Chronic Help For Chronic Pain: Trying Marijuana For Pain For The First Time

Last updated: December 2022

On my recent trip to Mexico and the USA, I was unable to bring my Enbrel injections with me. As I would be traveling around during the 2 weeks I was there, there was no way of ensuring they would stay at a safe temperature. This meant that towards the end of the trip my body started to to feel a lot stiffer and pain levels were rising.

Being the cheapskate that I am, I didn’t pay for any check in luggage for my travels. This meant I was not able to bring anything to manage my pain in the very likely event that it would increase.

In the end, I had to source a bit of help whilst I was out there. When the pain started kicking in big time I had already crossed the border into California – a state that has legalized marijuana use. I had heard many people speak about the wonders this little plant had done for their pain management so I figured it would be rude not to give it a go.

I'd heard a lot about it

Once I received my diagnosis, many of my friends suggested using marijuana for pain relief. However, as the majority of these people did not suffer from chronic pain, I assumed that they were just looking for somebody to smoke with!

Any experience that I had previously had with it was most certainly not for medicinal purposes, so I had my doubts that it would be helpful in this regard. But when I started meeting other members of the chronic illness community, I continued to hear stories about how cannabis had helped them manage their pain.

However, this was not something that I was comfortable with experimenting with in the UK.

After some research I discovered there were certain strains that specialized in helping with pain. But the illegality of it in the UK probably meant that these strains would be close to impossible to find as most "suppliers" were probably only selling whatever kind they could get their hands on. I had also heard too many horror stories of people getting their cannabis contaminated with other substances due to people using scales to weigh various other "products" too.

But knowing that this was something that was regulated in California made me feel a lot more at ease. I decided to take advantage of my current geographical location to see if it could help me at all.

Buying it

I walked into the dispensary and was completely mind blown. Purchasing cannabis in the UK is usually done in a dingy underpass outside a housing project, but this was like a fancy Toys R Us for weed.

I was a little unsure of what to buy -  this place had an enormous menu. There were so many options that it was a little overwhelming and I had no idea what to order.

Luckily, the cashier was very helpful and asked me what kind of experience I was looking for. Previously I assumed the only answer to this would be "to get high," but I explained that I had a form of arthritis that was causing me a lot of pain and was looking for some relief. Coincidentally, she also suffered from chronic pain and told me that Indica had been very helpful for her in the past. So, I took her word for it and gave it a pop.

Smoking it

We had a long final day ahead of us. We had to check out of our hotel at 9am, but our flight home wasn’t until the evening. This meant we had a lot of time to kill and would need to carry our bags around the whole time. The aim was to try and get in a much as we could with our remaining hours – something that would no doubt consist of a fair deal of walking. I woke up feeling that cocktail of pain and stiffness that is all too familiar for those of us with AS.

I decided to start my medical marijuana experiment at breakfast. Within half an hour of smoking my first joint I was starting to feel a lot looser and the pain had almost entirely disappeared. This allowed me to enjoy my final hours in the states without the use of my walking aid which I relied on heavily during the previous few days.

I also had worries about being on a plane with people not wearing masks. It was something that I was very worked up about when booking the tickets as they could not tell me whether masks would be enforced on my return trip. However, whilst I was away the laws had changed which meant that they would not be mandatory for the 11 hour flight home. I was always intending on wearing mine, but the fact that probably nobody else on board would be wearing one did worry me.  

However, I found smoking shortly before heading to the airport helped calm my nerves about this too and I was able to stay calm the whole way home despite being surrounded by bare faced mouth breathers. It also topped up my pain relief to get me through the long journey in a lot more comfort.

In conclusion

I’m not trying to promote any kind of drug use, but it seems crazy to me that there is so much stigma around the use of something so natural that can be so helpful in dealing with chronic pain.

Buying cannabis in a place that hasn't legalized its use could be a distressing experience, especially for somebody with a condition like AS. It means that people need to deal with criminals, which could lead to a situation that might require running or even fighting – things that chronic illnesses can make very challenging.

Furthermore, the strains that benefit pain management might not always be available. Legalizing marijuana would make it a lot safer for people with chronic illnesses to access marijuana to help manage their pain and make sure they receive the type that benefits them the most.

To be perfectly honest, it is not something that I am planning to continue to use at the moment. For the most part my pain is under control (touch wood). But of course I have no idea how long this will last and it would be really helpful to have this option should I require an alternative way to manage pain.

Have you tried to use marijuana as a way of managing your pain? Tell me about your experience in the comments below.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AnkylosingSpondylitis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

Have you taken our In America Survey yet?