The Cannabis Patient Experience In Legal Stores Of Washington

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It has been nearly 8 months since the legislators of Washington State pulled the access plug on medical cannabis patients and pushed them into the recreational market to purchase their medicine.

I’ve been shopping in that market for the past 8 months as a registered patient and I will share here that it has been a pain in my life to navigate. I have found some good things to report but my overall experience has left me feeling underserved and in complete disdain for the system as it currently sits.

When I walk into a legal cannabis store I am shopping to find medicine that is hopefully going to relieve pain, muscle spasms, depression, and anxiety. Unless I immediately disclose my need for a medically endorsed bud tender to help me, I am treated as if I am there to get high. It’s offensive but I ignore it. The first question most budtenders ask is if I am looking for a sativa or an indica. They have rarely have the service skills and product knowledge to really help me out.

I’m still learning how to shop in an informed way while being able to take care of my health and not break the bank. The first question I ask is if the store has anything that is known to be pesticide free. My experience has been that in many stores there might be ONE brand that they know of that claims to be pesticide free. I’ve been told multiple times by bud tenders that it is not possible to grow cannabis without pesticides. I’ve walked out of more than one store empty handed because they could not find a single brand of concentrate or flower that claimed to be pesticide free.

When I get home and open my packages to experience what I just bought 98% of the  time I am disappointed on some level. Most flower seems to have long lost its sticky icky even if it looks super good it often will smell underwhelming. I’ve smelled and seen concentrates I would never use and that would never have been purchased if I could have seen an open container of the stuff.

Then there is the packaging. So much plastic and the idea that most people are purchasing small increments like 1 and 2 grams at a time boggles my mind and hurts the tree hugging side of my brain.

The most cost effective thing I have been able to create from a retail pot shop is my own edibles. I will purchase a concentrate and put it into coconut oil and BAM, edibles at a fraction of the cost of store bought and custom dosed for my needs per serving, which by the way is more than just 10mg of THC.

Now, this is the point that I will break in with a couple of exceptions worth mentioning here. Have a Heart has started offering a 25% discount to registered cannabis patients and when I mentioned this on my social media recently I was also informed of other stores like Green Theory in Bellevue and Clutch in South Seattle is offering a 20% discount to patients. I think that is awesome because it really does make a difference on my weed budget.

Again, I’m not shopping to get high, dear Washington legislators, I’m proactively taking care of my health so I may continue to be a productive, tax-paying member of society despite chronic debilitating health issues as recommended by my doctor.

If you are or know a store that is doing exceptional things for patients give me a shout so I can share it out and help as many patients as possible through this odd time in legalization.

Using Mindful Cannabis Habits To Manage Chronic Stress

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Destress, Breathe, Relax, Be Well

Stress has to be one of the biggest things that I deal with for myself and my health coaching clients. When I go to the doctor or read any book about health the advice usually includes ways to reduce stress.

The concept of reducing stress sounds simple enough with nutrients, lifestyle changes and meditation but for a gal like me who deals with lifelong incurable ailments the body is physically stressed 24/7/365 even on a good day. After decades of being in a state of chronic physical discomfort or pain I can tell you it is exhausting to deal with and very stressful.

I was using cannabis for stress long before I knew what I was doing. I just thought I was smoking joints. Now that I have different ways to use it besides smoking I’ve been able to discover just how powerful cannabis can be for reducing physical stress, improving sleep, and calming my nervous system.

But, I have what feels like a confession…

I’ve been smoking joints for stress and I feel guilt about it. It is possibly one of the least useful ways to consume cannabis but that has been my go-to during times of stress this year. I became a pot smoker and could easily smoke through a half dozen joints each day. That may or may not seem like a lot, but when you are rolling fatties you tend to power through your flower really fast. At the prices I now pay for ‘legal’ weed it is not so budget friendly to roll up a gram at a time.

Why joints? For me, it’s the ritual of grinding and rolling, the portability, they are biodegradable, and usually take the perfect amount of consumption time to use as a break. It is also the first way that I was introduced to cannabis and has always just seemed like one of my favorite ways to consume. Plus, they are great for any social occasion even though passing them is a felony.

Why not smoke joints? They’re dirty and ashy. You’re smoking paper too. You are only getting a small percentage of the plant’s cannabinoids by smoking it. You smell like a pot smoker.

There are so many better ways to use cannabis for stress such as tinctures, topicals, and vaping for when you need relief in that moment.

I realize there are much worse ways to deal with stress than smoking marijuana joints but sometimes I honestly use it as a distraction as something I just need to do before I do anything else so I can relax and mentally prepare for that activity. Since I have chosen to use cannabis as a long term pain management choice over phamacuetical drugs and spinal surgery I have to take full responsibility for using it in the most bioavailable and healthful manner towards that mission.

