Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Medical Cannabis Clubs

It's been a bit since I've "blogged." 
Life has been so busy!!

I was very excited to go to my first Medical Cannabis club and get my medicine. I have been dreaming for years of being able to walk into a store and get my medicine, instead of having to go meet someone in a parking lot, or go to someone's home and hang out for an hour just to get some pain relief. 

Here in Portland, there are many options to choose from when it comes to picking a Cannabis Club. I've read stories about some that have been raided by the federal government, and it's still kinda of scary going into the club because of that thought.

But the clubs themselves are very welcoming. 

The first one I went to is called Cannabliss. It is located in SE Portland, off of 7th Ave, in a renovated Fire House.

First, you walk into a big room, where the attendant has you fill out an application and requests to make a copy of your driver's license and your OMMP paperwork.

The first time you visit, and fill out the paperwork, there is not a fee to enter the club. After your first visit, there is a $5 fee for each time, or membership packages for around $20 a month, or $150 a year.

The club itself is set up to accommodate those who wish to medicated with other OMMP cardholders. There are couches and a nice relaxing place to hang out with your friends. In a separate room is the farmer's market, where several local farmers can meet with patients. For a donation to the farmer for his or her supplies to grow the medication, you are able to safely choose your medicine.

Keyword: CHOOSE. 

There are choices! When I first entered the room, I was overwhelmed by the number of strains available to me. In Idaho, having weed was good weed. The only choice was schwagg or Dank. And even then, schwagg could pretend to be dank. In this club, I was able to talk to the grower, understand what kind of strains were helpful for what symptoms. I was able to see, smell, and even sample different strains. Some are for bedtime. Some for in the morning. I could get edibles, tinctures, lotions, cremes, and even pills...

The only bummer of the entire experience was the cost. Recommended $10/g donation. It is the same cost on the streets of Portland. But for $5 extra I was able to choose my kind of medicine in a safe and secure setting, so the benefits definitely out weigh the only negative of high cost.

I also checked out a club called Brothers. The club itself is a lot smaller, and they do not offer a farmer's market where you can meet multiple growers, but the process was essentially the same. The only difference is that they obtain the medicine from the grower and provide it to patients for the donation. Their club dues are $10 total when you apply for membership, and then you make a donation for the medication.

There are multiple strains to choose from and it is similar to talking to one of the farmers at Cannabliss. 

And again the only bummer was the cost. At this club, the recommended donation is $10 per .9 or .8 or even .7 of a gram depending on the strain. There are several other clubs I intend to check out when I have time, I hear that several do not have membership fees.

But, like I say, the benefits definitely out weigh anything negative about this.

At one point, as I was entering one of the clubs, there was a police officer parked right down the street. At first, my Post Traumatic Idaho Disorder (PTID) got my heart beating a bit, but then I reminded myself that I am about to walk into a legit business, legal under state law.... the same state that pays his paycheck. And I have a card that protects me from arrest and prosecution should that officer decide to pull me over on my way home.

Not like in Idaho, where my heart would be pounding and I would be praying to just make it home so I can put my medicine away. Praying I didn't get pulled over, and have the officer confiscate the medicine on which I had just spent my last $50, the medicine that will help me to live for the next week without dealing with too much excruciating pain. The medicine that helps me to be a mother, a student, and a productive human being.

Praying I wouldn't have to deal with officers and the court system, prosecution and even child protective services because for some reason they all believe that this plant is harmful, when science and history both show that it is not. Yes... the benefits definitely out weigh the negatives of high cost.

I just wish I could grow it myself, but that is a topic for a different post.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Process

I decided to go with Alternative Medical Choices to get my medical marijuana recommendation. I really liked that they offered other services, besides Medical Marijuana recommendations. They also have therapeutic massage, acupuncture, Reiki, and yoga. The steps for the approval process are similar throughout the different clinics...

When I went to the appointment to see the doctor, I was very nervous. I dislike doctors greatly, and most of the ones I've talked to about my Marijuana use have told me to quit using it because it is harmful, and pretty much all of them were not very receptive to my telling them otherwise. I also hate being poked and prodded and compared to textbook statistics and symptoms. I've had a couple doctors tell me that I am making everything up, I've had others tell me I was I addicted to the pain pills THEY prescribed for me and told me to take. When a certain medication doesn't work or makes me feel horrible, I've even had doctors tell me that I couldn't possibly know what I am talking about and that I wouldn't know the difference between "the real medication and a sugar pill."

So I was not too eager to go see another doctor. Regardless that it was specifically for Medical Marijuana.

