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June 2005
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A good read

Out of Joint by Jeff Hornaday, in today’s New Times San Luis Obispo. It’s a really wonderful article about a man and his dad, searching for answers to deal with his severe medical problems.

Dad tried about every combination of prescription and over-the-counter drugs we could get away with, including Vicodin, Oxycontin, Dilaudid, and a host of other dangerous narcotics.

But then Dad got real cloudy in the head. I can’t say whether the drugs did anything to alleviate his pain, because it was so hard to get a straight answer out of him, even when he was awake – which was seldom.

Pretty soon Dad’s side effects got even worse. He developed severe constipation, which led to an incarcerated umbilical hernia, several trips to ER, and, well, you get the idea.

Where to turn?

That’s when it hit me: magic brownies. A few days later we whipped up a delicious batch of Alice B. Toklas brownies (my 64-year-old dad prefers that term to the derogatory “pot brownies”), and he ate them with gusto. It was the best night’s sleep he’d had in weeks, and now no evening meal is complete without his chocolate brownie.

Nobody claims that we’ve found the panacea to eliminate my dad’s spasms, tremors, and chronic pain – we’re still searching for alternatives – but with the cannabis cookies, he already sleeps better and consumes far fewer pharmaceuticals. And the only side effect: euphoria.

The article continues with the trials of getting the medicine that helps his dad. I really enjoyed it the whole story.
And it brought back to mind one of my frustrations… no. It brought to mind how pissed off I get at the drug warriors and their arguments against medical marijuana:

  • A cruel hoax
  • Insufficient medical evidence…
  • Medicines are supposed to cure you, not just make you feel good

Bull.
Here’s the story. Marijuana (as it’s being used by medical marijuana patients) has never been touted as a cure for disease. It’s not like laetrile – a drug that was touted to have the ability to cure cancer, and was widely believed to be dangerous quackery because people would follow that course of treatment instead of ones that had scientific support.
While there is promising research on the ability of marijuana extracts or chemicals to be used to cure a variety of illnesses, smoked medical marijuana is generally used not as a cure, but for the relief of symptoms… eg., relief of pain or nausea or to stimulate appetite.
Whereas there was the need to “prove” that laetrile could cure cancer in order to justify allowing it as a form of treatment, there is no such need in proving relief of symptoms. The proof is self-evident. You have pain and you take something and the pain stops. You have nausea and you take something and the nausea stops. You have wasting syndrome and you take something and your appetite increases. If it doesn’t work, then you try something else. For very many people, marijuana works. Period. If it was a sugar pill that you took and it made your pain go away, then fine, take a sugar pill.
But the drug prohibitionist says, “Oh, you feel better? Well, that’s a cruel hoax.”
No. It’s truth. It can be nothing else.
The whole notion that medicine is supposed to cure you is ridiculous. Sure, that would be nice, but a great portion of the pharmaceutical field is just there to change how you feel. If you feel better, then the other treatments you are pursuing for a cure are more likely to work. Or maybe your pain is not curable, but the medicine makes you feel better so you’re able to have an active life.
If a substance works to relieve symptoms, then all that remains is whether that substance is dangerous. Clearly marijuana is safer than any other drug that the doctors will prescribe for you.
The only cruel hoax is telling patients that they must not use a safe treatment that eases their pain.

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