Ask Old Hippie: Can Marijuana Relieve My Back Pain?

Old Hippie Kenobi

Dear Old Hippie: I was in a car accident several years ago that left me with a back injury that unfortunately keeps me in quite a bit of pain a good portion of the day. I have been on a concoction of pharmaceuticals for the past year and a half, and finally decided that I hate their negative effects and I wanted to get off them. I had a very hard time remaining focused and productive. Anyway, I have worked myself down from 6 hydrocodone/4 tramadol a day to just 2 tramadol (and some prescription NSAIDS with no narcotics in them).

While my mind feels significantly better, my back is getting worse daily. I can’t exercise at all without experiencing both short and long term pain, and i’m gaining weight because of it, which puts more strain on my back. Most of the weed I’ve consumed (which I’m sure is nothing but ‘dirt’ or ‘brick’ weed) have actually heightened my sense of pain, making me feel teeth that don’t usually hurt or excessive throbbing in other mild ailments on my body. My desire is to ultimately find a source of marijuana with pain relieving properties. Are my expectations unrealistic?

A: Aw, foo. You’re “lucky” enough to have gotten some sensitizing body high effects, not pain-reducing effects. I’m almost positive that this is, as you mention, due to brick weed, because it sounds similar to the effects of a lot of the stuff I smoked back in the 60s and 70s.

There’s a literally dizzying selection of strains available at legitimate medical marijuana dispensaries, but since you’re not in a MMJ state, let’s get down to basics. Sativas generally affect your head and often stimulate thinking; indicas affect your body but can make you feel too stoned to think. But as I mentioned in my last column, there are always exceptions, and some things work differently on different people. Indicas are definitely more useful for pain relief in general. But there are many different strains available, and more importantly, different doses. This is something many people forget, when they talk about the “effects of marijuana”.

Recreational “doses” are almost always far higher than medicinal doses, and you will have different effects from the same batch of weed at these different doses.

Yes, when you smoke indicas to get high, you will often — depending again on the strain — end up with a fuzzy mind. But it is also true that if you take a smaller dose of the same batch, you will get milder body effects, such as pain relief, without getting mentally bombed. This can be improved by my personal trick of mixing strains in the same bowl, which lets you find the effects you want and cancel the others out.

The best solution is a high-CBD strain, which works like any other good pain medicine (removing the pain without making you numb), and often doesn’t get you high at all. Behold: Pot Painkiller Pills.

What you want can be done and is done every day, and I urge you to do a little more research and eventually get yourself to a medical marijuana state, where you can buy and use the medicine you need without having to worry about everything else.

Got a question for Old Hippie? Send in your questions to him using the contact form or post a comment below.

Old Hippie is a father of two boys and thankfully living in California where all this kind of thing is legal. He started smoking marijuana in 1967 in high school, experimented with mind-expanding drugs of all kinds, and then straightened out 15 or so years later to become an airplane pilot. After being diagnosed with depression in 2000, he lost his job and most of the following decade to prescription medications (such as antidepressants) which sapped his energy and will. Finally, a chance conversation with a friend led to a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana (MMJ). This changed his entire life, health, and outlook for the better. is his continuing story. It’s also his way to provide experienced advice on using medical marijuana effectively and responsibly, as well as advocacy, activism, and support for others. Old Hippie teaches about safe use of cannabis edibles, Canna Caps, vaporizers, dosing, and even microdosing.


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