How I Use Cannabis To Manage Chronic Pain and Anxiety

Using Cannabis to Manage Fibromyalgia and Anxiety

I’ve been so nervous to talk about cannabis—but I live in Washington state, where it’s legal. I use marijuana, notably high-CBD edibles, to manage chronic pain and anxiety. It’s one of the only things that works to quiet chronic pain.

I wasn’t always in favor of using marijuana. In fact, I was against it for most of my life.

For many years, I identified with a movement in punk sub-culture called Straight Edge—refraining from alcohol, drugs, and promiscuous sex. I was STAUNCHLY against using drugs—I didn’t even want to take Tylenol for a headache!

At 13, the second time I ever smoked pot, I was sexually assaulted. When I filled a police report, the cop told me, “if you hadn’t been high, this wouldn’t have happened.” He was wrong, because it was the BOY’S FAULT, but I took it to heart and refused to go near weed for the next 12 years.

In 2012, Washington State legalized marijuana.

Then in 2013, I was diagnosed with a chronic pain disorder called Fibromyalgia. Opioids didn’t help the pain. Muscle relaxers only helped a little bit. I tried everything. I was so miserable from being in pain all the time. I just wanted some relief.

And then one day, I woke up and decided I wanted to try marijuana.

I did A LOT of research and A LOT of soul searching. It was really hard for me to make the decision to use pot for medical purposes after being against it for so long. My friends and family have been very supportive of me changing my mind about weed.

Today, in honor of 4/20, I’m going to share a little bit about marijuana and how I use it for medicinal purposes. This post IS NOT medical advice, it is a combination of my opinion and my own research. Please note, I live in a state where marijuana is LEGAL. Don’t do illegal things if it’s not legal in your state.


All About Cannabis

Despite the legal fuss, it’s just a plant that grows like a weed in the wild. Cannabis itself is extremely safe; the only way it can kill you is if it a bale of it falls on you. There are no reports of overdosing on marijuana.

The plant itself is beautiful, it thrives on a well-developed root system. It’s been cultivated by people for thousands of years, there have even been dried flowers discovered in Egyptians and Chinese tombs!

Up until 1938, cannabis was available for purchase in the United States. Then, in 1938 the US passed the Marijuana Tax Act, which was aimed at Mexicans and Black Jazz musicians who used cannabis.

I’m gonna skip the part about THE WAR ON DRUGS because I think we all know about. Although, I think it’s important to note here that I failed D.A.R.E. in elementary school because I said their program wasn’t effective. Anyway…

About The Cannabis Plant

The cannabis plant comes in two varieties: Sativa and Indica.

Sativa originates in the Americas and gives people a head high.  Sativa is more of an upper, great for being creative and getting things done.

Indica originates in East Asia and gives most people a “body high”. I remember this by thinking Indica = InDaCouch.  Indica will make you sleepy and relaxed. For a lot of people, it calms down anxiety and melts worries way.

What Is CBD & How Is It Medicine?

Most people have heard of about the chemical THC, which is the ingredient in marijuana that gets users high. But there is second compound in marijuana called cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD is the non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plant and it doesn’t get you high.

CBD is only one in over 60 compounds found in cannabis that belong to a class of molecules called cannabinoids.  Of these compounds, CBD and THC are usually present in the highest concentrations, therefore, they are the most recognized and studied.

Just yesterday, a FDA advisory panel backed a cannabis-based drug as a treatment for kids with rare types of epilepsy. The drug is made from a CBD oil that doesn’t get you high. Several parents testified to say that it helped cut down on their kids’ seizures and improve their quality of life. The FDA will make the call later this year on whether to make it the first drug from a cannabis plant approved in the US.

Now… some science about CBD.  The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex signaling network within the human body that uses specialized compounds known as cannabinoids to control various bodily processes by interacting with different receptors and regulatory enzymes. The ECS is a vast network of cells & contributes to a variety of things such as: pain, mood, memory, immunity, reproduction, appetite, sleep… and a lot more. CBD works with the endocannabinoid system to keep the body in balance.

Opioids and Cannabis both have pain-relieving effects because they block pain signals in our nervous system.  Cannabinoid binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system, while opioids bind to opioid receptors to produce pain relief.

Some people believe the existence of cannabinoid receptors in the human body means that the cannabis plant was intended for therapeutic and recreational consumption. However, this is simply a happy accident where plant cannabinoids mimic our own biology.

How Do I Use Cannabis and CBD To Manage Pain?

