by Prissy Elrod | June 13, 2022

Girls Just Marijuana Have Fun

One little pill takes Prissy Elrod on the trip of a lifetime.

To Prissy Elrod’s surprise, several of her friends were acquainted with the benefits of marijuana. Illustration by Stephen Lomazzo.

It was midnight as I sipped my second cup of Nighty Night herbal tea. Despite all my concoctions, insomnia clung on like a bad boyfriend. It had been two hours since I’d taken an arsenal of holistic sleep aids and then applied roll-on aromatherapy to my wrists, earlobes and under the tip of my nose. The fusion of lavender, frankincense and holy basil scented the air around me, but nothing sedated my busy brain. The Cleveland Clinic determined I’m off the spectrum of normal. Well, hello Cleveland Clinic, I didn’t need to spit in your test tube to know that. 

I’m an anomaly, who can’t take medicines everyone else on the planet can. Benadryl wires me. Steroids keep me up for days. Tamiflu turned me engine red. It’s a no to Advil and Motrin for me —I can’t metabolize anti-inflammatories. Codeine and other pain meds? Nada, no-can-do, neither. Still, I continued to take the holistic sleep aids out of habit and hope. I picked up my iPad to scroll the night away when the first sentence in an article caught my attention: “A battle is being waged over Florida’s $1 billion cannabis market.” Apparently every Tom, Dick and Harry wanted to open a dispensary in our state. According to the story, shops were battling for business by giving discounts. I headed to bed at 2 a.m., befuddled.

The next morning, I slid from beneath the sheets and shuffled toward the kitchen via the living room. Still groggy, I glanced up to see graphs and charts rolling on our television above the fireplace. A grey-faced man spoke in monotone on the screen. 

Dale, my husband, lay on the couch captivated by the lecturer. I needed coffee just to get to my coffee. His day begins at 3 a.m., a routine he enjoyed long before he married me in his fifth decade of bachelorhood. I learned a simple truth from the never-married man. People cannot change. Accept it, then adapt. I had. 

The sagacious man is a thinker, doer and prolific learner. His passions are finance, physics and cryptocurrency, not hunting, fishing and football like my late first husband, Boone. I’m smarter just from living with the man. Okay, maybe just smart-alecky, but smart makes up half that word. 

A couple of years ago, he discovered YouTube, which led him down a rabbit hole where global intellectuals awaited, eager to nourish his hungry brain. Before I knew it, his viewing moved from his office and desktop to our living room and flat-screen TV. 

When he heard my clogs clogging, he paused the lecturer mid-sentence and headed for the kitchen. An image of the man’s half-open mouth and yellow teeth filled the 65-inch flat-screen TV suspended over French-inspired decor. I needed liquor in my coffee by then. In his defense, the benevolent husband creates the perfect cappuccino for me every morning and has seldom missed one day in our married life. So, he can watch whatever he wants. Yes sirree, I’m no brat.

The Cleveland Clinic determined I’m off the spectrum of normal. Well, hello Cleveland Clinic, I didn’t need to spit in your test tube to know that.

 “Seems like it was just Friday, or is it Thursday?” I asked as he ground the espresso beans. “Trash day, so Friday,” he said, handing over the frothy creation as we headed for the conference meeting. It’s our morning ritual where he shares what he did since awakening, and I pretend to listen. I share what I did before bed, and he pretends to care. I sought the recliner, and he chose the couch, hiding behind the pillows.

“I read an article last night,” I said, sipping my coffee. “Florida has changed.”

“What are you talking about?” he asked, through a yawn. 

“Cannabis and marijuana markets are booming here, and all the big companies want to relocate.” I went on educating my learner. “Did you know we’re the third largest market in the country now?” I said, like I had something to do with the pot boom. I stretched my neck to see why he didn’t answer. He was gone.

Later that day, I shared the article with a more captive audience at lunch with my girlfriends. I almost choked on my tea when I learned they both used medical marijuana. “I take Dream every single night,” one said. “It’s a tincture oil in a dropper bottle.” 

The other swallowed her bite of cobb salad and dittoed, “I sleep like a baby,” she said. “It changed my life.”

“What are y’all talking about?” They shared their ailments, symptoms, the prescriber and more. Good grief, I had TMJ, insomnia and five sets of ear tubes inserted in the last two years. “I want some of that stuff,” I said, as I swallowed my last drop of chardonnay. 

As we waited for the bill, I flashed back to the early ’70s and my once-hippy self. I was no virgin to marijuana. But, like Bill Clinton, I never inhaled the stuff. I looked the part with my long, braided hair, trendy bell-bottoms and a hanky scarf I called my top. But, really, I was a pseudo hippy since I continued to shave my arms and legs. And, I repeat, I never inhaled. 

I heard my name and drifted back to the lunch. “Prissy, I’ll get you some Dream,” my sweet friend offered. Girlfriends do kind things for one another. And a kind friend never pens the sweet friend’s name in her column. We agreed to meet in the produce section of Trader Joe’s the next day. Over a bag of green apples, I passed her the green bill with trembling hands, and she handed over my very own Dream tincture oil. When I returned home, I showed Dale my Trader Joe’s party favor.

“I felt like a criminal,” I said.

“You are. It’s illegal,” he quipped.  

But as the saying goes… no good deed goes unpunished. I should have listened. Better yet, I should have read the directions on the bottle. I thought she said to take two droppers instead of what she actually said, which was two drops. Lord, give me strength. It was a trip I never wanted to take again. 

After I swallowed my full droppers, I went to bed hoping to sleep like a baby, as promised. As I lay awake, wide-eyed, I heard movement in our pitch-black bedroom and turned on the light. My husband, headed to the bathroom for a middle-of-the-night pee, stood frozen at the foot of our bed. He was half asleep, swaying and squinting. 

