Hello, and welcome to another blog post. Today I want to talk about something very important to me, the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program. Yes, I am a patient of the NJMMP! I figured with Canada being the first North American country to legalize recreational pot and New Jersey voting to make cannabis legal to smoke recreationally on October 29, 2018, it is time to come out about my marijuana use. You see after five long years and three Rheumatologists, I finally got a proper diagnosis and medication cocktail that works for me.

When you go to the Rheumatologists you can have one of two things happen to you. You get your blood work done and they find something or they don’t find anything but some clues you do have something wrong. Either or, you are going to have medications thrown at you by the doctor until something works. And that’s what happened to me, I had every medication used for pain and inflammation given to me until one day the doctor told me, “I can do three things for you: I can up the dosage on your current medication, which is doing nothing, I can start giving you oxycodone, or you can try an alternative treatment of medical marijuana?”

Well smoking cannabis all my life, I really didn’t have a problem going on the program. I mean I enjoy getting high ever since I was a teenager, so why would I have a problem smoking weed for medical reason legally in my state? None, but I knew I had to talk to my fiancé to see what his opinion was and since it is still not covered by health insurance we would need to discuss if we can financially afford it, too.  My doctor was okay with this and letting me have a few days to decide.

When my fiancé got home later that day I do him what the doctor said. He flat out said no way are you staying on your current medication because it not working and the side effects from it are too much for you. If you up the dosage it will just get worse. So, that just left medical marijuana or oxycodone (which is pretty much-legalized heroin).  From being a pharmacy technician for eight years my fiancé saw the wear that Vicodin an OxyContin has on people. He witnessed first had people with chronic pain being prescribed oxycodone, slowly get addicted, and take more and more to feel the effects. He had to tell them that their refill for the medication was too soon, then they would get mad because they are all out and paying cash for the refill. He saw patients being cut off and having a problem with filling their addiction. Not to mention the physical deterioration from the painkillers had on their body, too. So the best choice was to go on medical cannabis.

I called the doctor the next day told them of my choice. Got an appointment with the alternative medicine office, got all my paperwork together, and within a week I was eligible to get my medical marijuana license. Two weeks after that, I received my ID card, I called the dispensary and two days later I got my first prescription of medical grade cannabis.

Within a month I started feeling so much better. While I was waiting for my license to come I did quite a bit of research on my condition and what to look for in a strain and types of strains that are great for my condition. I mainly smoke flower twice a day for that reason. I like to know what strain I am getting just in case something doesn’t agree with me, and I know to avoid it for next time. You see cannabinoids (these are the chemicals that react to your cannabinoids receptors in your body, what gets you that “high” feeling) because they act naturally in your system your DNA determines if a strain is going to work well or bad with you.  And I have that happened to me, I have certain cannabis strains that made me worse, others that are just “okay”, and then some that are just awesome. One strain that might work for me, might be terrible for someone else and vice versa. So it is good to keep track of what strains you have smoked in the past (I use an app for that).

I know what you are thinking that I am probably a stoner that gets high all day long but the truth is I only smoke twice a day and not even to get high. I smoke to get a body high that takes away my pain all day. You see most of the time I don’t even want to be high because I have to go to work or I have to drive to be somewhere and it just an annoyance to be high at that moment. The only reason why I even smoke twice a day (once in the morning and once at night) is that with fibromyalgia apparently you do not get enough deep sleep and tend to stay in the REM stage of sleep. Because you don’t sleep well you do not have any energy during the day, which causes more pain, and the pain causes you not to sleep well. It’s just this endless cycle. So I have to smoke an indica at night to help me sleep and then I smoke a mixture of a high CBD strain (for the pain) and sativa (for energy) during the day to help with the cycle.  I was taking Ambien to sleep at night and let me tell you the difference between an indica and Ambien. With marijuana I can feel if the cat is sitting on top of my head; with Ambien, I cannot.

The reason why I am coming out about my medical marijuana use because New Jersey is going to vote for recreational use on October 29, but that’s not the only thing they are going to vote for. You see by being on this medical marijuana program and coming out I take a risk. I run a very fine line on the legal side and risk getting fired from my job. On the 29th, New Jersey also votes for worker’s rights for patients on the medical marijuana. You see as of right now, I do not have the same medical rights as the person next to you taking Vicodin for their bad back and I should. Medical marijuana works for me; it’s made me be able to function normally for once in my life. If this is the most successful medication that I’ve been on, wouldn’t it be humane for me to be on it without facing a legal battle? If I am able to function in society and work a job shouldn’t I have protection not to lose my job?

We have the ability to pick and choose our medical procedures and medications we take. That is why we have so many varieties of medications that do the same thing.  I am choosing how I handle and manage my pain and illness. For me, this medical marijuana and I should be protected as any other prescription medication. So if I am forced to take a drug test my marijuana use should not prevent me from advancing my career because it is a prescription medication for me. Same as any other prescription out there. Nor should I get fired for my use. As long as I am not under the influence while I am working. And that’s an important vote to have because if that doesn’t pass, corporations can do whatever they want and that is not humane for the workers. I feel if this passes more people would be willing to try medical marijuana to get off other pain medication because they will not fear in losing their job, too. Please help us all who choose to this path and support the decision to pass this law.

Love you all,

Valerie (a.k.a. Jersey Girl)

In This Shoot:

Top by Torrid

Jeans by Torrid (distressed by myself)

Socks by K.Bell





Published by Valerie Pantalone

Artists living in the suburbs of Philadelphia on the New Jersey side of town. Graduated Rowan University College of Art and Design in photography. She's been photographing and painting for over a decade now.

One thought on “N.J.M.M.P.

  1. I’m proud that you addressed the need for medical marijuana so many people are addicted to opioids in this country keep up the good work and let people know about how it help you you are a great and caring person


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