Wednesday, October 21, 2015

In a Haze

In a recent post, I shared my interest in trying medical cannabis for a number of conditions:
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Arthritis pain 
  • and above all, insomnia
And for a couple of reasons:
  • I'm tired of the big pharmaceutical companies price gouging us out of our medications;
  • I'd prefer to have tried something and regretted it, than regretting having never tried it.
But, I have a few logistical concerns to overcome:
  • In the state of California, it is possible for a credentialed teacher to lose his/her credential over a failed drug test as the State recognizes the benefits of medical cannabis, yet, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing still considers marijuana a Class I drug, per Federal Law, and as I understand, cannabis can remain in the user's system for up to 72 hours for a moderate user;
    • It is, however, unlikely I would put myself in such a position by smoking/using before going in to school;
  • And, I have discovered that a medical card would be tied to my driver's license and therefore any traffic stop might trigger a potentially tricky situation.
So, the general consensus is I shouldn't do anything while I have a valid credential, which expires in 2019, one year before my projected retirement. Yet, I still need to find a way to sleep within these next few years. And, Ambien has been recommended to me, as well as Benadryl, and I may look into them; but a dear friend tried to take his life with half a bottle of Ambien, and while I may not be of that mindset, the memories of that night are not pleasant. I'm very happy to say he is well and looking forward to a long and productive life. And Ambien can become chemically addictive, as can any medical sleeping aid. Taking Benadryl would medicate me for symptoms I don't have as it's used for mostly for anti-itch and allergies.

And one specific health concern I have already addressed in the aforementioned post is, because cannabis is a vasodilator, it does increase the heart rate of the smoker, and as I can suffer from a stress/anxiety-related elevated heart rate, this might not be my best choice as an alternative.Yet, I do enjoy a nice cup of coffee which also increases the heart rate, just not quite so much. Perhaps I should investigate other methods to reduce stress and achieve general relaxation, though my stress and anxiety seem to be much lessened as of late, and my blood pressure and heart rate are lower than they have been in years. Yet, I still can't sleep through the night.

I also need to get over seeing myself in the image of the stoner or pothead, that I grew up with which might not be easy, yet as I sat drinking a beer last night, I caught my reflection in a window, and realized if I can get over my own personal temperance/abstinence movement of my heavily Christian-influenced teenage years to where I can now enjoy a beer or glass of wine responsibly, then maybe I can do the same with pot. After all, I'm still the same wonderful. loving me after one (or two) glasses of a nice Shiraz.

All of that confusion has not stopped me from continuing my research on medical weed.

And I am lost in a fog...

First, I discovered there are two types of marijuana: indica and sativa, which are generally differentiated by the leaf of the plant. So, I'm thinking it's like wine, red and white, like the grapes.

Heck, no.

According to my research, indica produces a completely different type of high than sativa. I mean, to me, a red wine drunk isn't that different than a white wine drunk, except for the possible headache/migraine that reds can produce. So, these different types of highs led to my first cloud of confusion. As I understand, an indica high is much more mellow, producing a sense of relaxation and sleepiness while a sativa high is more of an energetic, creative, hallucinogenic high.

And as I understand there are even different strains within the indica and sativa varieties, all developed for different levels and types of high. Some strains are more/less potent than others and take more/less time to 'hit' and can hit harder, regardless of whether they are indica or sativa.

I also discovered there are two principal components of cannabis that contribute to its effect on us, tetrahydrocannabinol, aka THC and cannabidiol, or CBD. Both THC and CBD have psychotropic properties, though CBD is believed to be the lesser of the two. It is CBD, in an oil or tincture form, that is being used with children in reducing epileptic and other seizures and is believed to provide more of the medicinal benefits than THC. It is also believed that CBD is responsible for countering some of the psychoactive effect of the THC in marijuana, so the higher the percentage of CBD, the less the effects of THC on the patient. And medical strains are being specifically developed to have more CBD than THC for those patients not looking for such a psychoactive experience.

And then there's the actual method of intake; smoking, liquid, topical or edible, all of which can also effect the high, but to a lesser extent than the strain itself. And with smoking there's the popular pipe, bong, and now vaporizers. One can even purchase just CBD oil to take sublingually. I've read of topical creams and ointments, as well as candies, cookies, brownies and even, teas.

CBD oil
Oh, and flavors.

Flavors? Of weed?

Yes, flavors.

Some strains are described as fruity, others as earthy, or piney.

Well, different wines of the same varietal can have slightly different flavors depending on the vintner. I tried a Pinot Grigio from one label that reminded me of turpentine, and another so wonderful, I wanted to buy a case of it. So, why can't marijuana be different depending on the developer?

And on top all of this, different strains are recommended for different medical conditions...some are recommended specifically for stress, pain, insomnia, nausea, etc., while others are recommended for depression, migraines, etc. Still others are recommended for social anxiety, motivation, relaxation, etc.

Oh, and the names of some strains...Blueberry Cheesecake, God's Gift, Afgoo, and my personal favorite (for a name, not necessarily a strain I'd want to try) Alaskan Thunder F*ck.

So, should a first time smoker decide to take that step, how does he find out what and where to buy if he has no local friends he knows who smoke?

Believe it or not, there's an app or two for that.


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