Cannabis and Surgery

[Editor’s Note: We’d like to welcome back our writer, Julia, who’s currently in recovery after a successful hysterectomy procedure]

It’s a scary thought that more and more of us are having to face these days: What do you do when you can’t take narcotics but you have a major reason to, such as surgery? Cannabis works for me and many others, so, maybe it could work for you too.

Whether you are looking to add to your surgical opiate regimen or replace it altogether, there are some things to consider about surgery and the 72 hours after it; especially if you want to use cannabis.

1. Communication with your Doctors

I am so used to hearing no from my doctors when it comes to cannabis; so, usually, I just don’t ask and do what I want. However, in this circumstance, I communicated clearly about my cannabis intentions from the very beginning and you should too. Even though you risk a disagreement, you will need your doctors support in making sure that the post-op nurses have your cannabis medication ready and waiting.

2. Legality

Acquiring an ACMPR or license for use during and post surgery is extremely valid and few doctors will argue with it. After a 9 year struggle, my surgeon, with obvious discomfort, finally signed my ACMPR. She really didn’t want to until I explained that I could not risk being pulled over and having my medication confiscated if it was all I would take. It only got me a 3 month prescription for 2-3 grams per day but it enabled me to medicate in the hospital.

3. Method of Ingestion

This is one of the most important things to consider because your surgery instructions and cannabis ingestion have to harmonize; if they don’t, your surgeon will likely postpone your date.

Most operations require you to not eat or drink anything for hours beforehand and often have additional bowel instructions. So, what can you take?

Talk to your surgeon about your options. Ask them if a little bit of water to wash down a cannabis capsule would be acceptable because often times, it is. Cannabis suppositories are also fantastic options as long as they do not interfere with the bowel instructions.

4. Quality of Cannabis Product 

I heal faster taking cannabis than I do with using narcotics and I am not alone. When our body is working hard to heal, using a pain reliever that is easy on the system allows us to not waste physical energy filtering toxins. This is the time to ensure the quality and purity of what you ingest and inhale, so that the medicine can do its work without adding stress to a stressed out system. Plus, when you are lying in bed with nothing to do all day, you can really notice the burn in your throat.

5. Type of Cannabis Product 

Will you be allowed to eat anything at all or will you be on a liquid diet? Can you get up to go somewhere to smoke or vape cannabis? Will you have stitches anywhere that need to be treated gently, such as the throat? There are pro’s and con’s to all types of products:

Edibles – Dietary restrictions are the biggest challenge when it comes to using edibles post surgery. Often times, your food intake will be light and monitored on the first day. So, if you want to use an edible, make it something light and easy to eat.

Tinctures – I found this to be a great option for me as it was fast, effective and extremely discreet. I never had to get up and the bottle was small enough to keep tucked beside me in my bed and CannaMed knows how to make it taste mild.

Warning: Rick Simpson Oil or Phoenix Tears are a great option but taste them first (especially if you aren’t allowed anything to wash it down with).

Capsules – If you can take pills and are able to sip water, a capsule will allow you to control the dosing of your cannabis with easy consistency. In most cases, taking capsules wont compromise any dietary restrictions and can be taken right before surgery and immediately after.

Inhalation – As soon as I was out of the hospital, my vape pen was invaluable. Before, I didn’t use it once because I couldn’t get up and I was afraid to cough and rip my stitches.

Suppositories – Right out of surgery, suppositories are one of the best methods of ingestion as it provides strong, lasting relief quite quickly. I couldn’t always rely on a nurse to be there to refill my water immediately if I needed to take a capsule but suppositories don’t need anything to go down…or um…up.

6. Dosing

You need strong doses and its important not to underestimate this. Plan to have way too much and never just enough so that you can increase your dose as needed. Talk to friends and family, as well as your dispensary and make a plan in case you need more medicine. Make sure they know what you like and where to get it so that access is seamless.

During the surgery and within 2 weeks since, I have used:

Cannabis – 

  • 35 suppositories (1000mg each)
  • a 10ml bottle of Hayley’s Comet CBD Tincture
  • a 10ml bottle of Purple Kush Tincture
  • 7 Grams of THC Phoenix Tears (tested at 600mg THC per gram) put into capsules
  • In cannabis concentrates, I have vaped 2 grams of Blue Dream Live Resin, 1 gram of CBD Distillate, 1 gram Sour OG Shatter, 2 Grams THC Distillate and 2 Grams Bubba Kush Wax
  • In bud, I have smoked 5 Grams Blue Dream flower, 5 Grams Diamond Kush, 3 grams of Zeus, 7 grams Mountain Jam, 3 grams of Probiotic Pink Kush and 2 grams of Super Silver Haze

Opiates –

At my firm demand, I did not have ANY opiates or narcotics during the surgery whatsoever; several hours post-op I took:

  • 2 x 15mg Morphine Sulphate Tablets

It is your body and you have a right to it; if you want to avoid a dangerous medication like an opiate and replace it with a safe one such as cannabis, you should have the ability to do so. Just because it is not commonly done does not mean it is not effective; more and more people today are using cannabis to treat moderate to acute pain. Everyone and every situation is different but, cannabis for surgery should be on the table.