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Marijuana Cured My Cramps

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I’ve been high exactly one-and-a-half times in my life. The first occasion was when I hit a bong during girls’ night in, prompting me to eat an entire tub of hummus and become completely consumed with the irrational notion that I looked like Robin Givens. (I look absolutely nothing like Robin Givens.) The fractural portion refers to the time I was clutching my beloved heating pad while in the fetal position and a friend of mine waved a joint in my face, asking “You know people smoke for cramps, right?”

On average, the first few days of my period mean four oh-so-necessary naps and 20+ Advils. I remember getting a cramp so bad while grocery shopping that I just sat on the floor until it passed. I didn’t make an appointment with my gyno; instead I practiced the ancient womanly tradition of grin and bear it.

For someone who is, for the most part, anti-pills of any sort, it’s pretty frustrating to throw my principles out the window somewhere around the fifteenth of every month. I rationalized that a few puffs would probably be safer than reaching for more painkillers, and his joint worked like a charm. I took about three good hits and slept through the night without a heating pad — which was pretty cool since I got a scar from the cord last month.

Make no mistake, I was in desperate need of a solution. A simple Google sesh led me right into the hands of an unlikely icon of menstruation — Whoopi Goldberg. She and Maya Elisabeth, founder of cannabis line Om Edibles, have partnered on a brand of medical cannabis products called Whoopi & Maya designed specifically for period cramps.

Women who have suffered slipped discs have said menstrual cramps are just as bad; doctors say that for some, the pain can be similar to a heart attack. So why has there been so little innovation in the world of menstruation? Oh right, sexism.

First Step: Obtain a Medical Marijuana Card

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I decided that if I was going to make this a monthly thing, I needed to get a license and research the right strains. It wasn’t hard to find a doctor who would prescribe a cannabis card; the difficult part was choosing between so many options. (I ended up going with the clinic with the most professional looking site. There are a lot of basic HTMLs flying around with cursors that look like marijuana leaves. Can’t have that.)

No appointment was necessary. I drove a mile and threw two hours worth of moolah in the meter. The office was exactly what you’d expect: old magazines, cool surf dudes at the front desk and a totally intimidating vibe for the unschooled.

“Renewal?”

“Uh, no. I’m looking to get a prescription, I’m not sure exactly wha—”

“Driver’s license. We’ll call your name.”

I barely had enough time to check menstrual cramps on the info sheet before I heard my name butchered by a doctor in khakis, a semi-untucked denim shirt and a dad hat embroidered with a multi-colored bass fish. The fish theme was everywhere, really. His “office” resembled a converted Macy’s bathroom, the nice ones with couches and stuff, except adorned with pictures of him fishing and posters about marijuana safety most likely created with ClipArt.

After what can only loosely be described as a check up, he complimented me on my strong-sounding heart and whipped out his pad. Pretty cool, I thought, Someone who may or may not be a doctor thinks I have a strong heart.

Dr. Khakis skimmed over my sheet and said, “Follow me.”

This must be when the exam begins, I thought. Nope, he took me right back to the front desk, shook my hand and $40 later, I was in the clear. I looked at my parking meter and an hour and 43 minutes were left.

Second Step: Anoint Myself With Whoopi’s Products

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Day one of my cycle is always the roughest. I woke up in the middle of the night with gruesome cramps and knew it was showtime. I didn’t have time for my experiment at 3 a.m., so I went with three painkillers instead. Eh, maybe tomorrow.

The first product I tried was the medical cannabis body balm rub. I didn’t exactly know what to do, so I put it on my stomach, lower abdomen and the back of my neck. It took a few hours for me to realize that it must really be working because I hadn’t felt the need to scarf down an Advil. The downside was that I neglected to put it in my bag and, just like my trusty dusty painkillers, it needs to be reapplied every few hours or so.

Next up, herbal tincture drops. My success with the rub made me overly confident about the drops and I started adding them to my tea without reading the instructions. I OD’d as if I was adding chlorophyll or a sweetener before reading that three drops was the recommend dosage. Nothing weird happened. I was super relaxed, maybe for the first time in my adult life, and 100% cramp-free.

Since my last period, I’ve used the drops on occasion as well as the bath salts when I’m at my parents’ house who, ya know, have a real tub. Unfortunately the topical rub and drops aren’t exactly the most inconspicuous medication. If ever you see a woman crouched on the floor of your local grocery store, rubbing her belly with shea butter, it’s just me.

Illustrations by Mark Yocca; follow him on Instagram @yocca_.

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