You might imagine that the Chief Medical Office of HelloMD would be an authority on dispensaries. I'm not. It makes me sound like Dr. McCoy, but "I'm a doctor, not a distributor." Well, eventually I came to realize that being a good doctor means that sometimes you have to be a patient. Though I am quite familiar with, and have written about, the benefits of cannabis as part of a health and wellness program, I have never been the recipient of a recommendation for cannabis. That is, until now.
While I am in relatively good health, I do have difficulty with chronic stress, as many in the medical community do these days. I also suffer from insomnia quite regularly. These are classic symptoms that we encounter here at HelloMD on a regular basis. I decided that it was time for me to see a doctor other than myself for a change. I wanted to know for certain if medicinal cannabis could help alleviate my symptoms. I can tell you now, I'm tremendously glad I did.
How I Learned To Do the Opposite
The entire process, beginning to end, was extremely illuminating for me. It helped me see things from the patient's point of view. First of all, I was relieved to find that it was fairly simple to fill out the online application on our site and enter my medical history and other information. Next, I scheduled an appointment with one of our physicians for the online face-to-face interview. I was glad to see that, when I was speaking to one of our physicians, the training and expertise that we ask of our doctors really paid off. In the end, it felt more like a video call with a knowledgeable friend, only the subject was my stress and insomnia.
The result was that he agreed with my assessment. He said he believed that cannabis would make sense in my situation and so he issued me a recommendation. My next task came in finding a nearby a dispensary. In the California county that I live in, there are no dispensaries close by. The HelloMD site was helpful there, too. There's a Dispensary menu link along the top of the page, so I clicked it and was brought to a map search. I used my zip code to find several dispensaries within a few miles from my home.
Not What I Expected, At All
I'd heard stories that these dispensaries tend to be found in bad parts of town and are surrounded by beefy, armed guards. Some comments online mentioned triple security entryways, unprofessional workers and people hanging around outside. None of that was true. Yes, it turns out that people posting comments on the Internet can be unreliable, to say the least. Shocking, right?
Security at the dispensary was tight because it's a cash business and (guess what) they are selling marijuana!Bank transactions like credit card purchases are not permitted at most dispensaries. Even that is changing, though. The Department of Justice said it wouldn't pursue banks processing legal marijuana purchases, so 47 percent of dispensaries in Colorado now accept credit cards or ATM purchases. Although California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana way back in 1996, our state is sadly still behind the curve on this one.
One thing I found to be true was that the dispensary I chose was not located in the prime business district. However, I was glad to park in the secure lot and go through the front door beside a friendly security guard.
Approximately One Million Questions
I didn't have any idea what to expect when I went through that door. Would it be an Amsterdam coffee shop inside? Would it be an empty industrial warehouse? What I found was practically identical with just about every medical waiting room I'd ever been in. It was a clean, well-lit space, not too creative in terms of décor, but functional. At the counter, a vast array of choices lay before me.
The "Budtender" behind the counter didn't know me and I didn't mention that I had any connection with HelloMD. I assailed this specialist with every single question I could imagine that a new patient might ask. What exactly is medicinal cannabis? What's THC? What's CBD? What's involved in vaping and is it safe? What are edibles and are they less effective? What are my best options if I want relief from insomnia or pain or anxiety?
My questions went on and on. Perhaps he had his own prescription filled for patience because he was honest, informative and friendly throughout it all. Clearly, this was not his first rodeo.
The Moral of the Story
I'd say my first dispensary experience was full of surprises, but it was also a rewarding journey for me, both personally and professionally. For one thing, now I'm much more comfortable about discussing the next steps after a recommendation is given out. I can also understand a great deal more about what patients might be thinking when trying medical marijuana for the first time. If you've recently encountered some surprising experiences along your medical journey, or have questions about the process, we'd love to hear from you. Remember, there's a first time for everything!