The war on pain: Medical cannabis vs. ‘traditional’ medicine

No pain, all gain.

I ache from an afternoon on the basketball court at Southside Park. At 31, I'm not too old for this, but it's no help that my last game was two years ago in a Natomas adult league championship (still proudly display the trophy in my home). My feet swell inside my Nikes, shins burn and knees are like china cups at the crux of two sticks in a balancing act.

Of the other burning body parts: my hands from bracing the blacktop impact after a not-so-athletic tumble, my lungs from the jolt in cardio. The traditional sports-medicine diagnosis would be to rub Tiger Balm or Icy Hot on my affected areas, elevate and ice the knees, and if a “connect” exists, abuse a few prescription painkillers—maybe wash it down with a cold beer.

Or, nontraditionally, I could get stoned.

Not stoned in the rudimentary, burn-a-blunt to Dr. Dre’s The Chronic (or Chronic 2001 for millennials) sense, but medicinally stoned, utilizing the healing agents of marijuana’s cannabinoids.

CBDs for short, cannabinoids are the lesser-known chemical compounds in marijuana that interact with our biochemical system. CBDs being lesser-known plays a role in the misconceptions of marijuana as an anti-inflammatory, since many tests strike out by offering patients THC dabs and tablets.

As Kimberly Cargile of A Therapeutic Alternative, a wellness center in Sacramento, explained, “CBDs do not have psychoactive effects; it’s actually a psycho-deactivator.”

She continued: “It reduces the nerve impulses between the nerves, which reduces muscle spasms, anxiety and muscle inflammation.”

Because of this growing awareness of marijuana as an anti-inflammatory, A Therapeutic Alternative plans to change its message soon to highlight the center for having the most CBD products in Sacramento.

Their menu includes herbs, edibles, capsules, tinctures, oil extracts and waxes. So, for example, I can bite into a Pure CBD Cheeba Chew, knowing it contains 2 milligrams THC and 50 milligrams CBD, maximizing my intake of the ingredient that will go to work on those inflamed shins and knees.

Cargile even notes a recent study revealed that smoking or ingesting marijuana after a concussion or muscle injury might actually benefit the athlete. That’s right: The age-old trope of stoners as forgetful goofs is not entirely valid. Harvard University professors are writing impassioned letters to National Football League commissioners.

Cargile’s knowledge is largely based upon the findings of Dr. David Allen and Dr. William Courtney, the latter of which has suggested the marrying of marijuana with raw juicing.

Michael Backes of the Abatin Wellness Center in Sacramento commented on Courtney’s suggestions in 2012, noting that, yes, it is a nonpsychoactive alternative, but only if the prescribed is juicing the appropriate strain (of which there are only 24 or so in California) and not chewing on the stems, which contain sharp little hairs.

So, if you just completed a workout and are planning a post-workout smoothie or protein shake to replenish your body, try blending in the raw leaves or buds of an approved CBD-centric strain (as along as it’s also cleared to be pesticide-free). It’s enough of a hassle that if you have a green card and an organic home garden, then trust yourself to grow the raw smoothie ingredient. Even Cargile conceded that A Therapeutic Alternative is still looking for a grower that can meet the specifications before they’ll offer raw cannabis in the center.

As for whether or not you can go about your day as a functioning member of society that sees life beyond hours on the couch watching the Cartoon Network? Cargile says the CBD-focused products do not have sedative qualities, making them conducive to intake during the day without disrupting work or the active life. (Be sure to consult with your doctor on this kind of stuff, of course.)

So, is the reefer madness behind us? It’s starting to seem so. And ahead is the opportunity to soothe our pain without the risk of dependency on opiate-based pills.