Monday, July 12, 2010

Medicinal Cannabis (Marijuana)

”No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.” Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning (p. 69)

I have never used it, and I hope I don't get to a point of needing to use it because so many medicines have had paradoxical effects on me. But I have done some research and found a plethora of reports like this, from real live human beings with terminal illnesses who are suffering beyond what most of us can even begin to comprehend.

“After my ileostomy and 3rd surgery a size 0 hung on me. My ileostomy was rapid transit so I wasn't keeping in any nutrients. My doc told me I had 2 choices...intravenous feedings, which would run a high risk of infection...or smoke marijuana. Of course I chose the easiest route. Too much of it makes me sick instead of feeling better. One little puff once or twice a day saved my life. I could get my food and water down and it eased my mind.”

“I was so dehydrated I had to go to the hospital twice. My Dr prescribed marinol for my nausea along with 3 or 4 other drugs, but I had a hard time keeping it down long enough to work. One hit of Pot and my nausea would disappear almost instantly. I was able to keep my other medications down, eat and drink enough to stay hydrated and gain weight. I don't know if I could have made it through chemo with out it.”

“ brother who is dying from end stage liver disease finally ate after nearly dying from ascites once I located some for him. My parents thought he would die on the couch until they allowed him to go to the garage to do it.”

I can’t say cannabis works better than prescription drugs because, like I said, I haven’t used it. Honestly, if I could have used it last spring and it does everything I’ve read that it does, it would have eliminated the vast majority of the prescription drugs I was on, and which made my life hell—and which pharmaceutical companies were making loot from. One of the anti-nausea drugs was $300 per treatment (I had six treatment cycles), of which I had to pay $50. And that was for THREE (3) pills.

Can you imagine how much money pharmaceutical companies would lose if cannabis were legal in all states for medical use? I think those companies have a huge impact on the fact that it’s still illegal in so many states. That, and the fact that so many people aren’t willing to consider the facts about its therapeutic value. Maybe they will when they have a terminal illness.

Here is just one example of a prescription drug side effect description. I had to take this one last spring when I was on chemo and the side effects were agonizing. I actually refused to take it for my final treatment cycle; I flushed it down the toilet instead. I couldn’t put it in my body knowing what it was going to do to me physically and emotionally.

Dexamethasone (Decadron):
The following adverse reactions have been reported with DECADRON or other corticosteroids:
-Allergic reactions: Anaphylactoid reaction, anaphylaxis, angioedema.
-Cardiovascular: Bradycardia, cardiac arrest, cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac enlargement, circulatory collapse, congestive heart failure, fat embolism, hypertension, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in premature infants, myocardial rupture following recent myocardial infarction (see WARNINGS, Cardio-renal), edema, pulmonary edema, syncope, tachycardia, thromboembolism, thrombophlebitis, vasculitis.
-Dermatologic: Acne, allergic dermatitis, dry scaly skin, ecchymoses and petechiae, erythema, impaired wound healing, increased sweating, rash, striae, suppression of reactions to skin tests, thin fragile skin, thinning scalp hair, urticaria.
-Endocrine: Decreased carbohydrate and glucose tolerance, development of cushingoid state, hyperglycemia, glycosuria, hirsutism, hypertrichosis, increased requirements for insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents in diabetes, manifestations of latent diabetes mellitus, menstrual irregularities, secondary adrenocortical and pituitary unresponsiveness (particularly in times of stress, as in trauma, surgery, or illness), suppression of growth in pediatric patients.
-Fluid and electrolyte disturbances: Congestive heart failure in susceptible patients, fluid retention, hypokalemic alkalosis, potassium loss, sodium retention.
-Gastrointestinal: Abdominal distention, elevation in serum liver enzyme levels (usually reversible upon discontinuation), hepatomegaly, increased appetite, nausea, pancreatitis, peptic ulcer with possible perforation and hemorrhage, perforation of the small and large intestine (particularly in patients with inflammatory bowel disease), ulcerative esophagitis.
-Metabolic: Negative nitrogen balance due to protein catabolism.
-Musculoskeletal: Aseptic necrosis of femoral and humeral heads, loss of muscle mass, muscle weakness, osteoporosis, pathologic fracture of long bones, steroid myopathy, tendon rupture, vertebral compression fractures.
-Neurological/Psychiatric: Convulsions, depression, emotional instability, euphoria, headache, increased intracranial pressure with papilledema (pseudotumor cerebri) usually following discontinuation of treatment, insomnia, mood swings, neuritis, neuropathy, paresthesia, personality changes, psychic disorders, vertigo.
-Ophthalmic: Exophthalmos, glaucoma, increased intraocular pressure, posterior subcapsular cataracts.
-Other: Abnormal fat deposits, decreased resistance to infection, hiccups, increased or decreased motility and number of spermatozoa, malaise, moon face, weight gain.
(From )

Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it?

