New-Age Treatment Option

Medical marijuana erases pain, anxiety and depression.

The combat action badge that Maria* earned while serving a six-month stint as a US Marine Corps combat medic in Iraq in 2013 is stashed away inside a small cedar box that rests on the top shelf of a guest room closet in her parents’ home.

“That badge is something I’m very proud of, something I’ll show my children one day, but it’s best kept out of the way for now,” Maria explains. “As you can probably guess, it brings back a lot of memories that I’ve been trying hard to forget.”

Among the memories Maria has struggled to shake is the one she has of a vehicle accident during which she suffered a disabling back injury. For years, the pain stemming from the injury incurred during that accident served as a constant reminder of it.

“I wound up having two back surgeries because of that accident,” Maria explains. “The first one didn’t take at all, and the second one didn’t really do all that much for me either. At one point, I was in so much pain, I could hardly stand or walk.

“I actually spent a couple of months in an electric wheelchair at that time. I eventually started to feel better and got out of the wheelchair, but the pain has been pretty constant. Suffice it to say, my back has not been the same since that accident.”

Nor has her life. She was honorably discharged from the military a few months after the accident, but her back pain was soon joined by symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Soon thereafter, Maria began fighting anxiety and depression as well.

The battery of issues made it hard for Maria to even look for work, much less find a job she was physically able to do. She eventually filled a position as a telemarketer, but for more than two years, she struggled to sleep and live the lifestyle she wanted.

“The worst part was, I was living on painkillers and anti-depressants, which made me feel like a zombie,” she says. “I was absolutely miserable, feeling anxious all the time and stuck in a job I didn’t like, and I was really starting to wonder if I would ever feel normal again.

“Then a friend asked me if I ever considered trying medical marijuana. I knew it had been legalized, but I had never looked into it because I didn’t think it would help me. After my friend asked me about it, though, I started doing some research.”

Through her research, Maria found Coastal Wellness Centers, a private medical practice that specializes in comprehensive medical cannabis treatment. It is the practice of Joseph Rosado, MD, whom Maria made an appointment to see in December 2017.

Dark Mood

“When Maria first came to me, she was taking nearly a dozen pills a day,” Dr. Rosado reports. “She was taking pills for her pain, pills for her depression and anxiety and pills for some of the side effects that came from taking those pills.

“She was not a very happy person at all. I remember she came in wearing dark sweat pants and a dark sweater, and her mood was very dark. She was a bit overweight as well because it was almost impossible for her to exercise.

“She was actually quite typical of many of the patients I see. She was at the end of her rope and looking for something different to restore her health. My goal with patients like that is to get them off their medications and improve their quality of life.”

Dr. Rosado achieves that objective through medical marijuana, which first became legal in the state of Florida in 2014. Since then, it has been approved as a treatment for more than a dozen conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease and PTSD.

To obtain the legal right to use medical marijuana, a patient in the state of Florida must first be diagnosed by a physician such as Dr. Rosado as having one of its qualifying conditions, which include chronic pain.

The physician can then write an order for the medical marijuana, which can only be obtained through a state-approved dispensary and can only be distributed in capsule or drop form, as a topical preparation, or an extract that can be vaporized.

The three marijuana compounds that have provided significant medical benefits are cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and terpenes. There are also three chemovars, or strains, of cannabis: Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis.

Dr. Rosado, who refers to medical marijuana as “remarkable” because it has “so many properties and works on so many different receptors in the body,” typically prescribes a combination of chemovars because each affects the body in different ways.

“Sativa tends to stimulate the body and mind and helps people focus and manage pain,” he says. “Indica slows the brain down, relaxes you and also addresses pain. Ruderalis has calming effects and is often recommended for people with anxiety.

“Now, with most medical marijuana doctors, they’ll just tell their patients to take ten milligrams of one of these ten times a day, and they send them off to the dispensary and that’s it. But I’m not like that.”

“I sit down with you and go over how to manage each medication, because that’s exactly what it is. And with Maria, I had her do Sativa in the morning before eleven o’clock, Indica from seven p.m. on and a hybrid chemovar in between.”

Improved Quality of Life

On the recommendation of Dr. Rosado, Maria opted to take her medical cannabis through a vape pen because the effects of the marijuana on pain are felt within three to five minutes and last for between two and four hours when taken that way.

“The effects have been amazing,” Maria exudes. “I’m completely off the pain pills now because my pain level is down by more than half, I’m sleeping better and I’m not as anxious as I used to be. I’ve even lost some weight.

“I probably gained about thirty pounds before I started seeing Dr. Rosado, but I’ve lost most of that because I’ve felt good enough to work out and exercise, which I hadn’t done regularly since before I left the Marine Corps.

“I feel like my whole quality of life is better, and I know it’s a result of the medical marijuana and the care I’ve received from Dr. Rosado because nothing I tried before that was working. This has worked, and I’m a better person for it.”

*Patient’s name withheld at her request.
Print This Article
    • Coastal Cannabis Clinics

      The goal of medical cannabis physicians Joseph Rosado, MD, Kathryne Gunn, DO, Alyn L. Benezette, DO, and the team at Coastal Cannabis Clinics is to provide comprehensive medical cannabis treatment to everyone from pediatric to geriatric p... Read More

    • Joseph Rosado, MD

      Joseph Rosado, MD, is a family medicine doctor who specializes in physical therapy and alternative addiction therapy/management. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Life College in Marietta, GA and his Doctor of Medicine degree from U... Read More

    • Alyn Benezette, DO

      Alyn Benezette, DO, is a board-certified clinical neurophysiologist who has been practicing for more than 25 years. He received his Doctorate of Osteopathy from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in 1981 and later performed hi... Read More