MY NAME IS SARAH JANE, and I smoke weed. Every. Single. Day.
But I’m not your average stoner; I’ve been a patient in Nevada’s medical-marijuana program since 2010. For my condition, pot works better than any conventional medication I’ve tried, with fewer side effects. I’m not claiming it’s a miracle cure, but as a palliative drug, it can’t be beat.
I’m serious about my prescription; I take pride in being a textbook example of a legit user. I do not get high recreationally. I only take my medicine at night, to treat a real malady. Alas, not everyone takes the program as seriously — in fact, I’d call the whole thing a farce.
It starts with the application — I can’t think of another medication that requires you to pay the state $150 a year for the privilege of taking it. You don’t need a special license for Viagra or Vagisil. Officials clearly don’t see marijuana as real medicine, or patients as suffering from real aliments. I think they see us a bunch of fakers.
But when you look at the medical-marijuana industry, it’s not hard to see why. It is a joke! There are more bamboozlers, frauds and hucksters in the local MMJ program than on Fremont Street on a Saturday night.
It starts with the doctors: To get a prescription, you must visit a special doctor (Southwest Medical don’t play that; I tried). For a modest fee, these “progressive” doctors will shoehorn you into the narrow parameters of the state marijuana program. There are only a few conditions for which the prescription of marijuana is legal: AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and everyone’s favorite catch-all, “severe pain.”
The first doctor was a farce, his too-small lab coat showing he wasn’t wearing anything underneath. He barely glanced at me before signing my form and collecting his $100.
The doctor I see now is much more professional and insists on the charade of giving me a cursory physical every time I go in. Temperature, blood pressure, reflexes — this doc checks ’em all, and the diagnosis is always the same: Nothing a little weed won’t help!
Perversely, the law makes it almost impossible for patients to obtain the medicine. Though voters approved medical marijuana in 2000, to this day it remains technically illegal for anyone to provide marijuana to patients.
Despite the fact that they’re illegal, dispensaries still continually pop up around town, like a game of Whack-a-Mole. But every time I find one I like, it gets shut down — no matter how carefully it describes itself as a “nonprofit co-op” that isn’t selling anything.
See, you can’t just go into a dispensary and ask, “How much for an eighth of Purple Kush?” Instead, you have to engage in this song-and-dance, pretending nothing is for sale, and that, as a nonprofit, it only accepts donations: “How much is the recommended donation for an eighth of Purple Kush?”
Semantics aside, visiting a dispensary is still fundamentally annoying — mainly because most people running these establishments display a total lack of gravitas. Many have nudge-nudge-wink-wink names (hello, Dr. Reefer!), and glossy, pornographic centerfold photos of glistening buds on the walls.
Most annoyingly, in my experience, is that staffers are often their own best customers. In the waiting room at one dispensary, the guy asked how my day was going. “Fine, I said, as he led me down the hall to the dispensary room. He ushered me in, asking, “So, how’s your day going?”
“You just asked me that two minutes ago!”
“Ohhh … heh, heh.”
Arrrgh! Medical marijuana will never be taken seriously until we patients and caregivers start treating it seriously.
So says the woman who earns her living wandering the Strip in a cannabis showgirl costume. Apparently, marijuana does have one terrible side effect: hypocrisy. D’oh!
SARAH JANE WOODALL blogs at Wonderhussy.com.