August 13th, 2012Medical Marijuana Dispensary
Buzzzzzz! I rang the doorbell next to the little window on the back wall. A few moments later a young woman appeared at the window. She was probably around nineteen, smiling, neatly styled, and wearing a cute polo shirt with the store’s logo. At last, this is the kind of person I can relate to.
I showed her my medical marijuana card and she pushed a clipboard with a form through the window. Just like a doctor’s office! I felt more official already. She took my form and card and disappeared into the back room to check out my legitimacy. Pretty soon, the door to my right opened and she beckoned me in.
Wow, this was not what I was expecting. I walked into a pristine room with a beautiful counter and glass display case. There was another woman in a matching polo shirt uniform behind the counter. She looked to be in her late forties and was trim and attractive. My young chaperon introduced the woman as her mother.
After hearing a little bit about my tale of woe, they told me how they got started in the pot business. “I have problems with anxiety,” the younger woman told me. “I get panic attacks like crazy and they totally mess me up in school. I’ve tried different medications, but the only thing that really helps is marijuana.” As she’s telling me this, her mom is looking lovingly at her and nodding.
“And you were okay with this?” I asked her mother. “Absolutely,” she said. “I was concerned about her and when she told me that marijuana helped with her anxiety, I did a bunch of research into it. I read lots of stories of people like her and how much it helped. I didn’t want her to have to do it illegally, though. So once it became legal here in California, we got her a card and eventually decided to go into business together.”
“That’s great!” I said. “How cool that you get to work together. And I really love this place. The last one I went to kind of freaked me out. It feels so professional here.”
“Yes, we wanted to do it right,” explained the mother. “We are female-owned and all of our employees are women. We take it very seriously and only get our products from the best sources. You’ll see what high-quality plants we have here.”
Okay, let’s back up a little. At this point, my thoughts were split in two. On the one hand, I was feeling great about the store and so happy that I found these people that I felt so comfortable with. It was exactly what I was looking for.
But the other half of me had my B.S. detector blinking in full alert. This chick has got her mother wrapped around her little finger! Not only does she get the parental green light to smoke pot, her mom bought her an entire pot store! Panic attacks? Surrrrrrrrre. I know a upper-middle-class teen party girl when I see one. Man, this girl must be a hero to all her friends. I can already picture the legally-supplied parties she’s throwing when her mom’s out of town. And I had to wonder if she had a side business going on the sly from her dorm room. I’m beginning to think I’m in the presence of slightly-evil genius.
I think she might be my hero, too.
July 18th, 2012Medical Marijuana Dispensary
So now I had learned that I needed to get some Sativa-style pot to keep me awake during my drug consumption sessions. But where to get it? You can imagine that I was a little wary to go back to the Rabbit Hole. Maybe this time I wouldn’t make it back out! I was hoping that there might be a store that was a little more my style. I’m thinking lab coats, sterile equipment, at least one staff member without dreadlocks (I swear, I have nothing against dreadlocks! It’s just…this is my health we’re talking about, people!).
So where does one go when one needs to find a new drug dispensary? Let’s see. I need a map. To find weed. I google it, and, voila! WeedMaps.com! What a find. It’s like MapQuest except that it takes you to toke stores rather than Target. I (heart) the internet.
But I don’t (heart) employee web tracking devices at work (Big Brother!). I wonder what will happen when Weed Maps shows up on the radar of my IT department? Any chance I can convince them I was looking for lawn care products? I decided to go do a little schmoozing with the network manager guy, just to be safe. A little oohing and ahhing over little Johnny’s latest school picture goes a long way.
Anyway, it turns out that there is a marijuana dispensary right in my town. Sweet! I could do a drive-by to determine if it is more drug pharmacy or drug dungeon. So on my way home, I drove down the main street in my town. I live in a mostly 20-something beach-side party town, so I was trying to find a pot shop amidst bars, tattoo parlors, and bikini stores. Still, based on my earlier experience, I thought it would stand out in its Down-Low-ness, even in this company. I squinted between shops to catch a glimpse of a creepy door or hidden alley, or maybe an unmarked window with smoke wafting from it. After making two U-turns, I finally realized that the lovely, clean, crisp shop on the corner called Green Health was it! It looked more like a Rodeo Drive boutique than a weed shop.
