Nonni Hits the Dispensary
By Karen Shiebler
Back in the olden days, when I was young and we called it grass, I rarely indulged in recreational marijuana.
But times have changed, and Nonni has joined the growing list of aging potheads.
Thanks to a few conflicting but minor ailments, I am now a fibromyalgia patient who can’t take any over-the-counter pain medications. Nor can I drink alcohol (hello there, aging liver!). I am trying to cut down on the medication that helps me to manage the fibromyalgia discomfort, which means that at the moment the only part of me that doesn’t hurt is my right earlobe.
Enter the magical joy of the Medical Marijuana Card. Ta-da! Safe and happy pain relief (I hope).
For the past few years I’ve been the lucky beneficiary of weed guidance from my kids. My sons and son-in-law have helped me to find relief from insomnia by providing me with cannabis-infused butter. They’ve introduced me to the new version of smoked weed, which smells like a dead skunk, burns like a forest fire, and can make you melt into your sofa cushions like hot wax.
Not exactly perfect for this old lady.
Anyway, the other day I had a telehealth visit with a lovely young (as in, probably a sixth grader) nurse practitioner. I didn’t even need any medical records. I just self-reported all of my ouchie booboos, and presto! She certified me!
(No, not that kind of “certified,” although many have told me that I am definitely certifiable.)
She approved me for a Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Card, good for one year.
I then spent about an hour maneuvering the state’s website and paperwork, and printed out my temporary card. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Off to the local dispensary I went. Well, holy confusion. Luckily for me, the kind, patient young people behind the counter were more than willing to explain things to their gray-haired, befuddled patient/customer. They barely even snickered.
The young man who was helping me explained the differences between the strains of weed. Did I want to be energized and given pain relief? “Yes, please.” OK. Sativa it is. But he warned me that in some people it can increase anxiety. “No, please.” OK, then Indica it is. But that would make me sleepy and sedated.
Eventually he advised a hybrid.
But then we had to talk about THC to CBD ratio. Pain relief and anti-inflammatory versus pain relief and high. Or something like that. And don’t forget, there are many other cannabinoids that are helpful for other issues, like inflammation and appetite suppression. We looked at charts. We looked at graphs. We looked at printouts and glossy images. He talked. I bit my lip behind my mask and hoped my eyes looked intelligent.
Eventually, he seemed to feel like he knew exactly the right potion for granny here and jotted down a few notes. All was good. I had pretty much stayed with him so far, and was feeling fairly hip.
Until he started to talk about terpines.
Which sound to me like some type of fire accelerant but are actually related to smell (I think?) and to various types of high but also (maybe) have different health effects. Anyway, we had to consider our terpine preferences.
By now I was just nodding and sweating. There was a line of people waiting outside, six feet apart from each other, but looking a little surly. I just wanted to get my goodies and go home.
But my young and enthusiastic pharmacy major friend wasn’t done yet. Now I had to think about how to take my weed. I could choose lozenges, infused edibles, gummies, sublingual drops, topical rubs, roll on oil, vape, flower or something that was either wax or oil. Oh, and there was even a choice of various “sauces.”
Now I don’t know about you, but when I go to the doctor for a backache, I just want him to write something down on paper and send me to the pharmacy. I do not want to have to decide on my dosage, my route of ingestion or the flavor of the drug.
My little brain was awhirl. I did NOT want to look stupid. I was NOT ready for the teenagers to laugh at me.
Now don’t get me wrong, there were other “mature” people in the place, but most of them looked like they had been using weed every single day since Woodstock. Some of them were apparently using it to help cut down on their meth use.
I kept nodding my head, and saying, “Sure, whatever you recommend.” I kept trying to repeat, “Just make the ouchie booboos go away.”
Finally I thought I was ready to order. I wanted a topical cream, some sublingual drops and one vape for sleep. I pulled out the vape I’ve been using, and told the young man that when I had gotten a new cartridge recently, it just wasn’t staying in the device. Something was wrong.
The 13-year-old working beside him looked at me over her flowered mask. She frowned. “You did remember to unscrew the magnet from the old cartridge and put it on the new one, didn’t you?”
The room filled with giggles and chortles as my face turned purple. I looked around at the experts, several of whom already appeared high, and shrugged my shoulders.
“Who knew?” I laughed, getting into my role as the funny old lady butt of the joke. “You know, we should write a show for Netflix about this situation. We could call it Nonni at the Dispensary.”
Now the laughs were real, and kind and good-natured. “Welcome, Nonni,” my young man barista said. “Here’s your product.”
Thanks to a “first-time customer” offer, Nonni went home with two vape cartridges, lozenges, sub-lingual tincture, cream, and ointment. As of right now, everything still hurts.
I just don’t care as much.