Singapore’s attitudes towards drugs are pretty draconian. Some opioids are available via a doctor but when I would’ve been given a stronger pain killer in the US, in Singapore I was made to be an inpatient. (This would never happen in the US because a night in the hospital is thousands upon thousands of dollars.) But today we’re going to talk about pot, and specifically what using pot for pain has done for my quality of life.
I understand that this is controversial stance and I don’t think I would necessarily have written a pro-drug post while still living there. So this is me, free from the constraints of living in Singapore to talk about why I wish Singapore would institute medical marijuana.
To my Singaporeans readers–posession/consumption of pot in Singapore carries a 20k sgd fine and up to 10 years in prison. Which is better than the death penalty, I guess.
I wanted to try pot for my chronic pain for years before we moved back to the US once I started reading up on the benefits of medical marijuana. It wasn’t an option. Instead I had to weigh the potential consequences of pain versus opioid every day. Because while I was grateful for the pain relief, I do not want to risk addiction. So there were plenty of days where my baseline pain made it difficult to do normal things like get up and walk around or to grocery shop but wasn’t painful enough to force me to stay in bed. And there were days where I chose to stay in bed because getting out would mean a pain pill and I wanted to avoid that.
When we moved to California only medical marijuana was available. But it wasn’t difficult to get approved for medical marijuana here–I used telemedicine in which I uploaded paperwork showing my MRI’s and then skyped a doctor. I got approved on the spot, was emailed a letter and my card arrived a week later. California is quite relaxed in this regard–it varies state to state with some states making it ludicrously difficult to get approved for medical marijuana.
Even though recreational pot use is legal in California now, I still consider myself a medical patient as I specifically use it for pain and not to get high.
A quick chemistry lesson–Marijuana has two main components–CBD and THC
- CBD is the pain killing agent.
- THC is what gives you the high, and is useful for increased pain and those who suffer from anxiety.
The amount of CBD/THC you get changes depending on the strain of marijuana you smoke–if you smoke. Given that I have children, and wasn’t a fan of smoking pot in college, I chose not to smoke or vape. Which left me with a few options.
- Creams–I tried a CBD cream on my back but didn’t get much relief from it
- Edibles–Edibles are generally only THC and I wasn’t looking for a high. Plus, based on my very limited experience of two things, it’s hard not to make something taste like pot. Blech.
- Oils–I haven’t tried these but I know people who swear by CBD oils. You put a few drops under your tongue. But that came too close to tasting pot for me.
- Capsules–WE HAVE A WINNER
The picture above is how I use marijuana. These are CBD pills. They look, honestly, like the Vitamin D capsules I took for years.
I have capsules at several different strengths for different reasons
- 20:1 (20 parts CBD to one part THC) pills are good for most days. They take care of the aches and pains of what we now know is fibromyalgia. It doesn’t impair my abilities at all.
- 4:1/2:1 (4 or 2 parts CBD to one part THC) are for days when I’m a little more OW! but still need to keep going. This is what I’d take when my pain is ratcheting up but I can’t necessarily lay down and sleep.
- 1:1 (equal parts CBD and THC) are for days when I’m in a LOT of pain and can afford to wait up to an hour to get relief. I can usually see this building, and try a lower dose but if it’s not working and I can afford to relax/sleep I’ll take a 1:1. If I’m in acute pain I’ll take an opiod, but that means I take maybe one every 1-2 months now because of the pot.
- Pure THC capsules–I have started to try these at bedtime because my anxiety goes up sharply at nighttime–I can ponder all the bad things in the world (don’t @ me with suggestions) and my mind just won’t STFU. This is when the THC works in my favor and helps me feel a little sleepy and relaxes me. Coupled with a podcast or a familiar audiobook, I can zone out and fall asleep before six am….or just fall asleep, period. (Ask Ravi about the time I stayed up for two days straight and was crying because all I wanted to do was sleep. Fun times.) I started the because my dispensary was out of 1:1 pills and the person suggested them–I found that they can be helpful.
This is not to claim that the way I do medical marijuana is superior to the way anyone else does it–this is *my* journey and what works for me.
Full confession–I’m also only able to use pot in the way I do because I can afford it. A bottle of 30 pills goes for 80 dollars, and that’s 15 doses for me. A cheap month is under 200 usd. A bad month can be more. Insurance doesn’t cover medical marijuana because it’s still illegal on a federal level (which means don’t buy it in the US and try to take it to SG x 2). Given the US Attorney General’s stance on Marijuana the US won’t move in that direction at the federal level until the reign of terror that is Trump is over.
When we moved to the US from Singapore I was freaking out because I was still in a wheelchair pretty frequently and highly dependent on a cane when I wasn’t. I used prescription opioids almost every week, and sometimes every day, depending on my pain levels.
A year and a half later, I can’t remember the last time I needed my wheelchair, although I did use a mobility scooter at the Bronx Zoo in New York in June. I keep a travel cane (it folds up!) in my car, but only sporadically need it. For the most part I can just walk around, although I do still have limits I need to respect (and sometimes throw out the window to my own detriment–but that’s for another post).
I give a lot of credit to medical marijuana.
Which leads me back to my original point–it sucks that we couldn’t have medical marijuana in Singapore. They could simply offer a CBD course of pain management. It wouldn’t violate the drug laws in that you wouldn’t be chasing a high/getting “rewarded” with a high. Hell, I got more of a high off my opioids, which I *could* legally have in Singapore than I do off my pot (unless I take a higher than average dose of 1:1 capsules or a pure THC capsule)
I do not condone the possession or consumption in Singapore. It is illegal and I am explicitly saying don’t break the law.
I wish that I’d had the option of using CBD for pain while I lived in Singapore. I think my quality of life would’ve been better those last few years if I’d had CBD.
Having said that….
Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF) this month (Jan. 10) announced that it would develop synthetic cannabinoids, or chemical compounds found in the marijuana plant, as part of a broader S$25 million ($19 million) investment by the body into synthetic biology. The initiative will help boost Singapore’s push to develop a “bio-based economy,” and grow new industries and create jobs in a sustainable way.
It looks like some of you may get the chance to try it in the future. Although I’m not clear if what the article is saying is that they’re looking into this from a purely economic stance, with the goal being the production of medical marijuana for use outside of Singapore or if they’re considering actual medical marijuana. But my articles are all from January of 2018–if any of my readers has more info, please leave a comment. I’d love to know more.