My confusion only deepened when I entered the store. I saw pretty displays of hemp clothing and organic skincare products. There was a well-dressed employee behind the counter. Where were the hippie staffers? Where was the snake? And more importantly, where was the weed??
My feeling of awkwardness almost matched the day I went to the Rabbit Hole, but for a whole different reason. At least at the Hole, they knew what I wanted and I knew that they knew what I wanted (wink wink). What do I do at this boutique? Just go up to the counter and ask, “Uh, hey, where’s the good stuff?”
I tentatively approached the counter and the woman asked if she could help me. After some hemming and hawing, I said, “Well, um, I have a medical marijuana card, and…” She immediately smiled and let me know I was in the right place (whew!). She pointed to the very back of the store where there was a small windowed counter built into the wall. She told me to walk back there and ring the bell. Another doorbell? Well, at least this one wasn’t in an alley. I took a deep breath and wondered if I was ready for such high-style cannabis acquisition.Tags: medical marijuana dispensary
July 10th, 2012Medical Marijuana Consumption
And so my drug life began. And let me tell you, I was quite the partyer. Here’s an approximate recap of the first week of my getting high:
Day 1: Headache. Stomach ache. Sit on couch. Consume marijuana-laced chocolate chips. Feel a little better. Swim through molasses. Fall asleep.
Day 5: Just a stomach ache today. Sit on couch. Consume cannabis chocolate chips. Feel a little better. Swim through molasses. Fall asleep.
Day 7: Headache. Stomach ache. Sit on couch. Mix it up with a combo of chocolate and mint chips. Feel a little better. Swim through molasses. Fall asleep.
Somehow I didn’t think this was the way it went for other drug users. Or maybe it was? But regardless, although it was nice to have a short window of sickness relief, falling asleep after each medicinal treatment wasn’t ideal. I was a little more comfortable, sure, but I wasn’t conscious for it.
But what if it didn’t have to be this way? Does all pot make you (well, me) fall asleep, or is it just the edible kind? And remember that long list of incomprehensible descriptions and various jars of marijuana buds at the dispensary? Maybe there are different strains of pot, and maybe one of them doesn’t cause narcolepsy. To the internet!
The first thing I learned that there are about a bazillion types of marijuana, most with funny names like White Widow (uh oh, what happened to White Husband?) and Bubblegum (Captain Obvious says it tastes like bubble gum! Hmm, I wonder how that would go with my mint chips?). There’s all kinds of information about where these plants grow, what they look like, and what they taste like. But I still didn’t know how to stop being a Sleepytime Bear after consuming.
Ah, finally I found the (non-scientific, undocumented) answer! There are two main types of marijuana: Sativa and Indica. Sativa is an upper that keeps you awake, and Indica is a downer that makes you tired. (At least according to Coed Magazine’s “Weedly Column.” Eh, good enough for me). As I’m assuming my chips are chock full of Indica-make-me-pass-out-ganja, I needed to get my hands on some Sativa, stat!Tags: sativa and indica, Type of marijuana
July 9th, 2012Medical Marijuana Consumption
Well, the first thing I want to say is that I don’t know why they call it getting high. “High” is certainly not the feeling I had. “Low” would be a better description, but that doesn’t quite cover it either. I would say it was like walking through a vat of molasses, but that would imply that I was walking, rather than slouching on my couch looking at the ceiling.
I also didn’t feel giggly in any way. I had images in my head of hippie dudes laughing at every little thing while they watched SpongeBob SquarePants and elbowing each other when phrases like “Bikini Bottom” were mentioned. But if not giggly, maybe musical? Don’t potheads play the guitar? Or at the very least, I thought I’d be contemplative. Remember Slater’s theory in Dazed and Confused about George Washington being a stoner? (Another random aside: Despite my drugless life, Dazed and Confused has always been my favorite movie (well, okay, it was finally knocked off the top spot by The Notebook. I mean, Jason London just can’t compare to Ryan Gosling as a leading man.) I’ve seen it like a 100 times. Maybe it was foreshadowing the marijuana binge in my 30’s?) But no, I was not feeling giggly, musical, or contemplative. I was slouching on the couch, staring at the ceiling, barely hearing the TV in the background, and thinking about…nothing.