The clinic was very nice and welcoming. It looked like it used to be a house that had been converted into office space. It was very professional, and I was treated exactly like a patient. I was asked to fill out forms including receipt of HIPPA, provide my medical records and identification to be copied for their files, and then I was taken to a room in the back for their nurse to record my vitals. The nurse was very kind and she checked things like my weight, pulse, and blood pressure. After she had performed all the essential tests and discussed with me my medical record as she took notes, I was taken back to waiting room, instead of being left to sit and wait for the doctor in that little room. (Which I absolutely detest doing by the way.)

Just as I began to sit down, the doctor was ready to see me. He was very kind, and listened intently as I explained my medical history. He performed his own tests, such as listening to my lungs, and checking my abdomen where I showed him it hurt. He went over the doctors notes, discussed my previous medications, and then asked questions as he filled out the paperwork for the medical recommendation. I was amazed at how much time the doctor actually spent with me. Most doctors are in and out of the room so fast you almost wonder if they were ever actually there to begin with as you sit and wait for them to come back with a prescription. This doctor took the time to discuss the risks and benefits of the medication with me, and made sure that I didn't have any questions before handing my own file to me to be taken up to the nurse. I was able to look at every thing the doctor had written, and after the nurses at the front went over everything with me (like where to take the recommendation for filing with OMMP), they gave me back all of my original files, the original medical recommendation, as well as copies of the doctors notes for MY RECORDS. They also gave me a map of where to find the OMMP office, which was only a short distance away from where the clinic was located so I could immediately file my paperwork. (You have 90 days, but protection doesn't begin until it is stamped received by OMMP)

But it wasn't until after all of that was all completed that they requested payment. Usually when I go to the doctor, I have to give them a copy of my insurance first thing. Payment first, health care second.  I absolutely loved the atmosphere and the quality of care I received during the entire experience.

So, shortly after receiving my recommendation, I submitted the paperwork to the OMMP.

The paperwork requires that you fill out patient information, care giver information (if applicable), grower information, and grow location.

The OMMP office is on the second floor of the Department of Human Services building. Be sure to get there by 4:45 or you do not get a number and you can't get in without a number. (or so I was told)

After they give you a number, you wait in line. There were like 5 people before me when I got there at 4:42pm. (talk about stressful, stupid Portland traffic)
The cost to file is $100, or $20 with proof of assistance. Bring copies of all proof of assistance and your drivers license, and the license of your caregiver, and grower.

When your number is called, you go into a room with two windows divided by a wall. It is very private. There isn't anyone waiting in a line behind you. You give your paperwork to the clerk, who makes sure it is all in order. Then it is stamped and you are given a receipt for payment, and a 1 full set of copies, and 2 copies of the original application. These are also stamped. The clerk explains how you are protected and when you will receive your cards. It happens very quickly. The greatest thing is that the moment that paperwork is stamped, you become a legal Medical Marijuana patient in the state of Oregon.

After almost 6 years of having no other choice but to illegally consume the only medication that gives me a better quality of life and allows me to be a functioning mother for my family, I am finally legal under state law.

Unfortunately, federal law continues to apply, despite that the law contradicts state law and is unconstitutional.
So we keep moving forward in our fight to make this miraculous medicine available to everyone.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hurdle #2

From what I've learned, most doctors here in Oregon won't even discuss Cannabis, much less write a recommendation for it, because of their justified fear of losing their medical license and their job.

In order to obtain a recommendation from a licensed Medical physician, as the law requires, a patient must find a compassionate and understanding doctor who knows that Cannabis is medicine and is willing to provide a recommendation. Fortunately, numerous groups around the State have found doctors who are willing to write medical marijuana recommendations for special visits in their clinics.

Although Medical Marijuana is legal and recognized in the State of Oregon, the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) does not cover Cannabis related medical visits because it is a federally funded program. So the next hurdle becomes finding the right clinic and coming up with the money to see the doctor. This is especially difficult on a fixed income, when most of your money goes towards a roof over your head, food to eat, and bills.

I googled the keywords Medical Marijuana recommendations and Oregon and found several Medical Marijuana referral clinics in the Portland area.

The first one I found was MAMA or Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse (which, with my work with Moms for Marijuana, was very intriguing).

After perusing their website, I found their price list for medical referrals.

I also found a clinic called Alternative Medical Choices. Their prices were also on their site and they offer a fee for those who receive assistance, such as food-stamps, Social Security, or medical insurance through the Oregon Health Plan.

And I found a clinic called THCF or The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation. They have several clinics around the state, not just the Portland area, as well as clinics in other Medical Marijuana States. Their doctors are licensed to practice medicine in multiple states. Their fees were not listed on the site, so I sent them an email. I received a response within 24 hours with a price list. They also offer a fee for those who are on assistance.

