'Green Wellness' Medical Authorization Clinic had an established online presence in addition to offering 24 hour a day, 7 day a week phone verification service. In order for a patient to visit a medical cannabis provider, the provider needs to verify the medical recommendation. A specialty clinic that offers easy verification is desirable because a medical marijuana patient can spontaneously visit any medical cannabis provider (including farmer's markets) without having to wait two days for a doctor's office to return the phone call.
The Green Wellness online intake form was straightforward. After submitting it, they called me within an hour and sent a confirmation email saying I was 'pre-qualified' and offered me a variety of appointment times. I scheduled my appointment for the following afternoon. I did not have a copy of my medical records, so I was told my fee would be $178 ($20 less if you have your records). Although they did not take health insurance, they accepted cash, debit and major credit cards.
Their Seattle location is on the ground floor of a high rise at the foot of Capitol hill tucked by the freeway. Their lobby was a standard higher-end medical practice waiting room with leather couches and a pod style coffee maker. The office demeanor was professional, and I was given seven pages of paperwork to complete along with an authorization to release my medical records from my doctor (in my case, my rheumatologist).
|Medical Authorization to Use Cannabis in Washington State|
Lupus is incurarable, and there hadn't been a new treatment approved for lupus in 50 years until Benlysta was released last year. Many of the medicines used to treat lupus (like Methotrexate) are off-label uses doctors have found to be effective. Methotrexate is prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis - a condition related to lupus. Methotrexate is a chemotherapy drug, I take it orally once per week (in doses about 1/100th of the dosage used when give for leukemia). Although it helps reduce my inflammatory arthritis and some of the skin issues; the nausea, appetite loss and patchy hair loss are unpleasant. To reduce these side effects, my rheumatologist has also prescribed a drug called 'leucovorin' which I take 5 hours after taking my weekly methotrexate dose. The leucovorin hasn't been particularly helpful. Other suggestions to deal with side effects weren't viable (like taking it on Sunday so I could feel terrible on my day off instead of on a work day) or learning to inject it ('you'd only have to do it once a week!'). Benlysta, the new lupus drug, is an 'infusion' drug which is delivered through a multiple hour intravenous infusion every month along with an annual price tag approaching 30k.
I have a prescription for opiate pain medication, Vicodin, which I take for major flare-ups. But narcotics are habit forming and constipating and something I would like to use with moderation. I explained that cannabis seemed to make the vicodin more effective and that the marijuana was oddly effective in its own right. I don't think it actually quells the pain, but it makes me not care about the pain either.
Over the years I've learned to cope with pain, but appetite and related issues had taken the greatest toll on my overall well being and quality of life. Over the years my appetite faded and eventually disappeared; at the same time, horrible sores in my mouth made it excruciating to eat. I lived on coffee, instant breakfast and gelato. Food had once been the central theme of my life - I am a food scientist by vocation - and now I would forget to eat for hours at a time. I stopped making plans to eat meals with others because I couldn't eat.
Marijuana absolutely, unequivocally improves my appetite. Not every type of marijuana out there, but most of them. Now that I am eating again, I realize what a significant effect the lack of eating was having on my life. From a mood perspective, I imagine I was a beast to be around. With lupus, I am accustomed to aches and pains, so perhaps I just lumped the bad feeling from not eating into lupus malaise. I had forgotten the joy of a delicious meal enjoyed with family and friends.
|Routes of Administration for Medial Cannabis|
Dr. Z recommended medical cannabis to me and provided some advice about how to use it. As a past cigarette smoker, he suggested I might consider a vaporizer to spare my lungs further damage. He also said that while he could not recommend a dispensary directly, that I should check out reviews online from other medical patients (there are a number of sites like leafly.com had such information available). He said there were a wide range of levels of quality in the dispensaries out there, but that at a good one the 'budtender' would be able to recommend ideal strains or products for my specific complaints.
I got an extra certified copy of my medical recommendation (a total of 3). I will keep one copy in my wallet, one at home and one will go to a care provider if I find someone willing to grow plants for me. A certified copy of my recommendation letter and my WA state identification is all I need to begin exploring the dispensaries and farmer's markets sprouting up all over town.
Next Article: My first dispensary visit
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