How Medical Marijuana Has Reduced My AS Pain

Andrea Wyckoff avatar

by Andrea Wyckoff |

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Medicinal marijuana has been a true lifesaver for me as someone with ankylosing spondylitis (AS). I have so much gratitude and appreciation for this plant, as it provides pain relief and brings balance and well-being into my life. On top of that, the cannabis industry has provided me with a job that I love. 

I got serious about using medicinal marijuana three years ago, and my health and quality of life have continued to improve the more I use it. I live with some pretty serious spinal fusions because I had AS for so long and didn’t know it. I had no idea my spine was actually fusing together throughout my 20s when I was experiencing all of that mysterious, undiagnosable back pain. But even with a fused spine, kyphosis, and scoliosis, I am thriving today at age 42, pain free thanks to cannabis. 

Following are the cannabis edibles, extracts, and flowers that help me feel my tip-top each day and live my best life with AS.

THC edibles, Rick Simpson Oil, joints, and a few marijuana buds, all purchased from a legal dispensary in Oregon. (Photo by Andrea Wyckoff)


For anyone new to trying medicinal marijuana for pain relief, deeper sleep, and its overall relaxing benefits, I recommend starting with edibles that contain THC, the main psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis, and obtaining them from a licensed dispensary. Most edible products come in serving sizes of 5 to 10 mg of THC per dose, and you can adjust the dosage as needed.

I find 10 mg of THC in an edible to be a greater pain reliever than an NSAID or an opiate. And I love that I experience zero negative side effects from cannabis.

Part of marijuana’s magic is the way it helps relax my body, mind, and spirit to be in a better state of flow. 

RSO extract

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), also known as full-extract cannabis oil, is the most potent cannabis medicine I’ve tried. It is a thick, black, tar-like extract that comes in a syringe, minus the sharp needle. You squeeze out a dose the size of a grain of rice and eat it. A full syringe typically costs $30 to $40 and contains about 600 mg of THC.

RSO is sold in dispensaries in three different concentrations. One contains mostly CBD, the nonpsychoactive compound in cannabis that produces feelings of relaxation and calm. This high-CBD concentration will usually have a little THC to help amplify the effects, but not enough to cause much of a “high.”

Then there is 1:1 RSO, or one part CBD to one part THC. This is my favorite option, as you get a large concentrated dose of each cannabinoid (the compounds found in cannabis).

Or, you can buy THC-only RSO that will induce the most “high” feeling, which I also enjoy. This is especially nice when I can get cozy and relax into a deep meditative dream state, such as a DIY spa day state of bliss

I discovered the Phoenix Tears Cannabis Oil Advice Facebook group, where people share their personal experiences using RSO extract to treat many serious health conditions including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, body aches, bone pain, leukemia, and other cancers. You can visit Rick Simpson’s website and watch his video, Run From the Cure, to learn more.

Flowers for smoking

The two main types of cannabis strains are sativa and indica. Like many, I find that sativa is generally a good choice for the daytime, as it can be more energizing, while indica strains tend to bring deeper relaxation, pain relief, and help with falling asleep. 

Dispensaries sell these flowers either as loose buds for smoking in pipes and bongs or as pre-rolled joints. 

Vaping and dabbing

You can also explore vaping (inhaling heated cannabis oil through a vaporizer) and dabbing (inhaling concentrated doses of cannabis through a dab rig). But I find that edibles, RSO extract, and a few puffs from a joint work best for me. 


These days you can find CBD-only products for sale almost anywhere, including grocery stores, mini marts, and the internet. I have not found any great pain relief benefits from CBD-only products. Through trial and error, I found it takes a little bit of THC to amplify the effects of the CBD enough to provide any noticeable relief. 

If you start experimenting with CBD, I highly recommend buying it from a licensed dispensary where they can legally add the tiniest bit of THC to help the user feel a wider spectrum of benefits. 

As with anything new, consult your doctor, start in small doses, and be patient, as it may take a few weeks before you find the right dose of CBD and THC for your body, mind, and spirit. It took a few weeks of trying different cannabis products and allowing my body to adjust before I was convinced this was the medicine for me. 


Note: Ankylosing Spondylitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ankylosing Spondylitis News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ankylosing spondylitis.


Jennifer Robinson avatar

Jennifer Robinson

I live in a state where it's not legal yet South Carolina,I'm not sure when if ever medical use will be granted,I can't keep using pain medication for it makes me sick and I have to use a nother medicine to keep it down,do you recommend anything that is legal here in my state I'm so sick of being in pain and feeling like I have no options for treatment besides pain medication and injections...thank you

Francesca Loughran avatar

Francesca Loughran

Hi Andrea,

I have AS and I am 34 single mother to a little girl and I am in debilitating pain. I have smoked joints for years but now with this new diagnosis I have been told I can no longer smoke tobacco in my joints. How do you smoke a joint? Is it pure marijuana or with tobacco? Is the smoke from the joint even without tobacco damaging (from the paper etc.)? I am terrified of making myself worse as I am already in a serious way but a vape just does not do it for me. Please give me some suggestions if you can and thank you so much for your article, it was really helpful.

I hope you are ok.

Best wishes,


Denise Brassil avatar

Denise Brassil

I have been in pain now over 10 years with my bk I have nerve damage in both sides off my bk I have had 3 failed pesiders the last one I got was nerve blockers which left me in more pain as I ever had before on my back not only that now I suffer with pain in both my legs I’m worn out I’m on so much medication it’s not even funny all in all 16 tablets a day plus 2 strong patches I’m at my withs end if anyone out there could help me it would b much appreciated
Thanks Denise

Kristen Lennon avatar

Kristen Lennon

RSO has been such a game-changer for me. I cannot take opiods (they make me sick and dull my mind) and I cannot take NSAIDs either. In truth, if I was not lucky enough to live in a state with medical marijuana, I would move. It's that big of a deal.


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