Medical Marijuana and Chronic Pain

Medical Marijuana

How will this effect the workforce, and me if it becomes legal?

I haven’t written anything about my opinions & issues regarding my struggle with Fibromyalgia recently, so I thought it was about time to get something down again.  The bug bit me when I saw this headline on – Medical Marijuana Users Risk Job Loss.  Before the Health Reform bill went to Congress the recent weeks, legalizing marijuana for medicinal use in New York was a topic that lasted about a day.  I was diagnosed shortly before this came to the forefront, and I was interested in what other states were doing, as well as the benefits were of medical marijuana.  I also had to consider my reactions to marijuana itself.Let me preface this by adding a small personal story here.  I have never smoked marijuana directly.  I’ve smelled it before, but didn’t know what it was until I was a hall director at Texas A&M during graduate school.  One of the campus police officers was a guy I was familiar with from my home town of Seguin, TX.  He and I had many conversations about the Timmerman sisters, and the old days in Seguin.  When I wanted to do a drug presentation for my RAs after having an experience where a couple thought they smelled something suspicious, the officer and I had a discussion about the traditional drug presentation, but he would see what he could do with regard to helping my staff recognize the smell of marijuana.

To my surprise he was able to bring in someone’s stash that was confiscated the week prior, and rolled a joint in my apartment, and took my staff outside to a safe area and lit it up so we could familiarize ourselves with the smell.  It was definitely the smell I experienced earlier that month that caused me to feel sick.  When I smelled it again, I went into a coughing fit and had to leave the area.  I didn’t think much about it until 1997 when my future brother in law got my sister & I tickets to see Aerosmith for Christmas.  I was unable to enjoy the concert because after the opening acts several people lit up, and I had a reaction so bad that I went into anaphylactic shock, and had to go to the emergency room.  Since that time, I was the jinx – movies broke when we went, I got spur of the moment migraines, it was not fun.

Every year when my friends & I go to Freihoffer’s Jazz Fest at SPAC, I have to load up on Benadryl, due to the pot smoke around the area, so I don’t have to go to the hospital.  In recent years, the reaction has gotten better, and I have been able to take less and less Benadryl.  Hopefully it’s a tolerance building up.

When the news of what medical marijuana could do to help people with chronic pain, I was happy to hear it, but not happy that I may not be able to reap the benefits, if it were legalized due to my “allergy.”  I made mention of the possibility on one of my social sites, and was reminded that I’ve got “that” allergy, but that’s from the smoke.  I wonder if it would be triggered by a brownie or cookie.  I’m intrigued, but not enough to risk my job, as it is still illegal in the state I live in.

When I read the article above, I thought it was odd that an employer in a state where they have legalized the drug, an individual has a legitimate illness for which the use of marijuana is helpful (nasal cancer), and carries the card indicating that he’s using it legitimately would be fired from a job during a simple drug test.

It makes me wonder, because of all the former Schedule 1 drugs that are now Schedule 2, when people go to work while under the influence.  I can think of Vicodin & Flexeril on the top of my head, because that’s a recent cocktail I was taking when the pain was not yet diagnosed as fibromyalgia.  I had to tell the technician when I took a drug test a while back everything I was taking, the doctor who prescribed the medication, and the reason I was taking it.  These labs do have methods in identifying these items in your test, and showing that you are in compliance with the law.

I wonder how things will change if marijuana becomes legal in New York.  The article indicated that more conservative states, Kansas was an example, are investigating this option for their residents.  I know that using cannabis (Marinol) as part of an approved method of increasing appetite for anorexics and as a treatment used with dementia patients.  The con to this is the severe weight gain, which is something that I have been fighting for years.

I wonder how many people will abuse the law if it is passed?  I know that when it was passed in California, it was regulated to a point.  Some doctors still refuse to prescribe it, but some health practitioners dispense prescriptions indiscriminately.  For example, someone comes in complaining of back pain, and can get a prescription for medical marijuana, when they really only need to take an ibuprofen (I watch Weeds, I know how it goes – ha ha).  I know there’s a database, and people keep track of who is taking advantage of the program.  I also know there are still illicit sales of marijuana in the states where it’s legal for medical purposes.

