Insights and advice
“I’ve had chronic pain 20 years and am happy to say there are times, albeit hours, that I am almost pain-free while using cannabis.” – Natalie*
“I have been judged by others for my cannabis use. We have all been exposed to decades of misinformation.” – Jack*
“I did tell my doctors, even when I feared their judgment.” – Alexis*
“I feel better. I feel the best I have since 1984.” – Dale*
“No doctor in my area will see you if you are kicked out of a pain center for failing a drug test.” – Paige*
These are perspectives from five people with different chronic pain conditions. All had concerns about the potential ramifications of using their identity. On an anonymous basis—using an alias—they agreed to discuss their journeys using cannabis.
Widespread acceptance of cannabis as a legitimate medical option is a challenge because of the lack of education, says Jack.
Another roadblock noted by multiple people was access to a variety of cannabis options. States like California offer more consistent products, while other state’s dispensaries have a very limited array of strains, edibles, and tinctures.
Dale says it can cost $1,000 for a 90-day supply of cannabis in his state, a price many cannot afford. Instead, he has chosen to illegally grow plants himself and regularly gives his tinctures away for free.
Addressing stigma and fears
“I’m alone. Totally alone. Until something is done in my state, all of us who need medical marijuana are not only alone, but in danger of being arrested,” says Paige. “My anxiety is at an all-time high.”
Dale says, “It makes me mad that I have to become a criminal in order to help myself and others.”
Natalie believes that if lawmakers could de-regulate “cannabis from a Schedule I medication to allow clinical trials to be conducted,” it would legitimize it, thus reducing the stigma.
“Awareness is key in removing the stigma from medicinal cannabis use,” says Jack. “When people can see and understand the positive effects the medicine can have, it can help them overcome their objections.”
Support is meaningful
After watching her suffer for many years, Natalie says her “family and friends are thrilled that cannabis helps my chronic pain.” Her medical team is aware and supportive of her use.
“I believe my experience changed my mom’s views and she has since voted in favor of medical cannabis laws,” says Alexis.
Dale was pleasantly surprised when his friends, neighbors, and even his church were supportive of his cannabis use. His openness has lead others to discuss cannabis as an option to treat their medical conditions.
Advice for others
Natalie: “Don’t be afraid seek out alternative therapies to relieve chronic pain.”
Jack: “Taking small doses (known as micro-dosing) can help build up tolerance. It can be used at levels where one never feels high but experiences pain relief.”
Dale: “We are not interested in getting high. We’re interested in getting well.”
*All names have been changed for anonymity.