Had I not been thinking about nothing, it would have occurred to me that I was feeling exactly the way they were trying to portray potheads in one of the 1990’s anti-drug public service announcements. This PSA was genius, and with the help of my childhood shock over the death of Regina Morrow, it was the final straw on my life of non-drugs. The PSA showed two guys in their mid- to late-20’s sitting on the couch getting high and talking about how drugs aren’t dangerous because “nothing’s happened to me.” At first, you thought they seemed pretty cool. But then you hear a nagging mom-sounding voice from above (it is now obvious they are in their parents’ basement) saying something along the lines of, “Jimmy, did you look for a job today?” The two 20-somethings scramble to hide the drugs while the the announcer comes on and says, “If you smoke pot, nothing will happen to you, too.”
Genius! Whoever wrote that PSA should get an Emmy. I didn’t want to do nothing with my life! I was a highly-motivated tween with visions of a future of fame and fortune. The idea of living with my parents in my 20’s without a job (I was still young enough at the time where a job seemed like a cool thing to have) made me never want to smoke pot. And frankly, my future interactions with stoners kind of reminded me of the two dudes from the PSA, so I believed the propaganda more and more. (Strangely though, the “This Is Your Brain On Drugs” PSA had no effect on me whatsoever. Maybe I was too young at the time, or maybe it was just the fact that even at that age I knew that my brain wasn’t an egg and that drugs weren’t frying pans. Go figure.)
Okay, so back to my first cannabis chip eating experience. I didn’t sink it to the molasses right away. At first, I just sat there trying to watch TV while ignoring my (1) headache, (2) stomach ache, and (3) over-anticipation about what exciting things would be happening in my body at any minute. But as the minutes ticked by, nothing really happened. So, after about 20 minutes, I tentatively popped another chocolate chip. Then maybe one or two more. I dunno. At some point the molasses took over and I entered zombie world.
And then I fell asleep. Wow, drugs are COOL!Tags: Eating Medical Marijuana
July 5th, 2012Medical Marijuana Consumption
So now I’m home. With my pot. Staring at it. Walking in circles around it. Picking it up and examining it. Poking it. Prodding it. But not consuming it.
What can I say: I’m nervous! Not only have I avoided this moment for 20 years, but there’s a lot riding on it. What if the minced-pot-laced-mac-and-cheese miracle cure was a fluke? What if I get too high and start running naked down the street? And most importantly, what if, after my years of drug abstinence, I die of a cannabis chip overdose and forevermore my parents have to tell people that their daughter O.D.’d? (Did you ever read that Sweet Valley High book where Regina Morrow, the good girl who never got into any trouble, was pressured into trying cocaine at a high school party and DIED? You may think that my drug avoidance was because of street smarts or health concerns, but no, it’s because as an avid 12-year-old fan of Sweet Valley High series, I learned my lesson early that good girls finish last…when they snort cocaine.)
At this point you might be recalling that you heard that medical marijuana can be good for anxiety. You also may be thinking, if this chick doesn’t get high soon I’m going to shove some Xanax down her throat and shove a joint in her mouth. Understandable.
Okay, so I finished dinner (I’m certainly not going to get high on an empty stomach) and set the drugs out on my coffee table. I decided to start with the chocolate chips rather than the mint chips because…my god, do you think I’m going to try drugs for the first time while also entering into the strange world of mint-flavored, unnaturally-light-green, weird candy chips? C’mon. Okay, so how many should I have? These chips are an unusual size—smaller than a Hershey’s Kiss but bigger than your average chocolate chip cookie chip. The only food-pot I’m familiar with are the ubiquitous “special brownies,” so I figured that a normal pot-head would eat the number of chips equivalent to the size of a brownie. Being a newbie, I go for about a third of that size, so 5 chips.
