Pot 101

Accessing medical marijuana in Sonoma County

According to ProCon.org, the number of medical marijuana users in California is approximately 800,000, or 2 percent of the total population. Based I think that number could easily grow to 20 percent, if barriers to obtaining care are overcome.

It’s my perception that there is still a vast population that does not know that they can benefit significantly from certain types of medical marijuana. To look at only one issue, research suggests that migraine headaches may be linked to an endocannabinoid deficiency. Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids (analogous to THC, CBD, etc.) produced within the body. Sometimes, under a condition known as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome, the body stops producing sufficient endocannabinoids, which can lead to various health problems. As a result, the body needs plant-based cannabinoids to mitigate those health conditions. Same as a diabetic needs insulin, some people need cannabinoids to balance their health.

Understanding that cannabis can help is the first barrier to get over. Then you can ask, is there a dispensary near me that has products that will benefit me? How do I know which questions to ask? Will they laugh at me behind my back? Will I find someone who can answer my questions with some degree of clarity?

The first thing you need to access cannabis is a doctor’s referral. A Google search (“medical marijuana card” plus “Santa Rosa”) will give you multiple options. I go to Compassionate Health Options on Fifth and E streets, across from the parking lot behind Russian River Brewing Company.

Once you have your card, you will need to visit a dispensary. Mercy Wellness (Cotati), OrganiCann (Santa Rosa) and Peace in Medicine (Santa Rosa and Sebastopol) are among the better-known locations in Sonoma County. (Petaluma and Healdsburg do not have dispensaries.)

The hard part is getting over the anxiety of your first visit. Embrace your newness. Ask dispensary employees if they have anyone experienced with new patients. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Last week, I went to two dispensaries in Sonoma County and presented myself as a first-time patient. I was underwhelmed. My wine-industry friends talk about creating a “memorable guest experience” for new and returning visitors. Some of the local dispensaries need that same vision.

So if things don’t feel right, politely excuse yourself and try another location. Eventually, you will find that memorable guest experience and a regimen that works for you.

Michael Hayes works for CBD Guild. Contact him at [email protected].

Sonoma County Library