felt he should have been.  Every time he was in the exam room with me I felt he was always on his way out the door.  I didn’t feel like he answered all my questions and I didn’t feel like I had clear enough discharge instructions.  He also didn’t even talk with Stuart after my surgery.  Talking to me right after I wake up is not a good time to expect me to retain information.  They did send me a survey to fill out and I spoke up about my feelings, I’m proud of myself for that. I was told by the resident who took my stitches out that I could have pain from the healing for a year. wow!  Didn’t expect that one.

That’s all for now….I guess that was a bit longer than a “mini update”  perhaps I should have called it a “maxi update”  🙂

*photo taken by W. Holcombe at Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tucson, AZ – all rights reserved.  Please do not copy without permission.