Like you, your cousin, your Dutch uncle, Meryl Streep, the guy at the corner store and your ol’ dog Blue, The Observer ain’t getting any younger. Time only flows in one direction, thank God, but the downside is that as you get a little older, you start to feel every one of those ticking seconds in your muscles and bones, ligaments and tendons, your wonky knees and tennis elbows and bum discs in your lower back that periodically tune up and belt out the all-shrieking version of Handel’s Messiah. As we heard a comedian say once: You know you’re in your 40s when the doctor stops talking about how to fix your medical issues and starts telling you how to suck it up and live with it. 

The Observer is there. 

The Observer was a July baby, born a month before Richard Nixon flashed his looney V-for-Victory signs and boarded the last chopper out of an America that actually half-ass trusted its politicians, so we’re starting the long slide down the backside of 40 as of this week by turning the big four-five. It’s an age, we’ve found, when you can either quit telling yourself that bullshit about 45 being the new 25 or else your body will nag you about it until you concede the point. Over the years, The Observer has collected our various aches, pains and health bugaboos like the world’s crummiest baseball cards — “I got the gallstones rookie card!” — but it was all stuff we could live with until last year, when an injury we would have rubbed some Pabst Blue Ribbon on when we were 35 turned into pretty much constant, inescapable pain that ranges from a light screwdriver in the ribs to 196-proof agony. 

As a reporter, The Observer has written extensively about opioids, those delicious little pain-muting goofballs that the doctors and dentists were passing out like breath mints even a few years back, sending home pretty much anybody who had a tooth drilled or a bum knee looked at with enough hydrocodone to whack out a good-sized trailer park for the Labor Day weekend. The Observer, who doesn’t even have the willpower to swear off Hostess Twinkies, much less a weaponized, lab-grown siren like oxycodone, wanted no part of that whatsoever. So, for many months, we grinned and bore it, eating way too much Ibuprofen, swigging from the medicinal hooch jug on top of the fridge when it was time to sleep, the pain often driving us from our Beloved’s side for a few more long hours before the TV while the rest of the house slept.

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The Observer has also researched and written extensively about medical cannabis. On the job, we’d talked to people who swore by it as a nonaddictive, pain-relieving wonder, as a drug that by some miracle worked like gangbusters, but which you could likely eat a bushel basket of and not die as long as you didn’t choke on it. So we talked to a doctor, told him our issues, and paid our 50 bucks to the Great State of Arkansas. We received our card in the mail a few weeks later. Thus began our mid-life adventures in medical cannabis.

For the most part, everything the true believers will tell you about cannabis and pain has panned out for Yours Truly. The hurt becomes a rumor of hurt, spoken somewhere in the kingdom of our body. With some experimentation, we’ve since found a strain that, used in careful moderation, will both dull the pain and let us to do everything we want to short of driving. We’ve got another strain that sends us straight to sleepytown, even when the pain is screeching like Hitchcock violins. A redose in the middle of the night, and we can get eight full hours again, a feat we believed had gone the way of the brown in our beard.  

Though you count on The Observer to tell you the facts clear-eyed and straight as a string, Dear Reader, it seems odd to admit all this to you. The Observer was a kid in the 1980s, and sat through our share of school presentations on the evils of Reefer Madness. It’s even odder talking about it to our friends and family, including the large contingent of our kin so straight-edge that they would never let lips that touch Demon Rum touch theirs, much less the green kisser of ol’ Mary Jane. 

But The Observer believes it is important to let you know that the people who are benefitting from medical cannabis in Arkansas aren’t losers or dead-enders, not criminals or scofflaws, not Cheech or Chong.

Sometimes they’re people like you, who just need a little rest.