Medical marijuana

There has been a long term debate over the effectiveness of marijuana as a pharmaceutical. This debate was spurred by marijuana users, trying to get it legalized, so for the longest time I didn’t take it seriously. Over the last few years, I’m not sure what to take seriously, so I’ve reevaluated a number of debates.

I’m not going to get into the economics of hemp, and what a valuable and versatile crop it is. It’s not that I doubt it or endorse it, I just haven’t researched that area. Hemp is fibrous, and was initially used for ropes, and can be used for many purposes that other products are used for now. Poppies are pretty, but opium is still a hazard to society.

Marijuana is for the most part a recreational drug. Not so surprisingly, so are a large number of prescription drugs. In a world of  multi-tasking, why are we surprised that a drug can have multiple uses? Having gone through all the drugs Emma was prescribed during her cancer treatments, I found many of the drugs she was given had alternate uses. Except marijuana. She was prescribed Marinol, a synthetic form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the active ingredient in marijuana, to help with her nausea. I’ll never know if it worked better than the other drugs available (none of them worked at all), because I couldn’t get the prescription filled. When I showed it to the pharmacist it might as well have been on fire, he wouldn’t actually touch it. He backed away and said “You can’t get that here.”, and when I asked him where I could fill it, he said “I don’t know, not at any xxxxxxx (name of the pharmacy chain)”. As it turned out, I was able to locate a natural source from a compassionate friend, and I can verify that the natural product worked exceptionally well.

You might wonder why there is such resistance to a legal therapy. Marinol was a class 2 drug (now class 3), and I was able to obtain several class 2 drugs at the pharmacy. If you opened the link above on abused prescription drugs, you noticed that many of the popular drugs are class 3, 4, and even 5. Why such a fuss over Marinol? Well, it’s because of the fuss over marijuana. Marijuana is a class 1 drug, along with heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD),  3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote.

If you’re over thirty, you have known people who use drugs. You know the difference between someone using heroin and someone using marijuana. You can tell from a block away. Our Drug Enforcement Agencies cannot. Not because they’ve never inhaled. Because they’ve never done enough research to determine that you have to inhale in order for it to work.

Again, maybe because the only people calling for research were a bunch of pot-heads, serious research was rarely conducted. Oh sure, they performed studies on other class 1 drugs, but marijuana was taboo. The main reason put forward in the 1936 film “Reefer Madness“, is that it can’t be controlled, anyone can grow it in their back yard. That is the fear, an unregulated drug.

A number of people have come forward and said that marijuana is the only relief they have from Multiple Sclerosis. There has been evidence it is useful in treating Glaucoma, nausea following chemotherapy, and even cancer itself. A few states have legalized medical use, and in states like California and Colorado you can obtain a prescription from any doctor. A recent study suggested that one side effect is forgetfulness, but again, this was not serious documented research. Dosage of Marijuana is not controlled well enough to determine if that’s a side effect, or if left to their own devices, people use too much.

In New Jersey, only certain doctors are allowed to prescribe marijuana (there’s one in my county) and they have to provide documentation that you are a long term patient, and follow up documentation on your progress. There is one dispensary (marijuana pharmacy) in the state. I haven’t bothered to obtain a prescription, even though I can say that it does have positive effects on not only my multiple sclerosis, but also my depression and brain function. Yes, my memory actually gets a little better, but that’s anecdotal and unsupervised.

I am not certain that legalization of marijuana would be a good thing. We have enough chemicals to abuse, and while stoned drivers tend to be safer than drunk drivers, I prefer sober drivers. I’ve never heard of anyone getting high and getting violent, but I’ve known people to become lethargic and waste away a weekend. What we need more than anything in this country is a “responsibility” license, maybe a badge, that says “this person can handle the responsibilities of intoxication”. No badge, no beer, or pot, or caffeine.

Because it’s not the drug, it’s the user.

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3 comments on “Medical marijuana

  1. Circe says:

    Your perspective is thoughtful, as always. On the subject of marijuana, I am a firm
    believer in the great social value and the emptying of our prisoners with the release of non-violent criminals, when marijuana is legslized everywhere. Hopefully fewer beheadings will occur in Mexico when there is a legal chain of supply as for many other drugs. Alcohol, which certainly does contribute to violent behaviors, was even more a cause of violence during Prohibition than it is today. Marijuana for personal use should be legalized everywhere for wveryone. I have been told that it might help with my aches and pains and insomnia. I don’t use marijuana, so I may never find out unless some doctor or caring person offers me some. I tried it when I was a kid, and did not like it, so expect that I would only take it for medicinal purposes if available.
    But I am not important in the larger conversation. Take a look at The New Jim Crow and learn how the Reagan-instituted “War on Drugs” continues to lead to the incarceration–often for profit–of young men, mostly African-American and Hispanic, but of all races and ethnicities. We want our young men contributing to society, rather than being marginalized as felons. The Berlin Wall is down. Now let’s take down the prison walls and let non-violent offenders rejoin society and their families. (Some of this comment is from my unpublished post on the same subject. –C )

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  2. Mari Collier says:

    It’s all the politicians when it comes to marijuana. Enforcement went up with the Feds here in California with this administration. I feel the same way about the “drug.” It’s one more that is out there, but from people it helps. I’m sure you are right. If anyone can grow it, then it cannot be “controlled” and the pharmaceuticals could not monopolize it.

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