Medicinal cannabis works for patient with Native American heritage

Patient uses cannabis to relieve multiple ailments

Doretta Kirk prefers cannabis for its natural properties over 
prescription pills.

Doretta Kirk prefers cannabis for its natural properties over prescription pills.

Photo by Ken Magri

Produced by N&R Publications, a division of News & Review.

With two blown knees and inflamed sweat glands, Doretta Kirk just wants relief — but naturally. At age 5, a bicycle accident damaged the nerves in her left knee. Then, after years of work as a security guard, her right knee also gave way. Now at 67, she needs a walker and takes several seconds to gather herself just to stand up.

Kirk says that over-the-counter pain relievers became increasingly ineffective. Being half Native American, she didn’t feel comfortable with prescription pharmaceuticals.

“This isn’t a chemical dumping ground,” she says. “This is a living, breathing, flesh-and-blood human body.”

Last May, Kirk gave cannabis a try. After six months of using it, she’s found cannabis works well enough to keep her pill-free and relatively active throughout the day.

Kirk’s introduction to cannabis goes back decades, when she was homeless and camping with friends who smoked pot. “I remembered back in college reading that Queen Victoria used a cannabis tea for cramps,” she says. Kirk concocted her own version, what she calls “lady’s tea,” out of her friends’ leftover seeds and stems. “After 20 minutes, no more cramps,” she says, “and that lasted through my period.”

She’s developed a reputation as a weed-cleaner, sifting through other people’s pot and making good use of their throwaways.

Kirk also suffers from hidradenitis suppurativa, or inflamed sweat glands. “The pain gets so bad, it’s like having battery acid under your skin,” she says. Last spring, a nurse/budtender at A Therapeutic Alternative helped Kirk find a regimen that would work. It includes a vape pen for instant relief, and edibles for longer lasting effects. “That first visit, I was in so much pain, they had to come out from behind the counter and help me,” says Kirk.

For better sleep, Bhang chocolates are part of her bedtime routine, and Edi-Pure sour apple drops help “when I’m out and about.” Kirk also thinks cannabis helps with her overactive bladder. “These are totally unexpected bonuses,” she says.

“The way I see it,” says Kirk, “the same God that created our bodies, created what’s in those [cannabis] plants. I think God knew what he was doing.”