Why I Back Medical Marijuana

From: Seattle Hempfest

I told myself I wasn’t going to talk about this.  I told myself I’d leave all the drug talk to the boys.  Besides, of course, the story about the boy whose (step? foster?) father, high on PCP, ate his eyeballs (I’m gagging just writing this, by the way.).  But that’s more of a human interest story than a drug story, which puts it right up my alley.

But here’s the thing:

I’ve seen, first hand, the difference marijuana makes when treating cancer patients.  Granted, neither patient nor caregiver went about it the right way (One of the PCAs was buying street marijuana for one of the patients and bringing it into the building.), and both could have ended up in jail.  But that marijuana helped the patient is undeniable.  Which is just one of the many reasons I stand behind medical marijuana (and just the legalization of marijuana altogether) one-hundred percent.

Three or four years ago, I took my first paying gig at an assisted living facility.  I’d worked in places like these before, but only on the voluntary level.   I’ve worked in places like these on the voluntary level since I was about six, when my mother worked as a bookkeeper in a nursing home.

We had three cancer patients.  One had always been a functional drug addict and actually preferred any manner of street drugs to prescribed pain meds.  They found the vast majority of his pain medication from the last month or so before he died in a cup in his drawer.

The second, I believe, was in the U.S. Marine Corp. and had served in ‘Nam.  He was a patriot.  A soldier through and through.  He didn’t believe in breaking the law.  He stood firm on defending oneself and one’s country.  And he didn’t even like taking the pain meds he was prescribed.  Would only do it when the pain became unbearable.  He said they made him slow and stupid and he wasn’t going out like that.  That he may have been old, but he wasn’t weak, and he wasn’t going to let some pill from some “VA quack” make him weak.

The last was in the U.S. Army for the better part of his life and had served in Vietnam as well.  The only street drug he’d ever tried was marijuana.  He smoked it in ‘Nam, on occasion, to dull the harsh reality of what he was doing there, and once in a while when he got home, but until he was diagnosed with cancer, he was never what I would call a “regular” user.  

He always told us the weed they got over there was much better than any of the shit we have over here.  Somewhere on the web, I’m sure I read that was a myth.  And maybe E was just pulling our chain.  But if there was something he, without a doubt, did not joke about, it was how much better pot soothed his symptoms, and the side effects of chemo, than any of the drugs the doctor had prescribed him in the past.  This from a man who was on the highest dose of the morphine patch a human can endure without keeling over and dying.

He said weed made the cancer bearable.  He said it made knowing he was gonna die (his cancer eventually exacerbated and became incurable) so much easier to accept.  He said when he started smoking marijuana regularly, he stopped throwing up, got less headaches, actually had an appetite.

E would occasionally turn his morphine patches down when he had weed in his room.  He said they didn’t do a whole lot for him anyway, but make him sicker.  And when he did take them, he’d immediately make his way outside and spark a doobie to fend off the impending nausea.  The staff and other residents had long since started looking the other way.  E appeared to be at least feeling much better since he’d found someone to “go shopping” for him.  And his mood had definitely improved.

People will say that’s false improvement.  That the weed was just masking his symptoms.  But even if that’s the case, who cares? I mean, seriously. If you asked E how he felt about the subject, he would tell you he’d much rather wear the mask than try to live one day without it.  It made life experienceable, even for a terminally ill patient.  It made staying alive, even though he knew a painful end was near, all the more worth it.

I would never begrudge anyone that.  Least of all a terminal patient.

So why am I moved to talk about medical marijuana? States are legalizing it all over the place.  It seems an end to the war is in sight.  So why do I feel the need to add my voice?

Because the government is still discouraging the research and development of medical marijuana.  Because organizations directly involved in our ability to research and develop medical marijuana are refusing the funds and licensing necessary to get the job done.  Because people like my dad are still standing firm against even the medicinal uses of marijuana though they hear stories like mine and ones that come directly from the patients’ mouths.

But don’t take my word for it.  Head on over to ProCon.org and decide for yourself.

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One Response to “Why I Back Medical Marijuana”

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