To that end, one of my goals for 2017 is to stop smoking joints as a way to consume cannabis and focus my attention on healthy ways to manage those moments of stress. If you see me , please as me how it is going- I could use the support…changing habits is stressful!

 

 

The Challenges Of A Law Abiding Washington Cannabis Patient

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When Washington state killed medical cannabis in July 2016 my entire experience as a patient became more challenging. I felt the need to disappear as a patient online, at least for a while. Signing up to be on the state registry made me feel vulnerable to any potential number of evil forces that could access that information and potentially harm my garden, my home, or my family.

Some of those feelings may seem to be unfounded because I have never had an issue with the law or the neighbors for growing a tiny bit of cannabis on my property but I am very aware of the legal history surrounding this plant and have met a number of authorized patients who have past stories about being raided and arrested, vandalized, and stolen from.

The first problem I ran into since the laws changed was growing enough leaf to be juicing everyday. It wasn’t really possible to grow enough this year with the size of my plants and the space I had to grow in. Under the former laws I was able to accept leaf from other patients and that really helped provide enough material for adequate amounts of juice. When I’m out of raw cannabis I use more flowers, topicals, and rely on edibles to supply CBD and bedtime doses of THC.

I didn’t know where to go when I was initially out of flower. For me to get more I would have to break the law and ask my contacts to break the law to supply to me, risk going to the one MMJ cannabis farmer’s market/ private club that is somehow still running, or I could go to a licensed pot shop.

A couple months into the summer I had to start shopping at retail marijuana stores. The buying experience has not been ideal. It is like shopping for makeup at Walmart when you are used the Nordstrom’s experience. You can’t smell anything and in some cases even see what you are purchasing. You have to make your choices based on sight, the label, and what the bud tender is saying. You do, however, feel like you’re in Nordstrom’s when you get to the cash register and see how much you are spending on weed. Ounces are in some cases double the cost of what I was paying but that seems irrelevant when most brands sell only by grams or eights.

The average budtender I have dealt with is not educated or qualified to help somebody like myself who is shopping for terpenes and cannabinoids beyond THC and CBD. Even if they do know how to help me, the products they have to offer are not often what I’m looking for or poorly labeled. There are no high THC edibles and very few without sugar or preservatives, no suppositories, no clones, no seeds. When you get home and open the tiny package, you realize you’ll have to ration that tiny jar of weed you just bought because your budget won’t allow for more.

The next challenge I have coming up is what I will do for edibles. I really stocked up before the laws changed from my best suppliers but those stashes are running low and I am going to have to go back to making my own edibles, tinctures, and suppositories because what is in the stores is not for me. I don’t eat sugar with my daily medicine nor can I afford to pay the prices asked for inadequate doses.

The last major challenge I am experiencing is finding products and brands that are grown without chemical pesticides. When I walk into a pot shop one of my first things I ask the budtender is helping me find brands in the store that do not use pesticides. It is very rare for them to have good answers or in some cases even know how to respond since so few companies can or do make this claim. Some brands put it right on their packaging that they do not use pesticides, some will list the pesticides they used, and some packages tell you nothing at all besides the supposed amount of THC, THCA, CBD, CBDA in that product. Labeling is very inconsistent from brand to brand and often not very informative.

It will get better, right?

I’d like to think that it will get better but it has become clear that it will be a while before any laws that benefit patients come back around or acknowledge the legitimacy of medical cannabis within a market designed to make billions.

Le sigh.

On a high note, I’m done with my blogging break. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on where I have been, upcoming events with NORML Women of Washington, the methods I am exploring to maximize my cannabis, and my upcoming wellness revolution!

 

Should I Get On The New MMJ State Registry?

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My life with cannabis changed last week. Actually the laws surrounding medical cannabis is what changed and I am just trying to keep up.

Another loophole has been added for Washington cannabis patients, they must now register with the state through a state licensed retail marijuana store unless they are ok with only growing four plants, paying full tax should they ever buy from stores, and not having arrest protection should they ever be dealing with law enforcement.

When I first got my recommendation five years ago I remember how grateful I was to be able to get and use cannabis legally even though the process felt very strange in how it pushed me out of the traditional western medical system to get it. It all felt like a positive thing even though there were a number of steps and loopholes to jump through to legally be able to use it.

While I still feel very grateful to legally be able to use medical cannabis I have been surrounded and influenced by many personalities with very different opinions about the new state registry.

