Medical Marijuana for the Uninitiated – HELP!

by on May 27, 2011 · 19 comments

in Civil Rights, Health, Popular

Finding Information for Senior Citizens

Obecians and beyond- I need your help! A few weeks ago a close friend of mine asked about medical marijuana dispensaries in the Hillcrest area. I pointed out a dispensary on University Avenue, not far from where we attend our weekly Buddhist meditation. I also tore out the back pages of the Reader which provide a pretty comprehensive list of locations and handed them to her.

It turns out that my friend was inquiring on behalf of an 84 year old acquaintance, a gentleman whose very mainstream primary care doctor wrote him a script for medical marijuana. The gentleman was suffering from chronic pain and insomnia, and even morphine was not giving him relief. He has a sharp mind and a good attitude and was willing to give medical marijuana a go, despite the fact that he had never used marijuana and his wife was not particularly supportive. His quality of life is in the tank and he has nothing to lose at this point.

He went to a dispensary not far from his home, after calling first. The door bell didn’t work on the nondescript building. He had to call again on his cell phone and someone finally let him in. This man was then faced with an absolutely confusing plethora of choices of medical marijuana that could be smoked, ingested or drunk. His primary care physician either didn’t take the time or have the ability to recommend sativa or indica just for starters, and the young guy at the counter really didn’t have a clue either. This was not a positive experience to say the least.

So the gentleman buys some marijuana tea, a marijuana peppermint patty and a marijuana candy bar without any idea about how much to use or what to expect. I spoke to him directly after I had scanned a number of sites online. I asked him to read me the ingredients on the wrapper and the recommended dosage. The information was not helpful.

C’mon. If we are truly supportive of medical marijuana, we need to have physicians who not only write scripts but provide as much guidance as they would for blood pressure medicine. And we need to have people working in dispensaries who have some basic knowledge about the different types of marijuana and the products they sell.

Readers- what would you recommend to your aging parent or grandparent who has never used marijuana before? Where is the information they can use to make an informed decision based on their medical needs? How do they approach the myriad choices presented to them in a dispensary? How can they designate someone to purchase marijuana for them? How do you tell them what to expect?

There are a significant number of people out there who have never been part of the “drug culture” but are either open minded or desperate enough to support our medical marijuana dispensaries. I don’t want to let them down. And their support is critical to rational medical marijuana laws. Thanks for responding!

PS- Librarians deal with this kind of question and it is the (retired) librarian in me that is putting this question out there to you all! Librarians unequivocally support good, informed information!


{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

TheDeacon May 28, 2011 at 2:14 am

Indica is better for the elderly. As Sativa can & will increase your heart rate. I am not a Dr, just a patient with 30 yrs use experience as a recreational user and 7 yrs as a true Medical Marijuana Patient. I am 58 and started smoking cannabis at age 18. Also tell your mom, grandma, whoever to look first at Willie Nelson (Who at age 77 is still healthy enough to go on the road and perform) all because he chose Cannabis over Alcohol. Compare Willie’s health to that of Merle Haggard. He is approx same age as Willie, couldn’t even perform a show in his own house because he chose to be legal and drink Alcohol & smoke tobacco. Being legal is not always healthy. Why do you think the U.S. Gov’t wants to keep the Cure For Cancer a secret? Does it have anything to do with money, Hmmm?


ss May 28, 2011 at 7:17 am

Anna your right he needs some guidance and the bud tender should have given him some guidance jf his Doc couldn’t. I would recommend he try the indica strain for pain, The bud tender should be able to recommend a dose. The marijuana might not work but he may just feel better. Maybe start by smoking one of the joints or a part of it and see how he feels after a couple of puffs. My advice would be to go slow. If he eats a some, ask the about the dosage, too much could leave him staring at the ceiling. Good luck I hope it helps


annagrace May 28, 2011 at 8:59 am

SS, TheDeacon- thanks for your responses. I was surprised that when I did a google search for “medical marijuana senior citizens” that I didn’t find more information. Most of the hits were for dispensary services. I did find information that corroborates your recommendation to use indica.