“Why is the light on?” he asked.

I stared at his face and watched as it dissected into jigsaw pieces. His eyes were on one side of the room, his nose and ears on the other. “What’s wrong with your face?” I squealed. His lips were three times larger than normal and drifted in circles around the room.

“What’s wrong with you?” he asked as he stood over me, alarmed.

“I took that stuff to sleep, but something isn’t right,” I said. 

“Should we go to the ER?” he asked. 

“No way, I can’t go having taken that stuff,” I fretted. Two days later, I was still awake. 

If only I’d learned my lesson. If only.

Two weeks later, I sat in front of a certified marijuana physician for my allotted 15-minute appointment. An hour later, I knew more about the man than I did my own husband. It started with his father, a one-time drug dealer, and ended with his fiance, anxious to get married. Worse, he knew way too much about me. 

“You’re definitely a candidate,” he said, handing me a signed order and a discount coupon. “You should have an ID card in a week.” 

If only my story ended there. If only.

The tale and my tail twisted after that. It began after I walked into the dispensary, toting that 30-percent discount coupon two days before Christmas. 

“May I help you?” the woman behind the counter asked. 

“Yes, please. I need something to sleep and another thing to focus.” I smiled big and brave. 

Gladys, her nametag read, walked to the back and came out with two products. She showed me a white round cannister with a product called Revive. “Take one for concentration,” she instructed but didn’t elaborate.

“I got it, just one,” I replied. Her sullen personality juxtaposed my chirpiness. 

Next, she held up a bottle of Dream. “Two drops an hour before bedtime,” she instructed. Oh Lord, not again! But it was 30 percent off. 

A woman in line behind me leaned in and whispered, “I can’t take either of those.”  

“Then what are you buying?” I asked.

“You want the chocolate bar, the only thing I can take.” She held up a bar wrapped in plain white paper. Most times, I listen to no one. This time, I listened to the stranger in the Lilly Pulitzer dress behind me. She looked about my age, only well-rested.

“Throw in a chocolate bar, please.” I paid for my goods and tossed them in my bathroom drawer when I got home.

Three days after Christmas, I returned from a 3-mile walk, hydrated with a bottle of water and plopped on the couch to cool down. Sara, my youngest daughter, dropped in for a visit. We chatted as she worked on her computer next to me on the couch. Hungry, I sat up to go to the kitchen. Then, it happened in a flash. I was there, yet far away, two dimensions in the same moment. “Something is wrong,” I told Sara, who saw I was pasty with a faraway stare. She yelled for my YouTube watcher. They quizzed and fretted until they called an ambulance. 

Most times, I listen to no one. This time, I listened to the stranger in the Lilly Pulitzer dress behind me. She looked about my age, only well-rested.

Strangers invaded and circled. 

“Did she take anything?” the first
responder asked Sara as she wrung her hands. He kneeled beside me and asked again. 

“I took Dream, but three weeks ago.”  

He half chuckled through his serious smile. “It’s not that, I know. You should be seen.” 

Strapped to a gurney, I was bound for the omicron-infested hospital, still barefoot and with no mask. From there it was full throttle: two CT scans of my head and neck; two electrocardiograms; an ultrasound of my spleen; and umpteen vials of blood drawn. After eight hours with no diagnosis, a doctor discharged me. 

“Follow up with your physician,” he said. 

Two weeks later, I visited a neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. He ordered an MRI and more labs. His diagnosis was inconclusive, but he suspected a seizure. A three-month follow-up was scheduled, unless I had another episode. 

I was putting my hair in a ponytail the next week when I reached in my drawer for a rubber band and found the white dispensary bag filled with cannabinoids. I’d forgotten about them, what with all my medical goings-on. But then an unexplainable sensation ran through me, and I pulled the bag out and tossed it on my bed.

The Dream bottle and chocolate bar were unopened but the Revive cannister had been. I counted the gel capsules. Please. Please. Please. Let there be 40, the quantity listed on the bottle. Oh no, there was one missing. I read the directions and ingredients. Take one with glass of water, then wait up to two hours for effect (5 mg CBD, 5 mg THC per gel). Then I did math: one hour to walk; 15 minutes hydration; 45 minutes couch chitchat. Two hours. A vague memory emerged. Had I taken a gel before I went on a walk that day and not remembered? Hence, the ambulance, emergency room and two days at Mayo Clinic. Dear dispensary woman, I asked for a product to help me concentrate, not get stoned. I kept the secret for as long as I could bear. But, on the sixth day, it festered, popped and oozed out during our morning conference.

“I may not have anything wrong with me after all,” I said matter-of-factly to my husband. 

“Why would you say that?” he asked. 

“Well, there’s a slight chance the day you and Sara called the ambulance I had taken a smidge of marijuana and just forgotten.” This time, the color drained from his face, not mine. 

“You know, maybe there were only 39 to begin with, a factory mistake,” I went on as his blue eyes widened. “I can’t know just because it’s gone, especially if I don’t remember.” He didn’t answer, but he seldom interrupted me when I was on one of my verbal rolls. 

“How could one tiny gel make y’all think I was stroking out?” I asked. 

“Well, why not take one, and see what happens?” He suggested. Okay, maybe I suggested that. Either way, this fearless gal needed to know if the cannabinoid was the culprit or if I had an undiagnosed medical mystery to worry about.

Anyone who read my books will know that I never give up, on anything or anyone. So, for the record, I’ll be running a cannabinoid experiment here in Florida, the third largest medical marijuana market in the country. If I discover that two of three products whacked me out, I won’t despair. I have one left. And, should you see me lounging on a beach, nibbling a dark chocolate cannabinoid bar, you’ll know the third was a charm, and this determined scientist slept like a baby, finally.