Resources for Patients

Column: Does medical cannabis really help pain? Well, it can’t hurt

To reach Rosedale Remedies, the cannabis shop on Rosedale Highway, you have to drive by Budget Bolts, Pittsburgh Paint, All Star Glass, Majestic Palms, Gentle Dental, The Bulk Yard, Highland Church of Christ, Lucky Liquors and Hungry Howie’s Pizza. When you see Country Boy Drive-in, you’re close.

A couple of months ago, I applied for a medical cannabis (marijuana) card. This was a “rigorous” process that involved paying $39.99, spending a few minutes online filling out a questionnaire from NuggMD and having a five-minute phone interview with Dr. Francis G. D’Ambrosio. My medical cannabis card arrived in the mail 10 days later.

I’m not sure how this is going to play in print. Some people might be disappointed in me. Others may wonder what took me so long.

One day I was a father of four, a grandfather to three, a internationally recognized font of community wisdom and a few days later I’m on a long strange trip on Rosedale Highway. What happened?

This happened. I woke up eight weeks ago and could barely walk. Going upstairs was painful. Stiff-legging it downstairs was worse. I developed the sort of limp that used to irritate me when I saw other people doing it because I suspected they were hamming it up.

I went through the standard hurt-knee recovery program: I quit any jarring exercise, took 1,000 milligrams a day of Advil, slapped on heat and ice packs and then apologized to any friends who had had knee problems and to whom I hadn’t given enough sympathy.

I saw the doctor. Had an X-ray. Waited to get authorization for an MRI (the goal is that in the time it takes to get authorization, the patient’s knee will either improve or he will die, eliminating the need for an MRI).

“It’s nothing major,” said the physician assistant. “It might be a meniscus tear.”

With the Internet, we’ve all become doctors. Meniscus tears (“a piece of cartilage in your knee that cushions and stabilizes the joint”) are as common as dirt, especially in older people. People over 50 can put on a dress sock and tear their meniscus.

“Dad, you ought to try some CBD cream,” Herbie said. “It might help.”

CBD oil is one of the 104 chemical compounds found in the cannabis or marijuana plant (THC, another one, can produce euphoria). Some people report that CBD oil has helped with pain relief, seizures, anxiety, migraines, cancer, diabetes and insomnia.

There are a bunch of ways to use CBD oil including putting several drops on your tongue as well applying a topical cream, which was what I was interested in.

Recently, I made the 15-minute drive on Rosedale to the store for my first visit. (Note: In Kern County, you must have a cannabis card in order to enter a dispensary.)

I stepped into the waiting room (20 people came through while I was there) and approached the glass window. A woman, resplendent with tattoos and supporting a confident, professional attitude, asked me if I was a new patient.

I almost laughed. There probably wasn’t a doctor within 30 miles of this place unless one was ordering a Paul Bunyan burger at the Country Boy Drive-in.

When it was my turn, one of the employees took me in the back so we could talk turkey. I told her my knee hurt. She seemed to care. I liked her bedside manner. Maybe she was a doctor.

She picked up a black jar of cannabis oil, the size of a container of Vicks VapoRub, called Medicated Sasquatch. It contained coconut oil, beeswax, olive oil, eucalyptus, lavender, clary sage, rosemary and CBD Isolate. If nothing else, my knee would smell good.

“This is powerful. It can go through four layers,” she said.

Four layers of what? Skin? Bone? Stubbornness? Skepticism?

“How much?” I asked, knowing that anything with Sasquatch on the label probably wouldn’t be cheap.

“Sixty bucks,” but she gave me $10 off because I was a new patient. With the $10 off, I felt like I was making money.

I’ve been rubbing this stuff on several times a day for the last 10 days. Four days ago, the pain lessened significantly. Stairs no longer filled me with dread. Getting out of a chair was not the adventure it had been.

Who knows? After eight weeks, things like backs, knees and shoulders have a tendency to heal on their own. Improvement due to Sasquatch may be accidental and anecdotal.

I do know this: People hurt. Everybody I know has something — a back, a knee, an elbow, a less than cheerful demeanor.

People are looking for relief. I’m not knocking any tool in the tool box because when you’re in pain, you may not be looking for a lecture on what’s good for you or not but opiates — Codeine, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocet, Dilaudid, Fentanyl — can be a hard way to go. They can be addicting, disorienting and tough on your digestive system.

There may be something here. If not, they might name a dish after you at an Italian restaurant. Call it the Sasquatchian Special.

©2018 The Bakersfield Californian (Bakersfield, Calif.). Visit The Bakersfield Californian at www.bakersfield.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.