The next step is picking one and coming up with the money...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hurdle #1

Oregon law requires that you have at least three visits worth of doctor's notes from the last three years, one within the last 12 months. 

This was a difficult one for me because it's been more than a year since I saw my last doctor and told them I am not going to try anything else except Cannabis. I tried to get the doctor to help me figure out how to dose it correctly, but was practically laughed at. 

I called around to all the clinics in my area, looking for a provider who accepted disability health insurance and the clinic was either not accepting new patients or there were not any openings for many months.

So I went into a walk-in clinic to get a new documentation of my illness, as required by state law. I was discussing my condition with the doctor on call, a little dowdy lady with very cold hands. I discussed my use of medications before and after my diagnosis. The pain killers like Oxycotin, Percocet, Darvocet, Hydrocodone... The Elmiron, the anti-histamine cocktails they gave me through a catheter, diet, physical therapy, and eventually back to Cannabis. By the end of the visit, she had offered me prescription pain pills, anti-spasmodic, and anti-inflammatory meds. I finally agreed to with Naproxen, an anti-inflammatory that I rarely ever take (only when meds run out for a long time) 

I had just begun to get a cold and shamefully admit I am a cigarette smoker. She also prescribed an inhaler and told me to quit smoking cigarettes (of course!) . Then she told me to stop using marijuana because it causes lung cancer...

I could barely hold in the flood of information about cannabis and cancer but decided that I would just say that what she said was ironic cause Cannabis kills cancer cells (plant a seed!). I figured since I knew her name, and where she worked, I would just mail her some information later.

After the appointment, I put in a release for medical records to provide to the doctor I will see when I get my medical marijuana referral. The guy at the front desk said I should have it within a week. It took 3 phone calls and a trip back to the clinic, but I finally got my records.

And of course noted at the bottom:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Following the green brick road in Potland, Oregon

It's been a little bit since I've written here. Life has just been a carousel of trying to find a balance between pain and activity and it has really worn on me lately. I am also still trying to get used to the sporadic rain storms of this beautiful area. The pressure of the rain clouds settling in seems to aggravate my condition.

It has seemed like it will never end. The single thought that I am in a medical state and that it is only a matter of time and money until I am "legal" in the eyes of the State is the only thing that keeps the despair at bay. Cycles of depression and sleepless nights from lack of medication (or even just the needing the correct medication) are draining me of all energy. I often had better access and more consistency of medication in Boise, in a non-Medical state.

But finally! I am just a breath away from meeting with a doctor to discuss a medical recommendation for Cannabis. I have no idea what the future holds. I've heard stories, seen shows, and some what understand the process. I've seen the gleam in the eyes of patients who know. And now I am finally going to start down that road to *hopefully* quality and quantity and consistent relief. Not to forget legal protection (to an extent). I have been waiting for this for a very long time. I continue to help the fight towards medical choice in my home state of Idaho, and I hope to use my new adventure to someday help others understand what its like to move to a medical state.

So I am going to try to document this journey as openly as possible. Hopefully someone will someday read this and figure out how to get over the hurdles involved in moving to a medical state to obtain a medical Marijuana card.....

Monday, May 2, 2011

Angel of Mercy

An Angel of Mercy visited me recently and provided me with a very large amount of medicine, in various forms. From hash, a joint, and several types of medical quality medicine to some trimmings, it was the nicest and most loving thing I have ever seen anyone do. I am very thankful for such generosity. Coming from Idaho, I do not think I have ever been in the same room with so many types, qualities, or forms of Cannabis. I can't wait til I can attend a Medical Cannabis Expo or one of the Cannabis Cups!

The first night was full of wonderful relief. I was able to sleep comfortably, wake up peacefully, and even use the facilities without too much pain. (My condition causes extraordinary amounts of pain if my bladder is full, filling, or being emptied.) It was exactly what I had been wanting.

I was able to complete some chores that had been piling up, homework that I had gotten behind on, and even decided to make my first ever batch of Cannabutter. I found a great recipe from the Cannabis Chef and very successfully created quite a bit.

Today, while I was deciding what to have for breakfast, I saw the Cannabutter in the fridge and decided to give it a try. I have had Cannabutter in cookies, and have had cannabis in lotion, lipgloss, and tincture. But I have never made my own Cannabutter, or cooked with Cannabutter. The medicated edibles were always premade when I bought them.