TheDeacon May 28, 2011 at 9:32 am

Today’s strains are more potent which is a plus i.e. less is needed and less foreign matter. As it is against the law for medical universities to teach about the Endocannabinoid System found in all vertebrates, and Cannabis and their relationship. I’m not surprised most of the material you found had very little to do with the medical actions of different kinds of Cannabis. And more to do with the business side. Here are 2 different Dr’s video’s who are very knowledgeable about cannabis 1) and 2) Dr Leveque out of Salem Oregon is also very good. One final educational link it is, Lynnice is an 8 time Cancer Survivor via Cannabis. She has been fighting Cancer with cannabis for 32 years now and is winning. Check her out for she has tons of info.


Seabourne May 28, 2011 at 9:12 am

It is time to “Change the Schedule of Cannabis, Cannabis Laws, and Drug Czar Laws”
Sign the petition at
I ask all to please also sign the petition to Ban Ki-moon and all Heads of State, calling to “end the war on drugs and the prohibition regime, and move towards a system based on decriminalisation, regulation, public health and education. This 50 year old policy has failed, fuels violent organised crime, devastates lives and is costing billions. It is time for a humane and effective approach.”
Please sign it at
Thank you!


Seabourne May 28, 2011 at 9:14 am

Understand the endo-cannabinoid system, discover what top doctors and researchers say, and so much more at


Larry Sweet May 28, 2011 at 9:28 am

For some time now this issue has concerned me. That was my experience 4 years ago when I got my rec, although I had previous experience with MJ in the 60’s. When I served on the MMTF for the City it became crystal clear that the folks of my generation and older were having a really rough time finding medicine.

I would be happy to help them, however there is not an easy way to find those that need help. Perhaps if the OB Rag did a series on what happens when grandpa, or grandma, gets a rec? I help people like this all the time, but I know there are hundreds that I will never see.


TheDeacon May 28, 2011 at 9:52 am

You are very generous and kind Larry. I am a 58 yr old disabled man moving to a legal state from the prison State called Iowa. I am in bad need of real Medical Marijuana as I suffer from Diabetic Neuropathic Gastroparesis (Paralyzed Stomach.) Symptoms are Chronic Nausea & Vomiting due to Eating. This disease sucks. There is no substance in today’s pharmacopoeia that controls Chronic Nausea & Vomiting. My 2 (TWO) Iowa Dr5’s have told me to move to a legal Cannabis State which I will be doing in November. Until then I’m stuck with schwag that just does not work, or paying $400 an ounce for the real thing and I cannot afford that. So I’m changing Horace Greeley’s saying to, “Go West Old man and seek the best health care possible.”


Alissa May 28, 2011 at 10:07 am

Sounds like just trying a better dispensary would be helpful. My husband found a great place in San Jose with real doctors (with real advice and knowledge)/acupuncture being practiced in the office. Like ss said, start real slow, probably just a couple/few puffs. My mom passed away from cancer; when it was getting really bad and nothing eased the pain, marijuana did; but when you are that sick, just a little too much can make you light headed and prone to fainting, so easy does it. There are also some sites online like weedmaps and thcfinder and even yelp (a little overwhelming, but with locations and reviews of many many dispensaries). Best of luck.


Ernie McCray May 28, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Okay, okay. So what were we talking about? (smile)


OB Mercy May 28, 2011 at 5:11 pm

I’m 57 yrs old, been smoking since I was 16. I am now a legal patient with my debilitating and very painful osteoarthritis, and I just had a total hip replacement because of it. Again, I’m a very experienced smoker…and the new strains of Indica I have bought made me dizzy and nauseous! I only buy Sativa, or hybrids, which is a mixture of both. The THC levels (the active ingredient in MJ) are supposedly hundreds of times stronger than when I first tried MJ back in the early 70’s as someone mentioned above. Edibles, like your grandfather bought, are WAY too strong for me. He should only eat a few bites or half of any of it at a time. And for god’s sake…find another dispensary, that one was very remiss in not being able to give info. The one I go to here in OB, The OB Wellness Center on Newport, is AMAZING in their knowledge. I thought I wouldn’t be able to learn anything since I had been smoking for so long, but those youngsters taught me so much! Of course everyone’s reaction to what they’re smoking is going to be a bit different depending on your body chemistry, your size, etc. The advice given above for anyone, about going slowly, is the best I can think of too.