At first bite, they tasted good! Just like a regular chocolate chip. But as I continued chewing, a slightly yucky natural-but-not-really-natural herb taste started to emerge. Not terrible, but not good. I’m sure to veteran druggies the taste is delicious because it foreshadows the high to come, kind of like how beer tastes delicious to me after years of getting wasted, despite the fact that it made me want to barf the first time I tried it (and yes, even though I don’t do drugs, I spent my college and post-college years in a drunken stupor (but of course I got all my studying done and always showed up for work on time…and I didn’t party in high school…this is goody-goody me we’re talking about, after all)). (Random aside: That last sentence just reminded me of how my adorable college roommate from El Salvadore used to call people “goody tissues” when she meant “goodie two shoes.” We never corrected her. It was more fun to snicker behind her back.)
Time to sit back and wait for the drugs to take effect…Tags: Medical Marijuana, pot brownies, Trying pot for the first time
July 4th, 2012Medical Marijuana Possession
The next bridge to cross in my new drug life was the transportation of the illicit substance. The paperwork I had gotten from the pot doc was very clear in its vagueness when explaining the legality. (You may remember the “here’s my lawyer if you need it” card they gave me in case things should go awry.) It goes something like this: Pot is…illegal in the US, legal in California, illegal at your workplace, legal if you want to make growing pot your new job, incredibly illegal to grow the forbidden 25th plant, legal to transport in the trunk of your car, incredibly illegal to transport anywhere else in your car. Whew! Okay, trunk. No problem. Except that there is no trunk in my (very cute) min-SUV. Foiled again!
I read further and there was an addendum that said it was okay to have the pot in the main part of your car as long as it wasn’t within reach of the driver or any of the passengers. As we already determined, I wasn’t going to be transporting any school children or kittens (man, it would be hard to keep it away from those kittens–they get into everything!), so it just had to be far enough away from me. For once my short arms came in handy. I put the baggies in the very back of the SUV. Then came the decision about whether to cover it. Obviously I didn’t want it just sitting out for the world to see, not to mention that it is Southern California, where chocolate melts pretty fast in the back of a car (ah, but does the marijuana infusion in the chocolate make it more or less meltable? Experiments to follow.). But at the same time, I didn’t want to be accused of “concealing” it (I mean, is a hidden bag of cannabis chips the equivalent of a concealed weapon??). Luckily, when I bought my car, they threw in one of those pull-out-horizontal-hide-your-valuables-screen-thingies for free, so I figured the cops couldn’t justify an official car accessory as illegal concealment.
Now that I had my pirate booty stashed safe away in my car, I had to make a decision: risk a day of work with my secret package in my office parking lot, or go out of my way to drop it off at home? I know it seems like an easy decision, (“Grow some balls and keep the pot in the car, you neurotic freak!“), but I came this close to taking it home. The deciding factor was that my car would be in a parking garage, so at least the pot candies wouldn’t melt. I made it to work with no one the wiser.
I spent the workday flushed with my secret. Did I look different? Could people tell that I was now one of the cool crowd, a rebel, a druggie (well, by tonight)? I think they could. I can’t be certain, but I could swear that the mailroom guy with the low-hanging pants and surfer haircut gave me some sort of secret pot-smokers signal. Even the cigarette crowd that lurks on the patio seemed to give me a respectful (clandestine?) nod as I passed by.
The way home was even more exhilarating. You’d think that by now I’d be used to carrying black market cargo, but something about rush hour on the freeway seemed to raise the potential for random police stops. What if I were rear ended? What if someone cut me off and my new rebelliousness got me into a road rage situation? What if the heat from the California sun set the pot on fire and I got totally stoned (dude) before I even made it home??
But alas, no such thing happened and I got home scot-free with my new goodies.Tags: Medical Marijuana
June 24th, 2012Medical Marijuana Dispensary
So it turns out that the dispensary only takes cash. Ugh, of course. So I had to climb out of my rabbit hole, run across the street and hit up the ATM. As I furtively glanced around, I was sure that everyone knew that I was withdrawing cash to buy drugs. They will never let those stranded kids/kittens in my car now. By the time I got back, the hippie chick girl from my pot doc’s office was there and had taken my place. My awkwardness contrasted sharply against her confidence. Ugh, I hated her. She didn’t look constipated at all.
