Natural Life Saver - Medical Marijuana
There is a knock on the door of your hospital room. You and your family brace for the worst. The doctor enters with a solemn look on his face, "I'm very sorry to inform you, but the cancer is not getting any better. We can start you on another round of chemo and see if it works. There is also this new medicine on the market we could try, but I can't promise you anything." The doctor leaves the room with the same sympathetic look on his face countless others have seen. What are you going to do now? Nothing has been working; your body must be a toxic waste dump from all the drugs they have been pumping into your system. You think quietly to yourself, "There has to be something else out there to help me, there just has to be." Only a month earlier, a friend had suggested getting a medical marijuana license. She too had gone through chemo and countless drugs to get rid of her breast cancer, enduring the same painful symptoms. Being drug free most of your life you just think, "Crazy hippy, drugs are bad for you, especially marijuana." Now sitting in your hospital bed with your wife bawling and children silently looking at you with those sad little eyes, you begin to think, "Maybe she's not crazy after all."
Medical marijuana has been growing as a hot topic of debate in the past decade, with fifteen states already legalized (15 Legal States) and others in the process of getting it on the ballot for the next vote. Who's to say it's not okay for a medical patient who is painfully suffering from a disease or other ailment to consume medical marijuana. Scientifically it has been proven to help decrease or even eliminate pain from several causes. A few drugs on the market have been FDA approved and contain a synthetic version of tetrahydrocannabinol, or commonly known as THC. Some of these include Marinol/Dronabinol, Nabilone/Cesamet, and Sativex. (ProCon.org) However, these drugs do not work for all patients because every human body is different. The problem with the synthetic THC is there is only one pure cannabidiol in the drug, whereas the real THC holds about sixty cannabinoids. According to research done by the National Cancer Institute, "THC is more quickly absorbed from marijuana smoke than from oral preparation." (National Cancer Institute) In cancer patients, this has been shown to not only reduce nausea and vomiting, but also aid with patients experiencing anorexia and cachexia. Medical marijuana can also be used for patients suffering from AIDS, arthritis, crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, spasticity and wasting syndrome.
Over the past few decades, the use of medical marijuana has seen a significant increase that also has been leading to several legal battles over the drug. In the article, Watched Pot, by Hendrik Hertzberg, in The New Yorker, he explains the case of Gonzales et al. v. Raich et al. According to Proposition 215, passed in 1996, it approved the medical use of marijuana in the state of California. Raich took her doctor's advice and started using marijuana to help her lead a more normal life after she had been diagnosed with an inoperable, nonmalignant brain tumor. Diane Monson was another victim in this case, taking her doctor's advice she grew her own for her back spasms. One day the Drug Enforcement Agency came and chopped all six of Monson's plants down, even though Proposition 215 was in effect. When the final ruling came down, the Supreme Court sided with Gonzales. They appeared to have avoided the issue of these patients using the drug for pain and instead related it to the Constitution's commerce clause. People were puzzled at how the judges ended up with their decision. Court observers think they were ultimately after an alternative agenda, such as trying to suppress the minority's purpose of speeding up the process of "chipping away at the regulatory powers of the national government." (The New Yorker) In reality, all these poor people were trying to do was get a bit of relief from their health ailments. As always, the government has to step in with their bias opinions, not looking at it from suffering patients' eyes.
Just like any other drug, medical marijuana has its pros and cons, with both positive and negative side effects. A website I found listed the top ten pros and cons of medical marijuana, including varying views from several groups and medical professionals. I want to cover one of biggest subjects I feel people strongly disagree. Number four on the list is the health risks of smoked marijuana. On one side Dr. Grinspoon argues, "There is very little evidence that smoking marijuana as a means of taking it represents a significant health risk." (Top 10) He then continues to say,
"There have been no reported cases of lung cancer or emphysema attributed to marijuana. I suspect that a day's breathing in any city with poor air quality poses more of a threat than inhaling a day's dose --which for many ailments is just a portion of a joint." (Top 10)
On the other side is the British Lung Foundation stating, "3-4 Cannabis cigarettes a day are associated with the same evidence of acute and chronic bronchitis and the same degree of damage of the bronchial mucosa as 20 or more tobacco cigarettes a day." (Top 10) I can point out one huge difference in the two statements. According to Dr. Grinspoon, the correct daily dose for most health ailments is a portion of a joint, whereas the British Lung Foundation says damage will be done with three to four a day. If medical patients don't abuse their prescriptions, then there should be no need for concern about health risks associated with medical marijuana. After doing some more research, I found several ways marijuana could be taken, without having to smoke it. A patient can make or buy any of these products including, butter, oil, tinctures, or tonics. If you think about it, inhaling only the recommended dose of medical marijuana to relieve pain and other symptoms is better than popping a few pills, especially since you get less of the nasty side effects.