I decided to try cooking with the Cannabutter, rather than baking with it just yet. I wanted to see how strong my batch of butter was. So I made scrambled eggs, using Cannabutter and cheddar cheese, and toast with Cannabutter and raspberry jam. You can definitely taste the Cannabis, but it was very good.

I noticed afterwards that my pain was better than it had been in a very long time. I got quite a bit more set up in our new house, laundry done, and even was able to go on a walk and play on a playground with my family. The relief was instense, and when I was out of meds I could not have imagined feeling so good. Just like I forget how much it hurts when I have medicine, I forget how much it feels better when I run out for a long period.

My body felt really good, and I didn't really approach that level of "high" that occurs frequently with smoking Cannabis. But my favorite part... I didn't have to smoke as often as I would have. I was able to spend more time with my child, rather than hiding out to take my medicine.

That's the problem with the stigma that surrounds Cannabis as medicine, especially coming from a Non-Medical state. We always feel we have to hide. I remember when I was very young, probably around 5 or 6, and my adoptive Mother was using a Nebulizer to deliver medication to her lungs. (She had Cystic Fibrosis). I remember sitting in her lap, as she used the Nebulizer, and playing with the mist that came out the end of the device.

So, what is the difference between my medication and hers? Other than the legalities, the only difference is that the medication coming out of the end of the Nebulizer was that it was a pharmaceutical bronchiodilator, mucus thinner, or antibiotic which probably contained compounds that were not healthy for a six year old to be playing with.

If I sat with my child in my lap, smoking Cannabis, I would be labeled a criminal and told that I endanger my child. Cannabis contains ZERO harmful compounds. It would be much safer for a child to play in Cannabis smoke than to play in the byproducts of nebulized medications, such as Colistin. Drugs like Colisitin have side affects that  include symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, visual disturbance, numbness, facial paraethesia, vertigo, vasomotor instability, slurred speech, psychosis, hypersensitivity, local irritation, apnoea (transient cessation of respiration), diarrhea, stomach cramping, fever, or even liver and kidney failure.

Cannabis does not have such risks, and has a toxicity level of 40,000:1, which means it would take 40,000 times the normal dosage to induce death.

I can take pharmaceutical medication, smoke a cigarette, or drink alcohol with a child in my arms, and although I would get some pretty nasty looks, no one would call the cops. No one would try to take my child away. But smoke a harmless joint around a child, and you face years in prison for child endangerment, and your child faces years away from their mother, possibly amongst strangers.

Can't anyone see the hypocrisy in this?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Just a thought...

I'm sorry. I just don't get it. Why the hell would you put a biodegradable substance into a non-biodegradable bag in order to dispose of it? Doesn't make sense to me. I understand not wanting poop everywhere, but to put something that decomposes quickly into something that takes centuries to break down? Just so you don't step in poop? The vanity is alarming, cause you know what? Shit happens. Yet another reason to start making plastic bags out of biodegradable hemp.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Screw that!

I've been out of meds for over a week now. All my saved ass has been smoked. I am desperately wanting some sort of pain relief... but I can't have a nontoxic, harmless flower because I'm broke and the laws suck (even in medical states)... so, my choices? Pain pills, sleeping pills or alcohol if I wanna actually sleep tonight.

I admit a Medical State is much better than a non-Medical state, with that it gives you hope to some day get there, but unless you have money to pay cash to go the doctor, and the state, and the local caregiver... you're out of luck. I still cannot walk into a pharmacy, give them my insurance, and get my medicine. Or what would be much better, is walking into the 7/11 down the street and buying a pack of joints, safely and legally, like I can with cigarettes and alcohol.

Anyone who has a life long illness knows that doctors say to keep your levels even. That means DO NOT RUN OUT. But that is impossible when your choice of medicine is Cannabis. We get to be punished because we want a safer choice in medicine. 

I shouldn't have to wait and suffer as I figure it all out. I should be able to go and get a refill on meds whenever I run out. No matter what state I'm in. I can go to a different state, even only on vacation, and have a prescription filled just by making a phone call. 

But I refuse to take pain pills. Haven't (xcept for 2 surgeries) for 7 years now. Even with the surgeries, I didn't finish the bottle. Cannabis is my pain relief. But I could walk into any ER in the country and get a bottle of Percocet at the drop of a hat. I can go to the convenience store down the street and buy as much alcohol as I can afford. I can drink it til I pass out and am unavailable to my family until morning. I can take an over the counter sleep aid, and not even truly be available until mid afternoon or early evening, because of grogginess. 

But I can't have a calming herb that has been used for thousands of years to help people fall asleep and get through pain without the side effect of being in a drug induced stupor? 

