When patients come to All Greens Clinic in Surprise, Arizona to get certified for their MMJ card, about 40% are first time ever card holders in Arizona and the remainder are there to get their card renewed because they have seen the benefit of MMJ.
People find their own way to the clinic under many circumstances to get their card for the first time. The first time ever card holders may be people who have never used Cannabis, and then there are those who have been using it for years and now want to get their card. There are those who have recently retired from years of working, have no kids around and have the freedom in their later years to see if this medicine really works. While others already know it does work for them and have been using marijuana for many decades, are done with the hassle of trying to get it underground and want to be legitamate and get their MMJ card.
Some people feel like they are still doing something “wrong” in getting their MMJ card. They are nervous at the clinic as seen in the increase in their heart rate and breathing when their vitals are taken. Their skin is clammy and they are wide-eyed . They feel like a criminal and ask if their employer will find out or their doctor or the Nurse’s medical board if they are a nurse. The religious people clear their conscious from the drug stigma by telling me they have come to accept it because “God placed it here on Earth to use and heal. It’s a plant.”
For some, unfortuantely, they are first time ever card holders because they have a recent diagnosis of cancer, Hepatitis C, glaucoma or are HIV+. For other people, they have had cards in other states or lived in states that have recreational Marijuana laws. Some people tell me that their son or daughter grows Cannabis legally in California, Oregon, Washington or Colorado and that they have tried some salve for their aching joints and saw the results and now want their own card. For some men, their wife has told them, “You need to go get your card because you are angry and miserable from your pain and what you’re doing isn’t working!”
Many people have had to change their beliefs about Cannabis and de-criminalize it in their own minds and wipe that stigma away and get to the core of the healing abilities of the plant. These are the patients who come to the clinic and say to me, “I know nothing about this process and what to do. I don’t think I want to smoke it and I don’t know where to start.” They have faith that it will work but are unsure about the best way to get the Cannabis working for them. I reassure them that they will learn and I tell them about Leafly and Weedmaps and that the dispensaries will have educational information about Cannabis for them as well.
I tell them that this is the Wild West and that the MMJ program in Arizona is patient directed and it is not like the doctor will write a prescription on a pad of paper telling them how much and how often to take the Cannabis. Some patients have thought that this is the way it is done. No, instead, the patient will educate themselves and figure out what mode of getting it working in the body is the best for them. The MMJ card holder steers their own ship and has the power in deciding how the plant is going to work for them through their choices in purchasing a plethora of different Medical Marijuana items in the dispensaries throughout Arizona.
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