Finally it was my turn and Dreadlock Alice escorted me through a separate door. In this room there was an equally-dreadlocked man behind a counter. Under the counter there were jars filled with what I assumed was pot. The jars’ contents were poufy and soft and sort of colorful–nothing like the dried flakes that I’d seen my college neighbors roll into papers or put into their colorful (quite artistic!) water bongs. There was also a large chalkboard with what appeared to be a menu, although I didn’t understand any of the words. They reminded me of the Indian words that my yoga instructor murmurs while I unsuccessfully try to put my body into unnatural positions. I turned to the man behind the counter for help. He asked me simply “What do you want?” Well, clearly I wanted pot, but after looking at the cryptic menu and jars upon jars I knew that the answer wouldn’t be this simple.
I told him that I was a bit of a novice so I would need some guidance. He was as confused by this (someone over the age of 15 who has never gotten high?) as I was by the fact that there was more than one type of pot. What followed was a confusing dance similar to watching two people that cannot speak the same language trying to have a conversation. Very polite, lots of smiling and hand gestures, but no real understanding of what the other person is trying to say. I bet that stupid hippie chick girl could speak his language.
Finally I saw some words on the menu that I understood: “Chocolate Chips.” So I said that I would like “chocolate chips.” We both smiled with relief, and frankly I was not shocked that chocolate would bring our two worlds together.
And even better, cannabis candy comes in both chocolate and mint chips! So I got some of both. As he put them into little clear bags, I started looking around for the labels that would give me proper dosage and safety information for my new medicine. It quickly became clear that such items did not exist, so I asked my new friend how many I should eat. This led to a similar conversation as the one I had with my pot doc (he can’t really tell me how much to eat, but don’t eat too much!), but included new information about how every batch of these chips was different depending on how generous the Bammy Baker decided to be while whipping up the latest batch. This got me thinking about who this baker might be, and whether he had a habit of washing his hands before his baking sessions. Sigh. I thanked Dreadlock Sales Guy, said goodbye to Dreadlock Alice, and hightailed it out of there before that damn snake snuck out of its cage.
December 3rd, 2009Medical Marijuana Dispensary
When I pictured what a dispensary looked like, I thought that it would be kind of like a store. There would be different flavors with maybe price tags and I would pick what I wanted. Maybe there would be a sale. Then they would ring me up, thank me for my patronage, and I would be on my way.
Instead, I found myself in what seemed to be a 1970’s detective office. I had somehow made the jump from Alice in Wonderland to Columbo. Man, what was life going to be like when I actually did start smoking pot?Perhaps this would all start making sense? Doubtful.
Dreaded Alice asked for my pot packet so she could verify my identity (like I could have ever found this place on my own). I handed her my packet across the table. I casually looked down and realized that it wasn’t a table at all, but rather an aquarium with A GIANT SNAKE!!! WTF? HOLY SHIT! WHO LET THE SNAKE IN HERE? Ok, breath…play it cool. We don’t want Dreaded Alice to think we are uncool. We’re casual, but not too casual remember. So I tried to smile like it was no big deal. Sure it’s a snake, this happens all the time.
I’m pretty sure my smile came across more as constipated than breezy.
November 8th, 2009Medical Marijuana Dispensary
Ok, so before my pot doc shuffled me out the door, he did take the time to give me a recommendation to his favorite medical marijuana dispensary. He explained that some of them can be very shady and it’s important to find one that is trustworthy. His dispensary of choice was called Wizard. Odd name but I couldn’t be happier for the recommendation! You see, although I was very very nervous about coming to the pot doc, that paled in comparison to the severe panic I was feeling about actually picking up the goods. I almost wanted to hug him. Maybe he really was Captain Stubing.
Next I met with the nurse outside who gave me my official pot packet. This contained my official medical marijuana certificate (apparently the card comes in the mail later), the pocket-size version, the version to give to the police, the “how to talk to the police” / attorney phone number / jail hotline card…as well as coupons for my friends. What? Whatever, I’m outta here.
I decided to ride this wave of confidence and go straight to Captain Stubing’s dispensary. I jumped in my car and tucked the pot packet under my seat. I mean, what if I got pulled over and the cops saw it? Or there was an emergency and I had to shuttle a pack of school children or kittens to safety? I can’t have any of these people / innocent animals thinking I’m a pot head.