The majority of patients have told me they are not going to participate in the optional state registry and boldly/quietly do what they were doing before the new laws were made limiting possession, home grow, and access to current available medicines. They believe that the way the registry is set up goes against our rights as patients. Not to mention they are all steaming and freshly wounded from the changes to the law without adequate places to go when the law changed. I get it, believe me. The whole thing makes me want to puke.

I also have a whole other court of people in my cannabis life who say the registry is worth the arrest protection and legal defense not to mention the “freedoms” it allows for if you grow your own.

Do I think they are going to watch me extra close and raid me because I am now on a registry so I can grow and eat my own cannabis plants? Anything is possible with prohibition. (If they are not already watching, hi, I’m TwiceBaked in Washington- law abiding cannabis patient, hemp foodie, positivity spitfire. Nice to meet you.)

Upon renewing my medical cannabis recommendation last month, I asked my doctor to indicate on my card that I need to grow more than 4 plants in order to access regular fresh cannabis juice. That was the first step of the new invasive steps I have to follow.

Next, I have to register. I’m not sure where to go that isn’t at least an hour long drive from my house and as of yesterday I heard retail stores were having issues accessing the registry and were not actually able to hand out cards. But, sometime after the long weekend I will spend time, gas, and precious energy to keep up with the law.

I’m not happy about the changes in the “Patient Protection Act” but I am trying to keep a forward thinking attitude. Despite the loopholes, the poorly executed meld of recreational and medical, the limitations, the expense, and the effort it takes to remain a law abiding cannabis patient in Washington State it is still (arguably) better than no access which is the case for much of the world.

The legal cannabis scene is a rollercoaster to be involved with. I’ve come to realize that I am better in this world using cannabis for my health and that I can personally do much more to spread the good that this plant does if I follow the rules- however full of bullshit they may be.

That being said, I also stand with and support my fellow patients who choose to stay off of the registry for their own reasons and am very curious to hear of the insanity that will likely ensue from patients who may not able to follow the rules initially because the medicine they currently use is not available in stores or they can’t afford it now because it costs way more than they have been paying.

Whatever your stance is on being on the state registry, stay safe and stay well.

-TwiceBakedinWA

 

 

Saying Goodbye To Medical Cannabis In Washington State

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MMJ Universe Cannabis Farmer’s Market in Black Diamond Washington

There are less than two weeks left before new medical cannabis regulations go into effect in Washington State. For those of us who get our cannabis medicine from the current system that patients have been using since the 90’s, this is a big change nobody is looking forward to.

As I was driving out to MMJ Universe in Black Diamond this past Saturday I found tears streaming down my face thinking about this being one of the last times I would be making that sweet drive in the country to spend time shopping for cannabis in an open market environment.

I’ve been feeling a touch reminiscent about my times out at that specific market where I have met hundreds of patients and growers. Through regular market visits and attending events held there I have been able to plug in with the cannabis community.

I started going there before the adult use of cannabis was legalized in Washington State and I have been able to observe an evolution that the market has taken not only with how beautiful the grounds have become but also to how the market itself has changed over the years.

When I first started attending the market almost every table had a bong or pipe set up so you could sample their products right there. When you walked in the doors it was often a little cloudy and everybody was relaxed with their with cannabis. This was a unique shopping experience, very new to me, and very refreshing to be around. Eventually the smoking was moved outside and while that mildly changed the experience, the freedom felt and education given to patients at the market continued.

When I talked to Diedre, the owner of MMJ Universe, she said she is planning a big celebration on the 30th of June with music and vending to shed some happiness despite how sad so many of us are to be losing our beloved market.

I have much to celebrate from the gains that I have received from that market and even as the tears again roll down my face thinking that it is closing all I can do is thank Diedre and everybody involved in keeping the market going for so long and for focusing on positives and solutions at the end of this medical cannabis era.

-TwiceBakedinWA

Why Does Medical Cannabis Feel So Second Class?

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One of the most fascinating and annoying parts of using medical cannabis is how I repeatedly feel treated as a second class patient or citizen for my health choices. Not only by the occasional friend but also medical professionals and even society in general.

Ask anybody who is seeking out how to legally use medical cannabis, it is a journey filled with prejudices.

First, you have to self educate and get over the stigma of being told it is a dangerous drug, used by losers and addicts with no brain cells who sit around all day playing video games and eating munchies on the couch.

Then, you have to have the talk with your doctor. In some cases you will have to seek out a new doctor if yours is uneducated about cannabis or unwilling to have the conversation with you. If all else fails your last option is to go to one of those medical cannabis clinics that staffs a doctor (often a naturopath) who will give you an evaluation and recommend cannabis if you match the state’s prequalifying medical conditions that allows them to suggest you use cannabis. You will just need to provide your current medical records that show you have been seen by other doctors, confirm your diagnosis, and show you have tried other pharmaceutical drugs before ever considering cannabis.

