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  • Writer's pictureAngie Roullier

Quality of Life

It was like any other Tuesday in a pot shop. The elderly woman, and what I assumed was her daughter, that were standing on the opposite side of the counter from me were just like the hundreds of others I have consulted with over the years. These conversations generally start with the younger of the two laying out their reasons for being there, while the older looks around in a mix of awe, disbelief, and bashfulness. Let me tell you, Shirley was not impressed and the farthest thing from bashful.


“You better not get me high! I’m not here to get high!” Shirley scolded. Trying not to feel like I was 6 years old again being yelled at by grandma, I reassured her that she did not have to get high to see if cannabis would be beneficial to her. After a satisfactory “yes” and followed by a “no” to the two most important question in cannabis retail, “Have you spoken with your doctor about trying cannabis” and “do you take any prescriptions that have a grapefruit warning”, we got into the reason she was standing before me.


Like so many others, too many others, Shirley’s knowledge of cannabis came from a know-it-all neighbor and then a shoulder shrug from her doctor. She got her hands on someone’s homemade topical and began to apply it once a week to her shoulder in hopes that it would replace her Percocet’s she had been saddled with for almost 30 years.


To this day I’m pretty sure my face spoke before my mouth did.


 No wonder this feisty woman was in so much pain! Shirley stopped taking her prescribed painkiller of 30 years cold turkey. Trying to diminish my “bless your heart” tone of voice, I asked her how long ago she stopped taking the script, because Percocet does, in fact come with a grapefruit warning. I wasn’t so concerned about the topical usage and the drug interaction as I was about making any sort of cannabis consumption recommendation of any kind with this painkiller in the mix. Shirley said it had been 3 months and she was very, very adamant about never taking it again.


This part of any cannabis consultation is always difficult if you’re in it to help the patient. At some point you have to take the patients word for it. They have a personal responsibility to do themselves “no harm”. These are adults and ultimately must be treated as such.


I let Shirley know how very important it was not to mix certain medications with cannabis as they could either make those drugs more or less potent, depending on the drug. With a wave of her hand and a nod of acceptance I explained why the topical wasn’t touching her pain and took her through the possible retail choices. My go-to is always a low dose of CBD with new-to-cannabis patients, even with the potential to have a tolerance due to the duration of other medications. In this instance, it was a 5mg CBD hard candy. Afterall, what seasoned lady doesn’t like hard candy? Before the package even hit the counter for her inspection, Shirley muttered under her breath that she better not get high.


Not wanting her to be distracted by this fear and have her actually learn about the plant and the products, I decided to fight moxy with moxy. “I’ll tell you what, you can take me out into the intersection and kick my ass if I do sell you something that gets you high. BUT only if you promise to come back and let me know if it helps AND you must take the product as suggested. You can’t eat the whole bag of candy and then come in fists flying because you got high. Deal?” She agreed, made her purchase, grabbed her daughter (who had not gotten a single word in) and left me smiling the rest of the day. I love feisty women.

Shirley held up her end of the bargain and came back a few times to tweak the dosage and ratio (a 1:3 was her sweet spot) and to make my day. The last time I saw Shirley, she proudly told me that she finally bought eggs and milk again. Confused, I asked her if she had been boycotting cows and chickens, as plucky women have a tendency do. Shaking her silver curls she said, “The pain got really bad there for a while and I was so tired after grocery shopping that once I got home, I didn’t have the strength to put the groceries away. I had to stop buying eggs and milk because they would spoil by the time I could recoup and unload the trunk.”


I was punched in the heart that afternoon. I couldn’t swallow the instant lump in my throat, all I could do was nod and keep watery eye contact. She stood taller as she said, “But today, Angie, I was able to put eggs and milk in my fridge again! Right after shopping! Can you believe it?!” Trying to make light of this very heavy statement and regain my composure, I said “Shirley! That’s really fantastic news! And in more good news, I managed to avoid getting my ass kicked in public!” With a chuckle and twin smiles between us, Shirley made her purchase with confidence and went home to bake a cake for her grandkids from scratch for the first time in a long time.

*From "Pot for the People: The plant, the people and the shop policies of cannabis" by Angie Roullier

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