Getting my marijuana card and my first batch of legal pot (legal under Oregon law—it’s still a federal crime) took two weeks and a day. Utterly ignorant of the process, I started with a Google search, and then made a few phone calls. I learned that any doctor could write a recommendation (you can’t get an actual prescription), so I took a chance on my internist even after his nurse told me that he wouldn’t do it. Of course, she was right, but I wanted to argue it out with him and at least hear his reasoning. He said that he was so supportive of medical marijuana that he had helped start one of the local clinics, and that I was a shoe-in for a card, but that his insurance wouldn’t allow him to recommend one. So, I had to pay $255 for the clinic’s hippie/earth-mother M.D. to sign the recommendation, and then I had to mail another $100 to the state of Oregon for the actual card.
After I was approved at the clinic, I put my name and phone number on their bulletin board as that of someone who was looking for a grower. Three men called in one day, and two of those came to my house bearing samples. The first was a disabled man who was driven by his wife in their BMW. He said he was 63, and disliked getting high, but needed marijuana to control his spasms. He left me a couple of ounces in buds and upper leaves to sample, and said I would need six plants a year in order to have enough to smoke, eat, vaporize, and make into tinctures. As for money, he wouldn’t take any—now or ever.
The second grower was in his twenties and came with his girlfriend, both of whom wore dreadlocks. I wondered if they felt odd talking about marijuana to an old and straight-looking guy like me. For my part, I just found their dreadlocks quaint, in a homely sort of way—like Birkenstocks and tie-dye. We had a long pleasant chat, and the woman left me with a single bud. Like the first man, they wouldn’t take any money. I’ve opted to go with the first grower (I can only have one legally-designated grower) because of his intial generosity, his reputation, and because his living circumstances are stable.
As soon as my guests left, I tore off like a shot on my bike to a downtown headshop to buy a pipe or vaporizer. I was the oldest person there by far, but the all-male staff and customers were almost protectively friendly (young men invariably treat me well). What I came up with for a temporary solution was a cheap little pipe that soon proved worthless. While looking for matches, I found an old pipe made of plumbing parts that I didn’t even know I had, so I used it—I immediately hated that pipe, so Peggy and I spent part of her sixtieth birthday bong-shopping (see photo).
My new grower—Stephan—suggested that I start out smoking the leaves since the bud might be too kickass. When you’re as susceptible to the power of marijuana as I am, you take such suggestions seriously, so I smoked a bowl of leaves, and then watched in fascination as the high kept getting more intense for over an hour. When a high becomes uncomfortable, one thing that usually helps is to go for a walk, so I took my blind cowdog, and started out. Wouldn’t you know it, I ran into person after person with whom I felt obliged to talk, but I didn't know any of them well enough to say, “Hi, neighbor, I’m stoned out of my gourd on my first sample of medical marijuana.”
When you’re in that kind of situation, you have no idea whether people can tell that you’re temporarily insane (paranoia being natural when you suspect that someone suspects you’re crazy). However, the more a person who is high listens to people who are straight, the more sure he becomes that they aren’t any too sane either. But then there are other—presumably straight—people with whom you connect strongly, and you know that they’re either oblivious to your mental state, or else they like it. One such person is a neighbor whom I’ve known for twenty years during which I thought of her as gloomy, unfriendly, fault-finding, and an all-around unpleasant person. Then yesterday, we had a long and delightful conversation. Today was the same way. I said hi to a man with whom I’ve never exchanged more than ten words, and he couldn’t stop talking, very pleasantly to be sure, yet with many times more openness and friendliness than I would have expected. I’ve always HATED being around most people when I was stoned, but with a few more interactions like those, I could change my mind.
Last night was the big test, pain-wise, so, having maintained a semblance of sanity with the leaf, I smoked a bowl of bud at bedtime (Peggy even let me smoke it in her bed). Despite being very high, I went to sleep easily while watching movies inside my head, and everytime I woke up during the night, I took another hit. It was one of the first nights in years that I didn’t take a single narcotic or sleeping pill, and I didn’t even use ice. I should have gotten some ice after about seven hours in bed, but the longer I lay there, the more hellbent I became on making it through just one night without having to freeze my shoulder off.
I’m like a kid with a new toy. What a difference legal marijuana makes for someone like myself who remembers a time when people were sentenced to twenty years to life for the possession of a single joint that was 20 times less potent than the pot I’m smoking!
Update. I wrote the above a few days ago, and my appreciation of these new strains of super pot has increased to the point that I think of the drug more as a guide than a chemical. One of the first things that Kush (my favorite strain) taught me was how constricted these years of pain have left my entire body. It did this by first relaxing me into jelly, and then drawing my muscles up into the rigor mortis-like state that I hold them everyday. I was shocked to the point of wondering how I have survived all that I’ve been through even as well as I have. With help from the marijuana, I immediately started training my body to relax, and when I saw my physical therapist today, he was surprised by how loose I’ve become.
Stephan just brought me some more bud. After so many years of pain, I can scarcely believe that something even might be helping. Check with me in a couple of weeks, and I’ll probably tell you that I was mistaken.