Medical Marijuana: Mishaps, Money, & Maybes, Part 2

It's been three months since I first tried vaping medical cannabis or medical marijuana as most people say. The first several puffs did not result in any sort of feeling of relaxation or well-being, as the smoke curled and burned and slithered its way down my throat and into my lungs. In fact, my medical marijuana journey started out pretty bumpy and with some very surprising and unpleasant side effects.

So what happened? Basically, I felt like I couldn't breathe normally, I coughed like an emphysemic 90-year-old a few times, I had weird chest tightness, I wound up in the ER (chest pain), and I had an endoscopy test done. But in the end, everything turned out fine, thankfully. You can read more about all of these miseries in part one of the article: "Medical Marijuana: Mishaps, Money, & Maybes, Part 1".

Where do I stand with medical marijuana?

Now it's three months later after those first treacherous puffs, and you might be wondering what's happening. Am I still using medical marijuana? Did I figure out how to vape the stuff without feeling like I'm dying? Did I instead give up and persuade some neighbor kid to deliver "special cookies" to me?

Progress has been made

Unfortunately, there are no cookies. But I am happy to report that I think I've finally gotten the hang of vaping and I'm able to do it without coughing or scorching my throat. So this is progress. I also tried taking the cannabis in a couple of other forms rather than vaping: oral capsules and an oral tincture (no lungs involved!). The big question though is this: Does any of this stuff actually work?

Um...I'm still not completely sure. I think so? It takes a while to experiment and try out different dosages and formulas, which is kind of frustrating.

Options for dosages and formulas

As part of the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program, the dispensary I use begins new patients with their starter packs: a pack of three different kinds of cannabis oil vaping cartridges (different ratios of CBD vs THC), or a pack of three different types of oral capsules (the same dosage breakdown like the cartridges, only in oral form). They also have oral tinctures, balms/topicals, and bulk oil for vaping.

The cost adds up very quickly

It's great to have options, but the not-great thing is that all of these products get to be expensive, and fast. Health insurance does not cover this treatment, although I did get a bit of a Medicaid discount for my initial registration fee. The dispensary company I use also has a 15% off patient loyalty program each time I purchase something.

What does pricing look like?

Here's a brief example of some of the product pricing. The starter pack of vape cartridges costs $39.00; the starter pack of capsules is $29.00; a 25 mL bottle of the "GREEN" tincture (THC/CBD ratio is 1:1) is $239.00. The tinctures are pretty expensive, and it depends on which formula you get--some cost more than others.

The last time I went to the dispensary, I bought a 25 mL bottle of the "YELLOW" tincture (THC/CBD ratio is 4:1) for $119.00. It was hard for me to part with a hundred bucks for a little bottle of weed oil, especially when I wasn't sure yet which product works best for me, but I wanted to try it.

Does it work?

So does it work? Right now, all I can say is...I think so? Somewhat. But it is definitely not comparable to opioid painkillers. For me, opioid drugs effectively zap my pain and make a big difference in a short period of time. Medical cannabis? The jury is still out on that one. Hopefully, I will be able to find my "sweet spot" combination of formula and strain and dose soon!

Or get some cookies from the teenager down the street. ;)

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