My case for medical marijuana


Marijuana has been in the news a lot more in the past few years with states making medical marijuana legal and now we even have states with recreational use legal! With recreational marijuana on the November ballot here in Las Vegas, I wanted to take the time to tell you guys about my relationship with marijuana.

The first time I smoked weed was behind a hotel pool house while on a road trip with my family. We were visiting potential colleges. My parents were in the hotel room and my brother and I were going to swim at the hotel pool. He asked if I wanted to smoke, and me wanting to be the cool kid in my brother’s eyes said “yea!” So we lit up a joint behind the hotel pool house and I remember coughing my lungs out. I didn’t smoke for a while after that, but my relationship with weed definitely started off recreationally. During high school, I smoked a lot more. After I got a car, I’d spend afternoons hanging out with a few guys getting high. I tried a couple of other drugs, but weed was my favorite. I was relaxed. We’d sit outside in the Florida sun, laughing and talking.

When I went to college, I didn’t smoke as often, but that isn’t to say it never happened. I had a rule that I wouldn’t spend money on it. I’m not sure why, but that was the rule for myself. It was really easy to get high as a female without spending money, though. It was at parties, it was at work… the only place it wasn’t, was on campus. Even when I spent my semester abroad in Australia, weed was easy to come by. Hell, while backpacking I even visited the “Weed Capital of Australia” even though marijuana wasn’t legal.

So yea. the first few years of use were definitely recreational. It wasn’t until I started really dealing with migraines that I thought about using it to self medicate. I gave prescription drugs a shot and didn’t smoke during that time. But my migraines were debilitating… I was extremely sensitive to light & sound, which made my migraines worse. I went to see a neurologist for 2 years, trying different medications to help. He first put me on an anti-depressant which has been known to help with migraines. It didn’t help. He tried barbiturates, which helped a lot…but I wasn’t able to make it through a day. I was sluggish, I couldn’t drive, I had trouble staying away, and I couldn’t concentrate. He tried a preventative medication that had side effects that I still feel today (years after I stopped taking it). That worked well enough, but I’d still get migraines (though fewer), so he put me on a “take in case of emergency” medication.

The side effects of all those medications are still things I’m dealing with today. The anti-depressant made me gain 10+ pounds in one month. The preventative medication made it so carbonated beverages taste weird, struggle with Tip of the Tongue syndrome, and my short term memory started deteriorate¬†fast. It was noticeable too. At the time, I was working as a receptionist, and my coworkers were quick to pick up on the change. It made me self conscious to talk because I didn’t want to sound stupid for not being able to recall the word I wanted to use. As silly as it may sound, that’s something I still struggle with. My confidence in my speaking abilities is not great and my short term memory still fails me pretty regularly. I have been trying to improve this by using “brain games” such as Lumosity to help, and I’d like to think that they make a difference.

So anyway, when I decided I had enough with all the prescription drugs, I decided I’d just try to ride out the migraines to the best of my abilities. I returned to my go to of an Excedrin migraine, a “shot” of Diet Coke, and Bengay applied to my neck. It would help when the migraine was tension based, but if it wasn’t, I was still in pain. That’s when someone asked me if I tried smoking to get rid of migraines. I had kind of forgotten about it and tried it out. It helped me. A lot. And still does.

I like being high much more than I like being drunk. Being drunk makes me feel obnoxious and not necessarily in a good or fun way. Being high makes me laugh and smile and relax. I don’t believe in showing up to work (whether a shoot or a session) high, just like I wouldn’t show up drunk. Unless I have a migraine, I don’t even get high regularly. It’s maybe once every week or two. Sometimes, it’s only once a month. But I am so glad that I have an option that helps my migraines while being at least relatively safe without terrible side effects.

I know there’s a lot more research that needs to be done on marijuana and its long term effects, but I really love seeing the difference in public perception of it. I do believe that it can be extremely beneficial for some people, but I don’t recommend self medicating without speaking to a professional first, whether with marijuana or any other drug (legal, prescribed, etc).

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