The address of the Captain’s dispensary was 1399B. I was relieved when I pulled up to the strip mall and it was all sorts of normal. No adult book stores or bars that opened at 6am (sorry Kerny Mesa, I’m working on my stereotypes). I couldn’t see the exact address from the road so I parked and continued on foot. There was 1397, 1398, 1399A, then a big open lot and then 1400. Oh crap, please please please don’t let this place be in the alley.
“Ok, Katie, it’s 10:15am in sunny San Diego. You can certainly go down the alley and check it out.” So I puffed up my chest and went down the alley in search of Wizard. In the middle of an alley there was a single creepy door with an ominous doorbell (yes, I’m serious). I thought for sure there would be a sign that said “Drink Me,” but it was more Anita Bell than Alice in Wonderland and it simply said “Ring my Bell.” So I did.
After what seemed like forever, a barefoot woman with long dreadlocks came to the door and said “I’m sorry it took me so long, I’m just soooo out of it today.” You’ve got to be kidding. Am I being punked? Or is this some new reality TV show hosted by Ashton’s sidekick Wilmer Valderrama called “Stereotypes”? But, in her defense, she was very sweet as lead me down her rabbit hole…I mean hallway…to the dispensary.
October 28th, 2009Medical Marijuana Clinic
Since I had a half hour I was able to read every word of the legal disclaimers on the wall (I can recite them if you’d like). I also did some final run-throughs of what I would say to my pot doc. I need to make sure to use the word cannabis. I had learned on the internet that was the correct terminology. Cannabis, cannabis, cannabis.
Gradually people started to trickle in. The first was a hippie looking girl in her mid 20′s. Her appointment was at 10:10, 10 minutes after mine. Hmm, that’s weird. The next was a man in his early 30′s: business casual, but not too casual, like myself. His appointment was at 10:20. Finally, an older woman who had a distinct air of strength, pain, and cancer. My heart went out to her. Her appointment was at 10:30. I was surprised about the quick 10 minute turn around for the pot doc and relieved I had taken the extra steps to organize and sticky tab my medical records. He was clearly busy.
When I was finally face to face with my pot doc, I realized he was not Captain Stubing at all. Perhaps Stubing after a bout of ocean sickness, but much more gruff than my original observation. As he looked through my medical records (I use the word “looked” loosely because he clearly thought it was an animated flip book) he gave me some papers to review. The first outlined the four ways to ingest cannabis:
1. Smoke (clearly)
2. Eat (been there, done that)
3. Vaporize (whoa! sounds fancy)
4. Suppository (what!! in your butt? oh dear!)
Then next paper told me that I could still be fired for cannabis use. This was more of a tactic to get me riled up about how unfair the current marijuana laws are. Unfortunately I was still riled up about sticking cannabis in my butt. Then the pot doc’s cell phone rang and, to my astonishment, he took the call! He excused himself, walked out to the parking lot (where I had just seen him 30 minutes earlier), and had a laughy-chatty convo while I sat in his office. WTF?? My 10 minute clock was ticking!
Anyway, back to my literature. Next was an explanation of what a vaporizer was and why it was the best (more on that in later posts). The last piece of paper told me that I was now able to grow cannabis, but I could only grow 24 plants at a time. The pot doc came back in and made a point to discuss this one with me. He was very adamant about this: If I had a 25th plant and the cops raided my place, they would charge me with intent to distribute. Why is he telling me this? First of all why would I grow this stuff when I could just buy it at the store? Second of all where would I put 24 plants? (And this is when I thought pot plants were the size of a small basil plant; apparently they’re more like a small tree.) Third of all, in my butt?!?!
This was a lot of information, but I still had questions. How much to I use? What if I use too much? His response: “Well Katie, if you take too much pot you just have to ride it out, just ride it out. Understand?” No, I don’t understand. Ride it out? Ride it to where? To the hospital? To the drive through? And, I didn’t think we were allowed to use the word pot. Isn’t it called cannabis? Unfortunately at that point it was 10:10 and my appointment was done.