Truth be told, I don’t like smoking or vaping. I use edibles, tinctures, or topical ointments with a high level of CBD. I’ve found that my body needs 1mg-2.5mg of THC in order to feel the full effects of CBD, but everyone is different.  I also like a little bit of THC because it just makes everything a lot less terrible.

A 3:1 ratio of CBD:THC is great for those seeking the soothing effects of high CBD, with a light dose of psychoactive THC. I do a lot of mixing of edibles to get the right ratio of CBD.  10:1 is really nice for sleeping, or to have on hand when I’ve taken something with too much THC.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD Oil is usually made from industrial hemp, which is related to cannabis but contains no THC. CBD Oil made from Hemp is legal in all 50 states. Many people use CBD Oil to manage anxiety and chronic pain because it non-intoxicating and is thought by some to have a much broader range beneficial effects on neurodegeneration, autoimmune disorders, heart, and liver health.  Occasionally, I use CW Brothers Charlotte’s Web Hemp Oil or Manitoba Harvest Hemp Oil Pills for an added boost of energy.

I’ve also seen some new trendy products that are CBD-rich and non-psychoactive. I really want to try Not Pot CBD candies, but it looks like they’re having some trouble finding a payment processing system because banks are afraid of CBD.

What’s the best kind of weed for anxiety?

I got this question on Instagram and I thought it was important to answer.

Personally, Sativa strains gives me horrible anxiety and sometimes panic attacks. Indica can calm anxiety, but honestly, you just have to find the right strain for you. I recommend asking the budtender at your local store or dispensary for a recommendation.

Almost just as important as strain is the CBD to THC ratio. I use CBD-rich marijuana products because I’m using it to manage chronic pain and anxiety.

CBD has powerful anti-anxiety properties, minus the side effects that are found in anti-anxiety medicine. Like I’ve already covered, CBD can help treat panic disorder, PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and a lot more.

Read more here: Best Cannabis Strains For Anxiety by Leafly

Legalize It & Decriminalize It

I support the legalization of marijuana (which for the majority benefits white people) and I also support the decriminalization & release of prisoners serving sentences for related marijuana crimes.

There is also evidence that cannabis is used to substitute opioid and states with legalized medical cannabis have seen decreases in prescription drug rates.

In 2012, Washington State legalized recreational use of marijuana.  That means that anyone over the age of 21 can legally use & purchase cannabis.  You also can’t drive high. Technically, it’s not something you can do in public–think of it like a beer. You can’t walk around with an open beer, and you can’t walk around smoking a joint (although I do see people doing that sometimes).

To purchase weed in Washington State, you walk into a pot shop,  show your ID, pay in cash, and walk out with legal weed. It’s important to note here that every state has different rules and different growers. The products I buy in Washington are different than the products for sale in California.

There’s still the notion that marijuana is taboo and that there’s no real medicinal benefit, but research shows that’s not true. I want to change the way people see cannabis. Sure, some people abuse it, and it CAN be habit forming (it’s NOT ADDICTIVE), and being super stoned means you can’t be very productive, but if you’re using it to manage a health condition or for fun sometimes, then go for it.

New To Weed?

If you are new to weed, start with a strain that has lower THC in it. You can’t overdose on weed, but you can get too high. Being too high is really uncomfortable and you can get paranoid or panic. A quick tip: consume something with a high level or CBD. CBD will  counteract the THC can bring your high down.

My Favorite Pot Resources 
Leafly – Dispensary finder and strain reviews
Weedmaps – Dispensary finder and strain reviews
Vanderpop – Cannabis stories by women
Bong Appetit on VICE – Cannabis cooking show
Weediquette on VICE – Documentary series about the legalization of weed

Do you use cannabis? Do you use CBD? Did this post teach you anything? Let me know in the comments!

Author: Becca Risa Luna

Seattle-based fashion writer and personal essayist. Likes designer handbags, glaring openness, and subtle vulgarity.

2 thoughts

  1. I’m brand new to it since my neurologist decided we should wean me off of the Methadone I’ve been taking for nearly a decade for autoimmune disorder related pain. We’re slowly tapering me off of it and the pain and withdrawals are no joke. Luckily I live in California and I have friends that have helped me with some edibles and a vape pen (a CBD cartridge and a Indica cartridge too). I’m still trying to decide if I like it or if I should just tell my lungs to shut up and stop complaining about it already. I have slept a lot better since trying it and I DO think my pain is better. Just trying to figure out the right treatment for me specifically. Next step: visit a dispensary for guidance.

    Liked by 1 person

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