If marijuana doesn't possess the same wickedness of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or even meth, then why is it still classified as a Schedule I drug? When I was looking at a list on the ProCon.org website, Tetrahydrocannabinols, the chemical found in marijuana, is at the bottom of all the Schedule 1 drugs. This puzzled me because all the other drugs on the list are seriously harmful and can potentially be deadly if taken in too high of doses. In my entire life, I have never once heard of someone overdosing on marijuana. The biggest problem with this drug is how much it is abused, grown, and illegally distributed. It disgusts me to think of my hard-earned tax dollars going to pay for some person who is now rotting away in jail because he abused the system. It wouldn't be a Schedule 1 drug if we could learn how to peacefully control and regulate it. However, like the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920's, chances of that happening are slim. Someone somewhere will still be illegally growing and distributing their product to society. When it comes down to getting a medical marijuana license, I believe you should have to go through a full physical to obtain one. Another idea would be to not allow dispensary doctors to write licenses, and also control the number of dispensaries that are allowed to open. By only giving licenses to the people who need it most would help cut back on the illegal distribution by people who get theirs from a fake excuse and license happy doctor.
Countless success stories have come from the use of medical marijuana. Many have even fought off death because of the positive attributes gained from using the drug. CBS news did a story about a Colorado woman, named Pauline Archuleta, who has been slowly recovering from a brain aneurysm that put her in a coma in 2007. She told CBS news, "I was always sick and in pain, my head was always hurting." This was when they found six other un-ruptured aneurysms, "I was on so many pills, about five different seizure medications." Running out of options a doctor in Colorado Springs issued her a medical marijuana license. Her husband noticed a huge change in her as soon as she started, "Within a month she started showing signs of getting better, like standing or walking on her own." (CBS News)
Going through another website called RxMarijuana.com, I read several stories from people who had been using medical marijuana. One that touched my heart was about a woman who had terminal cancer. The son told us his mother was a drug free woman, who exercised regularly, and took immaculate care of herself. However, she had terminal cancer, which she beat back with natural remedies for over a dozen years. In February of 2005, her cancer came back spreading to her breasts, lungs, and liver, giving her only eight months to live While in the hospice, the family met to make plans for the funeral. The son didn't want it to end this way and as much as he didn't want to out himself as a marijuana user, he figured why not try this to see if it worked. After taking her first hit, she began to feel relief and even had an appetite. With the continued use of this drug, the once strong, beautiful woman came back to life. The entire family had great relief in knowing, "she died an elegant, beautiful, graceful death instead of a morphine drip, "out of it" dirty death."(RxMarijuana)
The government crack down on the use and distribution of medical marijuana is a good thing. However, they should not take it away from those suffering severe health ailments. Too many believe it is a bad drug and ought to be banned for good. People with cancer, HIV, arthritis, chrohn's disease, muscle spasms, and those who are terminally ill just using to make those last month's more bearable and coherent, are all valid candidates. Why should we punish them for health issues they have no control over? They are only human, just because several types of medicine may work for us doesn't mean doctor's have found one for them. It may not be a miracle cure, but for those who are truly in need of something to ease the pain, why take that away from them? I believe medical marijuana should not be looked at as an evil drug, but one, if taken correctly can be helpful to those suffering.
Hertzberg, Hendrik. "Watched Pot." The New Yorker. Condé Nast Digital., 27 June 2005. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. <http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/06/27/050627ta_talk_hertzberg>.
Martin, McKenzie. KKTV.com. Medical Marijuana Patient Says Drug Changed Her Life. Gray Television, Inc., 3 Mar. 2010. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. <http://www.kktv.com/ home/ headlines/86287182.html>.
National Cancer Institute. Marijuana Use in Supportive Care for Cancer Patients. N.p., 12 Dec. 2000. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/ factsheet/ Support/ marijuana>.
ProCon.org. Pharmaceutical Drugs Based on Cannabis. N.p., 20 Apr. 2011. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. <http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000883>.
ProCon.org. Top 10 Pros and Cons. N.p., 6 May 2009. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. <http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000141>.
ProCon.org. Which drugs are in Schedule 1. N.p., 16 June 2008. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. <http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000325>.
ProCon.org. 15 Legal Medical Marijuana States and DC. N.p., 12 Apr. 2011. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. <http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000881>.
Terminal Cancer. RxMarijuana, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. <http://www.rxmarijuana.com/