This article is a continuation of a discussion that Big Easy Magazine began last month!
We live in Louisiana. We live in a state where there are no laws prohibiting workplace, in school, or housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We live in a state where one can only have an abortion if they first receive discouragement from in-person counseling and then wait 24 hours to contemplate the meeting. Oh, and they have to have an ultrasound while the provider describes the images. In our home, land of the free, it is illegal to gargle in public places (look it up, I’m so serious). I will leave you with my personal favorite: In New Orleans it is still technically illegal for a woman to drive a car unless her husband is waving a flag in front of it. What a place we have chosen for ourselves! For these reasons, y’all, I thank God for the gift of weed.
Yes, we live in Louisiana, so no, marijuana is not legalized for recreational use at this time. But! Not all hope is lost.
In the state of Louisiana, there are 9 dispensaries licensed to carry medical marijuana. There are 11 doctors licensed, each with permission to recommend marijuana to no more than 100 patients. I say recommend, because, to put it very simply, doctors are technically not authorized to prescribe the drug because it is still federally illegal (sigh). Medical marijuana in Louisiana may be recommended to patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Crohn’s Disease, Cachexia, and Epilepsy. Effective August 1st, those experiencing severe autism, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s Disease, intractable (chronic) pain, and severe muscle spasm will be added to this list.
Not only does this list need to be exponentially larger, but unfortunately, specifically pertaining to “intractable (chronic) pain,” these laws leave room for the potentially false judgements of Louisiana doctors.
A good example of one chronic pain condition that is misunderstood by many and could very well fall through the cracks of the current medical marijuana legislation is Fibromyalgia. So, let’s talk about Fibromyalgia. For those unfamiliar with the word, Fibromyalgia is a syndrome encompassed by widespread joint and muscle pain, and persistent fatigue. Its symptoms can be compared to such autoimmune diseases as lupus. It is incurable, but symptoms can be treated short term. There are no lab or imaging tests to pinpoint this diagnosis, so those experiencing it often get dismissed and/or misdiagnosed. This is why it could be hard to trust a doctor in Louisiana (to better understand Louisiana “justice”, please see opening paragraph) to rightfully recommend a patient experiencing such chronic pain. Back me up, ladies, how many of us have had our pain dismissed by doctors? Guys, all the gals just raised their hand.
I recently spoke with a New Orleans local about her experiences suffering from Fibromyalgia. I will refer to her as Hillary Linton, just for fun. Hillary Linton gave me a lengthy and detailed description of her daily acquaintances with Fibromyalgia. She noted widespread achiness, fatigue, brain fog and debilitating pain that often keeps her up all night. Sometimes she doesn’t sleep for days at a time. Hillary Linton frequently uses Kratom, a plant within the same family as coffee that is commonly used for pain relief, during the day. Kratom offers a small relief to her symptoms and helps her function physically and mentally at work (which is great, because Hillary Linton is a hairstylist, and I know I wouldn’t want someone holding scissors up to my face while feeling especially foggy). While Kratom helps during the day, it is useless to her at night time, as it keeps her awake and alert. Marijuana, on the other hand, well, it does not keep her up. Hillary Linton noted with incredible clarity that using marijuana in small doses not only takes the edge off of extreme pain, it also helps her sleep. It helps her sleep unlike any other remedy. And she has tried them all.
Hillary Linton has lost an estimated amount of nearly $4,000 last year experimenting with doctor recommendations. She has tried such medications as Gabapentin (led her to a drug induced psychosis, leading to hospitalization), Muscle Relaxers (makes her feel incapable of functioning), and SNRIs (triggers a zombie like feeling, gives her terrible nightmares, and interferes with her sex drive).
As she only uses a very small amount of marijuana, and only at bedtime, Hillary Linton has spent an estimated amount of $200 this year on the natural substance. She notes the only negative side effect being slight anxiety, which only happens when she can’t previously identify the strain she is getting; a problem which exists because of her lack of a medical marijuana card. Now put that in your pipe and smoke it (except eat it instead, because medical marijuana cannot be administered through inhalation or vaping, only in edible form. Sorry kids).
Hillary Linton is connected with many others, her mother, aunt, grandmother, friends, and several clients who suffer from this diagnosis. Many find light relief from CBD oil, some enjoy Kratom during the day, others have had mild successes cutting out inflammatory foods, and a few find some relief from pharmaceutical drugs. One thing they all have in common with Hillary Linton? They benefit greatly from smoking Marijuana.