So, thoughts?  I’m of the school of thought that if it doesn’t hurt me, I don’t judge.  I have friends who currently smoke a bowl on occasion.  That’s cool with me, if it’s at their house, or in some other public place, as long as they don’t smoke it around me.

One part of me says that it would be great for people in constant pain, or who suffer from chronic pain illnesses.  The other part thinks it’s totally unfair, because it’s definitely possible that I won’t be able to take advantage of this option, if it is put up for vote.


About Kari

I live in the Capital Region of NY, work for NYS, and am just beginning to blog. I was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, so that's going to take up some content. I've been writing for as long as I can remember, and I am an opinionated person. Thus there will be some items that burn me up, that I simply want to play devil's advocate, or daily/personal items. I also Tweet (@Marilyth) when the mood strikes me in 140 characters or less. I'm doing this for fun, and I hope other appreciate the information and contribute!
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6 Responses to Medical Marijuana and Chronic Pain

  1. Faye says:

    My sister had a similar reaction to it the only time she smoked it (years and years ago). Coughed, hacked, and ended up sick for days. but she has always had some respiratory issues.
    It could be the smoke, not the marijuana itself. There are many other ways to take it for medicinal purposes, the cookies and brownies you mention, even tea!

    Of course there are other reasons to legalize, not the least of which being the medical uses; opening this complex and traditional herb to the scientific community could reap untold benefits, but because of its illegal status studies can be hard to conduct.

    I won’t bore you longer you with my take on the whole thing, suffice it to say I am a follower of NORML’s website, and while I don’t agree with everything they put out, I see their point more often than not. I am a supporter of legalization (which makes my current stint on a grand jury pretty complex) for both the medical community and (eventually, and with regulation) the recreational community.

    Anyway, as this is a topic I am interested in, I had to comment.


  2. Kari says:

    Thanks for the input, Faye. I need to do more research on the legislation, AS WELL AS cannabis itself, so I can understand why I may have had the reaction I had. I agree, it could have been respiratory. I’m not much for eating it, but tea might be a good alternative for me. I’d REALLY have to watch my “snacking.”

  3. Erin says:

    First of all, I’m Libertarian, so of course I’m for the legalization of MJ regardless of medical use or recreational use. I liken it to alcohol.. as long as it’s consumed under safe environments, then there is absolutely no reason why the government needs to hold such a tight control on it. Plus it has virtually no hangover effects as compared to alcohol.

    Now, as far as your allergy and the snacking issue… The allergy could definitely be related to the smoke itself. So don’t let that discourage you from trying it if it ever becomes legal. And well, the snacking issue… You definitely have an increased appetite while under the influence, but I liken it more to a compulsion to wanting to taste things rather than being actually hungry. If one of your normal meals were consumed right before or after taking MJ, and you’re mentally aware that you’ll want to eat, then it’s easier to stop yourself from snacking arbitrarily. Also, distracting yourself by other means helps too. But then again, thinking while high can be difficult sometimes 😉

    Either way, if it becomes legal, don’t be discouraged by your allergy and potential appetite. If you try it and find that those are side effects you can’t tolerate, then go from there. 🙂

  4. Elyse says:

    Ha ha- you write all of these thoughtful entries on health care reform and I reply to the druggy drug drug post. Anyway…

    Based on your response to marijuana smoke, I completely understand your reluctance to try it in food form. Also in food it is so…uncontrolled. You have no idea how much THC is in there (unless you bake it yourself, but there are still so many other factors that are difficult to control), it is extremely difficult to dose yourself.

    I don’t want to come across as anti medical marijuana because I am definitely not- in fact, I am generally pro-legalization of marijuana, though I have one reservation.
    Unlike alcohol, there is currently no “real-time” test for MJ intoxication (none that I know of, anyway). I feel strongly that stoned people should not drive or operate heavy machinery.

    Of course people will abuse medical marijuana if it becomes legal because people abuse pretty much any pain med they can get their hands on. Unlike other pain meds, MJ is not physically addictive.

    On a lighter note, my husband and I joke that we hope marijuana becomes legalized by the time we are ready to retire from our jobs 😉

  5. appealing little title, LOL

  6. writerpro25 says:

    I think almost any substance can be abused and that it’s ridiculous that marijuana is illegal when it is much less dangerous when it is abused than when alcohol is.

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