Dad May 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm

This is not just a problem for the elderly. My 30 year old son suffers from a painful chronic disease. A friend of his, a heavy pot-head, offered to teach my son to smoke for the first time in his life. His dopey friend quickly got him inebriated. My son took a fall, cut his face open, and had to take a trip to the emergency room. There, he was still in a mental state of confusion and great distress from intoxication. The ER staff was then most suspicious that there was as assault being covered up and asked a lot of distressing questions about the whole affair. A very bad scene all due to inexperience and no education in how to use cannabis in a cautious and prudent way.


TheDeacon May 29, 2011 at 6:16 am

I’m sure there were more gruesome stories to be told before & after Alcohol Prohibition. However, this is a perfect example of the safety of Cannabis. Had this happened with Alcohol someone would have ended up dead. Fortunately, CANNABIS CAN NOT KILL! If this were to happen with Alcohol or an Opiate DEATH would have been the end result. But with Cannabis the end result is always LIFE, because Cannabis is endogenous to the human body because of the Endocannabinoid System found in all vertebrates and the 2 chemicals our bodies make that mimic the effects of Cannabis they are Anandamide & 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG.) Take better care of your overall health, use holistic medicines, including Cannabis, rather than FDA Approved poisons. I am a 58 yr old male, I speak from experience. Personal experience with both Opiates and Cannabis have reaffirmed the fact that Cannabis is essential to overall good health because of our Endocannabinoid System. This is fact. Opiates do not repair, as does Cannabis. Opiates covers up and slowly destroys through addiction and toxicity. The Endocannabinoid System was discovered much the same way as our Endorphine System. Through the study of those substances, Morphine & Cannabis, on the body. Through this we have learned that Cannabis supports, repairs and soothes mind, body & soul.


annagrace May 29, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts and personal histories on this topic! TheDeacon- I’m wishing you the best between now and your move to CA. Please check back with us!

Editor Patty, Larry Sweet and I are going to get together this week to pull all of your comments together and do some investigation on our own. Stay tuned for more on this subject.

One last question- most of you who use medical mj smoke it. This is not the choice for people who have never smoked before, including the gentleman I referred to in my article. Any of you ingesting it, or using teas/infusions? I’d appreciate your comments about dosage issues and how to determine what has indica, sativa or a combo in these products. Many thanks!


Ganjahealer June 6, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Has the patient tried vaporizing? It’s a lot better for the lungs than smoking. Edibles are a great option but might be hard to gauge the right potency if just starting out. A tea will work well too, and are easy to make =-) For insomnia and/or pain relief, try a strong indica or indica dominant hybrid and stay away from sativas.

The tenders at Collectives SHOULD be able to point you the right direction, but unfortunately it’s not the case all the time. You have to search out the right one for you. I’m involved with a Co-op in Downtown that deals with many Seniors from a community home nearby, and the tenders are well informed of everything offered. The Healing Cove also offers Acupuncture, Massage, Reiki, Yoga, and guidance with other alternative forms of healing. It’s definitely not just a pot shop.


annagrace June 6, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Ganjahealer- thank you for the helpful information and your kindness.


unwashedWalmarTthong May 30, 2011 at 11:31 pm

I haven’t toked up since 1985. I hope I never have to, but I sure as hell hope that we can change all of the fascists’ laws regarding smoking pot.


Steve Majors June 6, 2011 at 9:46 am

Deacon’s response was very informative … until he vectored off into conspiracy land.


OB Mercy June 6, 2011 at 12:44 pm

The Healing Cove sounds awesome Ganjahealer. I’ve been told this is the kind of alternative services that are offered in most of the collectives up in Northern Cali where most of the collectives first started. I am going to have to come check this place out.


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