Here is a LINK to an article on the side effects of marijuana. It's long and worth the read but the bottom line is that, comparatively speaking, the side effects are minimal.

And, a report from a physician:
“Doctors see all sorts of social injustices that are written on the human body, one person at a time. But this one —the rote denial of a palliative care drug like marijuana to people with serious illness —smacks of pure cruelty precisely because it is so easily remediable, precisely because it prioritizes service to a cold political agenda over the distressed lives and deaths of real human beings.

Washington bureaucrats —far removed from the troubled bedsides of sick and dying patients —are ignoring what patients and doctors and health care workers are telling them about real world suffering. The federal refusal to honor public referendums like California's voter-approved Medical Marijuana Initiative is bewildering. Its refusal to listen to doctors groups like the California Medical Association that support compassionate use of medical marijuana is chilling.

In a society that has witnessed extensive positive experiences with medicinal marijuana, as long as it is safe and not proven to be ineffective, why shouldn't seriously ill patients have access to it? Why should an old woman be made to die a horrible death for a hollow political symbol?”
(From A site which is full of very interesting research-based information on many aspects of medicinal cannabis treatment for many illnesses. The beginning of this doctor's report was about a woman with ovarian cancer.)

I have asked several medical doctors about the medicinal use of marijuana. Their response is to be very careful to state the experiences of their patients without recommending it, because of the legality issues, I'm sure. The last doctor I asked said patients reported that marijuana helped with appetite enhancement, controlling nausea, pain control, and relaxation. To treat all of these with pharmaceuticals, you'd probably have to take four different meds and each one would probably have some massive list of potential side effects...

I know someone's probably thinking that patients are just using marijuana to get high, rather than for the physical benefits. My answer to that is to ask what is wrong with seriously ill patients experiencing a little bit of euphoria? How is that going to hurt them? Is it so wrong to allow them to have a break from suffering?

I guess the level of distress from pharmaceutical side effects isn't likely to be understood unless you've experienced them at least at some level.

And there is so much more I could say... But this is already very long.

Bottom line: For medical use, the risks seem very low and the benefits enormous.

If you don't think people such as the women who wrote the comments above should be able to use it, why not?

I would challenge you to think long and hard about your reason(s), and the reason for your reasons.

I would challenge you to examine yourself and see if your reasons are motivated by something in yourself that needs to be re-evaluated, such as fear, stigma, or lack of information.


  1. In following the medical use of marijuana on NPR (National Public Radio), there is a ton of misuse of prescription drugs that are regulated, so I don't see why people can't use marijuana for medical reasons, knowing that people will always misuse any drug.

  2. If people use it, they sure better not have keys to a vehicle handy!!

  3. Where did you hide the Doritos?

  4. Cool Ranch Big Grab Bag FTW

    Ice Cream cones are good too.

    I say go for it, Sis..

  5. Most smokers tend not to drive during their high, in contrast to alcoholics.
    But this is not at all about that. It's about the beurocrats being in fear of big pharma and keeping a free naturally growing, helpful drug from being used for a good purposes.

  6. Having inhaled in the past (LONG, LONG AGO... and experienced the euphoria and raving munchies, I wholeheartedly advocate the use of marijuana by individuals in the throes of severe pain &/or nausea in their last days, months, years. Just met a middle aged woman today who has "used" to live as gracefully as possible through numerous severe and painful health issues.
    Martha, let us know if you ever need/want some. I'm sure you'd find some in your mailbox or on your porch (put there by a friendly, compassionate pot fairy)!

  7. a pot fairy! how delightful! hahah.
    God made it and its 'for something'. you already know where i stand on this one.
    hoping that it will ease things for you if you need it.