I’m not a pharmacist. I just play one on the Internet.

Prescription bottles

It’s come to my attention that I know way too much about drugs even if I don’t know what pot smells like.

I’ve been wondering what pot smells like because I think my downstairs neighbors might be smoking it. Sadly all I get is the stink, not the high. This smell has been invading my apartment at least once a week lately. At first I thought they were cooking something gross, but then I remembered that my next-door neighbor saw them smoking pot on the porch once. I asked Twitter what pot smells like, but that didn’t help much. Talking about the smell of pot is like dancing about architecture. Do you think the cops would rent me a pot-sniffing dog? I’ll pet it and call it pretty.

Despite the fact that I cannot identify the smell of marijuana, I know a lot about prescription drugs and I’ve had ample opportunities to show off this week. First, my Lil’ Brother tripped on a curb and had to get eight stitches in his head. It happened right after he’d won a free iPad, so I think this was Nature seeking a balance. He called me from the pharmacy and I started quizzing him about what meds they’d prescribed. I told him what each letter in the acronym NSAID means and ran through the names of some of the common ones and then he faked having a concussion so he could get off the phone with me.

The next day, a friend of mine blogged about how she was going off of Effexor and how it was one of the most awful experiences of her life. This is when I took the opportunity to tell her that most anti-depressants are SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which means they only target one neurotransmitter, serotonin. However, Effexor is an SNRI (serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) which means it targets two neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine. Unfortunately for my friend’s brain, the half-life of Effexor’s effect on each neurotransmitter is different. So, when you go off of it you’re feeling the effects faster in regards to one neurotransmitter than the other. That’s why it gives you brain zaps and makes you curse the doctor who ever prescribed it to you.

The day after that, another friend tweeted this about the painkiller Lortab that he’d just been prescribed:

“What’s not to love about acetaminophen & hydrocodone in one convenient pill?”

To which I replied:

Hydrocodone alone has no maximum dosage, but acetaminophen does, so they add it to limit your intake. That’s what not to love :)

Because I don’t care if a question is hypothetical if it provides me an opening to talk about the hepatotoxicity of paracetamol.

That is when I finally noticed that I know far, far more about prescription medications than someone without a doctorate should. It is one of the earned skills of the chronically ill. We spend a lot of time reading about drugs on the Internet. I didn’t realize how much I’d learned until this week. (For those just joining us, I’ve had a headache that doesn’t go away for four years.) Of course, because I learned most of this stuff on Wikipedia or Crazy Meds, some of what I know is bound to be inaccurate or misinterpreted. I just don’t know what parts.

Regardless, I’d really like to know what pot smells like.

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  1. Jackie says

    Jen, Can I ask where your brother went for his stitches? I had to wait 12 hours at the UNC ER last Friday to get 3 stitches on my nose. I’m trying to see what my alternatives are should I have another medical emergency. My timing sucked but I still shouldn’t have had to wait 12 hours.

  2. JenFul says

    @Jackie – He lives in Indianapolis, so it’s probably not worth the commute :) 12 hours is an awful long time. Sorry you had to wait that long. I hope your nose is better.

  3. says

    Totally agree on the narcotic expertise that arises from chronic pain – it sucks and there are many other things I would like to fill my brain with… alas managing pain and stayin’ alive takes precedence!

  4. Dorothy Snyder says

    A long time ago, longer than I like to admit, when I was 18 I had a head ache while working at Arby’s. Someone else working at Arby’s with me had some pot. I ended up smoking the pot with him up on an unused floor of Arby’s and my head ache went away. That was the only time I ever smoked pot. I think I remember reading in your latest book that you did try pot to get rid of your head ache, and it didn’t work. I would try it again, if I were you, if you can. I have heard of legal pot. Not sure where that is though. Oh and you didn’t happen to have any surgeries on your back involving wires, did you? My daughter did and she got a head ache. The freaking wire from her spine (c-spine/neck) went into her brain. Crazy, I know, but it happened. It took months before the doctors realized it (even with me telling them over and over again) to take the darn wire out. So everytime I think someone has a head ache I want to scream, get any freaking wires out of your body.

  5. Mary says

    Well, Jennette, I guess this means nobody convinced you to try medical marijuana for your headache. You probably smelled it on the streets of San Francisco; I know that when I was there last fall I even walked by a middle-aged woman who was toking away. There’s a reason they call it grass and weed, too. It smells a bit like burning leaves. Green pepper is more accurate than (ugh) patchouli. Best of luck with your continued research.

  6. Anna says

    Really good pot smells like skunk, bad pot smells like burning leaves. Go befriend your neighbor and see if it helps with the headache! Or go try it in Michigan – we have medical cannabis up here.

  7. Dan Spinato says

    Self-medication is not that bad, really, just as long as you know when to actually consult a doctor. After all, no one else knows our bodies better than we do – ideally.

  8. says

    It’s really helpful how a lot of comments here accurately responded with how pot smells like, lol! At least now you know! I really hope the fumes you get from your neighbor doesn’t affect your system. And you do an amazing job as a self-proclaimed online pharmacist, you sure do know your (legal) drugs well!

  9. says

    Please excuse me for commenting so late. I realize that there are already plenty of descriptions of what pot smells like. But I feel compelled to add that I think it smells not like burning leaves but like burning weeds. Noxious weeds at that. I loathe the smell and always have. (So much that in my misspent youth, I probably had several residual highs from being in closed rooms while friends were smoking and I was holding my breath so I wouldn’t have to smell the smoke… yes, I was that dumb.)


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