Pro tip: the next time your girlfriends says it’s that time of the month, try passing her a joint instead of the Midol. Several studies have proven marijuana’s effectiveness as a pain killer. In fact, women have used it to treat period pain since the 1800s —including, allegedly, Queen Victoria. Unfortunately, the War on Drugs and its illegality has kept many modern women from the potential relief of weed—but that’s now quickly changing.
While some women are lucky enough to get by with mild to moderate menstrual cramps, 20 percent of women suffer from something called dysmenorrhea, or severe and sometimes debilitating menstrual pain that can make it impossible to go about their daily lives. If a woman in your life is one such sufferers, you’ve heard her analogize the pain: it can feel like angry demons clawing your lower abdomen, being stabbed by fire pokers or having a bowling ball hurled into your gut.
The most popular pain-relief options available to most women are, for the most part, dismal and include switching to a different hormonal contraceptive, Midol (which barely takes the edge of at all for extreme sufferers) and home remedies like hot water bottles, warm baths, lying on the floor with your legs up a wall, lying with a pillow under your lower back or drinking various herbal teas. Opiates can help, but patients are wary of taking them for an undetermined period of time because of the risk of addiction. Overall, a lot of options fall tragically short. Enter medical marijuana.
The state of New York just introduced legislation that would allow prescriptions for medical marijuana to be prescribed specifically for the treatment of menstrual cramps. And since several states already allow prescription pot as a treatment for chronic or severe pain, dysmenorrhea sufferers may qualify in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio and Vermont, Arkansas, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Plus, of course, in states where recreational use is legal—if you count “easing pain so you don’t feel like you’re going to die” a form of recreation.
Whoopi Golderg has even launched a line of cannabis products (like bath soaks and tinctures) in collaboration with Maya Elisabeth, founder of Om Edibles, specifically designed and marketed as treatment for menstrual cramps. Goldberg told Marie Claire that when she asked her friend, an editor at High Times, whether anyone in the newly booming cannabis industry had developed a product for cramps, he said nobody would do it because was too niche. That made Goldberg’s “head explode,” so she decided to develop her own line.
The reviews of Whoopi and Maya’s products are mostly stellar, but, of course, cannabis doesn’t have to come in the form of a fancy, celebrity-branded bath oil to help ease cramps. Perhaps the best thing about a product line like this is that it helps raise awareness of the relief women can get from cannabis, whether in the form of designed tinctures, a good old-fashioned bong rip or a tasty edible.
So the next time a woman in your life complains of cramps, don’t just tilt your head in an awkward attempt to look sympathetic. Roll that woman a joint.