Screw That.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Oregon's Black Market - pt. 2

Well, that didn't work out even remotely how I planned. It's been, what, 3 days? I can already see that I will not make it to Wednesday, much less the rest of the week.

I knew things would be tough, but I definitely didn't realize they would be this difficult. The cost of living is a bit higher than I expected, especially compared to little ol' Boise. Definitely could be worst and we will survive, but still... Gas is 30¢ a gallon more than Boise and food is quite a bit more also. Cigarettes are a little more, at least its nothing like the $7 a pack in Washington last summer. And at least a bag is $10-$20 cheaper than Idaho. But that's to be expected, it's a flooded market here.

Portland is freaking awesome though. Beautiful scenery, very cool people, and the grass really is greener here. (I'm sure the good stuff is also.) There is a lot more rain, so a lot more life, and it feels like the air is cleaner. I love it. So, I guess I just gotta suck it up, figure out the funding, and once again delve into the Oregon Black Market. 

Damn it... I wish our government would just give me another option already.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Oregon's Black Market

The decision to move to Oregon was based primarily on the state's compassionate Medical Marijuana laws. I've been using Marijuana as medicine for 7 years and I am very excited that I finally have the option to become a legal Medical Marijuana card holder. It wasn't even an option in Idaho.

Problem is, this option is still very difficult to choose. I've been researching Medical Marijuana clinics in my area with doctors who are willing to give a recommendation for Cannabis. (It seems that many doctors are still very afraid of the Federal Government and their apathetic war on Medical Marijuana, and refuse to really even discuss Marijuana much less recommend it for a patient's treatment.)

The fees for these doctors range from $150 - $200. On top of that, is the fee for the OMMP card, which is $100. Fortunately, the OMMP card has a discounted rate of $20, for those who receive government assistance to survive.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a discounted rate for the MMJ clinics, nor does state health insurance cover such visits. And I am completely broke. So the option of obtaining an OMMP card is very difficult indeed.

We ran out of medicine about a week ago. I know I've said this before, and I'll most likely say it again, I never remember how much it actually hurts! Luckily, I had the thought to keep saving the ass of the bowls, even though times were plentiful, and have been able to kind of take the edge off with that. 

But because we don't really know anyone here, and because I still can't just walk into a store and buy a bag, I am having to deal with the black market in a Medical Marijuana State. Who would have thunk it?

So we scrounged up some money (good-bye movie collection) and found a very small bag of pretty decent medicine. It's not the best, it's not the worst, but I've definitely had better... even in Idaho. 

We also couldn't afford very much, a few grams at most, and I've already been out for awhile. I know, just looking at the bag, there is only enough for me to feel really good for a day or so; or I can conserve and try to make it last a few days longer. With 4/20 coming up, I chose the latter of the two. I want to at least feel a little better for what is fast becoming an international stoner holiday.

So, out came the weekly pill organizer, and I put barely anything into each of the days. But hey, at least I don't have to keep smoking ass... at least for a few days... hopefully. I always seem to need more than I can spread out, and end up pulling some from the end of the week. If only I didn't have to run out at all, and my levels never go down.

I just keep thinking patience... it will happen eventually. It is finally an option that, even though I cannot afford it right now, it is available. It's not a matter of law any longer, it's just a matter of time. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

New Adventures in a Medical Marijuana State

Well, I've finally done it. I've been dreaming of moving to a Medical Marijuana state for years.The hells of living in a non-medical state had started weighing heavily on my mind and my body. So we packed our bags, loaded a u-haul, and set off on our new journey in a Medical Marijuana State.

We moved from Boise, Idaho to Portland, OR a couple weeks ago. I am very excited to be living in this beautiful State and have been adventuring more than once already. I brought about 1/2 an ounce of medication with me. That medication is dwindling fast, especially with the increase in activity and movement. (Moving always takes a lot out of me, but I've never moved like this before.)

I had saved the money to obtain my Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) recommendation and card, but the Uhaul ended up costing way more than we had expected. So now I'm broke, with barely any medication, and living in a Medical Marijuana state. How screwed up is that?

At least it is better than being broke, with barely any medication, and living in a Non-Medical state. At least here its only a matter of time (and money) before I get that recommendation, and card, and am able to obtain the quantity and quality that I need to manage my pain and maintain my mobility.

And at least, if I do get caught possessing my medication with out the OMMP card, its a civil infraction, and a gigantic fine, rather than jail time and child endangerment charges.

I am way excited to be here and am looking forward to participating in the local reform movement. Oregon is trying for taxation and regulation for 2012.  Coming from Idaho, where we had just begun our fight for Medical Marijuana, Oregon is two steps and a giant leap ahead. Go Oregon!