Now that you have your state required recommendation, which was not free or paid for by insurance, you have to start the search for your cannabis medicine. Currently there is no pharmacy that your doctor can connect you with so it is literally up to you to find a legal cannabis shop and figure out what products work best for you.

Now, you are officially out of the modern medical system and in a whole other class that is not recognized by insurance, doctors, or even the federal government as a valid and effective medical treatment.

It is not uncommon when conversing about health for people to ask me if I am being seen by a ‘real doctor.’ I can’t even begin to tell you how offensive that is on so many levels but it highlights what I’m talking about perfectly. Although I regularly see my doctor once a month, if I am not being seen by a western medicine doctor I have been given the vibe they don’t think that I am truly looking after my health very well.

I have met many cannabis patients who have been dwelling outside of the western medical system to help manage or cure their issues for years and now find themselves in a perpetual B-Class system of sorts where they are responsible for finding, preparing, dosing, even growing their own cannabis medicine. They have found that cannabis works better for them than the pharmaceutical alternatives and are willing to jump through the hoops to use a natural medicine even if it puts them on the fringe of society.

No matter how good your health insurance benefits might be, your medical cannabis is not covered by insurance and is therefore paid for out of pocket by you.

To review, it is not that hard to get medical marijuana. All you have to do find the right doctor, prove you have qualifying medical conditions, seek out where to buy it, figure out how to take it, and be able to pay for it out of pocket.

I know that to simply remain a legal cannabis patient this weird journey is not over because I currently have all of those things figured out for myself. Never mind the constantly changing laws, if I move or need to find a new doctor I will have to deal with all of these same issues again.

Cannabis may be an A-class medicine but it totally still comes with B-class prejudices.

-TwiceBakedinWA

 

 

5 Cannabis Products To Stock Up On Before July

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The new changes to medical cannabis laws in Washington State go into effect in just over one month. I understand that some cannabis retail stores will be ready to service MMJ patients but the truth is they may not have many of the products currently used by those patients.

I’m taking this pretty serious because otherwise I’ll be back to making my own cannabis medicines and doing an ok job but they are nothing like the medicine from somebody who has been doing it for years and decades. Therefore, I’ll be stocking up on a few things before access changes July 1, 2016.

Here is a list of cannabis products that might be tough to find in WA for a while after July.

  1. Suppositories: Cannabis suppositories are already really tough to come by in this state despite how great they are to have in the medicine cabinet for serious body pain, maximum cannabinoid absorption, and amazing sleep. Unless you stock up or find a company who has stepped up, you will be left to make your own.
  2. Edibles: Right now you can get high dosed edibles in almost every form at reasonable prices. The available doses you are used to will change and if edibles are something that you take daily new prices may be tough on your pocketbook. It is rare to find edibles made without sugar and processed ingredients so you will likely be making your own if cost or healthy ingredients are important to you.
  3. Seeds and clones: It will be pleasantly surprising if patients will be able to buy clones and/or seeds of multiple varieties including those with high CBD. It is unclear weather we will have continued access to seeds or clones and the old schoolers I’ve been talking to are telling me to get seeds now.
  4. Topicals: The cannabis topical situation in Washington is an odd one. In 2015 the CHABA (Cannabis Health And Beauty Aids) bill was passed allowing for any mainstream store to be able to sell cannabis topicals containing less than .3% THC. The weird part is that cannabis processing companies in the 502 system cannot sell their topical products in mainstream stores even if they are not intoxicating or contain less than .3% THC. The companies who can currently sell to mainstream stores are not part of the 502 system, they will no longer be able to source their cannabinoids, and face an uncertain future even though it is deemed legal to sell their products over the counter. That mucky situation will require more legislation but until then you may want to stock up on the Cannabis Basics and the Kush Creams that you can’t get in 502 stores. It is possible they could suffer a lag in production while sourcing gets figured out.
  5. CBD and Strain Specific Products: If you use CBD products that are strain specific with just the right ratios of CBD:THC for you, stock up on those and start searching for companies that may already be making those products in the current legal market.

Basically, everything is what you want to stock up on. Just remember that the amount you are legally allowed to store in your house will also be reduced in July so mind your locker weight.

I spent last week being super social and visiting patients and growers all over Washington. Everybody is feeling the strain of these changes. I am inspired by those who will not be going down without a fight insisting that their current access is necessary for the sick people they look after. I agree, it is necessary to stand up to these new changes especially if they don’t support your health and wellbeing.

And so, I will write on, I will protest, I will help others and together we will not only prevail but heal and transform this momentarily bleak era with positive workable solutions.

-TwiceBakedinWA